Home Town hosts planning to
transform an American town


IMLAY CITY — The Imlay City Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is now one of an unknown number of American communities to throw their hats in the ring for an entire “Home Town Makeover,” compliments of HGTV.
In early January, Ben and Erin Napier of the hit HGTV series Home Town, took on the extraordinarily challenging mission of renovating much of the town of Laurel, Mississippi.
Because of audience response to that highly successful and much-viewed endeavor, HGTV decided to offer the same makeover opportunity for other small towns across America.
When Imlay City DDA Director Lorrelei Natke heard about HGTV’s “Home Town Takeover/Makeover” project to restore and transform an entire town, she jumped at the chance to apply.
“I found out about this from (former Imlay City Chamber Director) Wendy Muelheisen, who sent me the link to the HGTV website,” said Natke. “Then I asked (DDA Assistant) Katrina Morrow if she could put together a video in time to meet the Feb. 4 application deadline — which she was able to accomplish.
“Katrina’s creativity and skills are perfectly suited for this project,” Natke opined. “She did a great job with the video — which helped spotlight some of our community’s specific present needs.”
In the video, Morrow broached the city’s plans to (1) create an indoor market at the old Imlay City fire hall; (2) to expand Lions Park to accommodate construction of an outdoor amphitheater for concerts and other programs; and (3) for downtown businesses to make upgrades to their facades and storefronts.
Natke expects there will be significant competition from numerous other small towns across the U.S.
“It’s open to towns with populations less than 40,000,” she said. “There could be hundreds of other towns applying, but it is well worth trying.”
On the HGTV website, the Napiers note that the community to be selected for the whole-town makeover will be featured in Home Town Takeover/Home Town Rescue, a six-episode series slated to premiere on HGTV in 2021.
“This is a big one,” said Erin Napier on the website. “HGTV has never, ever taken on a whole town renovation or restoration project. We’re so proud and excited to be leading the team that will get it done.”
Ben Napier said he welcomes the opportunity to help transform an entire community.
“Renovating one house at a time is an awesome experience,” he said. “But the chance to support an entire town and help a community come back to life and enhance the lives of the people who live and work there is something we’ve always wanted to try.
“You won’t believe what a small town with a shared vision and the power of HGTV can do,” Ben added. “Erin and I have witnessed such changes in Laurel, and now we want to help another town do it.”
For further information about the Home Town television series, visit HGTV.com/Home Town for exclusive content, plus behind-the-scenes videos and photo galleries.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.