packing district grand oepningThe grand opening of the Anaheim Packing District is this Saturday, May 31 from noon to 10:00 p.m.

After what seems like an interminable wait, the public will finally get to see the old citrus packing house enjoy what the OC Register calls “a culinary walkabout, inspired by Old World food markets, in the heart of the city’s historic downtown.”

The excitement about this example of adaptive reuse of a historical property makes one a bit melancholy to think of how vibrant downtown Anaheim would probably be today if the old downtown hadn’t been redeveloped out of existence in the 1970s.

The Packing District Facebook page has a lot of great photos of the interior space and some of the eateries like Georgia’s Restaurant and bars like The Blind Rabbit speakeasy.

The Anaheim Packing District is a public-private partnership between Lab Holding (developers of The Lab and the Camp in Costa Mesa) and the City of Anaheim, and its development was subsidized with taxpayer money. To my knowledge, the city isn’t getting a “fair return” for using tax dollars to make this project pencil out, such as a percentage of Lab Holding’s revenues from the enterprise. But something tells me there’ll be plenty of critics of such “taxpayer giveaways” on hand to bask in the glow grand opening and enjoy what this cool new venue has to offer.