Fostering Small-Scale Development in Hopewell

Hopewell Downtown Partnership (HDP) has paved a path for real estate (re)development projects in Hopewell by educating a cohort of small-scale developers in and around the downtown historic district.

The initiative started big picture with an open lecture and seminar that engaged nearly 200 participants from Hopewell and the region and introduced the incremental approach to real estate (re)development. The programming dove deeper, with a four-week virtual boot camp facilitated by the Incremental Development Alliance (IncDev). Lastly, a mini workshop was tailored specifically for small, women, and minority owned business owners and developers, covering vital concepts such as business models, market research, zoning, proformas, and financing.

The programming targeted individuals that live and do business in Hopewell to arm them with the information and tools they need to maintain the place they love. Ultimately, HDP hoped the training and education would empower their locals to transition into property ownership and stewardship. HDP found that a number of local business owners were eager to learn how they could dip their toes into the real estate development world, including business owners participating in Hopewell’s Community Business Launch (CBL) program.

“I really enjoyed the development series. I gained so much knowledge on how to look at a potential project or property and now know the needed steps to take throughout the process. It helped me not feel so intimidated when looking at opportunities to develop other spaces in the area.”

– Kelly Skalsky, Owner of SOVA Yoga

A $95,000 Virginia Business District Resurgence Grant (VBDRG) from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) supported this project and the engagement of 236 small-scale developers, along with a market analysis and the creation of an investment guide for Hopewell’s downtown.

As a result of these efforts, HDP has expanded their network, recruited new board members and is actively connecting local developers, such as Wilkerson Contracting, with potential projects in Hopewell. The initiative even helped HDP gain national recognition! Heather Lyne, HDP Executive Director, presented at the 2022 Main Street Now Conference in Richmond, Virginia (alongside project partners) on the benefits of small-scale development regardless of a city’s size. And looking forward, two urban planning graduate-level studios from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) will be helping HDP in the coming year to create action plans for Downtown Hopewell.

Presenters at the 2022 Main Street Now Conference in Richmond, Virginia. Left to right: Dionne Baux, Main Street America; J’Tanya Adams, Historic West End Partners; Erin Gillespie, City of Charlotte; Tevya Griffin, City of Hopewell; Sherry Early, Incremental Development Alliance; Heather Lyne, Hopewell Downtown Partnership

Applications for fiscal year 2024 Virginia Business District Resurgence Grants are now open. Check out the VMS Grant Manual and the How-to-Apply Webinar for additional information about this grant opportunity!

Photo Credit: Heather Lyne, HDP