Learn more about the Vibrant Spaces Grant.

Preservation

Making (and measuring) an impact

Although not a quick fix, investment in downtown revitalization pays off. The average Main Street district, despite representing only 2 percent of municipal land area, generates 6 percent of property tax revenue and supports 14 percent of retail spending, 21 percent of restaurant spending and 27 percent of hospitality room nights. Read More

A layperson’s guide to historic commercial building styles in Wisconsin

Written by Joe Lawniczak, Wisconsin Main Street | Edited by Jim Draeger, Wisconsin Historical Society If you’re like most people, being able to identify a building’s architectural style is about the same as being able to recognize whether your favorite song is in 2/4 time or 4/4 time. It matters little to most of

2018-01-11T21:40:10-06:00January 11, 2018|Places, Preservation|

Downtown residents as consumers

The addition of new residents into downtown is a boon to both landlords and commercial tenants, creating a new (or enhanced) source of revenue for landlords with vacant upper floors or dated apartments, and a reliable stream of accessible customers for retailers and restaurants. Since residents within walking distance of a business have been found to frequent local shops twice as often as driving-distance customers, and with the average downtown household in Wisconsin making $9,000 worth of discretionary purchases within the state, the addition of only a few units can result in a dramatic increase in local spending. Read More

2018-01-10T16:59:56-06:00October 9, 2017|Places, Preservation, Small Business|

The case for residential development downtown

Downtowns are the original live/work neighborhood. Traditionally, small business owners lived above their shop, which was a convenient and cost-effective way to sustain a household. Especially profitable business owners might live elsewhere, instead allowing employees to live above the business, which was both a good business practice (increasing employee availability) and an employee perk. Over time, social norms, development patterns and zoning standards in all but the largest cities made it less common, resulting in many upper floors being relegated to storage uses. The combination of shifting demographics, increasing demand for low-maintenance residential options within walking distance of amenities, and preference for unique architecture and authentic experiences has led to a resurgence in demand for downtown living space Read More

2017-12-21T02:04:53-06:00October 2, 2017|Local Ordinances, Places, Preservation, Small Business|

Fond du Lac’s Amy Hansen among first class of Main Street America™ Revitalization Professionals

Even after 10 years as executive director of Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership, Amy Hansen still found herself wondering if there was something else she could do to increase the breadth and depth of her downtown revitalization knowledge. As she tells it, the workshops and webinars offered through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) Wisconsin Main Street Program do a good job of offering skills developed in a targeted area once a quarter, but Amy thought she lacked the “whole picture” knowledge of the many facets of historic commercial district revitalization. Read More

2019-02-14T10:10:40-06:00July 10, 2017|Places, Preservation|

Downtown: hotbed of entrepreneurship

Downtown provides a cost-effective and scalable location for businesses to start and grow. Not only were downtowns the first live/work communities (a cost- and time-saving advantage that many entrepreneurs still take advantage of), but historic buildings also offer passive income potential in the form of rental of upper floor spaces, as well as future expansion opportunities. Read More

2017-12-21T02:13:41-06:00June 6, 2017|Preservation, Small Business|

Effective design review in historic commercial districts

As most of us who deal with downtown and community development know, it is the historic character of the central commercial district that sets one neighborhood or community apart from others. That visual appearance and character affects what people think about the entire area, and can aid in business recruitment and retention, and make it attractive for people to invest, spend time, or even live in the district. Preserving that character, however, doesn’t happen on its own. Communities of all sizes have enacted local tools to aid in protecting this irreplaceable asset. Things like historic preservation ordinances, landmark or preservation commissions, financial incentives, design guidelines, and design review are all common and effective tools. Read More

2017-12-21T02:15:03-06:00May 22, 2017|Local Ordinances, Places, Preservation|
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