Housing: Do you need a developer for second story housing?

downtown photo

Not every second story housing project is  possible by a bank loaning someone the money to build or rehab. Webster City, Iowa has several buildings downtown with second story spaces. Three of those second stories are now housing. It wasn’t a developer that came in and bought the buildings and fixed them up. That’s a…

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Empty Lots

empty lot

Have you ever been to a small town without empty lots? Me neither. They don’t have to stay empty either! This is one of my favorite ideas – Create an outdoor museum!  Jerry Johnson, from JLJ Design Studio in Richardson, Texas, came up with an idea of a rusted tractor graveyard, but you could make almost any kind…

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Want a coffee shop? Start small

Brandon and Alicia had this idea that the old bank building they own just might a good coffee shop with WiFi. They looked at prices for all the equipment, got ideas for other vendors to go into the location, and started planning big. But how do they know it will even work as a coffee shop?…

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Is small scale manufacturing a thing for small towns?

worker using sewing machine

Just what is small scale manufacturing?  It’s the artisan makers, the prototyping to small scale, it’s the production at scale, the makerspaces and the shared commercial kitchens and workshops. You’d be looking for craft brewers, artisan businesses, contract manufacturing, commercial kitchens, farmers market organizers, and the ‘connectors’. Let’s play a short game of who do…

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Rebuttal to the New York Times

In 2016 we had a young man who was writing an article for the New York Times come to town. He was ready to tell the story of how our town lost a major manufacturer and it was awful for us. I disagreed and wrote this rebuttal. I like Brendan Hoffman.  He first traveled to…

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Empty Buildings Tour

We did an Empty Buildings Tour in Webster City, Iowa. It worked! Our next two part webinar is Filling Empty Buildings. It’s geared specifically towards small towns and we give them practical steps they can put into action right away. More info at www.saveyour.town/empty  It begins June 12, 2018.

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City Codes can be changed

If one city council can write a code, another one can change it! We talk about this a lot when sharing our empty buildings stories. I recently visited with a city clerk in Stanhope, Iowa and she mentioned they are working on changing their code. They are instituting  Building Maintenance Code that they got from…

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