Every small town downtown has some unused buildings and others used just for storage. They aren’t adding anything to the downtown economy. What can you do with them, besides ignore them?
Use the storefronts to advertise other businesses.
Yes, it will take cooperative building owners. And this only works if the front windows are in good shape. But it’s better than painting or boarding over windows, or even worse, leaving a view into the empty space or the junk stored there.
These photos are of a building used for storage in downtown Alva, Oklahoma. The front windows were rented out to other retail businesses that didn’t have a downtown presence.
Update: Also check out these new examples from Elkhart, Kansas.
Would you rather fill those empty buildings? Deb Brown and I have put together a Toolkit to show you how she filled empty buildings by running a tour. You can get the details at the Tour of Empty Buildings Toolkit.
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Jeffrey Blake Adams says
Empty downtowns need LIFE. How about partner with SBA/SCORE and the bldg owners, sort thru aspiring biz owners, and set up some leases that fill those spots.
ex; single mom wants to start coffee shop/bakery – lease is ZERO RENT for 2years, then reduced rent for five, then market rent for the next five.
Think of downtowns like a mall, you need traffic drivers, and conveniencees.
W all the sgl moms, a live work community of shops below and lofts above, coffee shops, bakeries, local produce, general store, (Local, NOT dollar General) handyman referrals, business center w copies, coffee, faxing, internet computer rental, meeting space, daycare and prepaid cell phones… how about catering? How about crafters working on site? Pick a theme to make the downtown an attraction? Ft Payne AL used to be SOCK capitol of the country… get the idea?
Becky McCray says
Jeff, you are brimming with ideas! I hope your local economic developers are listening.