Special to The U-R
The National Main Street Center announced Sunday that Milledgeville was chosen as a 2014 Great American Main Street Awards (GAMSA) winner. Bestowed by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the GAMSA is the nation’s premier accolade for downtown revitalization achievement.
Milledgeville Main Street received the award at the 2014 National Main Streets Conference held in Detroit.
Milledgeville Main Street has applied the National Main Street Center’s revitalization methodology to make the city of 20,000 a vibrant community in which to live, work play, and visit, according to a press release announcing the award.
Home to two colleges, a host of historic sites and gorgeous Antebellum architecture, Milledgeville has become a history lover’s paradise and a bustling commercial district. Milledgeville Main Street utilized historic preservation design guidelines, façade improvement grants and other economic incentives to attract capital downtown while preserving the district’s character.
“From its incredibly successful Deep Roots Festival, to its community-funded micro-grants for small businesses, Milledgeville is firmly on the map for its comprehensive downtown revitalization success,” says Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “With such a strong foundation already in place, we expect great things from Milledgeville for years to come.”
Critical to downtown’s turnaround was the conversion of the historic Campus Theatre by Georgia College into a black box theater, offices and a bookstore. This, coupled with several mixed-use historic rehab projects and significant streetscape improvements has brought a new wave of enthusiasm and investment to downtown Milledgeville.
Since 2004, 55 buildings have been rehabbed, 63 net new businesses opened and $66.5 million invested in the downtown commercial district.
“For Milledgeville Main Street to be recognized as a national model for the comprehensive revitalization of our historic downtown is an honor,” says Carlee Schulte, director of Milledgeville Main Street. “Becoming a Great American Main Street will surely promote tourism and economic development for the area. The recognition this national award will bring to our City will be extremely valuable for continued success and enthusiasm of the program.”
The other two 2014 winners are Harrisonburg, Va. and Woodbine, Iowa.
A national jury composed of former award winners, community development professionals, and governmental agency representatives who are active in community revitalization and historic preservation selected winners. Criteria for winning include: strength of the Main Street in creating an exciting place to live, work, play and visit; commitment to historic preservation; implementation of model partnerships, and demonstrated success of the Main Street Four-Point Approach.
The Main Street Four-Point Approach is a proven methodology for historic preservation-based community revitalization. It was developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation more than 30 years ago and has been implemented by more than 2,000 communities throughout the U.S.