Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Photo Essay: Anaheim Packing House, Restored and Reopened

I love places that used to be other places. If given the choice, I will dine in a restaurant that used to be a church, a mansion, a jail, a hair salon, a hardware store, a hospital. Whatever it used to be, I'll go there now.



Fortunately, the 1919 Anaheim Citrus Packing House has been preserved...



...restored, and converted into an eclectic food hall and community gathering space.



Situated along the Southern Pacific rail line, the current packing house complex pays tribute to its roots...



...converting an old train into patio seating...



...and retaining much of its rusty, industrial exterior.



Sometimes it's easy to forget Southern California's citrus history, because much of the evidence of it has disappeared...



...but then a place like this reminds you that you are in Orange County, after all.



The conversion into its new use is incredible.



It's open and airy, with plenty of natural lighting from the skylights and amber glow from industrial chandeliers.



Succulents dangle artistically from the ceiling.



Pipes remain exposed...



...and even the new food markets and kiosks that have been added to the space were fabricated with reclaimed wood, salvaged materials...



...and other design elements befitting a giant converted warehouse.



Unlike other stateside food halls (The Original Farmer's Market and Grand Central in LA, Eataly, Essex Street, Grand Central, and Chelsea Markets in NYC), this bi-level public market is wide open for people-watching...



...creating a truly communal experience, with a central atrium that feels like a garden, and a mezzanine that wraps all around it.



Small design touches pay tribute to the building's contribution to the citrus industry...



...but the culinary selections available go way beyond fruit.



Offerings include porchetta, poutine, fish and chips, craft beer...



...grilled cheese and pickles...



...waffles, crepes...



...and, of course, artisanal coffee and ice cream.

It doesn't feel pretentious, but it doesn't feel intentionally or inauthentically gritty, either. It's just really nice, and stress-free. My inner claustrophobe felt at ease there. And my inner urban explorer enjoyed creeping around all of the corners to see what I could find.

This is one of the few historic packing houses that still remain in Southern California, so it's nice to see it be saved, with its original purpose still visible. If you're going to develop something new, why not reuse a building that somebody else already went through the trouble of building?

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Former Paper Plant Turned Urban Oasis (Photos)