The National Main Street Center, Inc., has announced that seven U.S. cities have been selected as demonstration sites to implement its refreshed approach to comprehensive community revitalization and preservation-based economic development: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Milledgeville, Georgia; Biloxi, Mississippi; Detroit, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; Lexington, Kentucky; and Miami, Florida. The program is supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
“We are grateful to Knight Foundation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation for their generous support as we roll out a strengthened approach to commercial district revitalization,” said Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “Our updated methodology incorporates lessons we’ve learned in our decades of working with communities of all sizes and we are confident these pilot projects will demonstrate that our approach continues to be highly effective in breathing new life in our country’s historic downtowns and commercial districts.”
Each community, chosen after a competitive selection process, will benefit from recent strategic improvements to the National Main Street Center’s revitalization methodology that for 35 years has helped transform historic downtowns and urban neighborhoods nationwide. Local leaders will receive 12 to 18 months of free organizational capacity building and hands-on technical assistance from national experts on how best to involve the community in revitalization efforts, plan and executive long-term strategic action, and effectively measure the impact of those efforts.
“Providing people with spaces to connect and participate in neighborhood life is essential to creating the type of cities where people want to live and work,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives. “The initiative will do just that by working with cities to create more vibrant downtown hubs and engaging residents as change agents in this transformation.”
Originally launched as a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, the National Main Street Center pioneered an incremental, volunteer-driven strategy to help flagging downtowns counteract booming suburban growth. This novel approach was in stark contrast to the urban renewal projects that were destroying commercial districts and neighborhoods all over the country. By tapping two important community resources, citizen participation and its older and historic buildings, the Main Street Approach has helped reinvigorate America’s historic downtowns and commercial districts in cities and towns across the country.
More information on the pilot program can be found at http://www.preservationnation.org/main-street/.