Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Small Developers in Portland

Small Developer Workshop
July 19, 2016

            At the request of the Executive Board of PNI I attended the Small Developer’s Workshop held in Louisville at the Hilliard Lyons Conference Center on July 19th of this year. The workshop curriculum was created by the Incremental Development Alliance, headed by Executive Director and faculty member Jim Kumon an urban designer , neighborhood advocate and business manager and Monte Anderson who is CEO/President at Options Real Estate. Options Real Estate is multi-service, real estate company specializing in creating sustainable neighborhoods in southern Dallas and northern Ellis counties in Texas.
            The goal of the Alliance is to resurrect the small scale developer who combines local insight and relationships to build human-scale human scale neighborhoods while earning a living. The focus of the group is to work with the existing fabric of inner city neighborhoods by employing skilled traders to construct, outfit, maintain and repair the buildings they love rather than demolish them and bring in new Construction. In order to do this the Alliance has established a training program for small business owners, neighborhood advocates, design and real estate professionals, builders and others to become small developers.
            The audience for the day long workshop consisted of neighborhood activists from Louisville and Lexington. These people came to learn and network with one another to create teams of people with different skill sets involved in small development – legal, city planners, construction and design, funders, etc. Of primary interest were the neighborhoods of Portland, Smoketown, Parkland, West Main, and Butchertown.

Discussion and training included the following:
  • Start Up
  • Assessing Options
  • Moving Forward with Best Product
  • Building the Project
  • Opening Doors and Creating Opportunities
There is a training binder with more details for anyone interested.
There were some concerns voiced by the audience during the course of the discussion. These were:
  • Displacement of people currently living in the neighborhoods.
  • Gentrification and the resulting rise in property taxes that long term, elderly residents on fixed incomes may not be able to afford.
  • Partnering with local government as opposed to private funders. Monte Anderson cautioned against committing to local governments since city councils could change and funding could be endangered.
  • Owner occupied as opposed to absentee landlords. Mr. Anderson said the goal should be to help entrepreneurs become owners and also, help them become home owners in the community.
  • Buying up delinquent taxes. Mr. Anderson said this wasn’t a good idea since the homeowner has the right to come back for up to two years.

Topics of Interest to PNI
    1. Dave Marchal – Deputy Director of Develop Louisville (Marchal@LouisvilleKy.Gov 502-574-3216) provided information on Louisville Zoning Codes. Information about this can be found at http://lojic.org/main. In light of this I spoke with Mr. Marchal about the discussion the Revitalization Committee had earlier regarding re zoning as it related to the Portland Plan. Perhaps this needs to be revisited. 
    2. There was also a discussion involving possible funding for the restoration of vacant and abandoned properties. Mr. Anderson suggested networking with local banks because these banks have more flexible programs than the national banks.
    3. Mike Radeke  Restoration Project Manager for the Kentucky Heritage Council gave a presentation on the Tax Credit Program for restoration of properties on the National Register and worthy of preservation. There is a flyer explaining this in the binder. Kentucky’s number of houses listed in  National Register is number 4 in the nation. There are three things considered in getting a house on the National Register – is it old enough – at least 50 years, is it intact enough, and is it significant enough. Mr. Radeke suggested this information could be obtained by going through library Archives and looking through old photos.
Standards and Guidelines for Rehabilitation can be found at www.nps.gov/tps/standards/four-treatments/treatment-rehabilitation.htm. Mr. Radeke’s contact information is also on the flyer in the binder. 
The last part of the conversation on rehabilitation of homes concerned using original elements when possible. Mr. Kumon pointed out that there was a reason certain elements were used in the first place. It was what was available in the area- for instance using lime in brick mortar instead of cement. Historic windows have more flexibility and are more durable because they can be repaired instead of replacing the entire window. There was a question about weather efficiency. Although no specific citations were available, the consensus of experience was that there was little difference  between the two if proper insulation, etc. was used.

Submitted by Brenda Duffey, Board Member

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