Hacking A Neighborhood???

8 Replies

Tonight our small investor group will start an open ended conversation about how to go about making an existing older neighborhood in our community into trendy and popular neighborhood with more of an urban identity. This is near the Parkway area of Richland WA in the pop. 300,000 area of the Tri-Cities, Washington.

Our area lacks an urban and central feeling "downtown" area and we feel that the commercial and civic development in the Parkway and adjacent Riverfront are going to provide this in the future. For reasons stemming more from community pride but also the bottom line, we'd like to help make this neighborhood cool. 

We are flippers, landlords, financial analysts, agents, attorneys and even a city development guy. 

I don't know if anyone has been involved with anything like this in a residential area. If so I'm curious to hear your experiences and thoughts. I thought I would post here as a journal of our intents and also see if anyone had wisdom to share. 

I would seek out case studies on redevelopment districts.  Lower Downtown or "LoDo" in Denver was riddled with crumbling warehouses occupied by homeless folks in the early 90's.  Then they built Coors Field in 1993 (ish) and it is now one of the hottest nightlife spots in the country.  

This, I'm sure, is a larger scale than you are attempting, but I would think the ideas could be scaled down.  

That sounds a lot like Florida's Rise of the Creative Class.  As a counterpoint:

http://prospect.org/article/ruse-creative-class-0

Thank you for the feedback @Mitch H.  and @Richard C.   Richland, as a city built by the Federal government has a unique history and a high proportion of engineers and scientists. It would not be the rebranding of Canton, OH. Good cost of living, quality of life in general. It's never really had much in the way of culture though. It's definitely an ambitious idea. Whether or not it becomes a movement, we'll see.

@David Fritch  I love this idea.  A colleague of mine and I also talked about doing this.  Picking up a block of homes with some mixed use on the end and creating demand for the neighborhood by kickstarting it with a chunk of small development.  Keep us posted on the conversation.

Medium team zen logo vMicki M., 33 Zen Lane | [email protected] | http://www.33zenlane.com | CO Agent # 100037721, NM Agent # 19441

Hey check out The Better Block.  They have great ideas about transforming a community block by block.  

http://betterblock.org/how-to-build-a-better-block...

Hope that helps!

Thanks for your interest @Micki M.  !

Meeting went well and our presenter put up some good data. The approximately 1,000 unit are is a pretty big bite to take on at once and are becoming more investor owned then owner occupied as time has gone on. The 200 or so homes in the area nearest the Parkway (commercial/downtown area) is something we can have an influence in. That is a more realistic size that our group could influence. The homes in that area have already seen some improvement over the past few years. The nearby commercial will hopefully continue to ramp up. There may be a parking structure a few blocks away which will help events in 3 areas; The Parkway, An open air plaza and the riverfront where live events and festivals happen. Nothing would influence it more than having vested owner occupants. Walk-ability and bike-abilty were discussed a lot and the city may look at improving that type of access to the Parkway. 

What's the character of the housing stock in the 1,000 unit section? ("Unit" here vs "homes" in the Parkway section-does unit mean homes or apartments; if so, how dense?)

Same question for the 200 home section though I'd figure they're analogous. What's it like? I mean, how much A rental w/ amenities, how much old stock that was duplexed poorly in the 80s. (So to speak.)

So there are plans for a parking structure and plaza; and there is a lot of investor ownership. Does this mean there was revitalization effort made pre-crash?

A decade ago, this company publicized their efforts:

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fsb/fsb_archive/200...

http://articles.latimes.com/2004/jul/25/realestate...

In 2003, I started a similar strategy in Denver, and was able to acquire over 40 homesites in Overland, near the Evans Light Rail Station.  I almost got derailed by the Great Recession, but now I have started replacing some run down postwar boxes.

Here's what I wrote in 2006:  http://tippingneighborhoods.blogspot.com/

@Micki McNie    From experience, I'd say it's too hard to snap up the entire block, but  the idea of positioning adjacent to the mixed use is a good one.  Making money on rentals while the neighborhood gentrifies is pretty easy.  Kickstarting the gentrification by opening the charming local coffee shop is a lot harder, but that coffee shop or something like it is essential.

Last Friday I received 10 unsolicited contracts in the mail from an apparently desperate investor trying to "shake the trees and see what falls out".  I'm actually considering accepting one of them.  BTW I'm impressed with the strategy.  Yellow letters get tossed out quickly, but it's not that much harder to send a contract which will probably get looked at.

"That sounds a lot like Florida's Rise of the Creative Class."  The strategy also has elements of Gladwell's Tipping Point.  My neighborhood has officially tipped.

Among many other factors, the legalization of marijuana was the single biggest force in turning the neighborhood around.  Lots of young people have moved to Denver to get in the business.