Growing a Downtown Agrihood

Lowell Village Townhomes in Grand Junction, Colorado

Community gardens, a greenhouse, and an edible landscape design are central to the healthy living vision of Lowell Village, which is reclaiming an historic downtown school building and redeveloping its vacant site in Grand Junction, Colorado with new townhomes. To attract buyers with an appetite for building community and the project’s unique value proposition, the developer engaged Stephen’s expertise at the intersection of urban redevelopment and articulating agrihood concepts. The result: Stephen crafted an implementation strategy matched to local growing seasons and climate, a multi-phase new home marketing program, the complexities of site development, and the capacity of key partners.

Stephen approached the assignment as a three-part strategic positioning exercise. First, he engaged an in-depth research process with all the major parties on the design and development team, broadening out from their expertise and preliminary efforts. This included connecting with diverse online resources and conducting hours of extensive, scripted interviews. Doing so, he established credibility with team already deeply invested in the project vision and its momentum. More, it allowed Stephen to realistically assess conditions and the status of entitlements, the pace and extent of construction progress, and the challenges of positioning and marketing a pioneering agrihood development in the Grand Junction/Western Slope region.

Next, Stephen reached out to diverse community leaders, many of whom were not aware of the Lowell Village concept— or the project’s current progress on the ground. He engaged them in dialogues of creative exploration, comparing experiences, critical perspectives from around the country, and the relevance of national precedents. Through these discussions, Stephen wove together key regional perspectives in local food, culinary arts, food security, and the “rediscovery” of living downtown Grand Junction.

Third, Stephen compiled his findings and prepared a detailed package of solutions for the developer— all targeted to add value to the Lowell Village agrihood concept and to strengthen opportunities for its success. Critical to Stephen’s recommendations, the substance and timing closely align with the current status of project and various anticipated milestones. He tested and reviewed key elements with Lowell Village team, as well as with local food and sustainable living leaders in the Grand Valley community.

These include:

Marketing Preview phase as an “Amuse Bouche”: Acknowledging the challenges of evoking the neighborhood’s completed experience when it is currently little more than a noisy and messy construction site, the emphasis of this phase is off-site “pop-ups” and multimedia/social media tactics to raise project awareness, capturing interest with the feel and energy of the Lowell Village experience— including downtown neighborhood community gardens and the Grand Junction Farmers Market on Main

Site Activation with Regional Partners: Stephen’s recommendations focus equally on strategies that align with target homebuyer profiles and deepening connections with local opinion leaders— building excitement and “word-of-mouth” project knowledge. This includes fun, engaging, and seasonal food-focused programming in the historic school building.

A roadmap to root and nurture a food-focused community: Building on precedent knowledge and a realistic assessment of team resources and capacity, Stephen’s recommendations articulate strategic timing considerations to implement a future resident-based and community nonprofit-staffed urban gardening program as the centerpiece of Lowell VIllage.

 

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