The Storefronts Conference Presented by NAIOP

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedin
2016 Recap


NAIOP, WI the Commercial Real Estate Development Association and NEWaukee present the 2nd Storefronts Conference, a day-long conference that focuses on holistic solutions, national trends, best practices, and success stories that lead to action plans and spark ideas to fill empty storefronts.

The Storefronts Conference features national and local speakers that have implemented practices and tactics in their own communities and across the country to address vacant storefronts. The Storefronts Conference is hosted different empty storefronts and neighborhoods around Madison, WI.

Check out the 2015 Empty Storefronts Conference hosted in Milwaukee!

2016 Sponsorships still available! Put yourself in front of leading professionals from the creative, economic development, commercial real estate and development industries.  Check out these opportunities! Please contact Jim Villa, Chief Executive Officer, NAIOP Wisconsin, Ph: 414.870.1873 E:




The Main Location: Old Shopko Center – 2602 Shopko Dr. Madison, WI, 53704
8:30am to 8:45am – Registration / Complimentary Breakfast / Coffee Social / Networking
8:45am to 9:30am – Opening Remarks:
                                                       Jeremy Fojut, Chief Idea Officer, NEWaukee
                                                       Jim Villa, President, NAIOP Wisconsin
                                                       Paul Soglin, Mayor of Madison

9:30am to 10:00am – Opening Keynote:
New Trends in Filling Storefronts along Main Street // Matt Wagner, Ph.D., VP of Community Revitalization, National Main Streets Center, Inc (Chicago, IL)
    About: National perspective on what cities are doing across the country to fill empty storefronts.

10:00am to 10:30am – Deathstars, Cows, and Community Meetings: Why the Power of the Crowd is the Future of Urban Development. // Justin Ley, Co-Founder, Hoodstarter (Minneapolis, MN)
    About: A tech platform to crowd-source and fill empty storefronts.

10:30am to 10:45am – Break

10:45am to 11:15am – Making Big with Small and How You Can Fill Storefronts in Your Community Too // Nora Schmidt, Executive Director, Viroqua Chamber Main Street (Viroqua, WI)
    About: What small towns can do to be hip and cool.
11:15am to 12:00pmTalking Headways Live Podcast with Dave Cieslewicz, Executive Director, Wisconsin Bike Federation // Jeff Wood, Principle, The Overhead Wire (San Francisco, CA)
    About: An interview about biking and its impact on small business.

12:00pm to 1:00pm – Complimentary Lunch

1:00pm to 3:00pm – Storefront Breakout Sessions (Complimentary Shuttle Service)

Breakout Session One – 125 W. Mifflin
1:15pm to 1:45pm – Creating Social Incubators in Storefronts to Transform Communities // Greg Wright, Executive Director, CREATE Portage County (Stevens Point, WI)
    Attend this Session if: You want to learn about creating a space for place based projects to incubate and community to come together.
1:45pm to 2:15pm – Motor City Match for Small Business & Developers // Anthony Askew, Motor City Match Manager, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (Detroit, MI)
    Attend this Session if: You want to learn about the unique approach Detroit is taking to help developers and small business owners activate and fill empty storefronts.
2:15pm to 2:45pm – Fill That Storefront: Revitalizing Neighborhoods via Small Business Competitions // Kelsey Otero, Social Innovation at Marquette and Co-Chair of the Near West Side Commercial Corridor Development Working Team (Milwaukee, WI)
    Attend this Session if: You want to learn about a small business challenge competition to fill empty storefronts in an economically challenged neighborhood.

Breakout Session Two – Hovde Properties, 122 W Washington Ave 2nd Floor (Old Transit Center)
1:15pm to 1:45pmOh Crepe! A Pop-Up Fond du Lac Story // Joe Truesdale, Marketing Account Manager, Wisnet // Jenna Floberg, Director-Assistant Administrator at St. Francis Home (Fond Du Lac, WI)
    Attend this Session if: You want to learn about the community coming together to launch a pop-up restaurant in an empty storefront.
1:45pm to 2:15pm – Working with the Wizards of Emerald City // Line Sandsmark, Executive Director, Shunpike (Seattle, WA)
    Attend this Session if: You want to learn about creating an artist program that activates storefronts that help encourage occupancy.
2:15pm to 2:45pm – A Developer’s Dilemma: What to do When the Numbers Don’t Add Up // Hovde Properties (Madison, WI)
    Attend this Session If: You want to learn about the challenges developers face on rehabbing existing buildings.

Breakout Session Three – 945 E. Washington (Old Mautz Paint Factory)
1:15pm to 1:45pm – Careful What You Wish For: Kenosha Creative Space // Francisco Loyola, Artist, Creative, and Community Organizer // Amy Greil, Assistant Professor of Community Economic Development, University Wisconsin-Extension (Kenosha, WI)
    Attend this Session if: You want to learn about a bold project that offers creatives, entrepreneurs, and artists a space to transform their city.
1:45pm to 2:15pm – Out of Place // Carol Stakenas, Executive Director, No Longer Empty (New York, NY)
    Attend this Session if: You want to learn about a public engagement process that matches contemporary art through community responsive exhibitions in underutilized properties.
2:15pm to 2:45pm – Small Bets To Build Strong Towns // Rachel Quednau, Communication Specialist, Strong Towns (Brainerd, MN)
    Attend this Session if: You want to learn about a holistic approach to building strong towns that impact storefronts and space.

3:15-3:30 – Optional Tour of Hovde Property – 316 W Washington Avenue

Closing Keynote – The Ovation Sky Club & Bar
3:15pm to 3:45pm –  Prototyping, Experimenting, and Utilizing Spaces as a Way to Collaborate and Test New Ideas // Eric Ho, Founder, miLES (Manhattan, NY)
    Attend this Session if: You want to learn about a unique small business incubator program for entrepreneurs and artist that lease empty storefronts.
3:45pm to 4:30pm – Streets as Places // Senior Director, Transportation Initiatives, Project for Public Spaces (New York, NY)
    Attend this Session if: You want to learn about complete streets and how building place can impact the community.

Reception – The Ovation Sky Club & Bar
4:15pm to 5:30pm – Complimentary Food and Beverages
Shuttles will loop back to the main location starting at 4:30pm. The last shuttle will leave at 5:30pm


Rachel Quednau
Rachel Quednau serves as Communications Specialist for Strong Towns, a national media organization whose mission is to advocate for a model of development that allows America’s cities, towns and neighborhoods to grow financially strong and resilient. She has been a regular contributor and podcast host for Strong Towns since 2015. Rachel is a Midwesterner currently living in Milwaukee, WI. Previously, she worked for several organizations fighting to end homelessness at the federal and local levels. She draws from her experiences living in New York City, Washington, DC, Walla Walla, WA and Minneapolis, MN to help her build better places wherever she is. You can find her musings on Twitter @rquednau. One of her favorite ways to get to know a new city is by going for a run in it.

Justin Ley, David Berglund and Jason Goux
David Berglund, Justin Ley, and Jason Goux are the co-founders of the commercial real estate crowdsourcing platform, Hoodstarter. Hoodstarter has been crowdsourcing feedback on empty storefronts for over three years. They have been named entrepreneurs of the week by Upstart magazine and Hoodstarter has been featured in various media outlets including the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, ABC, and NBC.

Nora Roughen-Schmidt
Nora Roughen-Schmidt moved to Viroqua via Madison, WI after a five-year post-graduation stint in Columbus, OH. She studied Communications and Marketing at UW Madison where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in 2000. After graduation she pursued a career in marketing first in music/indie rock band promotion, then working for a software company, public libraries and the Ohio Library Council and healthcare. Passionate about working with communities and smart development, Nora began her position with the Viroqua Chamber Main Street in 2014. Using skills learned as a marketing professional, Nora worked closely with business owners and entrepreneurs to give a new look and brand to Viroqua and the astounding number of services and opportunities that existed in this driftless area town of under 5,000 residents. She became passionate about economic development and revitalization and started a Pop-Up Shop program which to date has been recognized with 3 awards and has been featured in print throughout the state. Nora has recently opened a consulting business and in her spare time works with businesses, cooperatives and organizations seeking fresh marketing and perspective. Nora enjoys hobby farming, travel and time near water with her husband, small children and border collie.

Joe Truesdale
Joe Truesdale is a Marketing Account Manager with the Geeks & Creatives of wisnet, a custom branding, website and application developer in Fond du Lac, WI. After graduating from Ripon College in 2007, Joe moved to Fond du Lac to work at a small cluster of radio stations before moving on to a digital marketing role with Holiday Automotive. In addition to Pop-Up Fond du Lac, Joe is acting 2016 President of Young Professionals of Fond du Lac (YPF) and currently serving as a member on the Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac Board of Directors and Moraine Park Technical College’s Digital Marketing Advisory Committee.

Jenna Floberg
Jenna Floberg is a licensed nursing home administrator currently employed as the Director and Assistant Administrator at St. Francis Home, a long term care campus in Fond du Lac, WI. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in HealthCare Administration from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire in 2012. Following graduation, Jenna joined the team at St. Francis Home and has been there ever since. Shortly after moving to Fond du Lac, Jenna joined Young Professionals of Fond du Lac (YPF) and currently serves as a board member and Membership Committee Chair. In addition to YPF and Pop-Up Fond du Lac, Jenna also spends time volunteering with the Boys & Girls Club of Fond du Lac.

Matt Wagner
Matt has more than 25 years of non-profit management experience in downtown development, entrepreneurship and tech-based economic development.  As the Vice President of the National Main Street Center, based in Chicago, Matt leads downtown revitalization programs and strategic business development.  Overseeing the Field Services team, Matt also leads the Center’s efforts to expand technical service offerings, and offer preservation-based economic revitalization services directly to downtowns and urban business districts across the U.S. Matt received his Ph.D. in Urban Affairs with a specialization in Urban Economic Development from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is a Fulbright Scholar Specialist, recently completing work in the area of entrepreneurship and economic development at the University of Hyderabad, India.

Carol Stakenas
Carol Stakenas is the Executive Director of No Longer Empty in New York. As an organizer, curator and educator whose work is deliberately varied to align artists’ practices within timely contexts, she has worked with artists across disciplines and scholars to expand and deepen contemporary art discourse.  She has commissioned and produced multidisciplinary public projects in sites such as the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage, the top of Los Angeles City Hall and Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.  Previously, she served as the Executive Director of Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) and Deputy Director/Curator of Creative Time in New York.

Kelsey Otero
Kelsey Otero works at Marquette University and supports faculty, staff, students, and community members interested in social innovation and entrepreneurship.  In this role she also works with outside organizations such as the Global Social Benefit Institute at Santa Clara and Ashoka U.  She also supports Marquette’s efforts in the Near West Side by serving as a Co-Investigator on the PARC program and as Co-Chair of the Commercial Corridor Development Working Team.   Before working at Marquette University, Kelsey lived in Dallas, TX and worked in sports marketing on three different Olympic Games, Paralympics, and Special Olympics.  She is a 2009 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and earned her MBA from Marquette University in 2014.

Eric Ho
Eric is the founder of miLES, a civic startup that open storefronts to possibilities by activating urban neighborhoods for pop-up entrepreneurship. Started as an online collaboration, Eric has been leading the development of miLES into an innovative practice. Operating between real estate, design and social entrepreneurship, miLES has been creatively using storefront spaces for a wide range of uses and time-frame to lower the entry barrier for entrepreneurs, creatives and community to use commercial real estate. Eric has been invited to speak at various panels and events including Harvard Innovation Lab, Awesome Summit, Columbia University Studio X and TEDxDumbo. He is on the judge committee for Harvard University’s annual Dean’s Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge. His work has been published in various media including the New York Times, Huffington Post, Fast Company, Good Magazine and PSFK.
Apart from running miLES, Eric is also the co-founder and director of Architecture Commons, a design practice advocating design for the masses. Eric is a licensed architect and a real estate salesperson. Eric received his Master in Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design and his Bachelor of Arts at University of Pennsylvania.

Gary Toth
Gary Toth has helped to lead a national movement to integrate land use and transportation issues as a means to creating more livable, walkable communities and streets. During his 34 years of project management experience with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), Gary helped transform NJDOT to a stakeholder inclusive agency focused on the integration of transportation and land use planning. He was the founder and leader of the NJFIT: Future in Transportation Program, which provided transportation and planning land use assistance to more than 50 communities in New Jersey from 2003 to 2007, as well as founder of the agency’s Context Sensitive Solutions Program, in which he developed the agency’s CSS training program and CSS Implementation Team. While at NJDOT, he was also the agency’s Project Manager for the preparation of the multi-state groundbreaking Smart Transportation Guide.
As a transportation engineer, Gary possesses extensive knowledge of street and network design principles and he is one of the leading U.S. experts on utilizing flexible design and design standards to create great streets and communities. Since joining PPS in 2007, Gary has worked with dozens of communities to help them plan and create more sustainable streets and transportation networks with sound engineering principles, including conducting hundreds of trainings and community engagement sessions.
He has developed numerous public engagement tools and trainings for PPS, including Streets as Places trainings, Street Typology exercises, and Street Audits. Gary is also one of seven instructors certified to lead the National Highway Institute’s Transportation and Land Use Course, and leads the course discussion on what makes a great street. His knowledge, credentials, and collaborative approach have made him a popular trainer, facilitator, and presenter on transportation issues.

Amy Greil
Amy Greil (gry-el) is an Assistant Professor of Community Economic Development with the University Wisconsin-Extension, working with the Extension since 2010.  She has also undertaken research with the City of Kenosha Commission on the Arts to measure economic impacts of the arts and is now engaged in a comprehensive strategic planning process for arts and cultural development through Kenosha Creative Economy Strategic Plan.  In addition, she is supporting the development of a community commercial kitchen, Kenosha Kitchens, to foster and support local, value-added food processing.  She is also passionately involved with a community-wide partnership to advance “cradle-to-career” student academic success through a collective impact approach.  Her broad and diverse program development and teaching experiences were recognized by her peers in the WI Extension Environment and Community Development Association 2014 Quality of Teaching Award and in 2015 with the Early Career Award.  In 2015 she also was honored to receive Kenosha’s young professional network’s Future 5 Award.  She proudly serves as a board member of the Kenosha Creative Space.

Francisco Loyola
Francisco is a working artist, creative and community organizer.  He works in mixed media, graphic and visual arts.  He was a founding member of the City of Kenosha Commission on the Arts and has served as the Chair and Vice-Chair.  He currently holds the role of Treasurer of the Arts Fund at the Kenosha Community Foundation and is a board member of the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.  Over his years working in Kenosha and through his extensive networks, he has established strong connections between artists and creatives based between Chicago, Madison and Milwaukee.  Currently he is serving as Project Manager of a new community-initiated development, serving as a hub for artists and creatives called the Kenosha Creative Space.

Greg Wright
Greg Wright is a writer and former high school writing instructor with a masters degree from Stanford University in policy, organization, and leadership studies. A unique series of unexpected life choices (and not-choices) led Greg to his current work as the executive director of CREATE Portage County, a nonprofit arts advocacy and creative placemaking organization focused on improving the quality of life in Central WI. Along with other creativity-based initiatives, CREATE is launching the IDEA Center, a community space to support Innovators, Designers, Entrepreneurs, and Artists. As a creative himself, Greg knows firsthand the value of community resources that support the arts, innovation, and creativity, and he is specifically focused on small-community models that can support the amenities and lifestyle typical found in urban communities.

Line Sandsmark
Line Sandsmark joined the Shunpike team as its Executive Director at the end of March 2016. Sandsmark’s international and local arts leadership experience includes working as producer or executive director for various film organizations in Scandinavia, in addition to her more recent roles as development director, then managing director of Northwest Film Forum. Her short films have been distributed through international festivals and broadcasters, and her work in the field of documentary financing and production has taken her all over the world. Sandsmark has also collaborated extensively with performing arts groups in theater, dance, and music.  She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature at the University of Washington, conducted post-graduate studies in Critical Theory at University of Paris – Sorbonne, and earned her MFA in Arts Leadership at Seattle University. She has authored commissioned reports on the viability and sustainability of film and cinema initiatives in both Norway and the Middle East, and has focused on similar issues facing the film and fashion sectors of the Pacific Northwest. The intersection of art and commerce is a recurring theme in Sandsmark’s work which fuels her passion and a commitment to sustainability in the arts sector.

Jeff Wood
The Overhead Wire is a consulting firm owned and operated by Jeff Wood in San Francisco California. Jeff’s focus is on sharing information about cities around the world with advocates, elected leaders, researchers, and other interested parties. The Overhead Wire is also the owner and operator of The Direct Transfer, an urban news aggregator and daily newsletter.
Projects include podcasts such as the weekly Talking Headways on Streetsblog, news sites, cartography and data analysis, and research on transit modes and land use strategies.
Previous to The Overhead Wire Jeff was the New Media Director/Chief Cartographer at Reconnecting America and the Center for TOD. Jeff spent 8 years at Reconnecting America and led data analysis and cartography work as well as research on transit modes. He was also responsible for upkeep of the best practices database and media properties on the website. You can see his cartography in the Map Room here and the TOD Best Practices Database here.

Dave Cieslewicz
Dave Cieslewicz served two terms as mayor of Madison where he set the city on a path for Platinum status as one of the best biking cities in North America. Before that he started his own nonprofit, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, which focusses on land use and transportation policy. He has been an adjunct professor at the UW Madison’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning where he teaches a class called Bikes, Pedestrians and Cities. He pronounces his name chess LEV ich, but nobody else does.

Thank you to our sponsors!


wedc-smile-in-wisconsin                    eua-logo-name-stack-white-background_hr




Thank you to our partners!


1000friends          greatermadchamber          leagueofwimunic          uwext            cityofmadvisitmadison          downtownmad          wiruralweb1         smartgrowth


2016 Sponsorships still available!  Put yourself in front of leading professionals from the creative, economic development, commercial real estate and development industries.  Check out these opportunities! Please contact Jim Villa, Chief Executive Officer, NAIOP Wisconsin, Ph: 414.870.1873 E:


Please contact Jeremy Fojut, Chief Idea Officer at NEWaukee, for questions regarding The Storefronts Conference

2016 Recap

Date: October 27th, 2016 8:30am – 5:30pm

Location: Madison, WI


Description: NAIOP WI , the Commercial Real Estate Development Association and NEWaukee present the 2nd Storefronts Conference, a day-long conference that focuses on holistic solutions, national trends, best practices, and success stories that lead to action plans and spark ideas to fill empty storefronts. The Storefronts Conference features national and local speakers that have implemented practices and tactics in their own communities and across the country to address vacant storefronts. The inaugural Empty Storefronts Conference is hosted in storefronts and neighborhoods across Milwaukee.

Eppstein Uhen Architects
Hovde Properties
Majic Productions
Ryan Companies
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Community Partners:
1000 Friends of Wisconsin
City of Madison
Downtown Madison
Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce
League of Wisconsin Municipalities
Smart Growth Greater Madison
University of Wisconsin – Extension
Visit Madison
Wisconsin Rural Partners

Social Media
8.5k Facebook Users Reached

12,638 LinkedIn Accounts Reached

159 Tweets
170k Twitter Accounts Reached

Attendance: 111 participants

Website Traffic:Unique Visits: 29,656


Attendee Report

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Justin Ley // Hoodstarter – Deathstars, Cows, and Community Meetings: Why crowdsourcing is the future of urban development
Eric Ho //MiLESPROTOTYPING, EXPERIMENTING, & UTILIZING SPACES as a Way to Collaborate and Test New Ideas
Kelsey Otero // Marquette, Near West Side Commercial Corridor Development Working TeamFill That Storefront: Revitalizing Neighborhoods via Small Business Competitions
Nora Schmidt // Viroqua Chamber Main StreetMaking Big with Small and How You Can Fill Storefronts in Your Community Too
Line Sandsmark // ShunkpikeWorking with the Wizards of Emerald City
Joe Truesdale & Jenna Floberg // Fond du LacOh Crepe! A Pop Up Fond du Lac Story
Rachel Quednau // Strong TownsSmall Bets To Build Strong Towns
Anthony Askew // Motor City Match – Motor City Match for Small Business & Developers
Amy Griel & Francisco Loyola // Kenosha Creative SpaceBe Careful What You Wish For
Matt Wagner // National Main Streets Inc.New Trends in Filling Storefronts along Main Street
Gary Toth // Project for Public SpacesStreets as Places
Mike Slavish // Hovde Properties – A Developer’s Dilemma: What to do When the Numbers Don’t Add Up (No Presentation)


How To Fill Those Empty Storefronts
Urban Milwaukee
Oct 26th, 2016


“Just wanted to congratulate you on a great conference.  Truly enjoyed it and picked up some great ideas and contacts while there”

— Matt Wagner Ph.D., VP of Community Revitalization, National Main Streets Center, Inc (Chicago, IL)

“Thanks so much for inviting us to speak at the Empty Storefronts conference. We had a lot of fun.”

— Justin Ley, Co-Founder, Hoodstarter

“What a pleasure to chat with you and to be part of the Vacant Storefronts Conference yesterday. Bravo to you and your team for a well executed event and for the remarkable things you are doing as educators and “do-ers” in your community.”

— Nora Schmidt, Executive Director, Viroqua Chamber Main Street

“I just wanted to write and say thanks for inviting me to the Storefronts Conference.  It was a lot of fun and you guys did a great job organizing.  Looking forward to hearing if some positive results ensue.”

— Jeff Wood Principle, The Overhead Wire

“I hope all is well. I just wanted to reach out to say thank you for the invitation to last week’s conference. I connected with some great people and thoroughly enjoyed the presentations I got to see. I wish I’d been able to see more, but I look forward to reviewing the presentations to learn more about other great things happening across the country. I also got great feedback on my presentation with a highly engaged audience. Kudos to you and your team for orchestrating a stellar event.”

  —  Anthony L. Askew Program Manager, Motor City Match Detroit Economic Growth Corporation

“You, the Newaukee team and the crew of NAIOP-WI are fabulous! It was truly an honor to be part of the day. Definitely excited to stay in touch and crossing fingers we’ll find ways to do more work together :)”

— Carol Stakenas Executive Director, No Longer Empty