Public Art: Making downtown a joyful, active, and social place

May 15-19, 2017 marked Art Week @StrongTowns and, while those days have come and gone,  public art catalyzes Main Street’s unique vitality throughout the year.

Old Town Winchester, host of the upcoming Virginia Main Street Downtown Intersections, creates an outdoor gallery experience through the Artscape program. An annual, juried art competition, Artscape  reproduces selected artwork on banners that hang throughout the downtown.  During the summer, young families are drawn to the downtown for a splash pad installation, which illuminates in the evening.

Public art can serve to make your downtown very memorable, motivating visitors to share their experience with others or surely to return. @StrongTowns author Marielle Brown emphasizes playful art to help visitors fall in love with your downtown:

We should look for opportunities to incorporate climbing, sitting, playing and general whimsy through public art, when appropriate. It may involve grappling with questions of liability and insurance at the municipal level, but the payoff will be more joyful, active and social places.

Whether you are planning a public art project, or not, you will find gale-force ideas to bring to your next Main Street committee brainstorm.

Check out more here >>>

 

Old Town Winchester Splash Pad and Public Restrooms

We’re unveiling more info for Downtown Intersections 2017!


More to come!


 

Downtown Intersections – Winchester – July 10-12, 2017

 

The Bright Buzz: Kindling entrepreneur-focused transformation in Winchester

Many communities have decided that supporting local entrepreneurs is key to a thriving Main Street and one Virginia initiative is receiving national attention!

The National Main Street Center’s Main Street Story of the Week takes a look at how a local property owner created an innovative community space for entrepreneurs and entertainment to thrive.  Jennifer Bell, Winchester’s Downtown Manager, highlights the Bright Center, a 38,000 square-foot mixed-use development housing offices for 20 businesses and organizations, the Bright Buzz for entrepreneurs, and the Bright Box for entertainment.  This entrepreneur-focused downtown project kindles a movement of dramatic transformation within Old Town Winchester.

Read more >>

 

MS_Bright-Buzz

The Bright Center, Winchester, Virginia

Virginia Main Street Awards Downtown Improvement Grants

VMS logoVMS recently awarded several Downtown Improvement Grants (DIG). These grants, of up to $25,000, help designated Main Street communities tackle special, one-time Main Street-related projects that need additional financial resources to become a reality. The awarded projects have specific economic restructuring outcomes and involve multiple community partners. This year, VMS received 14 competitive applications and awarded five grants, totaling $115,000. The awarded projects include the following:

  • Blackstone –A $25,000 DIG will help Downtown Blackstone Inc. install a wayfinding system for the Blackstone’s historic commercial district. Grant funds will assist in the fabrication and installation of 10 trailblazing signs at strategic locations throughout town and the replacement of six gateway signs located at each entrance into town. DIG funds will be matched by $25,000 from a USDA grant, $9,000 from the town and $9,500 of in-kind donations. VMS provided design assistance for the wayfinding system via its design services consultant, Frazier Associates.
  • Lynchburg – A $25,000 DIG will help Lynch’s Landing Foundation partner with the Lynchburg Office of Economic Development and the Region 2000 Small Business Development Center to develop and run a small business competition for businesses looking to start or expand in Lynchburg’s Central Business District. Three business competition winners will receive business start-up/expansion grants of up to $10,000 and marketing and media support.
  • Marion –A $25,000 DIG will help Marion Downtown! develop a façade enhancement grant program that requires participation in the Marion Downtown!’s award-winning business boot camp as a way of strengthening the skill sets of downtown business owners while improving the physical appearance of the Main Street district.
  • South Boston – A $20,000 DIG will help Destination Downtown South Boston develop a façade enhancement grant program that will provide matching grants of up to $5,000. In addition, the Main Street organization will develop a handbook to assist property owners in rehabilitating their properties and will host a forum that will allow property owners interested in rehabilitating their properties to meet one-on-one with design consultants for advice on their project.
  • Winchester – A $20,000 DIG will allow Winchester’s Old Town Development Board to provide matching façade improvement grants of up to $5,000. If property owners lack the resources to meet the 1:1 match requirement for the façade grant, they will be eligible to apply for commercial façade loans from the Winchester Economic Development Authority (EDA). The loans offer favorable repayment terms and are a useful alternative to the cash-matching requirement.

Major construction projects in Virginia’s Main Street districts

Designated Virginia Main Street communities have seen more than $741 millions of private investment since 1985. Private investment on Main Street ranges from the replacement of awnings or a new door to multi-million dollar rehabilitation or construction projects. In 2013, major construction projects added or will soon add new commercial, residential, educational and entertainment venues to Virginia’s Main Street districts. Here are some of the exciting construction projects that got underway or were wrapping up in 2013 in Virginia’s Main Street communities.

Once completed in 2014, the $3.6 million renovation of the Taylor Hotel, built in 1848, will add 7,500 sq. feet of new retail and restaurant space and five two-bedroom luxury apartments to Winchester’s Main Street district.  In addition, the area in front of the building on the Loudoun Street Mall will become an outdoor amphitheatre, pocket park, and farmers’ market pavilion.

The completion in 2013 of the $9.3 million historic rehabilitation of the Art Deco State Theatre in Culpeper replaced a blighting, vacant building with a 560-seat, state-of-the-art entertainment venue in the heart of the town’s bustling Main Street district.

The finishing touches are going into the restoration of the historic Beacon Theatre in Hopewell, which will open in January 2014. The completion of the $4.2 million project will re-open a 650-seat, state-of-the-art entertainment venue in the center of the Main Street district that has been closed and abandoned since 1981.

New College Institute’s new building in Martinsville’s Main Street district is approximately a third complete. When it opens in the summer of 2014, the new 52,000-square-foot, $18.7-million building, with state-of-the-art technology throughout and a variety of classroom and collaborative workspaces, will bring hundreds of students, faculty and staff to Martinsville’s Main Street district. The building will include shared office space for both the New College Institute and the Martinsville Henry County Economic Development Corporation and will house programs from NCI’s partner universities, Patrick Henry Community College and the Piedmont Governor’s School.

In South Boston, Destination Downtown South Boston helped to facilitate the development of the New Brick Historic Lofts, which will open in January 2014. The $2.5 million project by Rehab Development of Winston-Salem, N.C., converted the town’s last historic tobacco warehouse into 22 market-rate apartments in the town’s Main Street district.

Construction is underway on the $10.5 million renovation of Bristol’s former Goodpasture Motors Company building, built in the 1920s, which will soon be the home of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. When the museum opens in August 2014, it will serve as a major tourist destination, drawing at least 75,000 visitors per year to Bristol’s Main Street district.

The final phase of construction is underway in Waynesboro’s Wayne Theatre, with completion set for December 2014. The $10-11 million renovation project will reopen a 375-seat entertainment venue in the center of the city’s Main Street district that had sat empty since 2000.

Bedford’s new Jackson Street Tobacco Warehouse Loft Apartment project will convert the abandoned, four-story former Frank Chervan Furniture Company building into the town’s newest downtown residential building. The $3 million project by Waukeshaw Development Inc. will add 32 new apartments to Bedford’s Main Street district when it opens in 2014.

In Marion, construction is underway to convert a 1908 school building into the Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts. When completed the $2 million project will bring hundreds of music students and fans to the town’s Main Street district.

Winchester’s Main Street agriculture event was a success, as expected!

On Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, Winchester’s downtown walking mall was filled with excitement for local farms. Farm Bureau, in partnership with the Winchester Old Town Development Board, Winchester Main Street Foundation and Virginia Main Street program, produced an extraordinary community event, Winchester’s Main Street Agriculture, held on the historic Loudon Street Pedestrian Mall.

The partnership was a natural fit. “There is a Farm Bureau and a Main Street in every state,” said Dee Cook, membership development specialist with Virginia Farm Bureau. Winchester is one of 25 Virginia communities designated as Virginia Main Street communities. Cook said that she hopes Frederick County’s successful Main Street Agriculture event will lead to similar events all over Virginia in the near future. “This has been the pilot,” she said. “We hope to roll it out statewide next year,” Cook added.

More than 20 vendors set up booths to sell their farm products and provide interactive, educational activities for the public. There were also many educational demonstrations including a hydroponics display, grape crushing, a live beehive and farm-to-table cooking demonstrations, along with others.

photo credit: lancasterfarming.com 2012

Here is a nice article from LancasterFarming.com about the event, Taking the Farm to the City.

Winchester’s Main Street Agriculture – Save the Date!

On Saturday, Oct. 6, Winchester’s downtown walking mall will be filled with excitement for local farms.

Farm Bureau is partnering with the Winchester Old Town Development Board, Winchester Main Street Foundation and Virginia Main Street program to produce an extraordinary community event promoting Frederick County agriculture and a renaissance in community life!

The purpose of the event is to educate and promote the importance of agriculture to Winchester/Frederick County residents while building community relationships that produce quality community life and local prosperity for farmers, businesses and residents.

The day will highlight Frederick County agriculture with farmers and vendors providing local foods, educational displays and activities for children. Look for downtown restaurants to offer “local plates,” meals featuring fresh, local produce, meats and dairy products. There will be cooking demonstrations, advice for gardeners and live animals. The George Washington Hotel will host a wine garden, and of course, there will be lots of fun for all!

For more information, visit Winchester’s Main Street Agriculture’s Facebook page.