FRANKFORT, Ky. – Promoting the benefits of downtown living and creating a climate conducive to attracting residents to central business districts will be the focus of 2008 training sessions presented by the Kentucky Main Street Program, which will highlight the community of Winchester during its Winter Meeting there January 30-31. More than 100 Kentucky Main Street/Renaissance on Main managers and board members from around the state are expected.
Winchester First is sponsoring the visit, which will include a keynote by noted economist Donovan Rypkema, presentations, case studies and tours of downtown buildings including the Winchester Opera House, Taft & Miller, the Kerr Building and Bluegrass Heritage Museum. For upcoming quarterly meetings, Main Street managers will be asked to prepare an inventory of current residential uses in and adjacent to their downtown and collaborate with local housing authorities, code officials, realtors and other community leaders to develop a downtown housing plan. To illustrate success stories, the Heritage Council is collecting suggestions, creative ideas and case studies from communities and will use them to develop and supplement future training sessions.
"The Kentucky Main Street approach to downtown revitalization focuses on preservation and adaptive re-use of existing historic buildings, and finding sustainable, long-term uses for these buildings is the key," said Donna M. Neary, Kentucky Heritage Council executive director and state historic preservation officer. "Providing or restoring residential housing to the traditional commercial center of a community creates a sense of vibrancy 24/7, not just during normal business hours, and this approach has proven effective in communities of all sizes."
Administered by the Kentucky Heritage Council / State Historic Preservation Office, the Kentucky Main Street Program is the oldest statewide downtown revitalization organization in the nation, whose goal in partnership with Renaissance on Main is to encourage downtown revitalization, public-private partnerships and economic development within the context of historic preservation. Renaissance on Main is administered by the Governor’s Office of Local Development (or GOLD), which provides grant opportunities for certified programs.
Currently the Kentucky Main Street program serves nearly 90 communities. To qualify for Renaissance certification, communities must meet criteria based on the Main Street four-point approach, developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center – design, economic development, organization and promotion. Success must be demonstrated through developing and implementing local activities and projects and by coming up with measurable, strategic short- and long-term goals and action steps based on these four points. To comply with certification requirements, each Kentucky Main Street Program must also be represented at training sessions and earn a minimum of three training credits during the year.
The Winchester meeting will get underway Wednesday with a gathering of Kentucky Main Street’s 12 regional captains, who are charged with focusing on issues identified in local meetings and topics presented by local managers. The afternoon will include the keynote by Rypkema at 2 p.m. at the Leeds Center and a tour of downtown living spaces beginning at 4:30, followed by a reception and dinner.
Thursday, the Kentucky Housing Corporation will present a session on Downtown Living Resources at 8:30 a.m. at the opera house, followed by regional group assignments and general discussion, a tour of retail buildings and lunch with keynote Ron Crouch, director of the Kentucky State Data Center based at the University of Louisville.
"On behalf of Winchester, we are thrilled to host this meeting and my Main Street colleagues from all over the state," said Lara Thornberry, executive director of Winchester First. "On a personal note, my husband and I recently renovated a downtown building where we live upstairs – and we can’t wait to share the results with others."
Together, Kentucky Main Street and Renaissance on Main programs have a proven track record in generating significant economic returns for communities and the state. In 2006, local communities reported more than $292 million invested in downtowns through these programs, representing 1,923 new jobs created in Main Street districts, 401 new businesses created and 345 downtown buildings rehabilitated. In fact since Kentucky Main Street’s inception in 1979, more than $2 billion has been reinvested in Kentucky downtowns.
For more information about the Kentucky Main Street Program or the winter meeting, call Becky Gorman or Roger Stapleton, Heritage Council Kentucky Main Street Program coordinators, at 502-564-7005.