Kingman County is one of two counties making up the Wichita MSA in southern Kansas. This largely rural county has been losing population for decades, though that trend may be reversing as people move from the City of Wichita to rural home sites and smaller communities with a more affordable cost of living. The county’s economic development organization is seeking opportunities to retain businesses and attract new ones to the community both for the economic opportunities they provide, and to offer shopping and services to residents.
Place Dynamics was brought in to conduct the market and financial feasibility analysis for three potential uses:
A conference facility capable of hosting events with a minimum of 100 attendees
A new hotel, possibly in conjunction with the conference facility
Retail and dining businesses
The retail trade area for the county and its principal city is really no larger than the county itself. While few single-category uses are immediately viable (aside from a truck stop and restaurants), there is an opportunity for businesses to combine product lines to capture unmet demand.
The City of Kingman can support a new hotel, fueled in part by a 20 percent increase in traffic on Highway 50 over the past decade. A 40-room midscale property was recommended. The financial analysis demonstrated the project’s likely profitability and ability to secure financing based on typical commercial lending criteria.
Few similar rural counties, or communities the size of Kingman have convention centers of the size and character the economic development organization has envisioned. We examined the small handful of comparable facilities and assessed likely competition for the proposed center. The recommended facility will have a combination of dedicated rooms, flexible space, and amenities to enable it to host diverse functions such as business meetings, conferences and some trade shows, and banquets or receptions. A proposed location in the historic downtown, outdoor reception space, allowing outside food, and lower rental fees will help the facility to compete for bookings.
In addition to the location and facility design, the study recommended a management structure, services to be provided, and marketing strategies.
None of the comparable spaces are financially self-sufficient, and the analysis predicted that this facility would similarly need continued financial support. That might not be the case, however, if it were to be developed with grants and donations to defray the estimated $1 million development cost.
Janesville is a city of about 64,000 people located in south central Wisconsin. The City retained Place Dynamics and SAA Design Group to advise it on prospects for redeveloping several brownfield sites along the Rock River where it passes through downtown. Our role was to assess the market opportunity and advise the team on effective redevelopment strategies.
The analysis demonstrated a strong and immediate demand for market rate and higher-end rentals along with owner occupied condominiums. These uses could be successfully developed along the river, where the river itself, along with existing paths and parks would be a significant amenity. Additional riverfront improvements recommended by SAA Design Group would further enhance the area’s potential. To help establish the market for redevelopment, the City will need to be an active player in helping to assemble, remediate, and market properties, as well as provide support for elements of proposed projects such as enclosed parking, which is a necessary amenity.
The market for retail, office, and dining uses in the downtown is presently limited, in part due to a lack of any retail concentration in the district, and in part due to a very large inventory of available space elsewhere in the city. The most likely prospects in the short term will include eating and drinking places, home decor and hobby-related retail, and boutique office users who may be tied to the nearby courthouse.
Layton Boulevard West Neighbors is a nonprofit organization working to preserve the vitality of the Silver City, Burnham Park, and Lincoln Park neighborhoods on Milwaukee’s far west side. These were historically working class areas that developed along streetcar lines from the 1870’s through the early 1900’s, offering housing along with shopping and services for workers in the adjacent Menomonee Valley. As the largely Eastern European households that once dominated the neighborhoods move out, many Hispanic households are moving in. Home ownership in the area remains high, with moderate incomes. These are “moving up” neighborhoods for recent immigrants and first generation citizens who want to own a home.
Our analysis focused on five primary corridors.
Pierce Street borders the Menomonee Valley, which has been the historic heart of Milwaukee’s manufacturing district. This area is attracting several new green industries and small craft manufacturers that are attracted to the central location and availability of smaller spaces than found in the Valley.
National Avenue is the most important commercial corridor. Its higher traffic volume, proximity to Miller Park, and existing businesses are a foundation on which to build a destination business district focused on multi-ethnic dining and shopping.
Greenfield Avenue will largely serve neighborhood shopping and service needs.
Burnham Street does not have the traffic necessary to sustain the amount of commercial space available. We recommended development around nodes, with the most important of these being around a popular Mexican grocery.
Lincoln Avenue can serve these neighborhoods along with adjacent suburban areas. The street’s proximity to a large hospital complex presents opportunities to serve workers and patients, particularly for businesses in health care or dining establishments.
In addition to the market analysis, we recommended specific strategies for the organization to pursue in its efforts to revitalize these corridors.
Having consulted with several communities in Louisiana and Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina and communities in the Florida Panhandle after the Deep Horizon oil spill, Place Dynamics’ founder, Michael Stumpf, has a great deal of experience in economic recovery planning. Michael was part of a team assembled by FEMA to work with Ward County and Minot, North Dakota after devastating floods impacted the area, which was already reeling from an influx of workers in the nearby oil fields. Michael played a key role in advising the team on topics including economic development, downtown revitalization, commercial corridor development, and historic preservation. He also contributed design services to the team.
Ripon is a remarkable community. Although small and rural, it has an impressive destination downtown district with many specialty shops and restaurants. A recent downtown plan gave many ideas, but did not contain the information that would help the Main Street program determine what was feasible or establish priorities.
Place Dynamics started with a market analysis to determine demand for housing, retail, dining, and office uses. We documented the demand for several types of retail, identifying the number of businesses and square feet that could be occupied in the district. Additional restaurants could also be supported. The visitor market figured significantly in these calculations.
With a declining population base, there was less demand for new housing. The most likely opportunity was to develop 20-24 condominium units, and we recommended the most appropriate of several potential redevelopment areas for this use.
The Fox River is Appleton’s most loved asset. The mighty river once provided the power for numerous mills in “The Flats”, the river banks and low islands that were developed with sawmills, paper mills, and other industrial uses. Over the past couple decades these sites have been transitioning from industrial to residential and commercial uses. The City sought advice on how to plan for the future of the area, including managing the transition period where residential and industrial uses may conflict.
Our plans for the area established a consensus vision for what the Flats may look like in the future, where community sentiment strongly favors reclaiming the water’s edge for recreation, and developing a trail system that will utilize abandoned railroad trestles crossing the river. Preservation is an important element for some buildings and for the locks and canal, which will be opened as a water trail. Most redevelopment sites will be targeted for residential development tied to the nearby downtown on one side of the river, and the downtown on the other bank.