Building for a buck

New Stanhope program offers opportunity to own main street business

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Billie Shelton This building at 475 Parker St. in Stanhope is available for development by the right entrepreneur at the cost of $1, thanks to a new program the community is implementing.

STANHOPE — There’s a new program in Stanhope aimed at downtown revitalization. It offers the opportunity to improve a community and to own a main street business building for a small financial investment.

“A Building for a Buck” is patterned after a similar program the town of Waukon, Iowa, has in place. It has been so successful that four Waukon downtown buildings have been rehabbed so far to house businesses.

The Stanhope Development Group, Inc., recently purchased a vacant commercial brick building at 475 Parker St.. The two-story building has 1,800 square feet on each of two floors. Built in the early 1900s, the building offers retail storefront space, a second-floor apartment, and basement space. It is located along state highway 17, where the DOT traffic count is 3,000 cars per day.

The new program, designed to encourage businesses to locate in a small town, is quite simple. Potential business owners must present to the development group a detailed business plan and documented financial ability to make improvements to the building. The potential owner must lease the property from SDGI for two years for $1 and then purchase the property from the development group for $1. The main floor and front exterior of the building must be completed and ready for business within two years.

Polly Hayes, current president of the Stanhope Development Group, is excited about the program. “I think it’s good because it gives an opportunity for owning a building that they might not be able to afford otherwise. This way they will have money available to rehab the building,” she stated, adding that the main floor of the building must be rehabilitated within two years. “This draws people in and shows them what a good community we are.”

Sarah Thompson, executive director of Hamilton Hometowns, sees this Building for a Buck program as positive for everyone involved. “This helps the buyer because he or she won’t need lots of money to acquire the building, so more funds will be available to renovate it,” she points out. “This gets a building rehabbed that wouldn’t necessarily get done. It helps the town by improving their main street, and there’s more property tax coming in if there’s a business in the building.

Thompson looks at the program as an effective way to recruit new business, too. “As long as a community group can afford to do this, it’s helpful in recruiting businesses who may not otherwise consider a small town,” she said. “It’s another tool in our toolbox.”

Hayes says she has noticed a trend for young adults to return to live in their hometowns with their families. “The time has come for this, because I see more interest among young adults in coming home,” Hayes observes. “This way, people can invest more back in their little towns.” Hayes is hopeful a retail business will locate in the building at 475 Parker Street. For decades a hardware store was located there; most recently it housed a piano studio.

Hayes notes that Stanhope has an ordinance prohibiting street level residential housing in the business district.

A packet with development instructions and requirements, a development application, and greater detail on the property is available at the Stanhope city office in the community center, by email at or by calling 515-826-3290.