5. Try a pop-up. Set up a temporary store, restaurant, cafe, art gallery, etc., just for the busy season or even one day for a special event. Here’s how a group of students did pop-ups of an entire set of downtown blocks.
6. Create a co-working space, like Webster City, Iowa, just did. Here’s a picture.
9. Put it for sale online to lure urban businesses to relocate. Gaylord, Kansas, did that back in 2006.
Is your building in bad shape?
10. Rent the front window to another store for a window display. I saw this in my big town of Alva, Oklahoma.
11. Clean it up, dress it up, put up lights. Chris Van Patten told me about a building in Buffalo, New York, that put up lights for the holidays, and promptly sold.
12. Show what it could be. Paint the windows so it looks like a business. Or get an artist or architect to draw what the building could look like with different businesses there.
Getting buildings up to code and usable can be truly expensive. If the code requirements turn out to be ridiculous, as they sometimes are, you might look into alternative codes for historic properties and reuse of existing structures. If your municipal government is willing to work with you, maybe they’ll allow use of one of these codes designed specifically for older buildings.
OK, I told you those ideas to ask you for yours. What have you seen done with empty buildings?
Get a weekly dose of positivity for small communities from Becky McCray and Deb Brown, co-founders of SaveYour.Town. We share practical steps you can put into action right away.
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