3 Small-Scale Developer Stories to Inspire You

We're proud to have many Strong Towns members involved in the small-scale developers movement—a group of people who are creating better towns, one building at a time. These are young people, old people, parents, programmers, teachers, architects and everyone in between. They're not wealthy real estate moguls. They're people like you and me.

Here are three stories about small-scale developers to inspire you this Friday:

B&B room in the El Moore building

B&B room in the El Moore building


"The major success at El Moore has been its foundation in the community. There are lots of opportunity for the people who live and visit here to interact with each other [...] The apartments are in demand. Our rental numbers are quite high." ~Peggy Brennan

Peggy and Tom Brennan recently renovated and opened two unique buildings in downtown Detroit: the Green Garage, a business incubator and coworking space, and El Moore, a residential apartment building and urban lodge. In this interview which we published as part of CNU 24 in June, Peggy talks about how these businesses got started and where they're headed now. Read the whole story.

One of the many newly-renovated historic homes in St. Paul

One of the many newly-renovated historic homes in St. Paul

One House at a Time on St. Paul's East Side

"The Inspiring Communities program isn't a panacea. But it is a Strong Towns approach in action. It's a campaign of small investments, a large number of them, with the potential for a far more durable return on investment in the long run. It will take patience and perseverance. It will take a lot of heart."  
   ~Daniel Herriges

Strong Towns contributor, Daniel Herriges, tells the story of a historic home renovation effort in St. Paul, MN. This project is demonstrating—one house at a time—how a critical mass of Strong Citizens can be an incredible asset to a troubled area, and how local government can play a constructive role in incremental neighborhood revitalization. Read the whole story.

Leah's building

Leah's building


"20 years ago there were tons of people [downtown...] It was a community gathering space. I feel the downtown should be the heart of the city. That’s something that hasn’t been valued in the last 20 years."  ~Leah Calgary

Leah Calgaro is a twenty-something, recently married resident of Virginia, MN. She chose a unique path for a young person and recently purchased a mixed-use building in her hometown. She and her husband are living in the upstairs while renovating the other floors. In this interview published as part of Iron Range Week, she discusses her commitment to building a more productive downtown and the challenges of renovating this historic building. Read the whole story.

Interested in becoming a small-scale developer yourself? Check out the Incremental Development Alliance and sign up for one of their workshops.

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