At the request of County of Monterey and the East Garrison Master Developer, Century Communities, Artspace Consulting conducted a series of focus groups in June 2023 around the redevelopment of the community’s historic Fort Ord military buildings. In partnership with Arts Habitat, the focus groups engaged artists and arts organizations of Monterey County and homeowner association members (HOA) of East Garrison, many of whom identified as artists themselves.
The intent of the focus groups was to better understand how these buildings can address creative space needs to serve both East Garrison and Monterey County at large, as well as to begin identifying potential future tenants and users who would be interested in renting, owning, operating, or programming these spaces.
Download the report below for details of the focus group findings which offers best use scenarios and recommendations to inform the business planning phase of the buildings’ redevelopment. Report highlights are below.
Over the last two decades, the urban village neighborhood of East Garrison has grown into a well-populated, multi-generational community. The abundant access to nature, rich history, friendly neighbors, and appreciation for the arts fuels further potential and community investment. Curated events, such as Taco Thursdays, So Good Saturdays, and the upcoming annual Arts & Crafts Fair, highlight the community’s desire to cultivate a culture of creativity and interconnectedness.
One word or short phrase that describes East Garrison
Through the Homeowner Association Member/Resident Focus Groups, Artspace and Arts Habitat convened 25 East Garrison residents. This sampling of community members revealed that a notable number of artists and creatives live in East Garrison. The attendees represented a wide discipline of art forms and a variety of engagement levels, from hobbyists to professionals. The Artist and Arts Organization Focus Groups gathered an additional 26 individuals from East Garrison and the broader County. These conversations showcased non-East Garrison artists’ clear interest and excitement to engage with creative space in the Historic Arts District. Strong alignment between desired space types/uses was found between the two types of focus groups.
East Garrison Site Context
The multi-phase development of East Garrison was approved by the County of Monterey Board of Supervisors in 2005 and subsequently broke ground on Phase 1 in 2007. As of January 2023, the robust community consists of almost one thousand homes, ranging from market-rate single family homes to affordable apartments, as well as a fire station and several acres of neighborhood parks and trails. The 23 remaining Fort Ord military buildings of focus in this analysis are situated in the Historic Arts District and are slated to complete Phase 3 of the masterplan (see opaque blue areas in map below).
Adjacent to the Historic Arts District, Artspace has led conceptual planning work on a mixed-use project for artists and their families. The project will bring 66 units of affordable live/work housing to the community, along with 30,000 square feet of commercial space. The construction is planned to begin early 2025, with a completion date of 2026. Once completed, the project will offer opportunities for synergy between the live/work project and the Historic Arts District. In attracting more creatives to live in East Garrison, for example, the Arts District will benefit from the influx of additional artists who would likely play a myriad of roles as potential owners, operators, programmers, and users of future creative space.
Recommendation and Next Steps
Artspace came away with a strong sense of the rich potential for the Historic Arts District. With passionate, community-driven leadership and the supportive presence of both Arts Habitat and the County, the project is well-positioned to become the destination envisioned by many for the past two decades. The natural alignment of the desired space types and uses found between the two types of focus groups further suggests that the redevelopment of the Historic Arts District has the opportunity to serve both the East Garrison community and the County at large in complementary ways. We also observed a strong consensus that the spaces should be accessible to both artists and non-artists alike, providing opportunities for all to share in vibrant arts and cultural programming.