Pompano Beach Brand Strategy | Old Town
Pompano Beach lacked a true ‘downtown’ – a central business/commercial area. Pompano Beach’s economic future depended on developing a downtown area to attract private investment; in particular, the redevelopment of the blighted and derelict historic downtown center. When RMA began managing the CRA districts in Pompano Beach, it quickly became clear that the city had an absence of cultural facilities or targeted cultural art uses. Arts and cultural activities had been statistically identified as consistent sources of economic growth. No new development had taken place in decades and two key historic buildings were rapidly falling into decay, likely headed for demolition; the Bailey Hotel, built in 1923, in the Old Pompano commercial district and the Ali Building, built in the 1930’s, on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. The vision of a Creative Arts and Downtown Innovation District was in the CRA Master Plan; however, no progress had been made toward that vision as the city lacked a cultural brand/identity and the two historic properties were privately owned. The process of acquiring and renovating the historic buildings into two cultural, public real estate assets would become the catalyst for the redevelopment of the entire downtown area and the creation of the cultural brand.
RMA’s strategy was to use cultural assets to improve the community’s competitive edge, create the foundation for defining a sense of place, attract new and visiting populations, and contribute to the development of a skilled workforce. Simultaneously, at RMA’s recommendation, the City planned to create a cultural civic campus across the street from the historic district, creating a cluster of cultural activity.
While construction was underway on the streetscape and other infrastructure improvements in the historic area, RMA managed the acquisition process for both historic buildings. The next step was to seek approval from the CRA Board for complete renovation of the buildings while maintaining the historic architectural elements that made them unique. The concept for the Bailey Hotel (Bailey Contemporary Arts – BaCA) was to convert the hotel rooms on the upper floor to artist studios, and use the ground floor for gallery space and a coffee house. Artists were invited to submit applications with a combination of art mediums being sought including visual art, clay, pottery, music and other forms. The Ali building was renovated as a cultural arts performance venue reflecting the African American heritage of the area.
Once the cultural assets were established, RMA began the process of branding the historic downtown area as “Old Town” and utilized the brand as a cohesive approach to redevelopment. The cultural arts branding concept used a mosaic bench in Amsterdam as inspiration. Pulling together the assets and missions of the pioneer arts centers, Ali and BaCA, overlapping values were identified. The cultural centers would essentially bring together many different ideas into one cohesive message for the area: Diversity, Art, History and Community. RMA visually defined this as “a combination of diverse elements forming a coherent whole” – the definition of a mosaic.
With this concept in mind, and an actual photo of a mosaic bench taken in Amsterdam during the research process, the mosaic tiles were turned into a versatile design element to be used across all branded collateral. Color palettes were defined to delineate each area, and to apply to corresponding events, tying everything that is unique about each of the area’s assets into one cohesive brand strategy. The new brand and messaging strategy was then used to promote classes, activities, events and exhibits via a myriad of communication outlets.
A signature monthly event that was established as a business attraction tool is the Old Town Untapped Craft Beer & Arts festival. The event was strategically designed to familiarize attendees with the reinvented Downtown and to using the area in a new way. The event includes a biergarten, food trucks, live music, vendors, and artists at work/ open access to the BaCA art gallery. In just one-year, Old Town Untapped has grown from 250 to over 5000 attendees! The vendors have grown from 15 to 50, food trucks from 4 to 12+, and art gallery visitors from 50-100 to over 500. Since the event is also an activator for the area, a targeted campaign ‘Untap Your Potential’ was created and launched, including installation of signage in all the vacant commercial spaces. This has resulted in a dramatic increase in interest in the spaces and new businesses are already open (Blooming Bean Coffee Co. and Odd Breed Brewery) or permitted to open soon (a restaurant).
The brand standard represented the current cultural arts buildings and the recurring events and programs held in the area also brought a great deal of press and newsworthy attention to the City of Pompano Beach.
- The renovation of historical buildings into cultural arts venues were the catalyst for changing perceptions about the blighted downtown area
- There is now a cohesive and solid cultural arts brand in Pompano Beach and all marketing efforts are consistent, yet still unique and distinguishable by color/design/location/target audience, etc.
- It is estimated that over 65,000 people have visited Pompano’s Old Town district and BaCA and Ali cultural facilities in the past one year and the numbers are continually increasing
- Approximately 250 classes, programs and events are hosted annually in Old Town, BaCA and Ali
- All the studio space in BaCA is leased to working artists and these artists participate in sharing the brand message and furthering the City and CRA goals
- New businesses have located in the branded downtown area and several more have leased spaces and are under renovation, scheduled to open during 2018 and 2019
- Developers have invested in the area and new multi-family residential buildings are under construction
- The cultural arts brand in Pompano Beach is now strong enough to support the creation of a new city Cultural Arts department, including establishing a Pompano Beach Cultural Arts Director position