During Think Grand's first year, numerous participants like you cited Grand Avenue as one of your favorite things about Escondido. However, many of you also lamented the fact that Downtown Escondido is, frankly, a ghost town during too many hours of the week, and you expressed a desire for TG to focus its energies towards solving this problem.
As a result, the recent news that the vacant former Grand Avenue home of the Mingei Museum has been put on the market is an opportunity too great to pass up. Consider the following:
- This is one of downtown's largest vacant properties. It offers a unique two-story layout that could likely accommodate at least 100 customers at a time, perhaps many more.
- It's located on the same block as long-time established businesses like Filippi's, Champions, Vincent's, Delight of France, Downtown Deli, and Pounders. The block has begun to see even more activity with the recent additions of The Grand, California Avocado Grill, and The Grand Tea Room.
- The new Maple Street Pedestrian Plaza, scheduled to open later this year, will be located literally just across the street.
- Should a hotel eventually be built next to the Center for the Arts, the business inside this property will literally be the very first impression hotel guests have of our downtown as they exit the pedestrian plaza.
As the founder of Think Grand, I can tell you this is exactly the kind of opportunity TG was designed and intended for. No, Think Grand isn't looking to buy the property and start a business there. But there is something we can do...
The key to starting any successful business is to know your market. If your business concept isn't inline with the needs and desires of your potential customers, then that's a big problem, and you're probably going to fail. We've seen that storyline play out too many times in Downtown Escondido, and we can't let it happen again to a property as critical as the Mingei.
As Think Grand participants and Escondido residents who love downtown, we are the market and the potential customers for whatever venture might set up shop in this location. So, we're going to help potential buyers and entrepreneurs to better understand our needs and desires by offering our best ideas for re-imagining the Mingei in the comments section below this article. If we get enough comments and ideas, and reach a consensus about the ideas, we may then post a second article in this topic containing a survey. Either way, the comments from this article and/or the results from a follow-up survey will be shared with city hall, the listing realtor, the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Business Association, and whoever else may be able to help bring our ideas to life.
Here's the bottom line: Whoever buys this property is going to be holding a big key to the future of downtown in their hands. If they succeed, it may be just the catalyst needed to start a domino effect of revitalization. If they fail, it's yet another shuttered business and empty storefront, and none of us want that. It's time to truly "think grand." Share your best ideas here:
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