Bondurant - Law and Policy to Support Community-Driven Redevelopment

Bondurant, Iowa, like other communities in Iowa, is facing a critical question:  How can the city repurpose the grain silo complex in downtown and make it a catalyst for growth and development? This is a complicated question of identity, design, law, funding, honoring the past, and envisioning the future. The City’s goal is to repurpose a 24-acre parcel of land in the middle of downtown, which has silos, grain elevators, and railroad tracks. These buildings have long been part of the fabric of the community and the city skyline. The goal is to convert the railroad tracks to trails and the grain elevators are no longer used for industry and can be put to a new use. 

Bondurant hopes to make their property a focal point of a vibrant downtown and has invested in a feasibility study to determine viability and types of adaptive reuses. It is inspired by other cities in which grain elevator and silo projects have played a key role in reimagining cityscapes. Grain silo conversion examples include: a restaurant hub/food market (Deventer, Netherlands); an art center with galleries, conservation space, and a sculpture garden (Cape Town, South Africa); a museum and theater (Minneapolis, MN); a climbing/mountaineering training center and tourist attraction (Amsterdam, Netherlands); a hotel (Akron, OH and Invernay, TAS, Australia); and several residential projects (Buffalo, NY; Baltimore, MD). Drawing on their comprehensive city plan, Bondurant is interested in extending the existing trail system, creating placemaking opportunities, expanding downtown parking, and adding mixed-use facilities.

When the Iowa Reinvestment District Program was active, Bondurant saw other cities, like Mason City, use the state funding to implement extensive redevelopment projects. As a starting point of the representation, Bondurant would like to explore:  How did the Reinvestment District Program come into being? Can the program be reactivated or funded again?  Would the legislation need to be modified or expanded to cover a project like Bondurant’s grain elevator project? What would this process entail? 

They are equally interested in looking at alternative pathways to accomplish the project and understanding what has been done in other cities with similar properties.  While it is not clear how many of Iowa communities face the challenge of repurposing agricultural facilities, several communities will need a roadmap to understand the process and the role of state and federal funding, agencies, and other potential resources.

Addressing these questions will require student practitioners to engage topics including:  community economic development; legislative, regulatory, and policy drafting and procedures; real estate law/practice; state and federal funding mechanisms; and renewal and gentrification of communities. In addition to identifying and meeting with key players involved in other successful conversion projects, student practitioners will need to engage stakeholders in the Bondurant project from local citizens and businesses to legislators and the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Grain silo that's been turned into a house with a deck on the second floor and outside seating.
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