Rowan started as an industrial town, especially in the manufacture of textiles, electronic equipment, and paper products. It takes up approximately 7 square miles. At its peak, it boasted 75,000 souls As centers of industry moved closer to the seat of the Empire fifty years ago, many warehouses were empty and the town had fallen deeply into poverty. City parks became overgrown, many homes were falling apart in disrepair. Businesses were leaving in droves and so were the people, who had to go where the jobs were. The town was an eyesore and many thought it might be better wiped off the map. Still, some of the population hung on, hoping for better times.
An enterprising developer, Stephan Talmadge, is generally known as the saviour of Rowan. He bought a several of the warehouses at fire sale prices and hired fledgling architect Kalisha Turnette. He directed her and her team divide the top floors of the warehouses into lofts. The lofts were very basic, just good for lots of natural light and up to the proper building codes. This enabled Talmadge to began selling or renting them to artists, and turn a small profit. A little more investment on his part and he found himself not only making money on the lofts, but also the lower floors of the warehouse space that could be used for artists to display and sell their work. Other retailers followed the artists, and Rowan’s economy slowly began to pick up, and the artists’ colony slowly became something of a tourist attraction. To further attract the tourists, the city began some urban renewal, turning its oldest factory into a museum, gutting some of the abandoned properties and clearing the parks as well as offering tax breaks to business that relocated there.
Rowan is still a haven for artists, starving and otherwise. There are a few high-end hotels for the tourists, but those workers that support the tourist industry make even less money that the poorest of artists, resulting in a love/hate relationship for the tourists (If they call it tourist season,why can’t we shoot them?). Still, the center of town is alive and well again, the population is up to about 25K, though much of the outskirts remains in ruins. Several factories and warehouses at the edges of town remain abandoned. Inquisitive children have been frequently cautioned not to play in the remnants of the old buildings, but someone still gets badly hurt or killed once or twice a year. Rowan is on its way back up, but It will be a while before this town regains its former status.