i+D - May/June 2019 - 44

Built with Soul - By Brian J. Barth

Cultural Diversity
This is but one angle Daniels has found to create a sense of
"there there," as Gertrude Stein famously put it. Another angle
directly involves interior designers. The company has developed
an extensive network with local artists and artisans in Toronto
that its interior design consultants are asked to collaborate
with. Whether it's a painting for a lobby space, a sculpture
for an outdoor patio, or even practical items like benches and
wayfinding signage, the idea is for the interior designer to work
with local talent to craft objects that support overall design
objectives, while creating interesting spaces that would not be
possible with mass-produced products.

Just as "soul" means different things to different people, it can mean
different things in different places. Uniqueness is, arguably, a synonym for
soul. Asbury Park, New Jersey, a seaside resort community established in
the late 19th century, has never lacked in this department. And, while today,
the oceanfront town is bustling with new businesses and a renewed passion
for the rising up of this iconic spot along the coast, it has taken several
decades and a complete understanding of the past, present, and future
potential of Asbury to get there.
Music lovers may know the town best for the historically high-spirited
performances of Bruce Springsteen, a local kid who found stardom playing
at venues like The Stone Pony, now a forum of global renown where what
came to be known as the Jersey Shore sound can still be heard today.
The roots of the town, however, are much deeper, and a bit darker, than just
that. In the summer of 1970, the city was ravaged by race riots and, in the
'80s and '90s, the community slipped into an increasingly derelict state.
Just as the Great Recession was threatening to make matters worse, however,
Washington, D.C. developer Madison Marquette stepped in with a plan.

Daniels also invites local artists to set up shop within the
communities it builds. For the Daniels Waterfront City of the
Arts development along Lake Ontario, the company partnered
with Artscape, a local group that works to provide affordable
studio space in this astronomically expensive city (See
"Combatting the SoHo Effect," i+D, January/February 2019,
p. 44). The organization now has a permanent home in the City
of the Arts development, where Daniels has dedicated an entire
floor of one building to offices for arts organizations. These
spaces are made available at below-market rates. The Weeknd,
the acclaimed Toronto recording artist, is supporting one of the
groups that has set up shop there.

Kevin Patterson, the company's real estate development manager, explains
that many developers have fallen in love with the charming historic buildings
and expansive beach views of the Asbury waterfront. But, for decades, none
were successful in turning around the blight. "They tended to dream big
and employed an approach of, 'if we build it, they will come'. But, their grand
visions were out of context and too much about making Asbury Park look and
feel like any other resort destination," according to Patterson.

"The idea is all these groups will work together to give
this neighborhood a soul," says Omarkhail. "How do
we use our business to drive social change and to build
the types of communities we'd like to live in? That is our
fundamental premise."

Madison Marquette took a phased approach, focusing on incubating
local businesses and creating jobs within the community, rather than
relying on outside investment. The company even opened its own
operations arm to fill and manage the myriad entertainment, hospitality,
and retail spaces-a fairly unprecedented move for a real estate developer.
Above all, Madison Marquette focused on cultivating the intangible qualities
of the place: Everything from the spaces created to the food on the
menus, the products in the stores, and the acts on the stages all were
carefully curated.

"How do we use our business to drive
social change and to build the types
of communities we'd like to live in?
That is our fundamental premise."
A flurry of activities-
from impromptu
playtime to regular
movie screenings under
the stars-appeals
to the community
in the Regent Park
neighborhood in Toronto.
(Image: Arthur Mola)

44

i+D - May/June 2019

-HEELA OMARKHAIL, THE DANIELS CORPORATION



i+D - May/June 2019

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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190708_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190506
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