I’m not so sure that users should always come first on design projects.
Think about it like remodeling an old building. You could go up to all of the people who happen to be near the old building, or who have visited recently, and ask them why they came to the old building and what they think they would like to do there. You could do a bunch of surveys of the neighborhood and figure out what the neighborhood is missing. Does it need a grocery store? A coffee shop? Those are good places to start. But not all buildings are well-suited to be a coffee shop. And you might not be well-suited to run one. So I think that sometimes you need to start with the infrastructure, the building itself, and let it reveal itself to you, and to think about what you want.