Chapter 7 looks at an old KMart building, now repurposed as a county library in Lebanon, Missouri. The building is shared with a museum and a cafe. What I love about this example is a quote on page 146:
But the fact is, basically everyone in the community of Lebanon really was involved in the renovation and design of this site. Public school students designed and painted the murals, local electricians designed systems and wired light fixtures, local artisans laid carpet and even designed mosaic tile floors for the hallways. The community here came out for the cause, donating time, money and services to the development of its new county library.
Is that unusual? No, of course not. Lots of towns have done the same thing with recreation centres, or libraries, or museums. What I find compelling is that reusing a box building rarely attracts the creative types, unless the option is to raze it and start over. Yet in this case, the building had some really key selling points — way more space than the library needed, way cheaper than building from scratch, and the previous owner was a school board who could transfer title to them easily (they donated it, after receiving it as a gift themselves). And initially, the reaction would be what you would expect. Everyone wanted a beautiful beacon, a shiny new library, and what they had was an empty KMart. Not much to inspire the community, right?
But a core planning group built street buzz, the local newspaper and radio got on board, and the project focused on having a quick, early win — making sure the facade didn’t look like Kmart. In this case, they used metal in red, blue and yellow to give it a wholly modern look. They gave early tours, when it was still chalk outlines. They designed and merged the concepts for a museum and cafe, tied to learning, tied to local history. They have free meeting rooms for community groups.
Or as the author claims, it went from a community institution to a community centre. One that doesn’t look like Kmart.