Case Studies and References

Adaptive Reuse and Historic Preservation

The Adaptive Reuse of Historic Industrial Buildings: Regulation Barriers, Best Practices and Case Studies A growing number of cities are pioneering holistic and policy strategies to abate and rehabilitate their vacant or underutilized historic industrial buildings.Most conversions are taking place in the Northeast due to the large number of industrial buildings located there, but it is a common trend around the country. A few cities have gone even further by making the adaptive reuse of vacant industrial buildings an integral part of their infill development and affordable housing strategies under the rubric of “smart growth.” The opportunity to reuse obsolete facilities in the urban core supports sustainability and smart growth initiatives designed to focus redevelopment in inner cities in an effort to decrease urban sprawl. As an alternative to our ever-increasing throw-away society, adaptive reuse offers a sustainable building site with existing infrastructure and materials.

Old School Court, Ipstones, Staffordshire The redevelopment of an unused building for affordable housing purposes. The local District Counselor, aware of elderly people not having adequate housing converted a building with a redundant use to an affordable housing use.

Renovated High School is given new life through Adaptive Reuse Washington High School is one of Portland’s newest hubs of creativity. SERA Architects worked with Venerable Properties and Bremik Construction on the renovation of this historic 1924 red brick and concrete high school, which brought the unoccupied and deteriorating building up to code and infused it with new life. The result is a sought after space that balances modern office needs, a vibrant performing arts venue, and stewardship for one of the city’s architectural riches.

Economic Development

An Analysis of Downtown Storefront Improvements Do storefront improvements provide adequate return to property owners?  If so, what are the economic returns?  This study was done to help business and community leaders make informed investment decisions on storefront renovations.

Downtown and Business District Market Analysis Market analyses commissioned by the city can be helpful in streamlining outside investment in the area. In order to assess opportunities for new growth & industry appeal, market analyses (like the one outlined by the link) can be sent to potential investors. The analyses can make the data-driven case for Willamina as a 10 Gig, geographically beautiful, affordable locale to do business.

The Economic Impact of Wine and Grape Industries on the Oregon Economy The Oregon wine industry continues to expand while maintaining its roots in family winemaking and artisanal quality products. Since the first economic impact study (2005), there has been dramatic growth in production, revenues and jobs. The industry has reinvested and attracted outside investment, and rebounded from the recession to become one of Oregon’s leading agricultural products. This information could be useful as Willamina looks to capitalize on this expanding industry.

Facades, Festivals, and Footpaths: Greenville, Kentucky’s Downtown Redevelopment It took five years for a forward-thinking mayor, a proactive tourist commission, an involved community, and a development district to turn Greenville’s Main Street from vacant storefronts with dilapidated facades and darkness to a vibrant community. This case study shows how a small community built on its local assets and infrastructure and used innovative financing to turn their town around.

Find a Way or Make One This document uses “Small Towns Big Ideas” as a primary source and examines the different methods of economic revitalization and the goals of each. It also looks at the ‘lessons learned’ from the source document.

Framework for Creating a Smart Growth Economic Development Strategy: A Tool for Small Cities and Towns This case study is a step-by-step guide to building a place-based economic development strategy. It is intended for small and mid-sized cities, particularly those that have limited population growth, areas of disinvestment, and/or struggling economy (U.S. EPA)

How Small Towns and Cities Can Use Local Assets to Rebuild their Economies: Lessons from Successful Places The City of Douglas, Virginia’s approach to economic development includes supporting small business and entrepreneurs. They hired a small business development director to support and encourage new business owners and also started a main street program to improve storefronts. As a result, the downtown business vacancy rate fell and new jobs were created.

Main Street: when a highway runs through it: a Handbook for Oregon Communities This handbook was designed for communities that are working together to enhance the vitality of their main street… when a highway runs through it.

Main Street USA: Revitalizing the Heart of Small Towns Woodbine, Iowa was suffering the same slow decline that is currently seen in Willamina. The number of jobs was declining as was the population – 1,459 people in 2010. By using the Main Street Movement as defined by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Woodbine now has 18 new businesses and is growing.

Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities Communities across the country want to get the most out of future growth and development. Residents and leaders from all types of communities—from urban to suburban to rural—want to achieve the best possible economic, social, environmental, and public health outcomes. This desire is particularly evident in rural communities that may be experiencing changes in their traditional landscapes and ways of life. In communities with less diverse economies, the choices between “what was” and “what could be” are critical.The reverberations of simple decisions or even of inaction can be relatively dramatic.

Rebuilding Downtown: A Guidebook for Revitalization This guidebook is a resource by Smart Growth America that provides seven fundamental steps for any sized community to establish, re-establish, or to strengthen a Main Street or neighborhood business district. Several topics are covered including equity building, economic development, fostering economic opportunity, financing, and creative funding.

Rural Wealth Creation: Concepts, Strategies, and Measures The USDA and Economic Research Service created a report that provides a framework for rural communities to determine their assets and potential for various methods of wealth creation. No wealth creation strategy works in every context, so the report provides several approaches for rural communities to strategize based on their local priorities.

Small Towns Big Ideas This comprehensive document looks at 45 small towns (<10,000 residents” across American that were suffering from job loss and declining populations but managed to recover and are now thriving. The towns that are covered range in size from 175 to 15,000 and the document goes over the economic development strategies used in each town.

Using Smart Growth Strategies to Foster Economic Development: A Kelso, Washington, Case Study This case study on Kelso, Washington aims to help cities like Kelso rethink how to address economic development challenges with small, manageable solutions that create stronger, more resilient communities. A smart growth economic development strategy needs to support businesses and workers and improve quality of life. (U.S. EPA)


City of Portland Launches Solar Forward: Community Solar Program The article publicizes the City of Portland, Oregon’s launch of Solar Forward, a new opportunity to enable community members to fund renewable energy products on local, publicly-owned facilities. The program allows residents – including renters – to invest in their community’s clean energy future.

Economic Development through Sustainability Envision Charlotte has developed a four-pillar plan that focuses on energy and water efficiency via their Smart Energy Now™ and Smart Water Now™ programs in collaboration with energy utilities, corporate interests, and a number of core community stakeholders.

A Guide to Community Solar: Utility, Private and Non-profit Project Development In this report about community solar from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, descriptions of different kinds of solar projects are available. On page 7 of the report, there are examples of utility-sponsored community solar projects (as well as other project types). This report is very helpful in explaining how a community solar project could work in a community as well as detailed background information about community solar.

In deal with coop, Minnesota town to offset two-thirds of its power with solar The small town of Rockford, Minnesota, adopted a community solar project through the Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association. This project involved installing 60 panels on a city-owned building in addition to 270 more on land next to a water tower. The energy generated from these solar projects will offset 67 percent of its power needs over the next 25 years (their community is roughly 4,300 residents). As community solar is a tool used to advance energy equity and reduce carbon emissions, it could be considered a critical piece of infrastructure for small communities in the future. Further, community solar advances the energy resiliency of a small town by localizing the energy source.

Minnesota: Lake Region Electric Cooperative 60-Panel solar farm owned and maintained by the Lake Region Electric Cooperative. Lake Region members make a one-time lease payment ($1,400/ full panel or $700/ half panel) or participate in a pay over time option. Participants, receive a $5.75 per month bill credit ($69 annually) for a full panel’s electric production with a 20-year payback period on investments.

Pioneer Solar, Ashland, Oregon Solar Pioneer I launched in 2000 with 30kW installed and Solar Pioneer II (an extension of Solar Pioneer I) launched in 2008 with 63.5 kW. Both projects were developed and installed by the City of Ashland and Ashland utility customers who participate in the program purchase the output of panels. Using net metering, the City will credit the electric bill of participants for the amount of renewable electricity their panels have generated.

Recognition of Energy Costs and Energy Performance in Commercial Property Valuation The article from the New Buildings Institute outlines how the to analyze a building’s value with regard to energy efficiency and green buildings. Since energy efficiency is more-or-less invisible, in order to appraise a property and measure its energy efficiency, there are features of the property that can be specifically analyzed to help determine its value. A large unit of measure to be used it measured the energy costs against the net operating income. Another way to measure the energy efficiency of a building is through its certification and whether or not it has met the standards of any particular rating system. Regardless of the measurement method, it seems as though the process is very timely and requires a large amount of diligence to acquire documentation, administer tests, track progress, and document the findings. This process makes a huge difference in the market value of a property, increasing the return for any owner.

Solar Pioneer II An example closer to home is the Solar Pioneer I and II projects that were established in Ashland, OR. This program provided the citizens of Ashland an opportunity to use affordable, renewable energy in addition to educating local residents about solar panel technology. Education and outreach for renewable energy technologies are important for small towns as they traditionally don’t have access to as many information or resources that a larger city would.

Tri-State SGIG The Tri-State electric distribution cooperative in GA, TN and NC runs the Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) project which includes installation of 15,0001 smart meters, line monitoring for improved outage detection, pre-pay billing options, and a web portal for usage monitoring by customers. The SGIS budget is $2.4 million (includes $1.1 million in DOE SGIG funding and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009).

Green Infrastructure & Urban Ecology

596 Acres of Vancant Land in Brooklyn, NY A local community group in the Brooklyn community created a project to map all the vacant land in their neighborhood. They were able to contact many of the owners and convert it to temporary community space, such as gardens and play grounds.

Americans Engagement with Park Survey This study details our use of parks.  This information might be helpful for the city as they try and find ways to create more connectivity to the river and Willamiona Creek, the existing park at the west end of downtown and think on pocket park ideas.

Biophilic Urbanism: Singapore Singapore outlines the characteristics of an emerging new planning model called biophilic urbanism, which over the years, has demonstrated how high density does not have to mean reduced natural systems. The case study looks at how biophilic urbanism works to improve natural systems between buildings and on the façades and rooftops of buildings.

Community Supported Agriculture A farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically, the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. []

Composting at Home Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. Food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. []

National Farm to School Network Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education settings. Students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as education opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips. Farm to school empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities. []

Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns (G3) Program In October 2010, EPA launched the Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns (G3) Initiative to provide support for small to medium-sized communities in urbanized watersheds working to reduce stormwater runoff through the use of green infrastructure. The G3 Initiative supports the use of green streets to bring a community’s “Green vision” to life and provides the tools and resources needed to develop a green vision, design-build, and operate and maintain green infrastructure stormwater management practices. Greet streets provide multiple community benefits by improving the water quality of local watersheds and enhancing a community’s livability and economic vitality. []

Measuring the Impact of The 606 The 606 used to be an abandoned rail line, but now it’s a is a 2.7 mile multi-use recreational trail and park.  This trail runs through different neighborhoods and is an alternative transportation corridor, a living work of art, and a spectacular new green space for everyone to enjoy. This case study talks about the creation of The 606 and how it has helped to boost the local housing market around it.

Project Urban Forest Project Urban Forest is a program in Glasgow, Scotland that raises funds to support the planting of urban trees throughout this city.  As a large tree can promote a cleaner urban environment, this organization hopes to contribute to better air quality for Glasgow.


Arcata, California Case Study In 2004, downtown Arcata, California was economically and culturally thriving but lacked affordable housing options. The Arcata community expressed commitment to affordable housing options,investment in their existing community, and enhancement of the unique characteristics of the downtown neighborhoods. With the support of USDA, the City and a private developer collaborated to create an affordable, green apartment complex for senior citizens in downtown Arcata.

The Caravan: The Tiny House Hotel Located in the heart of the popular and vibrant Alberta Arts District in Portland, Oregon, Caravan is a unique, one-of-a-kind hotel where travelers from around the world can experience what it’s like to stay in a custom-made tiny house on wheels. Our charming tiny houses are all built by local builders and range in size from 120-170 sq.ft. Each tiny house features creative, funky, artistic design elements coupled with multi-functional, space-efficient furnishings. All of our tiny houses have flush toilets, hot showers, electric heat, a sitting area, a kitchen and lots of locally made art and sustainable, Fair Trade products. Video:

Character Compatible, Space-Efficient Housing Options for Single-Dwelling Neighborhoods This report discusses how to create more affordable “middle housing” (between single
family & apartment units) while maintaining neighborhood character. If there’s difficulty attracting new construction, single-unit conversions into multil-plex variations could increase housing capacity while providing income for local property owners.

Infill Development in a Post-Redevelopment World Kings Beach is a rural community that has issues with an aging and substandard housing stock for its workforce. An affordable workforce housing infill project was developed that is sustainable and uses smart growth principles. The project contains high density housing and allows residents to be in close proximity to transit and services.

Isos Housing, Northumberland Rural Case Study Isos Housing – Using local labour including apprenticeships, the project, in a conservation area, has brought back in to use a derelict industrial building that had been empty for four years to create general needs affordable homes and new housing

It takes a Village: PSU (POD) Partner’s on Dwelling Initiative The POD Initiative asks the architecture and design community to apply their skills and experience in shaping the built environment toward housing Portland’s most vulnerable population- the homeless. The CPID and partners hosted an open design charrette attended by nearly 100 designers, social workers, activists, and houseless individuals. The proposal is that the village of these 14 pods and shared facilities will consist of a community of all women and be operated through a collaboration between Catholic Charities and the Joint Office of Homeless Services. The City is working with the Village Coalition, The POD Initiative, CPID, and the Kenton Neighborhood Association (among others) to ensure that this pilot project is successful and can serve as a model for future initiatives of this kind throughout Portland.

Maroney Commons “With just over 850 residents, Howard is reimagining what it means to be rural with Maroney Commons. The Commons, built with green building techniques, is a mixed-use complex with a hotel, a conference center, a restaurant, and offices that will help rural residents learn about green jobs and technology.”

Smart City

5 Reasons Why Amsterdam is the World’s Smartest City Amsterdam is a city that has embedded the internet of things so successfully into its urban ecosystem that it can be considered one of the world’s most successful smart cities. A series of tech-focused initiatives that have been implemented to make Amsterdam a better place to live in the future. Lawrence suggests that Amsterdam is a “perfect blueprint” of how other cities can achieve existence as a smart city.

The 10 Smartest Cities in North America This article describes what are the 10 smartest cities doing to become the most sustainable, connected, innovative city of the future. Urban strategist and author Boyd Cohen states that by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. He contends that the survival of our species will largely be determined by what happens in our cities. Cohen uses a “smart cities wheel framework” to furnish a ranking methodology for what he deems are the smartest cities in North America.

10 steps to building a smart city These steps include what problems need fixing, find a leader, develop a vision everyone can get behind, make a business case, share data and incentivize innovation, design from the bottom up, tread carefully, get politicians on board, educate citizens, spread the world. [The Guardian]

Canada’s smartest cities: Is you city holding you back or is it helping your thrive? The enlightened utopia city is closer than we think.  An increase in infrastructure will give cities a leg up on the others.  Being a smart city changes the ability for economic development, tourism, and grassroots initiatives.  Smart cities are the foundation of “flourishing economic change, population shift, and big small town pride.

The Benefits of Becoming a Smart City Advances in technology are quickly paving the way for smart cities. A smart city is an urban center that harnesses technologies, such as IT, to improve the quality of life of residents, manage available resources such as roads and water in economically sustainable manner, and reduce environmental pollution. According to figures published by the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), smart city technologies will grow to an industry worth $27.5 billion by 2023. In addition, the world will be home to about 88 smart cities by 2025.To learn more about smart cities of the future and how big data will play a role in improving the efficiency and sustainability of urban living, checkout the infographic below created by the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Online Masters in Computer Science program. [Inside big data]

Chicago Smart Lighting Project “The Chicago Smart Lighting Project is an outdoor lighting modernization initiative designed to improve the quality and reliability of Chicago’s outdoor lighting…the Project will [also] include a lighting management system and targeted repair and/or replacement of poles and wiring to enhance system reliability.”

ConnectHome In July 2015, HUD launched the ConnectHome initiative which aims to provide free or highly subsidized broad band access to hundreds of thousands of HUD-assisted tenants. ConnectHome is a partnership with Internet service providers, foundations, and local governments across the country.

Edmonton: Leveraging Technology and Innovation This case study details components of Edmonton, Alberta’s smart city plan, including its district energy sharing system; smart vehicle technology; utilization of data analytics for unique tasks, like addressing crime; and waste management system, which turns garbage into biofuels. While Edmonton is the largest city in the province of Alberta, these components could easily be altered to work for smaller communities.

Fast Internet is Chattanooga’s New Locomotive Chattanooga is called Gig City because of the one gig fiber optic connection that was constructed in 2009 as part of a federal stimulus grant. The gig fiber connection created a catalytic movement in the city and has allowed Chattanooga to attract talent and capital, including entrepreneurs and investors.

Firenze: A ‘certified’ smart city Addresses Florence, Italy’s progress on increasing smart electric cars and charging stations around the city. With goals of reducing 20% of the most pollutant heavy vehicles on the road.

Getting Smarter about Smart Cities Over the last five years, the concept of the technology-driven “smart city” has captured the imagination of public, private, and nonprofit leaders alike. Yet for the rapid rise in interest, smart city deployments have failed to meet both private sector firms’ adoption ambitions and the public sector’s expectations for impact. Against this backdrop, the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program and Barcelona’s ESADE Business School brought together officials from cities throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States to better understand the promise and practice for smart cities around the world today. [Brookings]

How Digital Signage Can Activate Smart Cities: In order to unlock the potential of smart cities, digital signage must be used to provide information that is locally relevant real time, and actionable Many current smart cities projects rely on new data flowing from the Internet of Things, in which small computers are added to physical objects and then all connected over the Internet to collect useful information. This information is used in smart cities to more efficiently make decisions about how to manage day-to-day operations: waste management, transportation systems, and other community services. According to a McKinsey white paper, the Internet of Things, if properly applied, could have a potential economic impact of up to $11 trillion dollars in 2025. At TransitScreen, we believe the next phase of the smart cities movement begins when all this data is harnessed and translated into information people can use to take action or change their behavior.

The Impact of Libraries as Creative Spaces This case study measures the benefits of providing free basic computer science classes or coding for the general population. If the Willamina’s public library provides coding classes for its residents, the City will receive more benefit from the ultra-high speed Internet.

Little Cities see Big Benefits in Smart City Investment: Smart lighting, connected cameras, and other ICT-enabled technologies are sprucing up tiny downtowns and showing full-sized returns Big cities like Charlotte, N.C., and Chicago are working toward large-scale and high-profile smart city initiatives, but smaller, less populated cities implementing the new technology may be seeing more benefits.

Living it up: The wide range of support for smart growth in Canada promises more livable towns and cities The main principles of this article surround making full use of land and infrastructure.  Something that Willamina has an abundance of.  The idea of “fostering distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place” while encouraging collaboration of development decisions.  The idea of blending technology advancements while preserving green space for activities and beauty

Manchester showcasing region as smart city in US trip — How Manchester is creating a blueprint for smart cities worldwide A high-level delegation from Manchester is profiling the region as the UK’s IoT Smart Cities demonstrator during a trip to the US this week. The US roadshow will explore how Manchester is creating a blueprint for smart cities worldwide.

A Public-Private Partnership for Gigabit Innovation and Internet Health One such partnership is Mozilla’s ongoing collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and U.S. Ignite. We’re currently offering a $2 million prize for projects that decentralize the web. And together in 2014, we launched the Gigabit Community Fund. We committed to supporting promising projects in gigabit-enabled U.S. cities — projects that use connectivity 250-times normal speeds to make learning more engaging, equitable and impactful.

Smart Cities and Sustainability Initiative This is a movement by the American Planning Association in response to technology advancement and innovation that lead to smarter, more sustainable, and resilient cities. Objectives include: identification of critical technologies needed for the next 20 years, aspects of smart cities planners, utilization of information using critical technologies, how to communicate using technological form, future suggestions and recommendations.

St. Albert’s Smart City Master Plan This case study is the Smart City Master Plan for the city of St. Albert in Alberta, Canada. While St. Albert is a bit larger than Willamina, this plan could certainly be replicable to small cities.

Union Cabinet approves Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission to drive economic, social and infrastructure development in rural areas This case study shows how India is spurring the development of smart city technology in its rural areas, thus the term “Smart Villages.” This case study gives a good framework for scaling down smart city technology for smaller areas.

Waterfront Toronto Teams with IBM to Build a Smarter City Collaboration between Toronto’s waterfront redevelopment project partnering with IBM to create an interactive streetscape where large data is processed and delivered to residents and waterfront users. Testing the boundaries of smart city and human integration.

Why (and How to) Build a Smart City? It seems almost every time you read about local urban development in the media it is with the message about a particular city becoming or showcasing their successes as a ‘smart city’. Since the development of the public internet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, sensor technology and the Internet of Things we have seen smart cities around the world develop and flourish from Austria to Zagreb and everywhere in between. There are certain characteristics that seems synonymous with smart cities and it’s worth taking a step back from the hype to consider why and how we are building smart cities. What can we blueprint from earlier developments, how can we learn from mistakes and how can we build better smart cities? [NEXPAQ]

The World’s 5 Smartest Cities Market research firm Juniper Research ranked smart cities by an array of factors including: adoption of smart grid technologies, intelligent lighting, use of information technology to improve traffic, Wi-Fi access points, Smartphone penetration, The app landscape.

Transportation and Mobility

Cycle Oregon Cycle Oregon’s community grants program helps provide important support for mostly rural communities. Projects fit into one of three categories: Environmental Conservation and Historic Preservation, Bicycle Safety & Tourism and Community Projects. Cycle Oregon–or an organization like it–could improve transit options & community assets.

Spokane Crosswalk Ordinance (Spokane, Washington) In June 2014, the City of Spokane adopted an ordinance proposed by Council Member Candace Mumm to enhance or build ‘functional’ crosswalks. The ordinance was implemented as a result of studies showing that economic development is enhanced by ‘urban walkable’ areas, and that there is a shift away from ‘drivable sub-urban’ environments. Residents of Spokane, including the public, professionals, students, and parents had expressed their interest repeatedly for an improved pedestrian environment in the City. The City of Spokane then looked at what they could do to improve the environment and then adopted this ordinance.

The Walkable, Health Rural Community: A Case Study Albert Lea, Minnesota adopted a community-wide wellness approach to wellness based on a bestselling book by Dan Buettner called “Blue Zones.” Per pedestrian walking counts walking has increased by 70% in the last 5 years. The town was able to increase their walking by: 1) community wide focus on walkability, 2) walking groups–the town helped organize walking groups for people, 3) the downtown was made more walkable by widening the sidewalks, eliminating traffic lanes, etc. 4) sidewalks were added to 6.5 miles of street sides in strategic areas, 5) a bike way was added

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