Creating Collaborative Community Projects: What's the Special Sauce

APA Virginia Chapter


Monday, July 17, 2017
10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. EDT

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The Old Prices Fork School Community Revitalization Project brings together diverse community partners to support affordable housing, economic development and local food access for residents of the New River Valley. This multi-phased project involves the historic revitalization of a former elementary school located in southwest Virginia in Montgomery County. The project will incorporate 32 new rental units and the creation of the Old School Food Center, which will house a commercial incubator kitchen for new or expanding local food-based entrepreneurs, a farm-to-table restaurant, a retail market, a craft brewery, and a business competition with support services.

A diverse Leadership Team made up of private businesses, local government staff, and non-profit agencies have been guiding the project since its inception in 2014. Since that time, the project has secured significant public and private funding to complete construction. Many communities are faced with the costly decision of how to reuse vacant or under-utilized buildings. Often, these structures are in such disrepair that renovations would be cost prohibitive. Zoning and infrastructure may also restrict what type of future use the space can accommodate. This session will highlight how to approach community projects in innovative ways that effectively navigate the local planning process, follow economic trends, use partnerships to leverage funding, and build sustainable projects that benefit communities far into the future.

Topics in the session will focus on:

 Determining innovative uses for vacant or under-utilized community buildings

 Creating a high-capacity project team

 Building public-private partnerships to ensure project success

 Handling challenges that may arise from funding parameters and timelines, defining roles, and project execution


Emily Gibson

Invited Speaker

Emily Gibson is the Director of Planning & GIS in Montgomery County, Virginia. For the past 4 years she has served on the Board of the APA Virginia Chapter as Vice President of Legislative and Policy Affairs. Read More

Jennifer Wilsie, AICP

Invited Speaker


Contact Info

Eldon James,