SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - An area of Santa Barbara that's been around for years is bonding together, reinventing its identity and inviting the public in to see the changes.
"It's changed so dramatically and it really has some great businesses," said Ryan Carr with Carr Winery.
He is on a small board that's come together to create the Haley Corridor. They are doing outreach to all businesses and residents in the area to get the strongest support and ideas for the future.
The Haley Corridor stretches from State Street to Milpas Street and takes in Cota, Haley, Gutierrez and Montecito streets.
Carr Winery has been in that district since 2007.
Wine tasting and production facilities, breweries, start-ups, tech companies, old and new restaurants and manufacturing are just some of the businesses found in the area.
Some older homes in Santa Barbara are also located there.
At the same time, proposals are in the works for new multi-story housing projects and possibly a small boutique hotel.
Michael Kramer with the Ameriavant Web design studio has been working on social media for the area.
He helped to coordinate the recent block party event with people strolling throughout the area. It was a big open house covering several streets.
Those attending went to their favorite sites and others discovered many businesses that they might have walked or driven right by in the past. The energy in the district made it one of the most vibrant nights most had seen in years.
The group pulling this together is planning more on a monthly basis and for the holidays.
Sirie Keefrider and her husband, Jay, have been making custom furniture in their small shop. The latest has an inlay of a guitar in a table-top. It is a showcase, one-of-a-kind piece.
They said during the block party, some people came in just to "smell the wood."
Others were amazed at their work that's included tables, chairs and dressers. The pieces showed the careful hand crafting that went into the work.
More informal block party dates will hit the calendar every month on the second Saturday, "Showing what we do and have some games and that will be fun."
Carr said the idea is "similar to the first Thursdays where artistry and businesses in the area will have open houses and specials going on."
Looking around and seeing the changes Keefrider said, "This is a maker area. People who make the types of things that we make in the trades, but also who make wine here. Almost everything that you find here is produced here."
Collaboration and new ideas are in high gear around here.
Recently the group and some business owners got out their own equipment and did a multi-block clean up.
"We walked around with trash bags, weed wackers and trimmers and we got rid of all the weeds that we can find, debris and it made a huge difference. Everyone all of a sudden had this sense of community," Kramer said.
There are many legendary Santa Barbara businesses here that add to the rich culture and texture of the area, some that have been featured on national TV, such as Lito's Mexican restaurant. It was on the Food Channel's Diners Drive-ins and Dives with host Guy Fieri. His image is now on the building.
Nearby is the original Rose Cafe. Going through the doors is like taking a step back in time with the dining counter, vintage style tables and authentic family recipes.
Several properties have just changed hands which is a sign of the times.
One recently had story poles up making some longtime residents nervous about a large scale project disrupting the look of the area.
"We really see a lot of new industry, new housing, new commercial moving into the area, so we want to have a home for them when they get here," Kramer said.
You could lose yourself just walking in two blocks around Haley and Olive streets with so many places to explore. It includes Uncorked Wine Tasting and Kitchen, Au Juice Cafe, Twenty-Four Blackbirds Chocolates with artisanal confections, Telegraph Brewing and the Los Tarascos Bakery & Deli.
Stretching out you can check out the rides on Ooty's Scooters, get your vehicle worked on at the Mastercraft Motors or browse through the donations at the Catholic Charities store.
An honored Ace Hardware store for volume and service, The Home Improvement Center on Gutierrez, is often used as the defining business to guide people into the zone since customers have been coming to the site for decades.
Several new startups can be found in the Sandbox, a shared space business with fresh ideas and small companies that are both growing or in need of facilities for table-top meetings, and online video exchanges.
The area will soon have its own map and a guide for those checking it out for the first time or revisiting to see what may have changed.
For more information about the Haley Corridor, click here.