Posts on Downtown & Main Street

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  • How Asheville Revitalized its Downtown: Part II

    Asheville, North Carolina is increasingly lauded for its mountain views, restaurants, craft beer, and art scene.  It seems like Asheville is always on a “best” list – most recently, it was touted as the number one best place to visit in the US in 2017 by Lonely Planet. But [more…]

  • Multiplex in Morganton: The Mimosa Theatre

    At the corner of Union and Green in Morganton’s historic downtown sits the Marquee Cinemas Mimosa 7 multiplex movie theater. You would be hard-pressed to find a 7-screen first-run downtown movie theater in this day and age in a North Carolina town with a population of about 16,000. You [more…]

  • How Asheville Revitalized its Downtown: Part I

    Asheville, North Carolina – “New Age Mecca,” “San Francisco of the East,” “Land of the Sky,” “New Freak Capital,” and “America’s Happiest City.” These are just some of the nicknames that Asheville enjoys, due to its more recent prominence in the social, economic, and political domains of North Carolina [more…]

  • Legal and Business Reasons Why Downtown Development Programs Should Involve Secured Loans—Not Grants

    Dr. Blaine Beeper is a retired hospital administrator who was recently elected to council in the Town of Bushwood. Dr. Beeper thinks he has figured out how to jumpstart revitalization of Bushwood’s historic downtown. He proposes for the Town to offer annual cash grants to any owner who redevelops [more…]

  • The Grasshoppers’ Stadium is a Homerun for Downtown Greensboro

    When the Greensboro Grasshoppers threw out their first pitch at their new stadium on April 3, 2005, it was still uncertain what the impact of the stadium would be on the greater downtown.  The Joseph M. Bryan Foundation of Greater Greensboro took a leap of faith in building the [more…]

  • Conveyance of property in a public-private partnership for a “downtown development project”

    Downtowns across America are experiencing a renaissance. Population growth in downtowns has outpaced growth in the broader regions in which those downtowns are located. North Carolina downtowns are likewise experiencing record growth. To capitalize on this renewed interest in downtowns, private developers and local governments are increasingly seeking to [more…]

  • How a Mezzanine Loan Can Reduce Equity Requirements, Boost Returns, and Attract Investment to a Redevelopment Project

    The Parker Building is a two-story, 8,000-SF brick building in downtown Milliganton, NC. The building is subdivided into two small retail tenant spaces, but for the most part it is an empty shell. Despite having been mostly vacant for the last several decades, the building is in good shape.  [more…]

  • One City, Two Public Markets: Case Studies of Success and Failure in Portland, Maine

    Public Markets are often used as a tool in downtown revitalization. They are attractive uses for vacant building with large footprints and bring high value and high-demand local food options to consumers, drive foot traffic, and catalyze new development. In the last 20 years, Portland, Maine, has seen two [more…]

  • Library Living? Integrating a library into a mixed-use development

    Would you ever want to live and shop on top of or next to your library that is part of a mixed-use development? Cities looking to catalyze on a library’s energy and flow of people could consider the development of a library as a component in a mixed-use project, [more…]

  • Retail Incubators and Main Street Revitalization: Part 1

    Launching a retail business in a downtown storefront is a capital and knowledge intensive endeavor. Equally, Main Streets across North Carolina and the country are struggling to retain and attract vendors, with each new empty window display threatening the economic health of the street as a whole. In this [more…]

  • Live Long and Prosper: Does CED Impact How Long We Live?

    I often think about ways in which local government matters in the daily lives of citizens. This month, a major study was released showing how local conditions, and community and economic development, infrastructure, and planning in particular, may have a direct impact on the most basic quality of life [more…]

  • Follow Procedures Prior to Acquiring Property for Redevelopment

    The Town of Renewville has ambitious redevelopment plans for several key—but tired and/or underdeveloped—properties along its Main Street. As we know from a prior post examining the limited situations in which a local government may discuss property acquisition in closed session, the Renewville town council intends to kick-start the [more…]

  • Public-Private Partnerships: Universities & Private Developers

    University enrollments are at an historic high and an increased student population requires that universities grow in other areas as well, such as housing and facilities. In recent years, universities have been partnering with private developers to advise and help them manage this growth. Previous posts on this blog [more…]

  • Millennials Entering the Real Estate Market

    It’s not a surprise that real estate developers, in recent years, have begun prioritizing the wants and needs of Millennials. Millennials say that they prioritize walkability, dense urban space, a sense of community, and the ability to frequent a favorite coffee shop. This year, Millennials are projected to overtake [more…]

  • The Economic Impact of Downtown Courthouses

    In 2013, the 11-story, $119 million Durham County Courthouse opened. This 320,000 square foot structure is located on 510 South Dillard Street and is right next to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and the Durham Performing Arts Center in downtown Durham. Government offices, homes, and businesses are traditionally found in [more…]

  • Changes to Municipal Service District (MSD) Authority

    In the state budget bill, S.L. 2015-241, the legislature made a few changes to municipal service district (MSD) authority. An MSD is a defined area within a municipality in [more…]

  • Local Government Economic Development Powers “Clarified”

    On October 20, 2015, the Governor signed Session Law (S.L.) 2015-277, placing into effect several “clarifications” to the primary economic development statute used by local governments, G.S. Chapter 158, Article 1, “The Local Development Act of 1925.” The modifications fall into three categories: first, broad discretionary language was removed; [more…]

  • DFI Case Study: Attracting Private Investment for the Redevelopment of a Downtown Parking Deck

    The City of Wilmington, North Carolina, hired the Development Finance Initiative (DFI) in 2013 to conduct a pre-development process for the Water Street Parking Deck. The parking deck is an aging public parking facility prominently located in the city’s historic downtown on the Cape Fear riverfront. Wilmington is one [more…]

  • The Downtown School

    School may still be out for summer, but the CED blog is taking another look at the role that education plays in community and economic development. As earlier posts on teacher housing developments, downtown community colleges, an, most recently, the repurposing of historic school buildings have examined, education can play [more…]

  • Ambitious Plans and Achievable Actions

    City planners like to quote Daniel Burnham, the late-19th century architect and planner. “Make no little plans” he famously said. “hey have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.” That’s all well and good, [more…]

  • Food Trucks, Waste, and Economic Opportunity

    How do you turn a small urban park into a massive culinary festival? Invite 45 food trucks to show up for the afternoon. Planning a sunny 50 degree day after a week of rain helps as well. “Food truck rodeos” have become a popular way of bringing people into [more…]

  • Sale of Historic Structures by NC Local Governments for Redevelopment

    Almost ten years ago, in the town of Bushwood, North Carolina, the “generous” owner of the historic textile mill building just off Main Street donated the property to the town (it was difficult to maintain and the owner didn’t want to pay property taxes on it any more). The [more…]

  • Many Mini-Bonds in the Mile High City

    $12 million in one hour: That’s not a report of the ticket sales for the Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood’s Greensboro show last week. That is how much the City of Denver raised directly from the citizens of Colorado for the final phase of its Better Denver capital campaign [more…].

  • The Right Crowd: How Two Entrepreneurs Creatively Financed a Craft Brewery in Asheboro, NC

    A previous CED blog post analyzed securities law as it relates to crowdfunding, in which businesses use mass marketing and web-based platforms to raise investment capital from many investors in small amounts, with each investor becoming a share owner in the business. Another post described a different form of crowdfunding — a [more…]

  • Downtown Parks as Economic Development

    Downtown revitalization takes many forms, and for some cities downtown parks are a major catalyst for redevelopment. From New York’s Central Park to Greensboro’s Central City Park, parks have not only provided open green space for recreation and community gatherings, but have also fostered interest from private developers in [more…]

  • Development Finance Initiative (DFI) helps revitalize NC towns – University Gazette

    This article was originally published in the University Gazette on September 9, 2014, as “Carolina program helps revitalize NC towns.” It is republished here with permission. They call them “wicked problems,” the complicated, long-term, seemingly impossible, hard-to-wrap-your-head-around issues for which solutions seem far away. The team involved in the [more…]

  • Promoting Communities and Downtowns with Paid, Owned, and Earned Media

    Whether your community is a large urban district or a small town, promoting it through traditional media outlets has become more challenging due to unprecedented changes within the communications industry. American newsrooms are in a season of disruption: More than 70 daily newspapers have closed their doors or been [more…]

  • Acquiring real property for redevelopment—can local governments keep it confidential?

    The town of Renewville wants to improve the look of its downtown Main Street, which is pocked with poorly-maintained commercial buildings. The Mayor has had his eye on a few key properties on Main Street, which, if redeveloped, would transform the look and feel of downtown, perhaps spurring additional [more…]

  • Streetcars Need More Than Desire: Why Streetcars Are So Popular and What Streetcar Corridors Need to Be Successful

    Sometimes, what’s old becomes new again. Streetcars were the dominant form of public transportation for several decades in the late 19th-early 20th centuries with dramatic growth all across the United States. Between 1890 and 1907, the number of miles of streetcars in the U.S. grew from 5,783 to 34,404, [more…]

  • The Branding of Downtown Districts

    Downtowns are popular destinations again after decades of losing residents and businesses to suburban areas. Between 2000 and 2010, Census data show that the rate of residential growth in some of the nation’s largest downtowns grew more than twice as fast as the rest of their cities. While some [more…]

  • The Potential Impact of Baby Boomer Housing and Community Preferences on Downtown Revitalization

    Downtown redevelopment to attract talented Millennials has become an important and popular economic development policy in many cities across the country. By now it is almost common knowledge what it takes to attract talented Millennials to your town or city: walkable, diverse and vibrant neighborhoods in close proximity to [more…]

  • Land Banks in Action: Genesee County, Michigan

    A previous post by Tyler Mulligan explained how local governments can utilize land banks to address vacant, abandoned, and tax foreclosed properties in their community.  This post provides an example of a successful land bank in Genesee County, Michigan – home to the city of Flint – and discusses [more…]

  • How a North Carolina Local Government Can Operate a Land Bank for Redevelopment

    If America’s cities and towns are to realize their greatest potential as attractive and welcoming places—and as drivers of the new American economy—they must be able to repurpose their vacant, abandoned and foreclosed properties. Those properties—whether the product of the current foreclosure crisis or the remnants of the old [more…]

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: February 2014

    The following are articles and reports on the web that the Community and Economic Development Program at the UNC School of Government shared through social media over the past month. Follow us on twitter or facebook to receive regular updates. The North Carolina Department of Commerce continued to move [more…]

  • Historic rehabilitation partnerships given “safe harbor” by IRS

    Recently, developers and investors in historic rehabilitation projects—and the communities in which they work—let out a big sigh of relief. After months of uncertainty, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance on January 9, 2014 that cleared up the terms by which developers can allocate to their investors the federal [more…]

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: January 2014

    The following are articles and reports on the web that the Community and Economic Development Program at the UNC School of Government shared through social media over the past month. Follow us on twitter or facebook to receive regular updates. North Carolina Economic Development Board releases its strategic plan [more…]

  • Using a Crisis to Localize Your Rural Economy

    Imagine that the employer your community has depended on for decades shuts down unexpectedly. Suddenly, ten-thousand people are now out of work and the local economy is in flux as residents begin searching for employment in neighboring municipalities. How do you respond to the sudden uncertainty and loss of [more…]

  • Measuring Economic Impact of Historic Rehabilitation

    Across North Carolina, developers are rehabilitating historic buildings and touting the community benefits of the renovations, such as a much-needed hotel for downtown visitors. While these projects frequently do offer many welcome benefits to communities, local governments may be weary because they are unable to access data measuring the [more…]

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: December 2013

    The following are articles and reports on the web that the Community and Economic Development Program at the UNC School of Government shared through social media over the past month. Follow us on twitter or facebook to receive regular updates. The North Carolina Department of Commerce released county-by-county economic [more…]

  • Neighborhood Resistance to Redevelopment: A Case from Memphis, TN

    The City of Memphis, Tennessee was an early adopter and frequent user of HOPE VI funds to demolish traditional public housing and redevelop mixed-income sites. Over the past 15 years, the Memphis Housing Authority (MHA) has received more than $155 million Federal dollars to demolish five public housing complexes that had housed [more…]

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: November 2013

    The following are articles and reports on the web that the Community and Economic Development Program at the UNC School of Government shared through social media over the past month. Follow us on twitter or facebook to receive regular updates. Cabarrus County NC bows out of economic development ‘incentives [more…]

  • Tax Foreclosure and Redevelopment

    Carolina County has been working with its largest municipality, Tar Heel Town, to  redevelop one of Tar Heel Town’s more dilapidated neighborhoods.  Many of the properties in this neighborhood are owned by absentee landlords who fail to maintain them properly.  Not surprisingly, many of these properties are also subject [more…]

  • Arts-based Community & Economic Redevelopment: Artist Relocation Programs

    How can we build on our existing assets to revitalize our downtown? How can we attract new residents and entrepreneurs into distressed areas? How can we encourage the kind of culture and vitality that keeps young professionals in our downtown? Many North Carolina towns are asking themselves these questions [more…]

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: October 2013

    Law review article on economic development incentives in North Carolina by faculty member Tyler Mulligan: More details about the future of the Rural Center: State Budget Director reports that $85 million in existing grants and $24 million in Rural Center assets are to be transferred to state control, [more…]

  • An environmental finance option that will take your breath away

    I spent part of this past October weekend among a huge crowd of families enjoying a wonderful combination of North Carolina fall weather, fun, food, entertainment, educational activities, and adventure activities.  Must have been the NC State Fair, right? Actually while the description may hold, the festival I’m referring [more…]

  • Highlights from IEDC Annual Conference 2013

    On October 6-9, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) held its annual conference in the ‘City of Brotherly Love,” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This year’s conference theme was Transformation, Innovation, Reinvention: Creating Tomorrow’s Economy Today.  Several of the concurrent sessions offered unique resources and perspectives on the field. A few interesting [more…]

  • USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Loan and Grant Program

    In the Town of Elk Park, a rural mountainous community of 453 residents in western North Carolina, the Town Hall currently operates out of an 80-year-old single-family house. Numerous attempts to update the facility have left the building in a state of non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act [more…]

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: September 2013

    The following are articles and reports on the web that the Community and Economic Development Program at the UNC School of Government shared through social media over the past month. Follow us on twitter or facebook to receive regular updates. Southern Growth Policies Board releases its final Report on [more…]

  • Historic School Redevelopment (Durham, NC)

    Yesterday, Sept 4th, community leaders, elected officials, school administrators and a team from Self-Help gathered in NE Central Durham to celebrate the opening of a revitalized historic asset. The historic YE Smith School, a 54,000 square foot building originally constructed in 1910, is the new home to the Maureen [more…]

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: August 2013

    The following are articles and reports on the web that the Community and Economic Development Program at the UNC School of Government shared through social media over the past month. Follow us on twitter or facebook to receive regular updates. Changes at the North Carolina Department of Commerce and [more…]