Archive for Development
As the vital arteries of our communities, main streets are where one finds the nexus of social interaction and the exchange of goods and services. Historically, these commercial zones were the model of mixed-use development including retail, office, entertainment, with residential spaces on upper floors. Yet the term “Main Street” also serves as a nostalgic reminder of a fading era where communities were, as their name implies, cohesive entities of local cooperative efforts that could sustain and nourish a collective identity. The evolving landscape of the American city has shifted emphasis and significance away from Main Streets to their communities’ detriment.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, seeing this negative decline of our historical commercial cores and the structures within them, created the National Main Street Center in 1980 to combat their erosion. By combining historical preservation efforts with economic restructuring, the Main Street Approach encourages communities to take a second look at their declining commercial cores and see the opportunities in preservation of no only historical structures, but also the sense of place and community that a strengthened local business climate can provide.
Having overseen much success in smaller community revitalization, a recent focus for the Main Street Center is on the commercial hubs serving specific neighborhoods within a larger metropolitan city. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina revealed the many problems facing revitalization across New Orleans and the Louisiana Main Street program, as part of the Department of Culture, recreation and Tourism targeted specific areas within the larger city as desperately needing a Main Street approach resulting in the state designation of five Urban Main Streets:
- Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard
- North Rampart Street
- Broad Street
- St. Claude Avenue
- Old Algiers
Within each of these targeted streets and the adjacent neighborhoods they serve, the Louisiana Main Street Program has applied the National Fourpoint approach to revitalization. This includes:
- Organization –This involves gathering human capital and financial resources and orienting them towards a common goal. The establishment of a Governing board and standing committees is necessary to oversee a predominantly volunteer and grassroots initiative. A Main Street Manager or Managing Group, the essential catalyst for change, must coordinate all efforts including advocacy for merchants, property owners, and city officials, recruiting volunteer operations, and organizing all events designed to redirect local interest towards downtown importance.
- Design – Economic regeneration must have a welcoming face. The design element is crucial to getting the targeted main street into physical shape. These efforts include all the amenities that draw people to an area from attractive window displays and restoration of historic assets to effective signage, parking, and pedestrian oriented streetscaping. By conveying an inviting visual message to users, communities can effectively sell what they have to offer. Design is not limited to visual application however, for much attention must be paid to ongoing maintenance, so these efforts should be long term in vision including any appropriate new construction.
- Promotion – Marketing is vital! “If you build it, they will come” is not a completely true sentiment. If you promote it, they will come. By advertizing what a restored Main street has to offer through local information channels, special events, and retail promotions, curiosity will be generated. This element is self-sustaining for by bringing in users, you increase confidence in investors, thereby attracting new visitors and investors.
- Economic Restructuring – By strengthening the existing economic assets while attracting appropriate new businesses, the entire district benefits. By targeting underused space for conversion into productive new uses, a district-sustaining infill development program strengthens the entire community. More investment means more profit, for individual business owners and the expanding tax base for the larger community.
Technical assistance with organization, design and implementation is key to the success of any widespread revitalization program. Yet the Main Street designation through the National Trust for Historic Preservation carries additional monetary assistance at the federal and state levels. Facade and structural improvement grants are eligible to these newly sanctioned Urban Main Streets as are grants for streetscaping improvements. Though preservation is long been a largely private business inititive, the Main Streets program can spread public resources a longer way by partnering with community-driven groups and businesses to foster a community wide effort to reclaim our vital commercial cores and have a positive impact on those they serve.
Please visit our blog for upcoming information about the road to revitalization in our New Orleans Urban Main Streets!
If you have any comments or stories you would like to share with the Preservation Resource Center, please CLICK HERE.
Do you have a Facebook account? If so, you can help the PRC win $25,000!
The PRC is competing in the Entergy Power to Care challenge. The nonprofit with the most votes will win $25,000. Now is your chance to make a difference! You can vote for the PRC twice a month until Dec. 31st, 2010.
1. Visit the Power to Care page
2. Click “Like” on the welcome page
3. Locate our region on the map (N.O.)
4. Click “Like” to vote for the PRC.
Remember, you can vote twice a month!
Every vote counts, so spread the word that we need your support!
The Preservation Resource Center held their 36th Annual Meeting at the Old Ursuline Convent in the French Quarter on Wednesday, May 12, 2010. We were honored to include Mayor Mitch Landrieu as a speaker. This video features the highlights of his speech regarding historic preservation, including the new Mayor’s views on the Charity Hospital debate and whether the Expressway should be demolished.
Thanks to the Old Ursuline Convent/St. Mary’s Church for hosting our Annual Meeting. Thanks also to our distinguished speakers: Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Harry Shearer, and Diane Mack. View our photo album here.
You’ve probably noticed the abundance of festivals around town this month: The Fringe Festival, the Broad Street Brewhaha, the Po-Boy Festival… November is a great month to be out and about in New Orleans. But did you also know that these festivals are part of the larger Louisiana Main Street Program?
The goal of the Louisiana Main Street program is to promote the cultural heritage of Louisiana, cultural tourism, and historic preservation of America’s historic main streets. Each November, designated Main Streets in Louisiana are required to participate in the Louisiana Main to Main initiative by hosting a festival that celebrates its unique heritage. These annual events are big boosts to individual Main Street communities because it promotes awareness of their efforts, stimulates the local economy, promotes local history, and brings residents together in order to create a sense of community pride.
There are a total of 35 designated Main Streets in Louisiana. New Orleans currently has 5 Main Street communities, and each of them have held festivals over the course of this month. Some of them have already happened, but you still have time to attend the Po-Boy Festival on Oak Street and the North RampART Festival on North Rampart Street. Go out and show your support for our local Main Streets!
Broad Street and the Broad Street Brewhaha
North Rampart Street and the North RampART Festival
Oak Street and the Po-Boy Fest
OC Haley Boulevard and the Make a Joyful Noise Gospel and Arts Festival
St. Claude Avenue and the Fringe Festival
To view some of the historic properties located on designated Main Street districts in New Orleans and pictures from a few of the festivals, please view our New Orleans Main Street Districts set on our Flickr site.
The Roosevelt New Orleans
Please R.S.V.P. by Thursday, October
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Josh wrote the song in heartfelt response to the post-Katrina devastation he found upon his return to New Orleans. All proceeds from song downloads are being generously donated to the Preservation Resource Center.
Josh was mentored by Dr. John and spent a lot of time in New Orleans, living and working in the city right up until Katrina. He feels that New Orleans is “one of the most important and influential places in my life as an artist.”
We would like to extend our thanks to both Josh Charles and MySpace for helping get the word out about New Orleans recovery.
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