Opinion: Are you okay with “The Kay”?

Editor’s note: The author of this piece, William Burg, will participate in a Sac Pres live chat on K Street this Wednesday at noon. Plan to watch? Please RSVP on our Goole+ page. You can also catch Burg live and in person at the California State Archives on Tuesday at 7 p.m. as he presents on his book, "Sacramento’s K Street: Where Our City Was Born". Event detials can be found here

This week’s Sacramento Press scoop about Downtown Sacramento Partnership’s new “The Kay” marketing strategy was met with reactions ranging from grudging acceptance to outright ridicule. The marketing campaign was paid for by DSP, downtown Sacramento’s business association, funded by downtown property owners. This campaign hopes to redefine the blocks of K Street between Seventh and Thirteenth, traditionally the heart of Sacramento’s downtown retail/entertainment district. Recent attempts at downtown rebranding include “The Handle” (Capitol Avenue from 17th to 20th) and the “Sutter District” (along 28th between J and O Street) or Del Paso Boulevard’s “Uptown” campaign. The campaign would include banners, signs and bike racks along K Street, but would not actually change the street name.

Rebranding of neighborhoods is nothing new. What we now know as Downtown Plaza and Old Sacramento were once known as the “West End,” Capitol Mall was once “Japantown,” Southside Park was once “The Arizona District” before its eponymous park was built, and before William Land Park was built, the area south of the Old City Cemetery along the Riverside Road (before it was Riverside Boulevard) was called “Homeland.” Streets like Broadway and Alhambra Boulevard were renamed after beautiful new theaters (the Tower and the Alhambra) demanded names less prosaic than Y Street and 31st Street. The same rule applied to neighborhoods like Boulevard Park, built atop the old state racetrack. Sometimes new rebranding efforts failed to catch on, like the early 20th century move to rename Poverty Ridge (the hill along 21st Street south of R) as “Sutter’s Terrace,” a name that failed to ignite Sacramentans’ imagination. Even “Midtown” is really just a rebranding campaign used to differentiate the business district of downtown Sacramento from its mixed-use ring of residential neighborhoods. That campaign was so successful that many now refer to Sacramento’s central city, including downtown, as part of Midtown. The name has such cachet that areas clearly outside the central city, like the Alexan Midtown apartments east of Broadway (called the Trammell Crow condominiums prior to their construction) to avoid associating its neighborhood, the Alhambra Triangle, too closely with Oak Park, while the neighborhood of North Oak Park between Sacramento High School and Stockton Boulevard has been pushed by realtors as the “Med Center” neighborhood, for basically the same reason. However, the “Midtown” name apparently came from both resident groups and local businesses using it before it became popular and eventually caught on. No paid consultant was involved.

K Street looms large in Sacramentans’ minds, becoming such a potent symbol of Sacramento’s destiny, successes and failures that I wrote a book about it. Rebranding such an iconic part of the city is a risky proposition. The last time it was tried was during the late 1960s. While K Street was the Sacramento region’s primary shopping destination from the Gold Rush through the 1950s, by the mid-1960s it was in rough shape, thanks to competition from suburban malls and the removal of thousands of downtown residents via redevelopment and demolition (which is how “Japantown” became Capitol Mall.) What we now know as Downtown Plaza (until recently, Westifeld Downtown Plaza) was the boundary of the West End, a district containing hundreds of bars, nightclubs, taxi-dance halls, burlesque strip clubs, pool halls, arcades, all-night moviehouses, pawn shops, liquor stores, thrift stores and agricultural hiring halls. The district’s residential hotels, boarding houses, shelters and alleys were populated by thousands of migrant workers, railroad boomers and retirees, along with winos, prostitutes, and gangsters. The waterfront, where hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the Delta King and Railroad Museum today, was still an active railroad freight yard and industrial switching area, owned by Southern Pacific, traditionally more concerned with moving freight than the concerns of civic reformers.

Redevelopment of K Street was intended to completely sweep away this neighborhood and recapture some of the sales tax revenue that had abandoned K Street and shifted to suburban malls. Anchored by a Macy’s at 4th Street (drawn with the promise of an interstate highway just a block away at 3rd Street), the Downtown Plaza shopping center took over the blocks between 4th and 7th Street, and the block between 3rd and 4th became a massive parking lot for the new Macy’s store. The blocks between 7th and 13th were transformed into pedestrian malls in 1969, capped by the new Convention Center and Community Center between 13th and 14th in 1973. The angular, Modernist forms of concrete sculpture filled the middle of the pedestrian mall, intended to function as a symbolic map of California, with placid waterways and jutting mountains. But most adults didn’t get it, and to the kids of Generation X the concrete sculptures were just things to play on—or, later, ideal terrain for urban skateboarding. Over the long term, the K Street Mall was not a financial success, in part due to its location too far away from Sacramento’s exploding suburban populations.

While subsequent generations may not have spent much money at Downtown Plaza and the K Street mall, they understood what a mall was, and their main complaint with K Street (in addition to its distant geographic location) were the inevitable differences between the suburban version of a mall and K Street’s version. Suburban malls had free parking, while downtown parking was limited by tens of thousands of commuting downtown workers who took over any free parking lots. Suburban malls were in private, controlled-access buildings and exclusively retail, visited primarily by middle-class suburbanites, while K Street was still a public street. Many of the West End’s occupants simply moved east into downtown hotels, so its population remained far less suburban, and it also became a favored hangout for hippies and idle teenagers. Suburban malls were also family-oriented places, very G-rated on their public face. While redevelopment had closed down K Street’s burlesque strip clubs, there were still adult bookstores and peep shows along K Street, and movie theaters advertising “Teenage Psycho vs. Bloody Mary” and “Deep Throat” did little to encourage families to linger. The “Old Sacramento” waterfront was dramatically changed, cut off from the city entirely by Interstate 5 and denuded of its population, a transformation so abrupt that most people assume the six blocks of Old Sacramento was the entire city during the Gold Rush, and that it was always known by that moniker. The “West End” was wiped away entirely by rebranding, demolition, and a liberal application of federal redevelopment funding. But, even after more than 40 years, downtown Sacramento and K Street are still associated with poverty, crime and difficult parking (sometimes by people who haven’t visited downtown since “Deep Throat” was still showing at the Esquire Theatre)—but also with nightlife, expensive restaurants and a growing interest in urban living. None of these things are found in suburban malls, but they are a common feature in urban downtowns, and it is becoming harder and harder to escape the fact that K Street is the heart of just such an urban downtown, and not a shopping mall.

So, are efforts like “The Kay” similarly doomed to failure, or are they an effort to move away from the failed methods of the past 40 years to attract a suburban audience to a failed simulation of a suburban shopping experience? From reactions seen in Sacramento Press and social media, the “the” goes over like a lead balloon, but people like the spelled-out “Kay.” As Sacramento News & Review editor Nick Miller mentions in today’s “Midtown & Down” column, a similarly-groomed $50,000 rebranding campaign for Midtown was launched in 2010, with a slogan taken from a Fleetwood Mac song and a squiggly-line logo that looked more like someone trying to find parking near Zocalo than a symbol evocative of Midtown living. While Midtown Business Association still uses the logo, it abandoned the full-force “branding” campaign with the arrival of its new director Elizabeth Studebaker, who has instead shifted funds into more pragmatic efforts like black-and-red MBA trashcans and power-washing along 21st Street. It seems that despite Sacramento’s common use as a product test market, we’re somewhat resistant to marketing shibboleths and slogans—to the point where, according to rumor, the 2010 MBA rebranding motto “Go Your Own Way” only won out narrowly over the more-prosaic “Keep Midtown Janky.” Sacramentans clearly love Midtown, so much that residents are willing to endure high rents and occasional neighborhood weirdness to live there, and visitors are willing to endure heavy traffic and are even willing to pay for parking just to hang out here. But, while we love it, we don’t want to be told what it is or why we love it—least of all by product-marketing types.

Similarly, people clearly want to love K Street, or we wouldn’t have spent 40 years and millions of dollars trying to spruce it up. Others clearly don’t love it, because they have no interest in the urban experience, but perhaps that’s not sufficient reason to ignore those who still hope for a resurgent downtown. However, as some Sacramento Press readers point out, rebranding is not a substitute for public safety, cleanliness or other improvements that improve the pedestrian experience, from lighting and street vending to late-night public transit and more retail stores—or, perhaps, convincing more downtown restaurants and eateries to stay open past office workers’ lunch hours. Rebranding efforts by Downtown Partnership are just part of their approach—their “Fight the Funk” team power-washes streets, their Navigators try to connect indigents with social services, the Guides direct people and keep an eye out for trouble in Downtown and Old Sacramento, and their marketing team coordinates events on K Street and tries to inform the public about them in a timely fashion. A catchy district name, at best, is a wrapper on a package that is less important than the contents of the package—but the wrapper is what we see first. And while a marketing campaign can give a district focus, an urban downtown is not a Disneyland-style theme park; no marketing campaign or redecorating efforts can fully control the granular, evolving and interactive nature of street life. No force can fully control it. At best a group like Downtown Partnership can merely set up the conditions to allow it to happen. Visitors in a city are not just passive receivers of entertainment, like folks at home watching TV or surfing the Web; they become part of the dance of street life. Boys sitting at a sidewalk café watch girls strolling down the street, while the girls strolling down the street watch the boys sitting at the café. Theorists like Jane Jacobs called this “the casual public sidewalk life of cities.” Mall cops call it “loitering.”

Not every piece of marketing advice is golden, no matter how much you spend on it. The marketing firm that spent thousands test-marketing Crystal Pepsi in Sacramento thought they had a winner, as did the makers of Zima, but both are long since consigned to the cultural wastebasket, along with the Midtown “Go Your Own Way” slogan and “Sutter’s Terrace” in what is either Midtown, Poverty Ridge, the Homes District, Alhambra or part of the Newton Booth Neighborhoods Association boundary, depending on who you ask and when. But regardless of how much money gets spent on a rebranding campaign, those responsible for it should not become so attached to it that they have to argue with their potential customers over its validity or its value, especially parts of it that don’t perform as advertised. The “The” met with immediate revulsion and ridicule—but a mere mention of the word “Kay” set off memories of Christmas on K Street, dinners at Tiny’s Waffles and Hart’s Cafeteria, dancing at the Trianon Ballroom and feature films in Technicolor at the Fox Senator and the Crest, and shopping at Weinstock & Lubin and Breuner’s. So perhaps “Kay” is big enough to bridge the gap between the suburban visitor and the urban offerings of K Street—assuming that the present inside that sentimentally-loaded package matches up to the expectations of those who dare to open it.

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” –Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Disclosure: William Burg is President of Sacramento Old City Association.

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October 12, 2012 | 1:19 AM

I think what bothers me about “The Kay” is that it’s based entirely on the street letter and without any inherent indication of the stretch of that street that’s involved. It would make sense to me if K Street only existed between 7th and 13th Streets. But there’s far more of K Street elsewhere – which leads one to wonder what that might subsequently be called. Perhaps “Old Kay” for the part near the waterfront – but what about the significantly longer stretch of K Street through Midtown? Would that be “Mid Kay,” “The Rest of Kay,” or “Kay that isn’t THE Kay.” And that still doesn’t cover a couple of very short stretches of K Street in East Sacramento, one of which starts at Rodeo Way, a street with its own unusual name but a name that’s prettier on a sign than 52 1/2 Street.

An alternative would be to designate a fraction of Downtown with a label such as the Urban Core or Core – which might include adjacent streets that share the same characteristic(s). Thus a business such as the Citizen Hotel might be part of the Core rather than being considered Off Kay (or perhaps On Jay).

In Las Vegas, a portion of Las Vegas Boulevard is labeled The Strip – it isn’t The Boulevard in a manner that dismisses the rest of that street. In Los Angeles, Sunset Strip is a stretch of Sunset Boulevard and, again it’s not The Sunset in a manner that seems to imply a lack of authenticity of the rest of Sunset.

Perhaps we’re talking about what could be Sacramento’s The Strip or Kay Strip – which at least allows for the existence of more of K Street beyond that stretch. Or one could combine ideas and take the “K” of K Street and add in a concept like Urban Core or Core and derive The Urban Kore or just Kore (or an entirely different idea). But to use a label that attempts to claim a sense of identity while dismissing far more of a street than it includes seems odd.

October 12, 2012 | 8:19 AM

When you say “K Street,” a set of automatic assumptions appear in people’s minds already–and generally they aren’t thinking about the blocks of East Sacramento renamed K Street after annexation. So we’re not really talking about the whole street–people in Sacramento already know (or at least assume) that if you’re talking about K Street, its pluses or minuses, generally you’re referring to the downtown part, between the Convention Center and Interstate 5. But that mindset was already there well before those buildings were constructed–in the 1940s, before the mall, before the Convention Center or the freeway, when people talked about visiting K Street they meant roughly the section mentioned by this “Kay” campaign–the segment between 7th and 13th. West of that was a little too seedy for most, east of that was a residential neighborhood.

The problem with a generic name like “Urban Core” is that you lose the association people still have with K Street, and the geographic knowledge inherent in that association. Midtown and East Sacramento already have those identities as neighborhoods, so mentioning the street name isn’t as important.

Article Author
October 13, 2012 | 12:49 AM

For almost all of the time I’ve lived in Sacramento, that association with six blocks of K Street was because it was referred to as the Mall or the K Street Mall, which made it clear what one was referring to. I also know people who work or worked along the Midtown stretch of K Street who wouldn’t immediately jump to assumptions about the Downtown portion. You and I are probably biased towards the Downtown portion because of other associations with places like the Crest.

And even some conversations about problems on K Street haven’t been that clear – I’m reminded of a period of time in which several K Street problems had to do with the speed of cars going through Midtown intersections, especially at 21st Street near the clubs and bars around that particular intersection. And regular patrons of those establishments probably aren’t jumping to thoughts of Downtown when talking about K Street.

If we go with “The Kay” I’ll get used to it and run with it – but it’s dismissive of the rest of K Street, as well as the cross streets and the parallel stretches of J and L. I don’t think I’d be fond of the idea if I was a merchant in that area who wasn’t actually located on K Street itself – whereas a more district-oriented name doesn’t exclude anybody in quite the same manner.

October 13, 2012 | 6:54 AM

Maybe what they need is a catchy theme song…if Fleetwood Mac lyrics don’t work, what about April Wine’s 1982 hit, “If You See Kay”?

Article Author
October 12, 2012 | 9:19 AM

They spelled “K” wrong.

October 12, 2012 | 11:10 AM

Great story Bill. I cringed when I saw another headline about “the Kay” but was relieved to see you use a jumping off point to discuss a number of interesting topics. I always enjoy how you frame the realities of city-living and urban life, while (generally)avoiding looking through rose-colored lenses.

lmw
Avatar of lmw
October 12, 2012 | 12:24 PM

Fantastic article! You’ve covered all the bases.

October 12, 2012 | 4:03 PM

I like it. I like how it pays homage to what many called it before and I think the timing is right as so many businesses have opened over the past couple years and so many more are planned over the next few.

October 12, 2012 | 4:45 PM

Great article, however, the name lacks character and a distinctness that “K Street” desperately needs. Besides, it’s a street that “Kay District” is trying to promote, not an actual district like “The Sutter District”. Why not call it something a little less-prosiac like “The Row” or “The 713 Channel”. “The Kay” symbolizes everything tourists complain about our city and reafirms their bleak perception that there’s a lack of culture, creativity and uniqueness that really seperates us from our “bigger brothers” of LA, SF and SD. What is that part of K street known for? Politicians, lobbyists and the like. Why not embrace that? Isn’t the Capitol a large part of what seperates Sacramento anyway?? Just my two cents…

October 12, 2012 | 5:45 PM

No, the “Kay” idea is intended to promote a specific district–7th to 13th Street, the traditional heart of downtown Sacramento’s shopping/entertainment area since about 1910, and the adjacent numbered streets, not the entire length of K Street. It’s actually a lot like the Sutter District, which is no more an “actual district” (nobody called it the Sutter District until the improvement district was created a few years ago)–the name comes from its proximity to Sutter’s Fort and the expansions of Sutter Hospital, and is basically just an arbitrary circle around a cluster of Paragary-owned restaurants.

That part of K Street was never known for “politicians, lobbyists and the like.” State government always concentrated along L Street adjacent to the Capitol. J Street was the street where the banks, offices and insurance companies centered, and I Street was the traditional street for city and county government. K Street was the street of shopping, entertainment, dining, dancing and celebration–along with the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, replacement for the earlier St. Rose of Lima Church.

Article Author
October 12, 2012 | 8:37 PM

Understood — I think the “brains” behind ‘The Kay District’ are really missing a great opportunity to brand, what is to be one of the best, if not the best part of downtown Sacramento. Why not keep it as “K Street” much like Bourbon Street in New Orleans? Or just rename the street like, just like Alhambra and Broadway were, as you so eloquently mentioned?

There is absolutely nothing appealing about “The Kay District”. It’s says nothing about the area (or district), nor does it create any excitement or curiosity from people outside the region. K Street, the part in between 7th and 13th street, is gradually becoming a great place to eat, drink and be entertained. “The Kay District” does a poor job at trying to capture that.

October 12, 2012 | 8:49 PM

So, then, how do we create excitement and curiosity from people outside the region about K Street?

Article Author
October 12, 2012 | 9:25 PM

Ha! That is a great question — one that is more complex than just naming a district. One obvious answer is a downtown arena. Since that is out of our hands, I believe with the sale of the downtown plaza, the township 9 project, and the redevelopment of the 700 & 800 block of K Street is already creating a buzz. Of course, when referring to how a name can create a buzz, I would do some research, try to find some significant happenings or name from the area, one that is a little “sexier” than “The Kay” and toss some ideas around. This is not my job, however, and regardless of what it’s going to be called, K Street has a bright future and optimistic for what is to come.

October 12, 2012 | 10:03 PM

Township 9 is kind of a stretch from K Street…although, thanks to the Green Line, it will just be a short streetcar ride away. Shades of the days when you could get on an electric train anywhere in the city, or in Woodland, Chico, Oakland or Stockton, and step off on K Street. I did a little bit of research recently, and pretty much folks called it K Street or “Kay Street” but not really much else, unless they were referring to the West End, the seedier area near the waterfront, although that was a broader area that included spots like the old jazz clubs on M Street and the clubs and restaurants in Chinatown. But even J Street hotspots like “Top of the Town” tended to get lumped in with K Street–the one street became the whole neighborhood, a district unto itself.

As I have mentioned a few times already, I side with those who are skeptical about the “the” but like the spelled-out “kay.” People only know what streets like Bourbon Street are from context and association–creating that association is part of the process of branding, but naming the district after the street gains the benefit of already-existing associations. If an out-of-towner asks a Sacramentan what K Street is about, they’ll definitely get an answer. Ask them about the Sutter District or the Handle and they’ll most likely get a blank stare.

Article Author
October 13, 2012 | 6:44 AM

Whoever came up with this name had people around him or her that want to get promoted. :) Yes men are always agreeable, to a fault.

October 13, 2012 | 11:06 AM

I’ve lived in Sacramento since 1990, and efforts to “save” the Downtown Mall and K Street have been going on at least since then. I think this rebranding–”The Kay”– is on par with past attempts.

As a local resident, the history of the name, K-a-y, is interesting, and the rebranding makes me want to go down there, if only to see what’s happening. However, I don’t see why suburbanites and out-of-towners would be all that interested in visiting “The Kay” for historical reasons. I also question the wisdom of encouraging people to drive long distances to a nightclubbing district.

I think it’s odd that the Downtown Mall is excluded from the area that will be renamed, since the two areas go hand-in-hand. Excluding the Mall makes it seem even more like the white elephant it is. Perhaps the new owners will consider a remodel that meshes better with “The Kay.”

I’m not sure which time period the graphic style of the campaign is trying to emulate. The roaring 20s? The not-so-fabulous 1930s? Considering the present economic crisis, there’s something a little untoward about harkening back to the good old days, whenever those were.

My overall verdict: Throw it at the wall and see if it sticks. You never know.

October 13, 2012 | 12:53 PM

The first attempt to “save” K Street was a proposal in 1952 by developer Ben Swig to install electric “people movers” down the middle of K Street and create a pedestrian mall. Most cities have a history of schemes like this, some that happened and some that didn’t. The difference is that today, American cities in general are experiencing a renaissance, while during the mid-20th century they were in a long period of decline. The interest in cities is a general interest–when people move to Sacramento or to Cleveland these days, they are likely to be more interested in central city life and the urban experience, no matter where they are from and no matter where they’re moving to. So it’s really up to us whether we respond to that interest by promoting downtown Sacramento as an interesting urban place, and taking steps to ensure that it lives up to their expectations, or the traditional Chamber of Commerce answer, which is “Sorry, no city here–but there’s a lovely mall up in Roseville!”

I agree that K Street can’t depend entirely on nightlife–but that’s not the idea at all, just the most recent development that has caught people’s interest. To succeed in the long term, downtown Sacramento has to be a residential neighborhood, and a commercial neighborhood, and a business neighborhood, and a dining neighborhood, and a nightlife neighborhood all at the same time! It has to have its own population, which will help draw a visitors just as Midtown currently does. We’re very stuck in the idea that neighborhoods can only be one thing or the other–and, in the suburbs where most of the space is dedicated to the automobile, that’s usually true. But in an urban downtown like ours, more mixed use at greater scales is possible–as long as it is permitted. Changes to zoning, planning and even parking regulations going on right now are working towards that end.

Part of why I spend so much time talking about the history of K Street is to show people that such a neighborhood is clearly possible, because THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT K STREET WAS. People lived there, and worked there, and shopped there, and drank there, and danced there–along with the people who lived within a hundred or so miles, for whom K Street was the big city, and almost none of them had to drive to get there. None of this is theoretical, the proof is in my books and in photos and the stories told by people who saw it firsthand. It’s also a poke in the eye to folks like “SacramentoNative” who buy into the pernicious old lie that Sacramento has never been anything but a quiet little government town.

As to Downtown Plaza between 4th and 7th, the new owners are playing it quietly, so nobody seems very sure exactly what they have in mind yet. I’m very eager to hear from them, but until then expect lots of wild speculation–and if they expect to be included in larger overall plans for the neighborhoods, I figure it’s up to them to talk over the matter with DSP, and maybe weigh in about whether they’re okay with “the kay” or not.

Article Author
October 14, 2012 | 8:49 PM

Another dumb idea by the downtown establishment. O…Kay? Not.

October 16, 2012 | 10:22 AM

When I first came to Sacramento back in the late 60′s, it was a delight to visit Kay street. Great stores from Weinstocks to Newberry’s. Storefronts with recessed doors past cool glass windows that lured you in to see what was inside. You have to make Kay a visually pleasing destination with something for everyone. Just think how fun it would be to visit Old Sac as it was in the 1800′s and then walk to Kay to see the city with the charming architecture of the mid-20th century. However designating it “The Kay” sounds so SoCal and out of touch with Sacramento.

October 16, 2012 | 10:51 AM

How about we stop arguing about the stupid name and do something constructive?

Food truck pod on the empty lot and European style outdoor cafe seating with umbrellas in the square opposite during the summer.

2 birds with one stone.

October 16, 2012 | 11:50 AM

I agree with Tony S.
I’ve only been in the Sacramento area for about 7 years and sometimes I still feel like a tourist. Since I have been living here I refer to that area as “Downtown K Street” to differentiate from the Midtown K Street area. I will probably always use these terms no matter what name is created.

“The Kay” reminds me of the Tracy Ulman character “Kay”.

I am excited to see what develops there. :)

October 16, 2012 | 1:04 PM

Why not make it a place that people want to go to first? Right now I don’t go to “K” street unless I’m going to the Crest theater or one of the few other places worth going to on the street. I also haven’t been to the Downtown Plaza because half the storefronts are empty, and the stores that are there can be found elsewhere. Also both areas are kind of run down, and need to be cleaned up and fixed up to make them so people will want to go there.
And why have they let cars back onto K street? If the street does get more shops to move in there, the cars will be a turn off to pedestrians and shoppers.
Right now I call the place the place the “K”(rap) street mall. Calling it “The KAY” will not get people to go there, making it a place people want to go is the only way to get to go.

October 16, 2012 | 1:19 PM

And why not get locally owned shops into K street, instead of chain stores that you can find anywhere. It could be advertised as ” THE LOCAL MALL” or THE SACRAMENTO PLACE TO GO” or something like that.

October 16, 2012 | 7:47 PM

The cars on K Street have been good generally. The sidewalks are still plenty wide, and the cars go very slowly as they drive down there, so the cars are just fine.

October 16, 2012 | 2:18 PM

For most of the 36 years since I was born here that has been called the K Street mall and it will still be called K street no matter what ridiculous rebranding effort you go through. (I’m gagging on “The Kay” over here. I think I got some “kay” on my shirt just now.

You asked a very pertinent question above – ‘then how do we get people excited about K street?’
I don’t know where anyone got the idea that branding it would help. Especially with this silly name change (which isn’t one)
Make it attractive to businesses who will make it attractive to customers. I know how these associations work and you no doubt micro-manage, ‘choosing’ the type of businesses you would like to see there (by finding ways to deny some and greasing wheels for others) Thus you now have a bunch of hipster nonsense down there and hipsters don’t have any money.

Nothing against the hipsters… I hate your style but you prefer it that way.
You want to express yourself in your unique way and that’s great. –[it isn't unique btw... if you only knew how much of my style you're copying from my own time in high school / college]

But what’s not cool and never works is when associations with too much time and with meddling on the mind try to “cool things up” instead of trying to find ways to keep businesses happy – which draws more businesses and then draws more commerce (as in PEOPLE.)

You can’t get there from here. Nothing you try in this vein will work. You have to start at a more fundamental level.

-William: I refer you to our prior conversation concerning the J street Gun Store ‘controversy’. I think the comments in that section addressed this related issue.
Certain business associations or concerned persons trying to keep certain types of businesses out of downtown while the overwhelming response here on SacPress was that this sort of diversity is what people actually want – not more decoration, more eateries, more hipster-centric nonsense. I need to be able to walk up and down K street and find every kind of store… gun store (why not?), tobacconist, florist, restaurant, little palm reader / occult bookstore / hole-in-the-wall-stuff, Convenience Store, Theater, Hotel, shoe repair, pet store, clothiers, and on and on. What will attract those ‘customers’?

October 16, 2012 | 7:45 PM

As a business owner down on the K Street Mall, I hate “The Kay.” With the way people soft-pronounce words nowadays, it sounds too much like The Gay.

Why do we have to call it something?

Instead of all this premature marketing efforts, why not focus harder on attracting high quality businesses to move in to the empty storefronts? That’s the real problem here. Not enough business, not open late, not open on weekends. It’s frustrating sitting down on a bench between appointments and watching all the people walking up and down K Street looking into empty stores. The people are there, they want attractions.

October 17, 2012 | 9:56 AM

Paul, in case you’ve missed it, there are more occupied store fronts now than there were a couple of years ago, the stretch under discussion looks a lot better and cleaner. I’m interested to know, which business is yours? Even though I spend a fair amount of time there for someone who doesn’t live downtown, I have no idea who you are. My opinion is that marketing efforts should start early in any process.

October 18, 2012 | 6:45 AM

It also sounds like “decay” everytime I say it. My wife thought that’s what I was saying each time as we discussed the article. (No, no accent. In fact I think I spoke it fairly concisely but I’ve read it so many times that I think I started saying it a little faster, whereupon it becomes ‘decay’)

My suggestion (if you don’t have anything nice to say…) is THE WALK since people ALSO call this area the K Street Walk, or they used to.

‘The Walk’ would be great as the area should be just like a wharf or boardwalk down there – but without the coastline.

October 29, 2012 | 9:51 PM

When did they call it the K Street Walk? Not knocking the idea, just curious as to where you have heard that term before.

“de kay.” I like it!

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