The National Main Street Center, a private, non-profit organization, was established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980 to stimulate economic development within a context of historic preservation.
The Florida Main Street program was established in 1985. Administered by the Department of State, Bureau of Historic Preservation, it provides technical assistance to Florida’s 43 active Main Street communities for their traditional historic commercial corridors.
The Bureau conducts statewide programs aimed at identifying, evaluating, and preserving Florida’s historic resources. Main Street, with its emphasis on preservation, is an effective strategy in achieving these goals in Florida’s historic retail districts.
Main Street Approach
As a unique preservation-based economic development tool, the Main Street Four Point Approach® is the foundation for local initiatives to revitalize their districts by leveraging local assets—from cultural or architectural heritage to local enterprises and community pride.
The four points of the Main Street approach work together to build a sustainable and complete community revitalization effort. Through education, training, case-studies, and peer-to-peer learning, the National Main Street Center equips communities with the tools they need for long-term, comprehensive, preservation-based community revitalization.
The National Main Street Center’s experience in helping communities bring their commercial corridors back to life has shown time and time again that the Main Street Four-Point Approach succeeds. That success is guided by the following eight principles, which set the Main Street methodology apart from other redevelopment strategies. For a Main Street program to be successful, it must whole-heartedly embrace the following time-tested Eight Principles.
The Eight Guiding Principals (link)
Across the nation, small cities are discovering that the “Main Street” approach can bring about dramatic, positive change downtown. This approach advocates improvements in four areas to create a distinctive image for downtown:
- Economic Restructuring
Improving the economic base of downtown by strengthening existing businesses, recruiting new businesses, and performing market analysis. Successful communities accomplish this by evaluating how to retain and expand successful businesses to provide a balanced commercial mix, sharpening the competitiveness and merchandising skills of business owners, and attracting new businesses that the market can support. Many Main Street programs also achieve success through creative reuse of historic properties. Converting unused or underused commercial space into economically productive property also helps boost the profitability of the district. The goal is to build a commercial district that responds to the needs of today’s consumers while maintaining the community’s historic character.
Design means getting Main Street into top physical shape by preserving a place’s historic character, encouraging quality building rehabilitation, signage, public improvements and façade improvements to improve the appearance of downtown. This includes public spaces, parking areas, street furniture, public art, landscaping, merchandising, window displays, and promotional materials. Popular design activities also include instilling good maintenance practices in the commercial district, enhancing the district’s physical appearance through the rehabilitation of historic buildings, encouraging appropriate new construction, developing sensitive design management systems, educating business and property owners about design quality, and long-term planning.
Creating and marketing a positive image of downtown through special events, retail sales, effective advertising and public relations. Promotions communicate the commercial district’s unique characteristics, its cultural traditions, architecture, and history and activities to shoppers, investors, potential business and property owners, and visitors.
Organization establishes consensus and cooperation by building partnerships among the various groups that have a stake in the commercial district. They work with public and private sector community leaders to develop and coordinate resources to revitalize downtown.