neighborhoods

Last week I helped present a forum on historic preservation. Titled "Pragmatic Preservation," the underlying goal was to help promote a climate where developers and preservationists could find common ground. The panel included people with practical experience on both sides. Issues and current events were debated in a civil and, well, pragmatic discussion. I walked away from the event with practical ideas and the general feeling that perhaps there was a way to negotiate an honest if uneasy truce.

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It's been a while since I have posted here, and I'm missing it a bit... I enjoy taking a look at what is going on in the city around me and looking for connections, possibilities, and opportunities for improvement. So I'm going to try a new format for a while - the Tuesday Morning roundup: Each Tuesday morning, stop in for development and urbanism-related news snippets, photos of interesting projects, and maybe a few bits of insight and/or snarkiness (depending on whether or not I have had my morning coffee).

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My Wednesday afternoon session at the Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference today focused on selling homes in weak real estate market. Middle-market and distressed neighborhoods in particular face substantial difficulties in such an environment.

The general consensus among the panelists, aside from traditional "marketing plan" strategies, was to sell the neighborhood and the vision, not the individual house. That is, convince people about the benefits of living and investing in the specific neighborhood/project as a tool for selling the actual home.

Here are some take-away quotes:

  • There are two ways to sell a neighborhood to the "creative class": make it cool or pay them (subsidy). These two strategies don't always work together - that is, "cool" people may not respond to or qualify for specific available subsidies.
  • A strong neighborhood or "city" marketing campaign must have sustained deployment - the time horizon is years, not months.
  • Meet 1 on 1 with real estate professionals - they are the ones who you depend on to sell the neighborhood or development to prospective buyers.
  • 36 percent of buyers start the process by looking online. Have an effective online presence.
  • Understand your target market and make sure your product meets their needs. If the product doesn't meet the target buyer's needs, no amount of marketing will help.
  • Marketing strategies: Internet, paid advertisement, earned media, events, printed materials, partnerships, promotions.

Baltimore has created a multi-tiered marketing campaign with a collaboration between a non-profit citywide marketing organization, developers, real estate professionals, and community-based organizations. The sole goal of this extraordinarily successful organization is to grow the City's population by promoting Baltimore as a great place to live.

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