Nationally acclaimed workshop on Downtown upper-floor projects coming to Kansas

Jul 16, 2021

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TOPEKA – Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland today announced that the Kansas Main Street program is bringing the nationally acclaimed Upstairs Downtown workshop to Hutchinson in August.

The two-day workshop, taking place August 16-17 in downtown Hutchinson, will provide information on redeveloping upper-floor spaces in small downtown buildings. This workshop is aimed to specifically reach small building owners and local community leaders looking to improve their downtown commercial business districts.

“The Kansas Main Street program exists to create new possibilities for commerce and quality of life in downtown districts, and Upstairs Downtown fits that mission exactly,” Lt. Governor/Secretary Toland said. “Second-floor development opens the door to so many possibilities, including new housing opportunities created by recent expansion of the Rural Housing Incentive District program. If you have an upstairs to renovate in a downtown building definitely take advantage of this meeting to learn more.”

This workshop, presented by Dan Carmody of Carmody Consulting and architect Mike Jackson, FAIA, is designed to demystify the process of reusing the upper-floor spaces of typical Main Street buildings. Carmody and Jackson will share knowledge and experience in the design changes needed to accommodate various uses, the building codes that need to be applied, the financial means necessary to make a profit, and what communities can do to make it easier to pursue these projects.

The workshop will feature panel discussions about the recently approved Rural Housing Incentive District (RHID) legislation, and address code and fire mitigation issues in downtown projects. The panel will include building owners who have successfully completely upper-floor developments in Kansas.

“Housing is an important issue across Kansas, and we believe downtowns are positioned to play a role in helping to solve housing problems in Kansas communities,” Scott Sewell, director of the Kansas Main Street program, said. “Typically, our training is open only to Designated communities and Affiliate members, but the housing issue is so important that we wanted to present this opportunity to anyone who wants to learn about how to develop upper-floor space.”

Seating is limited and advance registration is required. The registration fee is $50 and will close when seating is filled.

Click here to register for the workshop.

For more information, please contact Kansas Main Street at (785) 296-7288 or email  scott.sewell@ks.gov.

About Upstairs Downtown

The Upstairs Downtown training program was developed by Dan Carmody and Mike Jackson for the Illinois State Main Street Conference in 2005. The conference took place in Rock Island, where Carmody led a community-based development non-profit that had developed deep capacity to build innovative forms of housing. Jackson, from his position of Illinois State Architect, saw the need to help smaller property owners tackle the buildings that were too small for developers to transform into the kind of housing that was beginning to drive demand in communities across the country. Since 2005, downtown housing has become mainstream, but there remains a need for communities to help in the renovation of the smaller buildings that often provide the most historical character. Upstairs Downtown is designed for those Main Street stakeholders who are not full-time real estate developers, yet collectively seek to add value and build economic vibrancy by making smaller historic buildings more viable.

About Kansas Main Street

As a Main Street America™ Coordinating Program, Kansas Main Street helps to lead a powerful, grassroots network consisting of over 40 Coordinating Programs and over 1,200 neighborhoods and communities across the country committed to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Designated Kansas Main Street communities include Atchison, Augusta, Baldwin City, Belleville, Chanute, Coffeyville, Dodge City, El Dorado, Emporia, Garden City, Hoisington, Holton, Hutchinson, Independence, Junction City, Leavenworth, Marysville, McPherson, Ottawa, Overland Park, Parsons, Peabody, Phillipsburg, Russell, Seneca, Sterling, Wamego and Winfield.