Funding will support the revitalization of historic commercial districts
Governor Ralph Northam today announced that 16 communities across the Commonwealth will receive more than $200,000 in Virginia Main Street grants to support projects aimed at revitalizing historic commercial districts, expanding small businesses, and growing local economies.
“These grants will go a long way towards revitalizing downtown business and commercial districts, while also preserving their unique historic character,” said Governor Northam. “The Virginia Main Street program is a proven tool to help small communities create opportunities for long-term economic growth—that’s why we plan to invest significant resources from the American Rescue Plan to expand the reach of these redevelopment efforts.”
Downtown Investment Grants were awarded to 12 projects in the towns of Farmville, Orange, Altavista, Abingdon, Cape Charles, Onancock, Tappahannock, Tazewell, and St. Paul, and the cities of Hopewell, Winchester, and Manassas. Community Vitality Grants were awarded to four projects in the towns of Halifax and Pulaski, the city of Petersburg, and Nelson County. The awarded projects will leverage an additional $495,000 in local and other non-state resources.
“For more than three decades, the Virginia Main Street program has spurred economic development through revitalization and historic preservation,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Downtowns are the heart and soul of so many communities across the Commonwealth, and these grants are designed to create opportunities for growth and economic sustainability, so that people want to spend time and money there.”
Last week, Governor Northam announced a proposal to direct $53 million in American Rescue Plan funding to the Industrial Revitalization Fund and the Virginia Main Street program. This increased investment will be focused on providing support for minority and immigrant communities, as well as woman- and minority-owned businesses.
Since 1985, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has provided assistance to localities engaged in downtown commercial district revitalization through the Virginia Main Street program. DHCD uses the National Main Street Center’s comprehensive incremental Main Street Approach™, which is built around a community’s unique heritage, culture, and historic building attributes. To learn more about the Virginia Main Street program, visit dhcd.virginia.gov/vms.
2022 VIRGINIA MAIN STREET DOWNTOWN INVESTMENT GRANT AWARDEES
Wayfinding Fabrication and Installation
Town of Farmville
The project will fund fabrication and installation of a wayfinding system identified in a 2020 study to help customers find public parking, improve traffic flow, and ease the transition between car and pedestrian use in the Main Street district. Anticipated outcomes include increased customer traffic to area businesses and customer spending.
Alley Activation and Complete Streets
City of Hopewell
The project will improve the accessibility, sociability, and overall image of the Main Street district through the installation of four bike racks, a bike repair station, and revitalization of a blighted, low-density alley as a viable street for passage, gathering, retail, and festivals. This will be achieved through cleanup efforts, erecting pennant banners, and installing collapsible bollards, stamped concrete entryways, new lighting, and planters. The project will leverage significant municipal investments in the district.
Placemaking in Commemorative Park
Town of Orange
The Orange Downtown Association, in partnership with the Orange County African-American Historical Society and the town of Orange, will undertake a placemaking project to support the creation of a small park commemorating and illuminating the history of Orange’s former African-American commercial district. The park will feature three interpretive panels that will be digitally linked to online stories and images as well as new benches, tables, trash receptacles, bike racks, and landscaping.
Façade Improvements and Complete Streets
City of Winchester
The comprehensive revitalization project targets a distressed block of Piccadilly Street, which serves as a gateway corridor for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic between the historic George Washington Hotel and downtown pedestrian mall. Leveraging the economic development authority and municipal investments, the project will support 12 façade improvements, 16 community-designed parklets, and a large exterior mural to enhance curb appeal for businesses and engage residents.
Downtown Business Investment Grant Program
Town of Altavista
The project will fund the expansion of the town’s existing Downtown Business Investment Grant, which is designed as an incentive for new or existing businesses to fill 11 vacant storefronts in the Main Street district. Benefits to qualifying businesses include startup financial assistance toward rent and utilities for three months, permit reimbursements, and marketing. The project will fund a market study and support the efforts of the Spark Innovation Center to serve as an entrepreneurial support hub and co-working space.
Bike Rack/Bench Project
Town of Abingdon
The project will fund the installation of benches, bike racks designed in partnership with the local trade school, and wayfinding signage to connect the Main Street district to regional recreational assets, such as the Virginia Creeper Trail. These amenities will encourage visitors to walk, bike, and explore downtown Abingdon, driving customer traffic and sales revenue to small businesses.
City of Manassas
The project will increase customer spending and support local businesses through a new, innovative livestream shopping program. Grant funds will be used to develop a website, enlist a videographer and salesperson, and promote livestream events. The project is also nationally recognized and funded through a Main Street America Main Street Resiliency Grant.
$10,000 per community
Town of Cape Charles
Town of Onancock
Town of Tappahannock
Town of Tazewell
Each newly designated Virginia Main Street community will receive funding to support a high-priority, high-impact project that will be identified in the future through design services.
Alley Activation and Outdoor Dining
Town of St. Paul
The project will fund alley improvements connecting Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue between the Western Front Hotel and local restaurants. The project will add an outdoor dining area to relieve interior seating limitations due to COVID-19 and leverage municipal investments and sewer system upgrades in the alley. Improvements include new brick pavers, lighting, three bistro patio dining sets, three murals, trashcans, planters, benches, hand sanitizing stations, and signage providing guidelines for health, safety, and general use.
2022 VIRGINIA MAIN STREET COMMUNITY VITALITY GRANT AWARDEES
Transforming Spaces into Great Places: Halifax Downtown Connections
Town of Halifax
The town of Halifax will implement an outdoor activity hub that allows for socially distanced gathering, dining, and additional foot traffic to Main Street businesses. The town will also incorporate a wayfinding system that will connect visitors and residents to the historic downtown and central business district through “park and walk” plazas. This proposal will build upon the Halifax Downtown Connections Plan and help the town build and strengthen its community partnerships.
Economic Vitality Support: Lovingston Market Study
Building upon previous Community Development Block Grant planning grant efforts, Nelson County will complete a market analysis and retail gap analysis with an external consultant to help guide the business development of the village of Lovingston. The goal is to generate a unique redevelopment strategy that distinguishes Lovingston and becomes a foundation for physical improvements and promotional activities.
Main Street Petersburg
City of Petersburg
Main Street Petersburg will implement a community listening and planning project to identify what its residents want most for downtown and how to achieve it. This foundational process will cultivate organizational partnerships, donor relationships, increased volunteerism, and ultimately culminate in a strategic development plan to guide revitalization in downtown Petersburg.
Pulaski Pocket Park and Mural Project
Town of Pulaski
Pulaski On Main and students from the New River Community College art program will create a public mural in the town of Pulaski’s new pocket park. This project will build upon previous beautification efforts funded by a Community Development Block Grant.