How Neighbors Turned Unused Buildings into a Thriving Community Hub

Around the country, property values have soared with a renewed interest in urban living—a trend that’s created lucrative new markets for developers. As lease costs rise, local businesses are often shuttered and deep-rooted residents displaced. The resulting turnover has changed the character of many neighborhoods.

The friends who founded NEIC didn’t want that to happen in Northeast. Though they were initially concerned about their neighborhood’s vacant and underused buildings, they also knew that larger developers would follow close behind the growing residential interest in the area. If local control of property could help support independent businesses, they wondered, perhaps there was a way to own it together.

A longtime destination for working-class immigrants, Northeast is still dotted with Eastern Orthodox churches and the large husks of grain elevators that once drove the city’s industry. Many people who grew up here still live here. “There was a lot more sense of place,” Recovery Bike Shop owner Seth Stattmiller said, comparing it to the neighborhood where his previous shop was located. “People are here for their lives.”

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