Monday, February 18, 2002

Communities turning to downtown programs

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        To revitalize waning business districts, some communities are turning to Main Street programs, developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1977.

        The program began after much of the country's population shifted from downtown centers to the suburbs, taking commerce with it and leaving old buildings abandoned.

        The idea was to reverse the neglect and restore Main Streets as places people could identify as unique to their communities. Programs are paid for by state and municipal dollars, and private donations.

        Southern towns, in particular, have taken advantage of the financial, research and design help offered through the program.

        “These business districts and downtowns are the living room of the community. It's a quality-of-life indicator, so all stakeholders need to be a part of the revitalization effort,” said Kevin Kuchenbercker, executive director of Downtown Ohio Inc. and Heritage Ohio, two statewide nonprofit organizations that administer the Ohio Main Street Program.

        It is too early in the Pisgah study to determine if a Main Street program is the way to go, said Jose Castrejon, director of planning at McGill, Smith and Pushon, a Sharonville architectural firm conducting the study.

        Mr. Kuchenbercker said he met last year with Butler County Economic Development, a county office that also works with a private, nonprofit corporation to lure new businesses, and visited many townships and cities in Butler County. County officials have explored a preliminary investigation for a countywide Main Street initiative, he said.

        Nationally, in 2000, $15.2 billion was spent reinvesting in 1,633 communities, netting 206,000 new jobs, according to the Ohio Main Street Program in Columbus. The average revitalization program lasted six years.

        In Ohio, from January 1998 to December 2000, $14.8 million was spent on eight communities, netting 628 new jobs. The average revitalization program spanned nearly four years.


Children's services strapped
Court will settle voucher debate
Pisgah leaders hope for new lease on retail life
Byrd case shows flaws in death penalty system
Chemical castration becomes issue
Professors go back to high school
Two local teens in elite company
200,000 Ohioans living near nuclear plants to receive pills
A picture-perfect reunion
Do-not-call list appears to be working
Funds sought for fire victim
Students show off their city in contest
$15,300 more OK'd for Mason court
- Communities turning to downtown programs
Intern gets view from the top
Jurors judge sanity in drowned children case
Model citizen, business sought
Monroe schools see improvement in student proficiency-test scores
Ohio teen dies in suspicious fire
Primary: Deadline near for May 7 slate
Proposals thus far dance around larger constitutional issues
Siren song: Tests to get last blast
Wright-Pat officials hone plane
Tristate A.M. report
Some Good News
You asked for it