Nonprofit Innovation: Design Storefront

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May 11, 2011; Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch | In Richmond, Va., a small storefront with big potential opened up in February. The Storefront for Community Design is there to act as a resource for design projects all over the city. It matches expert volunteers to the projects and they not only bring design expertise but they also understand the city’s regulatory environment. The concept behind the project is that the quality of a neighborhood can be judged in part by its design.

The Storefront’s clientele appear to range from a family who wants to redesign their front yard to a possible Hispanic market in South Richmond and a memorial park in Fulton commemorating a neighborhood lost to Urban Renewal.

"It's about quality and inclusion," Board member and architect Mary Harding Sadler says. "It's about the whole city, raising the bar and making high-quality design possible." The Storefront runs cheaply with an annual budget estimated to run $50,000 this year and $100,000 next year. It is fashioned after a number of other similar projects across the country. Each client of the Storefront gets the first hour of consultation free and then they must pay on a sliding fee schedule.—Ruth McCambridge