South Boston project wins Virginia Main Street Special Achievement Award and VDDA Award of Excellence

Rehab Development, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based developer specializing in downtown Main Street revitalization, historic preservation and successful public/private partnership formation, in partnership with Destination Downtown South Boston, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit volunteer-based Virginia Main Street Organization dedicated to the economic and cultural revitalization of downtown South Boston, has won the 2014 Virginia Main Street Special Achievement Award and the 2014 Virginia Downtown Development Association Award of Excellence for the New Brick Historic Lofts project.

We are so excited that this project received statewide recognition. Finding a developer like Rehab Development was a dream come true, as they shared our desire to preserve a piece of heritage unique and authentic to South Boston. We got to preserve the building plus get market-rate apartments in downtown. This project is a shining example of how our small community is restructuring its downtown economy for the 21st century.” – Tamyra Vest, Executive Director of Destination Downtown South Boston

New Brick Historic Lofts’ heavy timbers, vaulted ceilings, abundant skylights and hardwood floors are brilliantly contrasted with modern design to provide high-end living spaces for its residents. Located at 701 Jefferson Avenue in the heart of downtown South Boston, the historic tobacco warehouse features 27 apartments for lease, including both one- and two-bedroom loft units.

“We are extremely grateful to both Virginia Main Street and Virginia Downtown Development Association for the wonderful recognition of our New Brick Historic Lofts project,” said Patrick Reilly, principal at Rehab Development.  “We would also like to thank Destination Downtown South Boston and the town of South Boston for their vision and support. Their hard work and commitment helped save this beautiful historic landmark, which has once again become a tremendous asset to downtown South Boston and the greater Halifax County community.”

Recently restored by Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Rehab Builders Inc., the lofts boast large windows, designs that take advantage of the 17-plus-foot ceilings, exposed heavy timber truss system, beautiful hardwood floors, historic brick, granite countertops, ceramic tile backsplashes, energy-efficient stainless steel appliances, energy-efficient heating/air units, washer/dryer hookups, extra locked storage space, gym, community laundry room and more!

 All-inclusive, furnished units are now available.  More information about the lofts can be found at 

Culpeper Renaissance Inc. hosts free seminar for historic property owners

culpeper buildingCulpeper Renaissance Inc. (CRI) and Culpeper Architectural Review Board (ARB) hosted a free seminar entitled Tips to Maintain Your Old Building on June 25.

The goal of the seminar is to provide owners of historic homes and buildings with a basic knowledge of issues related to restoring and preserving their investment.  Culpeper Renaissance Inc. maintains its strong commitment to providing tools and knowledge to businesses and property owners to enable them to prosper and contribute to Culpeper’s economic vitality.” — Chris Martin, Chair of the Culpeper Renaissance Inc. Economic Restructuring Committee

Kathleen Frazier, principal of Frazier Associates, presented Maintenance of Downtown Buildings.  Frazier has extensive experience in historic preservation and is familiar with historic tax credit funding mechanisms. She currently oversees the design services for the Virginia Main Street Program, and she is an affiliate of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center.

Christopher Hamilton presented Understanding Old Brick and Mortar, with a brick care demonstration.  Hamilton is a class-A contractor specializing in older buildings. He also is a committee member of the CRI economic restructuring committee, member of the State Theatre board of directors and chair of the ARB.

Michael Lysczek presented Understanding the Role of the Architectural Review Board in Maintenance, Preservation and revitalization. Lysczek is the owner of Michael Lysczek Architect and board member of the town of Culpeper architectural review board.

Kelsey Carlson, president of Culpeper Renaissance Inc., discussed services that are offered to downtown property owners through Culpeper Renaissance Inc.

Supporting business development in Gloucester

** Guest blogger Margie Johnson, Shop Talk

In recognition of Virginia’s Business Appreciation Month, I would like to share a little bit about how the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust, an affiliate of Virginia Main Street, supports and strengthens local Main Street businesses. Throughout the last three years, the trust, under the leadership of Executive Director Jenny Crittenden, has worked closely with Shop Talk to implement creative ways to develop and maintain a strong business community along Gloucester’s Main Street.

It has been very rewarding to reflect on the success of Gloucester’s business support initiatives. I am especially pleased by the new momentum for business development along Gloucester’s Main Street, the increasing sales that local businesses are achieving, the positive outcomes of one-on-one consulting and the creation of an active restaurant cluster that has brought restaurant owners together as a cohesive group.

Gloucester Main Street merchants and restaurants have been very responsive to the assistance that has been provided to them. A series of quarterly group/cluster education sessions have been implemented and very well attended. Workshop topics have included:

  • Winning Strategies for Uncertain Times
  • Retail Realities and Trends
  • Creating Visual Magic on Main
  • Low Budget, High Impact Marketing Strategies
  • Let’s Get Social (online marketing exchange)
  • At Your Service for Restaurants
  • Managing Your Restaurants Momentum
  • Is 2013 Your Year for Plan B?

These sessions have created a sense of engagement that has spread throughout the business community. These initiatives have helped to create a more informed and active group of business owners working together, not just for their own success, but also for the overall success of Gloucester Main Street.

Shop Talk also helped the trust develop an interior visual merchandising grant program, the only such grant program in the Virginia Main Street community, and it has worked with local businesses to maximize their visual appeal and even helped design new stores in the Main Street district.

Contracting with Shop Talk Inc. and Margie Johnson, throughout the last three years, along with our façade grant program, interior grant program, beautification efforts, multiple plans developed for the downtown, and continued marketing efforts, the Main Street Preservation Trust has created the ultimate recruitment tool. We are able to offer an unparalleled support system to new businesses and those already located on our Main Street.  We believe that this support system has led to a very low vacancy along our Main Street and gives our businesses the upper hand in dealing with an ever-changing economy.” — Jenny Crittenden, Executive Director, Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust

Shop Talk has enjoyed being a strategic partner in the development and support of Gloucester Main Street’s business community, and we look forward to the continued growth and success of Gloucester’s beautiful and unique Main Street district.

Virginia Main Street Summer Toolkit


July 16-17, 2014

Charley’s Waterfront Café
201 Mill Street
Farmville, Virginia

At the core of any downtown revitalization effort is understanding the need for unique and local shopping and dining opportunities, which are owned by local entrepreneurs. Often times, these business owners and potential business owners need encouragement, support and assistance to make their dreams a reality.

How can Main Street organizations really support these entrepreneurs and small businesses? Entrepreneurship and Downtown: Supporting and fostering local entrepreneurs, the 2014 Virginia Main Street Toolkit, is designed to help communities focus the Main Street Four Point Approach ® on exactly that question.

Join the state’s engaged network of downtown revitalization professionals and volunteers for this fast-paced, interactive event.

For a full conference overview and agenda, click here.
To register, click here.

Hosted by:


Local Main Street Communities coordinate for regional benefit

 ** Guest blogger Susan Howard, Executive Director, Abingdon Main Street

As the director of Abingdon Main Street, I am very fortunate to have three other designated Virginia Main Street communities, Bristol, Marion and St. Paul, each less than an hour’s drive from Abingdon.

The proximity of our communities and their cultural similarities have allowed us to explore ways to work together in a regional partnership.  During the holiday season of 2013, we promoted a buy local theme using a common slogan—“Spread holiday cheer when you spend it here.”  Recently, Christina Blevins of Believe in Bristol arranged a meeting with Anthony Flaccavento, a local Abingdon organic farmer and consultant for sustainable economic development, along with Olivia Hall from Marion Downtown, Teresa Harless from St. Paul Main Street, Joy Rumley from Virginia Main Street, and yours truly. Flaccevento discussed the organization called BALLE, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.

BALLE is like a chamber of commerce for locally-owned, independent businesses, the kind of businesses that are the heart and soul of any Main Street community.  BALLE also focuses on the triple bottom line of success for businesses:  financial, social and environmental.  We talked about the potential for a loosely-formed BALLE-like organization, as as well what it would require to form an actual BALLE chapter. And of course, we discussed the need for funding and grant opportunities available.

The next step is for the four Main Street directors in our region to meet with our respective economic restructuring committees to discuss the feasibility of a partnership between our communities using the BALLE principles.  We recognize the advantages, in terms of business networking, education and promotion, of buy-local principles, but we must decide if BALLE is a good fit for us in terms of a regional partnership.  Whatever we decide, we will be working together, and that is a good thing.

Local Entrepreneur Selected as Executive Director for Main Street Lexington

LexingtonThe board of directors recently selected Stephanie Wilkinson to serve as the executive director of the Main Street Lexington. As an entrepreneur, co-owner of a downtown Lexington business and community leader who helped spearhead the creation of Main Street Lexington, Wilkinson brings a wealth of experience to this critical role.

Wilkinson’s business experience, vision, strong leadership and demonstrated commitment to the vibrancy of downtown Lexington, as well as her natural abilities to cultivate collaborative partnerships throughout the downtown stakeholder community, were key factors in her selection for this role.

She is co-founder and co-owner of the Red Hen Restaurant and was the co-founder and publisher of Brain Child magazine, which she sold in 2012.  Wilkinson has extensive experience with local nonprofit organizations, including service as board president for the Montessori Center for Children, board treasurer and president for the Rockbridge Regional Library and board president for Main Street Lexington.

Downtown Lexington is one of my favorite places in the world. I feel fortunate every day to be living here. I also think we are on the cusp of great things. There is a new vitality downtown, new investment and a lot of energy.” — Stephanie Wilkinson, Executive Director, Main Street Lexington

Main Street Lexington is a volunteer-based 501(c)(3) organization established in 2013 to preserve, sustain, enhance and promote beautiful Downtown Lexington, Virginia.  As an affiliate member of the Virginia Main Street Program, Main Street Lexington uses a proven Four Point Approach to achieve economic revitalization in the context of historic preservation.

Among many other accomplishments during its first year, Main Street Lexington has filled empty storefronts with local artwork, created a Merchant’s Forum to engage local business owners in the exchange of ideas to promote downtown businesses, partnered with the local Chamber of Commerce to provide a series of business-improvement seminars to help downtown retailers stay strong and relevant in a changing environment, sponsored numerous downtown community-building events, launched a downtown clean-up day, revamped the downtown Gift Certificate Program, raised nearly $40,000 through donations, peanut sales and other fundraisers, and they been awarded 501(c)(3) status by the IRS.

Business Appreciation Month: What you can do in your community


Business Appreciation Month

Governor Terry McAuliffe has proclaimed June as Business Appreciation Month. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Virginia’s Businesses and Entrepreneurial Communities.” There is a crucial correlation between strong business and strong communities. Vibrant and strong communities produce strong businesses, and strong businesses make communities strong and vibrant.

In honor of this special month, we hope you will recognize your business community in a special way. Below are items that will help you begin your plan and your own celebration of this month-long recognition.






We are proud of all the work you are doing in your communities, and we encourage you to take this month to recognize all businesses that make your community a great place to work, live and play.

Please share any stories you have with DHCD, so we can help promote what you are doing in your community, and why your entrepreneurial community is special. We will be sharing stories we receive about special businesses in Virginia. Whether it is a big corporation or small downtown business, we want to hear how Virginia businesses are making a difference in your community.

 For more information, visit the Business Appreciation Month page on the DHCD website.


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