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Posts filed under 'Community Development'

Downtown Charleston Housing

The puzzle pieces to downtown Charleston housing are coming together.

Nearly ten years ago, a group of young professionals in Charleston met with the Charleston Area Alliance to discuss the region’s issues and needs. Downtown housing quickly rose to the top of their list and served as a springboard for the Charleston Area Alliance’s Generation Charleston. The group has continued to focus on the interest of downtown housing by hosting annual Loft Walks, which has grown to be one of their most popular events.

In 2013, downtown housing was thrust further into the spotlight as the City of Charleston, Charleston Area Alliance, Charleston Urban Renewal Authority and the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation joined forces to generate a citywide comprehensive plan and downtown development plan titled, Imagine Charleston. Part of that plan focuses on increasing downtown’s livability. The goal is to create an exceptional living environment in the urban core of Charleston. Significant improvements to the quality of public spaces and the perception of safety while incentivizing investments toward renovated and new housing developments would be essential.

With the Imagine Charleston plan underway, another downtown project was introduced. The EDGE project would bring about 35 new housing units to downtown. The project would serve as an impact incubator while simultaneously cultivating new leadership, reinvigorating our urban center and providing our businesses and institutions with a competitive edge in recruitment and retention, specifically of young professionals. The city of Charleston is spearheading this effort with the support of the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation and Charleston Urban Renewal Authority.

Housing is one of the Charleston Area Alliance’s major action items as it takes the lead implementing the downtown redevelopment portion of the Imagine Charleston plan. The Alliance recognized the need for additional research on Charleston’s housing market. A housing study was completed in May with funding assistance from the Governor’s Community Partnership Program, the Kanawha Valley Council on Philanthropy, Charleston Urban Renewal Authority and the city of Charleston. Bowen National Research provided a comprehensive market study of both rental and for sale housing for not only downtown but the entire city.

The report included an overview of the history and general characteristics of Charleston, an analysis of more than 100 demographic and economic metrics, findings from nearly 30 community stakeholder interviews, a rental housing survey of 46 multifamily apartments with more than 3,090 units, a for-sale housing gap analysis for various income segments in Charleston and an overview of other housing factors that influence the housing market.

The report states, based on demographics, Charleston will likely require 400 more housing units consisting of small unit types (two-bedroom or smaller), and units that meet the needs of higher income households and Charleston’s aging population.

The housing supply factors note the multifamily apartment rentals in downtown Charleston is at 100 percent, which indicates a housing shortage. The entire city is at 99.7 percent. Generally, an occupancy level over 97 percent is an indication of a housing shortage which can lead to housing problems. There is a residential development opportunity for downtown Charleston.

Houses in downtown Charleston have sold at double the price per square foot compared to the city as a whole. Available downtown housing according to the Multiple Listing Services data shows houses listed at a median list price of $231,000 as compared to the city of Charleston median list price of $164,600. It is important to note that the total square footage of houses in downtown is much smaller than those in the city at large.

The pricing and performance of recently sold housing units in downtown compared to the overall city indicates a healthy for-sale housing market in the downtown area.

Charleston Area Alliance understands there are significant hurdles our community needs to overcome to bring more downtown housing development to life. We are committed to better understanding the hurdles and will work to address them with available resources.

For more information please contact Susie Salisbury, VP Community Development, Charleston Area Alliance at 304-340-4253.  A full copy of the report is available at CharlestonAreaAlliance.org, Community Enhancement-Current Projects.

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admin in Community Development,Economic Development on July 06 2015 » Comments are closed

Charleston’s public arts project receives national attention

Public Art Guide CroppedThe National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has chosen Charleston’s public arts project from among hundreds across the country to highlight as a successful arts-based community project.

Charleston’s public arts project, which included the combined efforts of the Charleston Area Alliance, Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, Arts Council of Kanawha Valley, Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, FestivALL Charleston and the City of Charleston, is featured as a successful case study on the NEA’s new online resource, “Exploring Our Town.”

The online resource is designed to assist community organizers working across the globe to develop arts-based community projects. Sixty recipients of the NEA’s primary creative placemaking grants program, known as Our Town, are featured as model case studies. Visitors to the website will learn helpful planning steps and gain creative ideas from the chosen case studies.

Charleston’s program, which received the Our Town grant in 2012, is among featured projects that range from a whirligig park in Wilson, North Carolina to an art garden in Jackson, Mississippi.

“The Our Town program is a prime example of the power the arts have on our everyday lives,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The arts can connect us, they can weave communities together, and they can infuse our lives with a deeper sense of place and purpose.”

The Our Town grant supported a citywide initiative to gain an accurate inventory of the public art in Charleston. The project collected details of the artwork’s artist, owner, location, materials used, maintenance required, dates of inspection and more.

Based on the information gathered, guidelines were established to ensure that the present artwork is properly maintained by the owners. It also established guidelines for the creation of future work.

One result of the project was the production of a printed guidebook and online resource, found at publicartcharleston.org, to provide residents and visitors to the area a guide to public art found across the city. The website also provides residents the public art plan for Charleston, which serves to guide and inform decisions about public art in the future.

“One of the biggest effects of the project was the increased number of people who have a better understanding and appreciation for our public art,” said Susie Salisbury, vice president of Community Development for the Charleston Area Alliance.

“Encouraging, promoting, and maintaining public art falls within our Vision 2030 development plan’s focus on downtown revitalization,” said Matt Ballard, president and CEO of the Alliance. “Public art enhances our downtowns and our communities.”

There are currently 45 public art pieces across Charleston featured in the guidebook. Check out Charleston’s art at publicartcharleston.org and read more about Charleston’s public art project at the NEA’s “Exploring Our Town” site by visiting arts.gov/exploring-our-town. 

To see more projects led by the Alliance, please check out the “Success Stories” section of the Alliance web site HERE.

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admin in Announcements,Community Development,In the News on October 08 2014 » Comments are closed

Free live music at the Brown Bag Concert on Oct. 10

Brown Bag Concert
Friday, Oct. 10
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Charleston Town Center
Center Court

Grab your lunch and head to the Charleston Town Center for free live music at the Brown Bag Concert on Friday, Oct. 10 starting at 11:30 a.m.

A Charleston Area Alliance program, the concert titled, “Common Notes: An Afternoon of Appalachian & World Music,” will feature local guitarist Robin Kessinger, Romanian instrumentalists and the Davis & Elkins Appalachian Ensemble.

This edition of the Brown Bag Concert is presented by the Clay Center.

The concert is the one of many programs and projects to come out of the “Imagine Charleston” plan.Several Charleston restaurants are offering lunch specials for guests to enjoy at the concert.For more information and full descriptions of participating restaurants and lunchtime food specials, click HERE.


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admin in Announcements,Community Development,Events on October 03 2014 » Comments are closed

A message from Alliance Chairman Pat Bond & President/CEO Matthew Ballard

ALLIANCE_color~verticalAfter hosting eight events in six days, the Charleston Area Alliance was busy last week, to say the least.Whether enjoying music at the Brown Bag Concert or touring loft properties across the city at Loft Walk, we hope you had the opportunity to participate in one of the many events held by the Alliance and Generation Charleston, our young professionals program.

We understand that connecting the dots between the many grass roots programs taking shape across the Kanawha Valley to the Alliance’s overall mission can sometimes seem a challenge. However, we can ensure you that every Alliance program and its initiatives are driven by one force: Vision 2030.

In 2011 more than 400 local stakeholders gathered to collaborate and develop the Kanawha Valley’s 20-year strategic plan, known as Vision 2030. After months of hard work and planning, a forward-thinking roadmap designed to inspire an economy that provides sustainable jobs for Kanawha Valley residents, while meeting future megatrends, was born.

Using the roadmap as a guide, the Alliance has organized Vision 2030’s initiatives into seven drivers: Workforce/Education, Innovation/Research and Development, Leadership, Health, Energy Industry, Chemistry and Downtown Revitalization.

Thanks to hard work and extensive planning, nearly every Vision 2030 driver was supported during last week’s events.

We kicked off the week on Monday, Sept. 15 with the Alliance’s annual Golf Scramble. The event was held at Berry Hills Country Club and helped raise money to support the Alliance’s economic and community development initiatives, which in turn supports all seven Vision 2030 drivers.

Also on Monday, Generation Charleston kicked off its Urban Living 2014 week with the Homebuyer’s Blueprint at the Four Points by Sheraton on Kanawha Boulevard. At the event, young professionals got the tools and tips to buying their first home.

Helping young professionals take the leap into home ownership will support greater investment in our communities and downtown development. Housing and specifically “downtown housing,” remain the number one interest for young professionals in the Charleston Area.

On Tuesday, Sept. 16, Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurs (SAGE) welcomed participants of the farmer-training program and volunteers to Rebecca Street on the West Side to plant an urban orchard. In a few years, the orchard’s trees will be producing apples, pears, apricots and more.

SAGE teaches participants how to grow sustainable produce in urban spaces across Charleston. The program, which supports the Downtown Revitalization, Innovation and Health drivers, helps urban farmers learn how to sell their produce as a reliable form of income.

Much of the produce grown is sold at the East End Bazaar on Saturday and used locally by several eateries and restaurants, including Alliance member Mission Savvy.

Also on Tuesday, more than 200 people attended the downtown Loft Walk. The walk, which was part of GC’s Urban Living 2014 week, showcased the available lofts for sale in the Four Points by Sheraton and more.

This is the seventh straight year Generation Charleston has hosted the event, which focuses on downtown housing options. The Alliance continues to encourage developers to invest in housing appropriate for young professionals and families who want to live in the downtown area.

The Alliance was excited to attend the grand reopening of Edible Arrangements in South Charleston on Wednesday, Sept. 17. The new owners met through Generation Charleston, which supports the Vision 2030’s Leadership driver.

At Appalachian Power Park on Wednesday evening, Katie Rugeley, owner of The Initialed Life LLC, defeated seven other businesses at “Thrive,” the Alliance’s annual crowdfunding event. Rugeley’s business specializes in custom monogrammed and embroidered items. She was among eight local entrepreneurs competing for over $4,000 in crowd-funded seed money.

Supporting Vision 2030’s Innovation driver, community members paid $20 to attend the event, listened to the entrepreneur’s sales pitch and acted as investors by voting on their favorite business idea. Rugeley plans use the money to invest in a second commercial embroidery machine to meet sales demand and hire a second employee. Providing a source of seed capital for start-ups is one way the Alliance is assisting small businesses.

ArtWalk, a monthly evening event supporting Downtown Revitalization, drew hundreds of attendees on Thursday, Sept. 18. The September ArtWalk showcased a variety of artists working in a myriad of media ranging from watercolor to coal sculptures. This event encourages the support of local artists, art galleries and other downtown businesses.

Local professionals were encouraged to get out of the office and enjoy live music at Davis Park in downtown Charleston during their lunch break on Friday, Sept. 19. The Brown Bag Concert was held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with musical performances by West Virginia State University’s Jazz Ensemble and St. Albans High School Marching Band. Several local Alliance member restaurants sold lunches during the downtown event.

We’re excited to bring the Kanawha Valley innovative programs and events to encourage greater economic development, community engagement, innovative entrepreneurial activity, healthy food initiatives and more.

We know that none of this would be possible without the support from our members and community leaders.

We’re eager to continue down the Vision 2030 path with you and advance the Kanawha Valley as a vibrant place to live and work.

To learn more about the Charleston Area Alliance or ways to get involved visit www.charlestonareaalliance.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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admin in Announcements,Community Development,Downtown ArtWalk,Economic Development on September 23 2014 » Comments are closed

This Wednesday, you bring the eats – we bring the beats

BrownBagConcert11x17revisedMTBrown Bag Concert
Wednesday, June 18
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Davis Park
Corner of Lee and Capitol Streets

This Wednesday, grab your lunch and head to Davis Park for free live music at the Brown Bag Concert. A Charleston Area Alliance program, the concert celebrates International Picnic Day, the work completed by Kanawha Garden Club and the city’s Municipal Beautification Commission in Davis Park.

It also offers people a welcome outdoor distraction during the summer.   The concert is the one of many programs and projects to come out of the “Imagine Charleston” plan. Live music will be provided by Alasha Al-Qudwah of Qiet and Beth Summers of Snakebox. The duo will play an eclectic mixture of classical, eastern, jazz, folk, porch and chamber music.

Several Charleston restaurants are offering lunch specials for guests to enjoy at the concert.

The restaurants offering brown bag specials include:

  • Diana’s Downtown Café, 180 Summers Street
  • Timothy’s at Quarrier Diner, 1022 Quarrier Street
  • Sam’s Uptown Café, 28 Capitol Street
  • Mission Savvy Café & Juice Bar, 202 Hale Street
  • Sam’s Hot Dog Stand, 211 Hale Street
  • Swiftwater Café, 405 Capitol Street
  • Swiftwater General Store, 301 Capitol Street
  • Taylor Books, 226 Capitol Street

For more information and full descriptions of the lunchtime food specials, click HERE.

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admin in Announcements,Community Development,Events on June 16 2014 » Comments are closed

It’s time to take back Slack Plaza

SlackPlazaThe Charleston Area Alliance has been working closely with the City of Charleston on the revitalization of Slack Plaza.

“Slack Plaza is one key to the revitalization of the core of the downtown of our Capitol City,” said Alliance President and CEO Matthew Ballard. “Our staff and specifically Susie Salisbury, our vice president of community development, and the Alliance’s Community Development Committee, have been working for years to garner the funds to help move this project forward.”

“As the consultants told us during the Imagine Charleston planning, Slack Plaza is in many ways our city square. Clearly, we all have to rally and do something.”

The Alliance staff worked closely with the city manager and planning department to write the “Greening America’s Cities” grant which was successfully applied and received from the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2010.

The grant allowed the Alliance to launch a public input process for greening the Slack Plaza area. Then in 2011, the Alliance worked closely with the city on identifying and applying for a $652,000 grant, plus matching funds from the city, which was officially awarded this past February. These funds will be used to make improvements to the crosswalks on Capitol, Summers, Laidley and Court Streets and improvements to the Fife Street connector.

The Alliance is also contemplating organizing a small social event to be held at Slack Plaza sometime this summer or fall.

“A small gathering with music and entertainment for families will help to show off the potential of this space, “ said Susie Salisbury. “We are in the very early stages and we want to work and talk with the city about how the event could be organized and take place.”

“There has been such an increase in police presence from the Charleston Police Department, the timing is really good to begin encouraging the whole community to envision how the space can be used.”

A summary of recent activity is contained within this article and video from WCHS-TV located HERE.

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admin in Announcements,Community Development on May 14 2014 » Comments are closed

Alliance going back to the garden

SAGE Build OutAt the Charleston Area Alliance, we are going back to the garden to nurture our region’s economic and public health.

What may appear to be a large vegetable garden on Charleston’s West Side is in reality the epicenter of a multipronged economic development initiative to train prospective urban agriculture entrepreneurs, or “agripreneurs.” Through the Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurs (SAGE) program launched last spring by the Alliance, participants receive education and training in farming and business practices that are both economically and environmentally sustainable.

On Thursday, Earl Gohl, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), met with members of the Alliance to discuss the burgeoning local foods movement in West Virginia. Gohl said the state is emerging as a leader on this front. Since 2005, the number of farmers’ markets in West Virginia has more than tripled, from 30 to 93, according to an Associated Press article published this week. (Feds say West Virginia’s local foods movement may become model for Appalachia)

Gohl said that public health officials support the local foods movement because it allows easier access to healthy foods, vital in a state with high rates of obesity, diabetes and cancer.

Sustaining and expanding local agriculture can play a big role in diversifying our local economy and improving the health of our citizens.

West Virginia’s food economy is worth $7 billion, but only $6 million stays in the state. Efforts like SAGE help keep that money here and encourage healthier lifestyles. If we can sustain and capitalize on this local foods effort, our state and its citizens will benefit for generations to come.

PS: Without the support of visionary businesses and individuals, programs like SAGE could not blossom. We invite you to plant the seeds for a brighter future with a contribution to the CADCO Foundation, our charitable arm. For more info or to make a donation, contact JoEllen Zacks HERE

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admin in Announcements,Community Development,Economic Development,SAGE on May 24 2013 » Comments are closed

Imagine Charleston Open House to be held Sept. 18 at the Capitol

Join Imagine Charleston on the capitol grounds for an open house next Tuesday, Sept. 18, anytime between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The group will be in the Culture Center’s Great Hall with an update on what they’ve been working on.  Imagine Charleston: “Your dream. Our future.” is designed to maximize citizen input about the future of Charleston in terms of buildings, potential projects, the nature of neighborhoods, transportation, attractions and more.

A 15 minute presentation will be made at 4:30 p.m. and again at 5:45 p.m.

They need your feedback. Are they on the right track? Have we heard you correctly? Let’s Imagine Charleston!

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admin in Community Development,Economic Development on September 11 2012 » Comments are closed

Thrive videos released; Cast your vote for the winner on Sept. 19.

For burgeoning entrepreneurs, cash capital is the lifeblood of their business.

Now with Thrive, the Charleston Area Alliance’s new crowdfunding initiative, startups have a chance to receive an infusion of cash through fresh and innovative means. Earlier this month, a blind panel selected nine Kanawha Valley-based entrepreneurs with 30 or fewer employees out of a pool of applicants. These entrepreneurs each produced 60-second pitch videos to promote their business and need for crowd funds.

On Sept. 19, an event will be held at DigiSo at 1506 Kanawha Boulevard West starting at 5:30 p.m. To attend and participate in the event, community members will pay $20 a ticket. In return, they will get to partake in beverages and food, but more importantly, they get to vote for the entrepreneur  that they want to support. At the end of the night, the entrepreneur with the most votes will receive $20 times the number of attendees as cash capital to invest in their business.

The fund will also be seeded with $1,000, through generous support of Vision Shared and Industrial Bolting. Other partners in Thrive include the Arts Council of West Virginia, Create West Virginia, DigiSo, Generation Charleston and BB&T.

You cannot vote for a winner, unless you attend the event.

To sign up and attend the event, please click HERE. Tickets will also available at the door and cash is preferable.

In the meantime, please check out the videos of the nine entrepreneurs below and this cast your vote for a winner on Sept. 19 at DigiSo. Share the video that you think is the best with your friends, colleagues and social network!
































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admin in Announcements,Community Development,Economic Development,Events,In the News on September 05 2012 » Comments are closed

Take the lead in the Kanawha Valley

Cruising in a C-130 airplane, experiencing a surge of 911 emergency calls during a record snowstorm and discovering hidden architectural treasures in downtown Charleston aren’t the typical assignments you’d find in a business curriculum.

But for participants in the Charleston Area Alliance’s Leadership Kanawha Valley program, these experiences are business as usual.

Leadership Kanawha Valley is now accepting registrations for its 2012-2013 class and space is limited.

Click here to register

The program aims to develop, educate and nurture future leaders in our region and engage them and today’s leaders in making the Kanawha Valley an excellent place to live and work.   “The program’s objective involves developing, informing and training potential leaders so they understand the issues and needs of the community,” said Susie Salisbury, the Alliance’s vice president of community development.

“It looks to create an environment that nurtures involvement in the community through volunteerism, service organizations and board appointments.”

Leadership Kanawha Valley, sponsored by Chesapeake Energy, creates the opportunity for potential leaders to meet, establish rapport and maintain ongoing professional relationships.

Applicants may be self-sponsored and self-nominated. In addition, community members may nominate individuals with leadership qualities for the program. Classes start in October and run through May.

The tuition rate is $495 for Charleston Area Alliance members and $595 for future members. The fee covers all expenses for the program. Leadership Kanawha Valley is limited to 35 people.

Those interested in joining the 2012-2013 class should contact Salisbury at (304) 340-4253 or SSalisbury@CharlestonAreaAlliance.org


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admin in Announcements,Community Development,Events on August 23 2012 » Comments are closed

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