Food for Placemaking & Revitalization
Detroit, MI – Asheville, NC – Athens, OH – these are just three cities whose recent revitalization has demonstrated the power of local food to catalyze communities, attract visitors and spur economic development.
Establishing great farmers markets in a downtown district can be an inexpensive way to attract visitors to an area with previously very few draws. Vacant buildings can become thriving public markets, processing facilities or grocery stores. Depressed downtown neighborhoods can become the go-to spot for farm-to-table restaurants and microbreweries.
Recently, we have been working with nonprofits, planning groups, and economic development agencies on exploring local food as a strategy for placemaking and community revitalization. Several of our studies have identified enterprises that could be feasibly located in abandoned spaces that had previously served as vital community resources. We have also conducted broad community assessments that identified strategies to establish a thriving food district that would bring industries, jobs and visitors to a neighborhood.
Food for Placemaking & Revitalization Projects
Whatcom Local Food Campus
The Whatcom Community Foundation invests in activities and organizations that improve the ability of people to help themselves, increase connections among people, and take cooperative approaches to community issues. WCF was exploring the development of a local food campus on a waterfront property that would become a multi-tenant site, anchored by a school district commissary. The goal was to strengthen Whatcom County’s local food system, by promoting health equity, forging tangible strategic connections between food production organizations, and helping farmers connect with institutional markets. NVA developed the business case for this ambitious project. (2019)
LISC Phoenix Commercial Kitchen Strategy
Phoenix and Mesa, AZ
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation, known as LISC, is one of the largest nonprofits in the country supporting projects to revitalize communities, transforming them into healthy and sustainable places to live, work, and raise families. Two projects in metro Phoenix, a cultural center and an affordable housing development, include commercial kitchens that will operate with a missional emphasis on job creation and serving small businesses, particularly local, women, native and minority-owned. NVA assisted in building the capacity of the management teams, and the refinement of their operating models. (2018)
Chicago Public School Reuse
Landmarks Illinois is the state’s leading voice for historic preservation. New Venture Advisors worked with Landmarks Illinois and Chicago Public Schools to identify reuse opportunities for 18 schools that had been closed by the board of education to combat budget deficits. Recognizing Chicago as a well-established and growing hub of entrepreneurial activity in food and beverage, New Venture Advisors explored adaptive reuse cases centered on important assets of these schools – their kitchens, grounds, and multi-use spaces – that could serve as a foundation for food enterprises. Read the report here. (2015)
Bridgeport Downtown Development
Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District is focused on the development and revitalization of downtown Bridgeport, CT. New Venture Advisors worked with Carmody Consulting on the development of an action plan to revitalize Bridgeport’s downtown district through food enterprise development and to increase access to fresh fruit and vegetables. The plan was based on extensive stakeholder interviews and a community planning session. (2015)
Rural Grocery Store Revitalization
Iowa, Kansas & Michigan
Rural grocery stores are closing at an alarming rate, endangering their role as the cornerstone of a healthy and connected rural community. Through the generous support of the USDA and in collaboration with local academic partners, New Venture Advisors conducted a feasibility study to evaluate how the development of a food hub within a rural grocery store could enable a rural food hub to be viable despite market limitations, while simultaneously providing a critical new source of revenue for the rural grocery store. Results were made accessible to rural grocery store owners nationwide. (2016)