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Thread: Small town central business district revitalization

  1. #1
         
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    Small town central business district revitalization

    Hello everybody,

    I am a new member and am working on downtown redevelopment in a small town in Michigan (8,000 people). I was wondering if anyone knew of any smaller cities that have had a bustling dowtown area at one time, went through a "down period" where the area died out a bit, and then successfully revitalized the area. Our city is currently in the "down period" and we are in need of some case studies to use as reference points for our redevelopment efforts. Any feedback anyone can provide would be a big help. Thanks a lot.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Iron Mountain Plan
    Our city is currently in the "down period" and we are in need of some case studies to use as reference points for our redevelopment efforts. Any feedback anyone can provide would be a big help. Thanks a lot.
    Check out the book, Changing Places by Richard Moe and Carter Wilkie. This book has some pretty good case studies and helpful insight.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  3. #3

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    One of the best case studies is Evanston, Wyoming. There are many others. You need to explore the resources available through the National Main Street Center.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Iron Mountain Planner,

    I am a recent grad of NMU and am glad to see that a Community Development director has been hired to make improvements to downtown Iron Mountain. The city has a lot of potential serving as a hub community for the tourism industry in the region. I would suggest contacting neighboring rural "cities" of the north who have made great strides on improving their downtowns. Sault St. Marie and Marquette are examples. You may want to contact Mona Lang with the Marquette DDA to seek some advise and input on the work she has been able to accomplish with the Cool Cities program funding and TIF district. Iron Mountain could use a business incubator to stimulate the downtown in addition to building facade improvements to boost the image of the downtown. Utilizing historic preservation would also increase cultural tourism into the community. Hope this helps.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    What about the Michigan Main Street Program (which I think is now tied in with the Cool Cities initiative)?
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    I'll second the suggestion for the National Main Street Center.

    Lee Nellis always says look at Evanston. Wyoming. I always say look at Powell, Wyoming. They're both great stories.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by vaughan
    I'll second the suggestion for the National Main Street Center.

    Lee Nellis always says look at Evanston. Wyoming. I always say look at Powell, Wyoming. They're both great stories.
    Off topic: Wow. Never thought that I would see Powell WY mentioned on Cyburbia. I haven't been there for years. My ancestors were the first white settlers in that area in the 1800's (Powell, Cowley, Lovell). I haven't been there in a number of years so can't comment on their downtown, just a little taken back by the mention of it.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by cololi
    [
    Off topic: Wow. Never thought that I would see Powell WY mentioned on Cyburbia. I haven't been there for years. My ancestors were the first white settlers in that area in the 1800's (Powell, Cowley, Lovell). I haven't been there in a number of years so can't comment on their downtown, just a little taken back by the mention of it.

    More Off-topic:

    Yep, I've spent a fair amount of time kicking around that area... spent some time in Lovell a few years ago when I was working as an archaeologist (pre-planning days), and in '03 I spent a day in Powell interviewing people involved in the downtown revitalization program as part of a larger project I was doing for a non-profit in Bozeman. Hot as hell, but a beautiful area. And the downtown has come a long, long way.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Iron Mountain? What a great city! You have a lot of fabric to work with there. Have any of the buildings been listed on the National Register? There are some definite candidates.

    You are a dominant population center in a sparsely settled region, a good distance from any larger community. It is really easier to name communities similar to you that are experiencing the same problems as you are. I am not as convinced about Evanston, Wyoming as a very successful downtown revitalization, but it is pretty comparable. Closer to home, you might look at Rheinlander, Wisconsin, though it is slightly off right now. Other communities I can think to name right now have the advantage of being close to a large city.
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  10. #10
         
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    Thanks for the input everybody. It is a big help to us up here.

    IMP

  11. #11
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Welcome from the big city of Michigan! We've found that if you centralize General Motors offices, Compuware offices, build new stadiums and casinos, hold a super bowl, an all star game, all within a couple square miles, you will get some spinoffs! Its not as much as you would like because everyone is terrified that their job will be the next one shipped off to some country no one has ever heard of though.

    I guess we should have just built a Walmart instead as we still can't get cheap underwear downtown!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Battle Creek's downtown has gone through that cycilical cycle and is currently on an upswing. Its a larger town but might be a place to look.

    http://www.bcunlimited.org/downtown.taf
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  13. #13
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I think that you have an interesting situation in that the economy has not been all that terrific in the Upper Peninsula. Biggest suggestion that I can come up with is to focus on the assets that you have and not try to create new ones. If you focus on the simple things, the bigger things will follow. I also agree with jringel that you should use tourism as one of the big draws. Use some of the natural resources such as the trails, the skiing, and such as the attraction.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

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