Business owners strive to introduce the Garden District to Short North crowds
Photos: Top, ryan M.L. young; bottom, Tessa Berg
Hop To It
Many Gallery Hop-goers stop just south of Second Avenue, but more art, food, sales and entertainment await in the newly christened Short North Garden District. Here are three spots worth a trek farther north on Aug. 3:
The Garden Theater
1187 N. High St.
An ’80s dance party with Short North Stage, a musical-theater company in its third year in the district
1190 N. High St.
Watercolor and acrylic mixed-media works from local artist Jean Shooter, plus free food
1200 N. High St.
Opening reception for “Say What?,” an exhibit featuring wooden celebrity head cut-outs alongside embroidered versions of their famous expressions
Near the northern end of the Short North arches, attractive galleries and boutiques fade to fast-food joints, parking lots and construction sites. Most people don’t wander any farther—but gallery, restaurant and shop owners between Second and Seventh avenues are hoping to change that.
They’ve been working to highlight new businesses and drive foot traffic into what they’re calling the Short North Garden District—it’s home to the Garden Theater, the Garden Church and even (to the dismay of some) The Garden adult-novelty store.
“We’re not a new neighborhood—we’re not something else,” says Noah Rogers of musical-theater company Short North Stage. He insists Garden District proponents aren’t trying to secede from the arts district farther south. “We just want to heighten awareness that this area is part of the Short North.”
Since monthly meetings began in May, business owners have created more welcoming window displays, incorporating lights and art, and they are offering new Gallery Hop entertainment. Meanwhile, they’re planning a farmers market, microbrew crawl and collaborations including discounts for shopping and eating within the neighborhood. Eventually, Rogers says, people will know they’re in the Garden District when green planters line the streets. The working tagline is: “Watch us grow.”
“[It has] that same kind of wide-open, anything’s-possible, nitty-gritty energy that was at the south end of the Short North 30 years ago,” says Maria Galloway, who helped found Gallery Hop and moved her PM Gallery north to the Garden District last year.
The biggest obstacles to the district becoming the next hotspot, Galloway says, are the vacant spaces on its north and south ends. As the area continues to grow, she hopes more business owners will set up shop in the neighborhood, filling the gaps. This stretch of High Street has also been prone to drugs, prostitution and homelessness, Rogers says, so they’ve recruited the Short North Alliance to send five or six members clad in bright orange shirts who act as a neighborhood watch and patrol the area every day.
Rogers, who lives in the neighborhood, wants people to see it as the “edgy, funky part of the Short North,” adding, “People can walk up here and get a different color of the Short North, a different shade.”