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Thread: Main Street Center: eligibility requirements

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    Main Street Center: eligibility requirements

    I have been all over the Main Street National Trust website and cannot find what I am looking for, perhaps someone here will have the answer. In the past I know there was a limit on population to determine eligibility to implement the Main Street program in your community. Recently I thought that I had heard larger communities were eligible to participate. I have tried calling the Missouri representative and cannot get through. Anyone out there have any ideas what the maximum population is before a community can implement the Main Street Program? And I guess while I am at it, is anyone around here involved in a Main Street Program and how well do they work?
    We are working on redevelopment of a particular area in our City, we have poured lots of money into the area and things are improving and moving along, I just think any assisstance would be benificial to the historic district. Thoughts?

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    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    I don't think there is a population cap on participating in the Main Street Program. I know that Baltimore and Washington both have multiple corriodors participating in the program.
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    Quote Originally posted by the north omaha star
    I don't think there is a population cap on participating in the Main Street Program. I know that Baltimore and Washington both have multiple corriodors participating in the program.
    Thanks, I thought their used to be a population cap...cities over like 50k weren't eligible to participate..

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    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    A number of years back I helped form a downtown revitalization program affilliated with the National Main Street Center. I even attended a couple of their National Town Meeting on Main Street conferences (which are excellent, BTW).

    I've never heard of a population cap for participation. They do recommend, however, that the size of a local program area be proportionate to the the local resources (staff, volunteers, and good ol' $$$$) available. The area size and the resources necessary is always a local construct, and subject to adjustment as a local program grows and matures.
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    I am debating going to the conference in Balitmore next month and wanted to make sure it was applicable to our community before I went spending a bunch of city funds on travel. I think it would definately help me with one of my redevelopment areas..I went to a conference a few years back in Indianapolis...that is where I got the idea that there was a population limit...perhaps I was incorrect.

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    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    The main street program was originally designed for towns under 50,000. It has since been used in larger cities as well. In addition, many large cities have main street programs for individual business districts within the city.

    Main street was started by the National Trust in order to bring vitality back to small town downtowns. You can't save historic buildings if there are no viable uses to pay for the preservation. In the 1990's it was successful enough that it threatened some of the historic buildings it was originally designed to preserve.

    My impression is that the main street model has been a great success in most cases. A smaller number of programs have been a moderate success or a failure.

    Often the program is sponsored by a state agency. You can also start one on your own.

    I have used main street in four instances -- two downtowns and two older strip commercial areas. One downtown was highly successful. It was under the state program and had full-time staff. By the time I left, we had a weekly farmers market with 10,000+ people a week, increased ped activity from virtually none to 4-6,000 people a day, and filled a lot of vacant storefronts.

    In the strip commercial areas, there was no staff, and the main street ideas helped but sort of kept the status quo from getting worse.

    The last downtown (current project) has no staff but has a lot of promise - partially realized at this time.

    I strongly recommend the main street approach as a way to address commercial areas. In general, main street results range from good to excellent. It is a very good way to approach business development and can be wildly successful in the right circumstances. The best advice I can give is main street should have staff. Full time staff is best.

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    Quote Originally posted by Wulf9
    The main street program was originally designed for towns under 50,000. It has since been used in larger cities as well. In addition, many large cities have main street programs for individual business districts within the city.

    Main street was started by the National Trust in order to bring vitality back to small town downtowns. You can't save historic buildings if there are no viable uses to pay for the preservation. In the 1990's it was successful enough that it threatened some of the historic buildings it was originally designed to preserve.

    My impression is that the main street model has been a great success in most cases. A smaller number of programs have been a moderate success or a failure.

    Often the program is sponsored by a state agency. You can also start one on your own.

    I have used main street in four instances -- two downtowns and two older strip commercial areas. One downtown was highly successful. It was under the state program and had full-time staff. By the time I left, we had a weekly farmers market with 10,000+ people a week, increased ped activity from virtually none to 4-6,000 people a day, and filled a lot of vacant storefronts.

    In the strip commercial areas, there was no staff, and the main street ideas helped but sort of kept the status quo from getting worse.

    The last downtown (current project) has no staff but has a lot of promise - partially realized at this time.

    I strongly recommend the main street approach as a way to address commercial areas. In general, main street results range from good to excellent. It is a very good way to approach business development and can be wildly successful in the right circumstances. The best advice I can give is main street should have staff. Full time staff is best.
    Wow, thanks. I thought I had heard 50,000 somewhere, its why I haven't looked into it in the past few years. The area that I have in mind is a commercial historic district on the National Register, there will be no additional staffing, they can't afford it right now, but it is my project and i have a lot of time to dedicate to the area. Anyway, thanks for the info, I will probably try to attend the conference in Baltimore knowing the program could be useful to our community.

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    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    The best thing about Main Street is that it is an economic success program first and a planning/preservation program second. You are getting good design for economic success (not aesthetics only) but it always looks better when you are done. You are doing planning for economic success, but it is also good planning.

    If you are a NR district, the program can succeed economically, while also preserving historic resources.

    The program works well, even without staff. I think you will find it a good model for success and preservation.

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Main Street is a National Trust program that recommends a particular set of strategies. The national program is all about the approaches. State programs are about implementation. Each state sets theirs up differently, so you may have a state with very strict requirements and then a state which basically lets in anyone who wants to call themselves a Main Street. Some states offer funding, others do not. Some set standards regarding things such as size, and others do not. You will have to talk with the folks at Missouri Main Street to get your answer.

    Many cities adopt the Main Street approach without ever joining Main Street programs. Keep this in mind, as some states place requirements on communities that might not be appropriate in your own case.
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