I’m Brenda Rigdon, Principal of Black Raven Architects. When I was a little girl, there was a “haunted” house at the end of my street. It was old-fashioned, with broken stairs, peeling paint, shutters falling off, and weeds in the yards. It could have been the star of a Stephen King novel, or the set for the Addams Family movies. Did any of you live near a house like that?
Did any of you have a best friend like Pam, who liked to dare me to ring the doorbell and run away?
I never did that, because it would be rude. I wasn’t afraid of that house; it just needed to be loved. Many years later, I became an architect so I could rescue old buildings that needed to be loved. I am fortunate to have spent over 20 years doing just that.
But it’s not enough. Waiting for a phone call from a client who shares my vision is not enough. I can see a dozen buildings within a block of my downtown office that have been empty for decades. They contribute to blight and make my city a less attractive place to live and do business. I am launching Black Raven Development with the hope of rescuing some of these buildings by taking the lead in the redevelopment process. My inspiration is the architect-as-entrepreneur movement and non-profit organizations like the Incremental Development Alliance and StrongTowns.org, which advocate for community-based, small-scale redevelopment.
My experience in old buildings and with development incentives will allow me to renovate these buildings profitably. I will create exciting new spaces to live and work downtown and contribute to sustainable economic development. Instead of blight, we will have even more beautiful historic buildings in our downtown. Please join me in this new venture.