Small towns that ‘get’ the creative class
Some small towns that are looking to boost sagging economies and abandoned downtowns have committed to attracting the creatives. The results have been more than positive, as this article on New York’s progressive small towns illustrates.
Within 10 years, Hudson’s neglected downtown Warren Street became a vibrant destination by establishing 19 galleries, and 40 restaurants and shops focused on the arts community. Since 2001, home value increased 25%, the largest growth in decades. Hudson also has one of the coolest small town entertainment web sites around (image).
In North Adams, which has seen dozens of artist-oriented lofts and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MMCA) open, home values rose 20% based largely on arts-related development in what was a depressed economy. One of the 30-unit loft projects provided $6 million in revenue to the city in 3 years (includes general spending and tax revenues) – quite a feat for a town with 10,000 people.
Are you aware of any small towns that are rising from the ashes? Speak your mind below…
Another town trying to rise from the ashes is Roanoke, VA, an old railroad town. I worked for their downtown organization (www.downtownroanoke.org) last summer as an intern. It really seems to be trying to turn around. This is especially true concerning some of their more recent projects: the sustainable cradle2cradle home competition (http://www.c2c-home.org/), their loft/warehouse renovations, a wifi downtown, monthly art crawls, an abandoned high school into a performance art center, one of the best and longest running farmer’s markets in the country, and a new high profile art museum (http://www.artmuseumroanoke.org/) designed by Randall Stout, an emerging architect that used to work under Frank Gehry. Truthfully though, the downtown is one of the best spaces ever, but nowhere to live. When I was working there, I would get calls a few times a week concerning people wanting to find a place downtown, but for some odd reason, I could only mention the few apartment buildings available. That town would rock if it had a 24-7 life!
The City of Mount Rainier, MD, like other small towns, is on the move. 15 minutes from downtown Washington, DC, and with just under 10,000 residents, Mt. Rainier is a designated arts community. Recently, the city inagurated an $11.5 million artists lofts and is getting ready, this winter, to open a $3.8 million state-of-the-art performance center, Joe’s Movement Emporium.