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Repurposing under-utilized real estate in downtown Enterprise was the topic of a two-day visit by a nationally recognized firm specializing in economic and downtown development.
Joe Borgstrom of Place + Main, LLC was brought in as part of an Economic Development Administration grant awarded to Main Street Alabama, which, in turn, selected Main Street Enterprise as one of the recipients.
“Main Street Enterprise focuses on organization, promotion, design and economic vitality,” Main Street Enterprise Director Mariah Montgomery said. “While you may know this entity because of events like Whoville, at the core, Main Street Enterprise is an economic development program, and these opportunities are provided to us because of our Main Street designation.”
During Borgstrom’s visit to Enterprise, he met with City leaders, local builders, Main Street Enterprise Board members and other community members to discuss multiple topics including market data, building costs, economic growth patterns, and more.
Borgstrom also joined Tanya Maloney of Main Street Alabama and Montgomery in privately touring select vacant properties downtown, during which time he interviewed the property owners to learn their ideas of future use. More than a dozen members of the Enterprise community later joined Borgstrom, Maloney and Montgomery Monday evening for a walking visioning session downtown. The event, which was publicized on the Main Street Enterprise Facebook page, created discussion and generated ideas of what members of the Enterprise community were looking for in specific downtown properties.
“Joe told us the discussion on the Downtown Enterprise Facebook page was the highest online engagement he had seen so far while visiting Main Street Alabama communities this year,” Mariah Montgomery said. “We were excited to see the Enterprise community share their visions for our downtown and hope to see some of those ideas come to fruition.”
During the walking tour, attendees wrote their ideas for each of the specific properties on sticky notes that were collected at the conclusion of the event. Borgstrom took them and presented the information Tuesday morning to the Main Street Board and various committee members. He also included information about what businesses are in surplus and what future business types have opportunity in the downtown area. Based on the data, Borgstrom offered recommendations on how to incorporate those business types in the existing downtown area and how to potentially fill vacant properties. He also provided additional recommendations including component grant programs to help business owners improve building aesthetics, vacant building ordinance implementation, ways to encourage development of additional housing near downtown and information about seeking national historic registration for the entire district to result in property owners being eligible for tax credits.
Borgstrom will also provide a financial analysis and pro forma for each participating property owner. The service, which would usually cost the property owners thousands of dollars, is provided free of charge through Main Street Alabama.
“The purpose of economic development is to create community wealth. To fill the vacant properties downtown with profitable businesses would be a success not only for downtown, but for the City. Additionally, the market analysis information provided by Place + Main will be beneficial to any entrepreneur because it shows the data of where the best areas of opportunity are in Enterprise.”