in very rural communities that
were not eligible before. For more information about HOPE VI, visit
2. National Retailers
Another sign of the success of downtowns is that national retailers are starting to open stores downtown. Kennedy Smith noted, “National retailers are trend followers, not trend leaders.” This is an indication that Main Streets are accepted as economically strong areas, worth moving into. Culpeper and Warrenton, two Virginia Main Street communities with less than 10,000 residents, have an Orvis store located downtown. Furthermore, most of these retailers are not tearing down historic buildings; instead their stores are respectful of the architectural context of downtown.
But as many national retailers are coming back downtown, Kennedy Smith expressed concerns that US Post Offices were pulling out of Main Streets—a trend that should be monitored in the coming years. Local business leaders and government officials need to be prepared if building stock downtown becomes available.
3. Promote History and
the Memory of Place
There are currently 4,500 dead or dying shopping malls in America and some are getting redeveloped into developments that look quite similar to historic downtowns. Kennedy Smith indicated this could cause problems for Main Streets by confusing what is historic and what is not. She said Main Street communities will need to make a point to distinguish themselves by promoting their rich history and the special memories that their historic downtowns hold in the minds of local consumers.
4. The Importance of Incentives
Ms. Smith discussed the need for Main Street communities to offer and promote incentives to potential developers. Local government plays an important role in developing and promoting economic incentives. The Winchester Old Town Development Board, another Virginia Main Street community, published a guide to help businesses start up and expand. The