logo for District56

The logo for District56 – formerly known as the Elk Grove Civic Center.

Elk Grove’s civic center finally has an official name: District56.

The Elk Grove City Council approved the name during their Sept. 11 meeting. This name refers the project site’s 56 acres of open space.

The future center, which is bounded by Elk Grove Boulevard to the north, Big Horn Boulevard to the west and Lotz Parkway to the south, will feature various public amenities, including a community center, a veterans hall, a senior center, a public library and a children’s museum. The project’s aquatics center opened in May.

During her presentation to the council, Lupe Murrietta, the city’s graphics and multimedia manager, announced that the city staff was recommending only one alternative name for the council’s consideration.

“Staff is recommending the name, ‘District56,’” she said. “Inspiration for the name was drawn from public input, as was noted earlier. In the list of provided names from the public, there were about 15 of the 200 that used the word ‘district’ or something similar.

“We felt there was an important element to the name to give focus to the area in order to create a sense of place that we want the community and visitors alike to experience.”

Lana Yoshimura, the city’s community event center manager, told the council that if it opted not to select the name ‘District56,’ it could move forward with the name ‘Elk Grove Civic Center.’

Yoshimura added that with plans to open the site’s community center this fall, city staff wanted to launch the facility with a name, in order to “market it effectively.”

“The facilities are beginning to become known,” she said. “We would like to brand them and create a sense of place and energy as we move forward and begin to open the facility regionally, as well as nationally.”

Prior to deliberating on the proposed name, Mayor Steve Ly asked Mari Hernandez, a teenage speaker in the meeting, whether she thought the name was “hip enough.”

“Yeah, I like it,” she said. “It reminds me of LA, so it’s hip enough. I think it’s a good name.”

Council Member Stephanie Nguyen responded to Hernandez’s comment.

“She liked it, and I think appeasing (youth) and getting their buy-in – because they are our future – is a huge part of it.

“I feel like it gives a lot of history in just the naming itself,” Nguyen continued. “It talks about the 56 acres. I think it’s easy enough to remember. Nowadays, there are a lot of things, like the city of Sacramento has DOCO (Downtown Commons).”

Council Member Steve Detrick did not favor the proposed name.

“To me, it’s too institutional,” he said. “It doesn’t have a lot of grab to it. I like the color palettes. I like the marketing scheme. I’m just not crazy about the name.”

Detrick added that he preferred the names “The District” or “The Grove” over “District56.”

Hume inquired about a possible alteration to the “District56” name, asking whether there was an advantage to using “District76,” to include the site’s undeveloped 20 acres to the north.

Yoshimura explained why city staff decided to use the number 56.

“I understand the 76 acres,” she said. “It’s kind of the 76 gas (station) kind of thing. I don’t know if that’s the direction that we would want to go. We specifically targeted the 56 acres, because it is congruous. The other 20 acres is across the street, so there’s not a complete package (or parcel).”

Hume concluded that once the name becomes widely recognized, the reasoning behind the naming of the center would become irrelevant.

Ultimately, Detrick was the only member of the council who did not support naming the civic center “District56.”

Previous name suggestions rejected

The council’s efforts to approve a name for the center began early this year, when it was presented with alternative names.

By rebranding the center, the city wanted to attract visitors, “establish a personality for the space” and “distinguish the facility from comparable local and regional amenities to attract events, tournaments, exhibits and rental inquiries.”

To help pick a new name for the center, the city paid $38,000 for outside firms to present alternative name proposals.

The community was also engaged in the process through focus groups. In an online, public survey that generated about 1,200 responses, 50% of the participants favored the name “The Grove,” and 33% of the respondents liked the name “Elk Grove Civic Center.”

During its Jan. 10 meeting, the council considered the general name of “Elk Grove Civic Center,” and two names that were offered by hired consultants.

One of the latter names was “CNTR Point,” which was created to combine the elements of Community, Nature, Tradition, and Recreation.

Another option was “The Pendulum” or “Pendulum Park,” which was intended to represent “a balance between old and new, young and old, women and men, and residents and visitors.”

Hume said that none of those three options “blew his hair back.”

At the same meeting, Nguyen also stated that she was not excited by the options presented.

“There just wasn’t one (name) that I was really excited about and felt good about making a decision on,” she said.

Upon the request of the council, city staff created a list of possible names; six of which were presented in an online survey. “The Grove” received the most community support, with 60 percent of the votes.

During the council’s next meeting, on Jan. 24, it considered the submitted names: Elk Grove Civic Center, CNTR Point or The CNTR, The Grove, The Canopy, The Point, and The Silo.

Once again, the council failed to muster the three votes necessary to give the center an official name.

During the second meeting, Hume expressed dislike for the name “The Grove.”

“There are people who referred to Elk Grove as The Grove, and it grates the you-know-what out of people who grew up here – at least in my opinion – much the way somebody who grew up in (San Francisco) can’t stand somebody calling it Frisco,” he said.

Civic Center Drive to be renamed?

With the conversation leaning toward accepting the name “District56,” Council Member Darren Suen suggested changing the name of the street the civic center is on, Civic Center Drive.

“If we go forward with this (name), I definitely propose we change the name of Civic Center Drive to whatever,” he said. “It wouldn’t be fitting to have Civic Center Drive in front of our District56, I don’t think.”

Ly mentioned that he supports renaming the street, and suggested “The Grove” for the street name, “so that Council Member Detrick will be happy.”

In response, Detrick said that he has made the same suggestion to rename Civic Center Drive. However, he does not like the name, The Grove, for the name of a street.

“(The Grove is) a place,” he said.