Downtowns Alive

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Last week, I began a discussion of vacant buildings. All of our communities have them, usually in larger numbers than we want. Some buildings have been vacant for years, maybe even decades. They stand as a remnant of a town’s peak population many years ago or a once-powerful business or industry that packed up and left. Other vacancies are newer: an older business owner finally retired or a new business popped up but didn’t make it. Our towns also have many vacant houses: the resident moved away or died and were simply never replaced.

For better or worse, vacant buildings are something that new visitors often notice right off the bat, especially if they’re located in business districts or high-traffic areas. For a long time, this was something I struggled with. I didn’t *want* people to notice. Frankly, I hoped they wouldn’t say anything about it. “Boy, your town has a lot of vacant buildings” can be a depressing statement to hear, even if it was simply meant as an observation and not a criticism.

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