Citywalk News for November

I’m guessing that you have been noticing that a different and new logo has adorned this space the past couple of months. No longer the City-Walk logo, but the new and improved Ferguson Mainstreet logo has taken its place. It’s not that we are taking over what has been built up in our downtown since the business district was formed over the past 35 years. Our group plans to work with the business district to continue the revitalization and beautification of our downtown. The idea is that the more all interested parties can work together, the more can be accomplished.

I’m not suggesting that these two groups can make the downtown district an area we wish to be a part of, it will take a lot more than a few to get a lot of work done. We will be needing your help. But before we go into how you can be a part of the continued growth of our Downtown/Mainstreet, let’s discuss what the science of this revitalization entails.

Main Street America is a program that grew out of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. These organizations saw the importance of the preservation of our downtowns as a place that values its history, but looks forward, ready for the future, leveraging both the art and science of downtown revitalization to create a better quality of life for all. The results of these efforts are a community with a strong social cohesion and economic opportunity; a downtown that supports and sustains innovation and opportunity; places where people of diverse perspectives and backgrounds can come together to shape the future by creating a place where people will love to be.

The Mainstreet four-point approach is a comprehensive strategy to commercial district revitalization. The four points are organization, promotion, design, and economic vitality. Over the past year and a half, this approach has been described in the CityWalk article, but what makes this approach unique?

The Main Street approach has eight guiding principles that set it apart from other redevelopment strategies. These principles are;

1. Comprehensive. No single focus, such as lavish public improvements, name-brand business recruitment, or endless promotional events can do the job. For successful, long term revitalization, a comprehensive approach must be applied.

2. Incremental. Baby steps come before walking. Basic, simple activities lead to more sophisticated understanding of the revitalization process and help members of the community develop skills and resources to tackle more complex problems and ambitious projects.

3. Self-Help. Nobody else will save our Main Street. Local leaders must have a will and desire to mobilize local resources. That means convincing residents and business owners alike of the rewards for their investment of time and money on Main Street, the heart of their community.

4. Partnerships. Both public and private sectors have a vital interest in the district and can work together to achieve shared goals. Each sector has a role to play and each must understand the other’s strengths and limitations to forge an effective partnership.

5. Assets. Business districts must capitalize on the assets that make them unique. Every district has unique qualities like distinctive buildings and human scale that give people a sense of belonging. These local assets must serve as the foundation for all aspects of the revitalization program.

6. Quality. Emphasize quality in every aspect of the revitalization program. This applies to every element of the process, from storefront designs to promotional campaigns to educational programs. Shoestring budgets and ‘cut-and-paste’ efforts won’t do the job.

7. Change. Skeptics turn into believers. Almost no one believes Main Street can really turn around at first. Changes in attitude and practice are slow but definite, public support for change will build as the programs grows and consistently meets its goals.

8. Implementation. Activity creates confidence in the program and ever greater levels of participation. Frequent, visible changes are a reminder that the revitalization effort is under way. Small projects at the beginning of the program pave the way for larger activities as revitalization efforts matures.

These principles make a lot of sense to me as I hope they make on you. Like I said earlier, as well as last month, this cannot be done by a few. So, this is your call to action. We can’t expect that if we report something that we don’t like to the city that it will get taken care of, sometimes we have to take the matter into our own hands. That doesn’t mean that we can stop everyone driving through our community with expired tags, that is the job for our police department. But if we see some trash on the street, we can pick it up and dispose of it in a proper receptacle.

Next month at the Northern Lights Festival, we will be manning a booth asking for volunteers for multiple projects that are needed in our downtown district as well as other possibilities in other parts of our community. Stop by the booth and lend a hand to help get our downtown as well as the whole of our community headed in the right direction. Remember though, this will not be a one-time opportunity but an ongoing venture to insure that our community and the Ferguson Mainstreet is a place we can be proud of and happy that we are part of the development. See you at Northern Lights.

314-882-1337

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FERGUSON CITYWALK
110 Church Street
Ferguson, MO 63135
(314) 524-5197
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