“Maker” Movement Bringing Life Back to Warehouse Districts

Reposted from The Urban Land Institute “Small is beautiful,” that glib 1970s catchphrase, today could be applied to the “maker movement” that is helping transform dilapidated urban industrial zones throughout North America. From Detroit-based Shinola to craft breweries, artisanal food producers, and bespoke jewelry crafters nearly everywhere, modern small-scale manufacturing is breathing new life into long-abandoned warehouses and factories. In a 2015 ULI Fall Meeting session moderator Ilana Preuss of Recast City remarked that it’s “cool to make stuff again.” Small-scale manufacturers are creating jobs with minimal educational requirements and wages that are double those in the service and retail sectors. “They are bringing life to the streets, tapping local power, helping economic resilience, and increasing the value of surrounding properties,” she noted. The new maker movement is having a significant impact in postindustrial Midwest cities like Indianapolis, which has lost some 18,000 auto manufacturing jobs and caused some 8,000 families to abandon their homes. Indiana University’s Adam Thies, who worked until recently as the city’s director of metropolitan development, described the ongoing redevelopment of the Circle City Industrial Complex (CCIC). This 500,000-square-foot (46,500 sq m) structure was built during the 1920s to house the Schwitzer Corporation, an auto parts manufacturer. After the plant closed in the 1960s, parts of it were repurposed to accommodate nonindustrial uses. Click here to read the full article