We have covered Community Initiated Development in past newsletters. As a brief refresher, the process is what it sounds like: the community initiates the development it wants and needs. In this scenario, we work with community members and property owners to identify properties for redevelopment. Obviously, we would prefer adaptively reusing existing buildings, but occasionally buildings are so dilapidated or out of sync with the fabric of an area that they must be razed and replaced with a more appropriate structure. But, whenever possible, housing stays housing, mixed use is added to commercial and quality projects that promote density are created.
You can read the full DRAFT Community Initiated Development report by clicking HERE. The full report with a few additions will be made available next week.
So what are the next steps?
1. We must identify specific areas for potential redevelopment- Some of that has already been done as we work through “proof of concept” portions of the plan. Dilapidated buildings or areas that can be revitalized to produce profitable concepts are what we are looking for. Again, these can be buildings for reuse, areas that must be demolished and rebuilt or even vacant upper stories that can be converted into housing or business space.
2. We must find property owners willing to realistically “play ball.” We didn’t create CID so people could flip from “my building is worthless” to, suddenly, “my property is gold, dipped in platinum, covered in diamonds”. There are a lot of properties and areas that need fixed in Emporia. If the economics don’t work for one project, we will find another project.
3. We will build development teams. Real estate agents, architects, engineers, accountants, local officials, contractors, general citizens and more will be brought together on limited project scopes to produce a project template.
4. We will take opportunities and solicit involvement from multiple developers that specialize in the particular type of development we are focusing on. Historic developers are often different from strip center specialists. Mixed use developers are often different from upper-story housing specialists. By preemptively creating a team and a project scope, we can create fast and profitable projects that create opportunities for local developers and/or a pull for regional firms.
5. We will design features that facilitate the realization of a coordinated plan, instead of the “this business type goes anywhere for no reason” approach. The idea behind the implementation of a coordinated strategy is to build on each “win” to achieve an overall goal. Developed “clusters” will act as destinations and facilitate future growth. Future development should identify and build upon existing community anchors instead of sprawling into new undeveloped regions.
6. After we get rolling, this isn’t just for downtown. We want to run test cases first, but the eventual goal is to tie the community and our assets together while eliminating blight and chronic vacancy. This is a different mind set for any community, but it’s ultimately more effective than simply hoping “somebody does something”.
We understand that Community Initiated Development is much different that the current development mind set, but that might be a good thing for Emporia. This process encourages people just like you to get involved in the development process and learn more about your community. We also understand that whenever a group or individual changes a strategy some will resist that change.
CID requires a lot of planning, extensive homework and a clear vision. Frankly, it’s much easier to wait for someone to bring concepts to you. But, if we hope to take full advantage of the assets we currently have, citizens will need to step up and make things happen. If we want to decrease blight, create nodes of businesses that serve our local customers AND act as destinations, and develop a a realistic sustainable community model, the Community must Initiate Development. We hope you join us in creating the next phase of Emporia’s growth.
See this article and much more in this week’s Emporia Main Street E-newsletter!