Use Your Empty Lots

Porterdale Gym-before1 (3) (1)

Porterdale, Georgia had a huge community center and gymnasium that was 12,000 square feet. It was built in 1939, and designed by Ellamae Ellis League That’s right, a woman designed the original building. Almost unheard of.

It burned down in 2005, and the cause of the fire was never found. It was located downtown and looked pretty awful. To completely rebuild the project would’ve cost in the 4 million dollar range. That was not in the city budget!

So they put their heads together and came up with another idea. It became an adaptive reuse project, and the cost was under 1 million. Still a hefty sum, however, the community agreed to a 1% Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST.)

photos by Tim and Teri Haler

It was stabilized in 2012 and completed in 2013. It’s now an event space that has hosted concerts, food festivals, and weddings. For a town with only 1,281 people, it’s now a huge asset instead of a huge eyesore.

Rural folks seldom give up. When local people put their heads together and come up with doable ideas, they help their towns to prosper, too. Rural people are exploring new shapes, new locations, and new ways of doing business.

Including filling their empty lots!




This is a story from my book From Possibilities to Reality: Save Your Small Town with these Uniquely Do-able Ideas, Projects, and Success Stories. I’m almost ready to bring on the beta readers! I’m looking for self-identified rural people who want to read this book and give honest feedback, suggest improvements, and be recognized as an important small step in the process! Would you be interested in being a beta reader? Email me and let’s talk!