Go Urban, Young Man

Since starting this company two years ago just before moving back to Illinois, I knew that I was looking to do something more than just fix up an occasional house that is in need of repairs. Back in December, I posted about how I purchased a house… but that was only part of the story. I’ve been quietly preparing to launch a project that I hope will help create a movement here in Peoria.

In these past two years, I have observed and analyzed many different things around town. Sometimes I’ve gone so far as posting about them here on this blog. Tossing myself into the ring as an entry-level community activist has had its ups and downs and wide ranges of emotions. Never before, had I realized how lacking in vision and creativity we can be all while having such vast amounts of opportunities right in front of us.

In that time I’ve changed a bit. I’ve grown tired of getting in my car every time I have to go take care of the most basic things. It’s as if I can’t have a functional existance here without it though. I’m even more tired that the places I’m going all look the same, are mundane, lack soul and have no substance. Most of all, with all of the current issues facing us here and there, I’m exhausted by the growing sentiment that somehow someone else is going to fix our problems.

As a good chunk of Peoria continues to decay, we have asked ourselves the same question for too long now. How do we repair our aging and deteriorating neighborhoods? We’ve tried treating different ailments, applying quick fixes and patch jobs while we continue to wait it out to see if things get better.

Historically

We have rebuilt our nation every fifty to sixty years, and in light of recent conditions, we’re long overdue. But it’s not too late. The company I created is looking to help with that rebuilding. My project: Go Urban, Young Man, is inspired by a quote believed to be said by American author Horace Greely, concerning America’s expansion westward in the mid-1800’s. “Go west, young man” was in reference to the then popular concept of Manifest Destiny.

We came, we saw, we conquered, and after 150 years we are in need of a new vision. A vision that reclaims what we’ve lost since we’ve been gone. The recent decades have seen our cities and towns deteriorate and diminish at the expense of expansion outward. What was once our Manifest Destiny has turned into suburban sprawl. As a result, we are left with new social ills and economic problems to solve.

GO URBAN

Is a return to our cities and towns that we once fled in search of prosperity. Our urban cores, downtowns, and Main Streets are where we will find that there are still many adventures and opportunities for financial success to be found – and still much prosperity within them.

In order to repair those aging and deteriorating neighborhoods, we must start small and we must start with what is already here. We must rebuild what has decayed. We must preserve the history, the character, and the integrity of the area. We must restore the community by re-energizing it both aesthetically and economically. One house at a time. One block at a time.

My part was to buy a home that is in obvious need of some TLC and breathe new life into it. Homes in older areas often change hands without much notice. Often times they are bought to be rented back out. Other times they are bought solely for investment purposes to put a few minor repairs only to be sold off again.

This is a missed opportunity for the house, the neighborhood, and the city. This isn’t a “See how low I can buy it, how high I can sell it within as little time possible” project. Instead, this is a project to raise the awareness of the conditions of these homes and neighborhoods in our urban areas while raising funds to help renovate this home. It is also to raise the consciousness of what needs to be done to get them functioning better.

My Mission

Without trying to overwhelm myself, was to take on a project that encapsulates what Reader Area Development is all about. I’m not your average flipper or real estate developer. I consider myself and my company to be socially responsible when it comes to the work I do. I am not just looking to react to market trends in order to maximize profits. I understand the foundation on which communities are built and thrive, and I am looking to restore that.

Reader Area Development is NOT a: homebuilder, contractor, property manager, or realtor. I am seeking to develop an entire area at a time with a project all while putting my name and reputation before it.

Certainly, these are big aspirations. However, to make it all possible I must start small. My hope with this project is to show that there are people like myself out there interested in turning things around – not only here in Peoria, Illinois, but across the country.

The Plan

Is to renovate this home which was built in 1900 and bring it up to modern standards. This will be a remodel conscious of what is going to replace the outdated or previously updated features. The project will also be very conscious of where the materials and labor will be purchased.

The goal is to shop small and local for materials and to hire local professionals. By keeping these purchases local, it means more money stays in the community. It supports the store owners and their workers who are residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. It takes a concentrated effort and an admittedly harder one than it should be.

In some cases, it is perceived to be more expensive to patronize local business than the large, national retailers. The so-called “leaders in lowest prices” that have everything under one roof haven taken quite the toll on our local economy landscape. With store profits transferring from the local store to the corporate headquarters (generally out-of-state), the heralded titans of sales tax revenue have weakened the neighborhood.

The key reason why I am undertaking a project like this and using a platform like Indiegogo.com, is to raise funds so that as many purchases of goods and services can be sourced from locally owned businesses as much as possible. Buying local is just as important as renovating the home itself. It also keeps the economic feedback loop going longer and stronger.

Unlike “Before & After” transformations seen on TV, the money raised from this project won’t be used for top of the line upgrades or frivolous accessories. Instead, it will be used for the necessary improvements and upgrades in efficiency.

Be A Part Of The Movement

A new frontier of prosperity exists – not in places unknown, but right in front of us. It is imperative that we no longer settle for the way things are. We must restore the balance and repair the urban fabric that has been neglected in the past fifty to sixty years. In order for Peoria to have a brighter, more sustainable future, it must – GO URBAN

I have 45 days from today to raise $5,000. Please check out my project at: www.indiegogo/projects/gourban 

please share, donate, and help be a part of making things better!

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9 thoughts on “Go Urban, Young Man

  1. Best of luck with your initiative Erik. It’s desperately needed and will hopefully be a shot in the arm to all those that continue to “talk” without taking any action. Let me know what I else I can do to help.

    1. Thank you!

      Great link, I’ll have to pass that along! I might even make my own pitch to our local gov. for something like that here in Peoria.

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