Alumni Stories

People from all walks of life come through our training programs with newfound knowledge and skills that they take back to their neighborhoods to start small development projects. Here are just a few stories of alumni spearheading change in their neighborhoods.


Cary Westerback’s Fir Street Flats

IncDev alumnus Cary Westerback of Westerback Architecture, LLC began construction on his new fourplex, Fir Street Flats, in downtown Bothell, WA. From Cary: "...the small grey building you see in these pics on site is our triplex where we live upstairs and have two renters downstairs. We bought the property in 2014 with the plan to develop the lot. We sold our house and moved into the triplex in 2015. Then I started designing the new fourplex and working on the short plat that allowed us to divide the lot and build in the front yard of the old triplex, thus giving ourselves free land to build on, which helped the project pencil out."

The project is in the framing stage, and the third floor and roof deck are going up soon. Rough-in will start soon for electrical, fire, etc., and roofing began in May 2019.


Erin Claussen’s Hotel Royal

IncDev alumna Erin Claussen, Principal and Owner at Toledo Revival, is starting construction on the Hotel Royal in Toledo, OH in April. The property is 8,000 square feet of rehabilitated, mixed-use space in Toledo's Middlegounds neighborhood and contains 2,900 square feet of commercial space and three two-bedroom apartments. From Erin: "I attended a workshop in Memphis in 2017, and the info that I took home from there was so helpful, in addition to what I've gleaned from the small developer [Facebook] group. We are finalizing construction documents, have a tenant for our entire commercial space, and are currently seeking investors to secure construction loans."


Matthew Denker’s 11 Lamberton Place

Matthew, an alumnus of IncDev's first-ever boot camp, is currently constructing a duplex in Rochester, NY.

11 Lamberton Place contains two 850-square foot apartments, each with two bedrooms and one bathroom. Construction began in December 2018 and was completed last month. Matthew held the first open house during the first weekend in May, and is close to getting his first tenants.

To learn more about 11 Lamberton Place, click here.


Ryan Saunders's Washington Street Alley

IncDev alumni Ryan Saunders is spearheading the development of an ally on Washington Street in Greensboro, NC.

From Ryan: “This project involves participation from 14 different buildings and owners and this is a master plan…that I designed and concepted…We are still lobbying the building owners and trying to get grassroots support from community members to help motivate the building owners and the city to participate to make it happen.

I first became aware of incremental development through listening to a podcast from the Switchyards team in Atlanta on which they interviewed Eric Kronberg. He was discussing human scale design and breaking the city down into micro economies. I had the pleasure of spending some great quality time with Jim on a couple occasions when he visited Greensboro, and he said no one should have to go outside of their neighborhood to get essentials: Basic groceries, coffee, a meal, a beer, or a place to meet friends. I have also had great contact with Susana Dancy, and she further indoctrinated me in these practices. Everything combined to look at this alley and understand not only its direct impact but also the radius of impact it has on the city acting as an amenity for potential office users in the area, the ability to springboard from small startup spaces to larger brick and mortar locations, and on turning a dead alley into a river for surrounding property values.”

To learn more about the project, click here.