On Thursday, March 31, Berryville Main Street and the Town of Berryville were presented with two Virginia Main Street Milestone Achievement Awards, the first for achieving more than $20 million in private investment and the second for more than 250 building rehabilitations since being designated a Main Street Community in 1992. The awards were presented at Richmond’s historic Jefferson Hotel.
At the ceremony which focused on the results of Main Street efforts, Virginia Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Development, Mary Rae Carter, spoke to the audience of 95 downtown revitalization volunteers and professionals about the visible results of their leadership. “You are creating places where people want to be,” she said. “And you’ve often been at the forefront of community and economic development, from your early promotion of farmers’ markets to advocating for walkable and liveable downtowns.”
Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Director, Bill Shelton pointed to downtown progress through the numbers. “In the last five years, Designated Main Street Communities have sparked more than $275 million in private investment in their districts,” said Shelton. “As a result, last year there was a net collective gain of 663 jobs across the 21 Main Street downtown districts.”
Preservationist, Jean Carroon, FAIA, LEED AP, author of the book, Sustainable Preservation: Greening Existing Buildings emphasized the impacts of the group’s work in the sustainability of their communities. “People often forget that before we recycle, we can reduce consumption and reuse existing products,” said Carroon. “A building is the one of the largest handmade objects we have. Reusing a building has an environmental impact far greater than recycling an aluminum can.”
In Berryville, recent revitalization strategies have focused on improving existing building stock – such as the refurbishment and repurposing of the town’s first fire house into an art gallery and shop and fostering business expansion by providing low cost rentals to fledgling enterprises interested in doing business in the historic district.
In addition to Berryville, Virginia Main Street recognized the following communities for excellence.
- Rocky Mount
- South Boston
Currently there are 21 designated Virginia Main Street communities: Abingdon, Altavista, Bedford, Blackstone, Berryville, Culpeper, Franklin, Harrisonburg, Luray, Lynchburg, Manassas, Marion, Martinsville, Orange, Radford, Rocky Mount, South Boston, Staunton, Warrenton, Waynesboro, and Winchester.
The Virginia Main Street program, managed by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, provides assistance and training to help communities increase the economic vitality of their downtown commercial districts. Virginia Main Street uses the National Main Street model to help communities revitalize their downtowns by focusing on their unique heritage and attributes. The program helps communities implement a comprehensive revitalization strategy that creates economic growth and pride in downtowns.
For more information about the Virginia Main Street program visit: www.dhcd.virginia.gov/MainStreet.
Berryville Main Street is hosting a Business Community Meet and Greet on Wednesday, April 13th at the J.H. Enders Fire House from 5pm to 7pm.