Last month was the National Main Streets Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The Buckeye Main Street Coalition members Jay Broadbent, Charlene Powers, Brian and Kristi McAchran and Lara Serbin were fortunate to attend this important event. We had many opportunities to talk to others who are doing similar events, facade improvements and fundraising. We saw a different perspective on how to improve historic downtown Buckeye.
The Omni Hotel hosted the conference with ongoing workshops and a trade show. Learning sessions included topics like crowdfunding, volunteerism, historic preservation, museums, festivals and engaging your community.
Mobile Workshops explored downtown districts located in and around Atlanta. City staff, Managers, Main Street volunteers and business owners lead walking tours and explained lessons learned regarding revitalization. There are so many creative ideas that came from these tours. Meeting other Main Street members was a significant way to affirm or re-examine how we do things.
I specifically went on the Madison, Georgia tour to learn how they revitalized downtown with community funding. Madison founded in 1809 is one hour from Atlanta and PGA Masters in Augusta and an active historic district with 600 buildings. Exiting the freeway, the country road leading to Madison was welcoming with widely spaced historic homes. Mayor Perriman was there to greet us with a short and sweet introduction. Any place that has a coffee table book called Madison, A Classic Southern Town just speaks for itself.
Madison, GA New Town Park
The tour began at Madison Town Park that covered 2 blocks in the heart of the railroad industrial district. It was easy to find bearings quickly with the before and after photos posted on each corner. There was so much to cover we zipped along from point to point.
New buildings that surround the Madison Town Park have either mixed-use with retail and residential or commercial. Some of the buildings really looked historic even though they were new construction. I couldn’t be fooled. There were great efforts to reproduce by-gone historic landmarks within this park like the fountain was recreated from some pieces found from local citizens and across the country to match what was missing . The fundraising goal in 2009 was $4.5 million which $2 million was raised completely by local citizens.
New Made to Look Historic
On either side of the park was mixed-use condos. First floor retail and two story condos in the back. Architectural details were collected by Monica Callahan, Planning Development for the Downtown Development Association who sent developers stacks of photos of how she wanted the building to look. She added value by exploring details from surrounding historic towns.
Loft Overlooking Town Park
Inside the condos, spaces were tall and roof decks looked over the park. No condos can be leased. Another variation of this was across the park. Here the living lofts were on the 3rd floor of The James Madison Inn. One owner had a personal elevator from the lobby of the hotel to the living room of his home. As we begin to develop design guidelines here in Buckeye these ideas from Madison will add to our understanding of mixed-use.
For more information: https://buckeyemainstreet.org/old-site/national-main-streets-conference-atlanta-2015/
Last month was the National Main Streets Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The Buckeye Main Street Coalition members Jay Broadbent, Charlene Powers, Brian and Kristi McAchran and Lara Serbin were fortunate to attend this important event. We had many opportunities to talk to others who are doing similar events, facade improvements and fundraising. We wanted a different perspective on how to improve historic downtown Buckeye. March 30 through April 1st was packed with learning sessions at the Omni Hotel. Below are some of the sessions offered:
The Museum on Main Street: The Smithsonian Comes to Town
A Rule Breakers Guide to Accessible, Sustainable and Economical Brick Streetscapes
Understanding Today’s Sponsors, Matching their expectations to your needs
People Power: Engaging Your Community Members
Activating Space with Community Partnerships
Defining value in down town festivals and events
Crowdfunding for Public Spaces and Community Places
Mobile Workshops explored downtown districts located in and around Atlanta. City staff, City Managers, Main Street volunteers and business owners took us on walking tours and explained lessons learned regarding revitalization. There are so many lessons and creative ideas that came out of these tours. Meeting other Main Street members was a significant way to affirm or re-examine how we do things. We went to Atlanta to make our downtown Buckeye better.
Buckeye Main Street Coalition at Atlanta National Conference
Atlanta: Historic Downtown Tour
This tour was led by Paul Hammock, Director of Education at the Atlanta Preservation Center. He took us to Five Points, Grant Park and Martin Luther King National Monument. He pointed out the wall of mega buildings dividing circulation. Many historic buildings have been demolished. As with any well developed urban core there have been preservation losses and few wins. He took us to a 1950’s parking structure where the Victorian Kimball House Hotel the most beautiful hotel in Atlanta used to stand.
Kimball House Hotel, Atlanta, GA
1950’s Parking Structure, replaced Kimball House Hotel
The biggest win for the city of Atlanta is the Fox Theater saved by the wrecking ball by the local citizens. A 1928 lavish theater house with Egyptian and Moorish style interior, halls for dining and outdoor roof decks.
Fox Theater, Atlanta
The Opening Plenary Session took place at the Fox Theatre and Buckeye Main Street Coalition held the Arizona sign proudly! The most memorable stop was Grant Park, a mile south of downtown. The Atlanta Preservation Center purchased Atlanta’s most significant and endangered house in Atlanta, the antebellum Lemuel P. Grant Mansion. Back in the day this house was king of the hill with acres of cotton. Now the single story is shoe horned among historic homes. Inside the spaces there are artifacts like stair stringers propped up against the exposed thick walls resembling rammed earth walls of the southwest. Before Atlanta Preservation bought this place it looked like a Roman ruin with no roof and nature taking over. This building restoration gives gave me great hope for the Buckeye Historic Courthouse and Jail that is in such need of stabilization.
The original wood panel flank the tall window openings. The last stop in the city core was the Martin Luther King National Monument Landmark. Several city blocks are reserved for a museum, crypt, visitor center and the Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Martin Luther King National Monument
I sat in the church pew and listened to Dr. King to rest from taking photos. The space had a simple interior and intricate stained glass. It was a sacred space well cared for.
Tactical Urbanism: 10 Ways to Restore Your Downtown for $500 or Less
In between the mobile tours there were educational workshops. A huge drop cloth, stack of wood pallets and tools told me this was a hands-on 3 hour course. There were 10 different Tactical Urbanism projects happening simultaneously.
Tactical Urbanism Workshop
Volunteers were asked to build things like a flower display and adirondack chair from wood pallets. Even though a lot of it was staged like a cooking show on Food Network, it held my attention. While volunteers were constructing, cutting and bolting the mediator was fielding questions like how to not get in trouble with the highway department after tagging bicycle symbols on downtown streets.
Powers and Sedig at Hands-On Workshop
Tactical Urbanism Workshop
Maybe that is how most of us want to learn now, with chaos. At the end of 3 hours the teams had constructed a “Parklet”, chairs set on top of a raised platform with movie screen backdrop. I think most folks on Main Street organizations are finding ways to get their projects completed lighter, quicker and cheaper. I walked away with ideas on how to make future workshops in downtown Buckeye more interactive and fun.
Monroe: Creating a Downtown Destination through Local Investors Tour
The road that leads to Monroe is flanked with grand mansions of the cotton era. Monroe has its dark stories of segregated mass lynching in 1946 and current poverty, but they acknowledge their past honestly and embrace agrarian roots with pride. The historic downtown is vibrant with stores like Buckles Hardware, Little Italy’s Peppino’s Pizzaria and Rinse Bath & Body.
Monroe Historic Downtown
City officials, Main Street volunteers and buildings owners were there to greet us at The Wayfarer Music Hall a community space to lease. Lemonade, ginger cookies, vase of flowers and goodie bags made me realize the impact of hospitality. The owner of the building was there, she was a Monroe native and had rehabilitated the 1910 building into a vital community event center in the historic corridor. The first floor she leases out for events like rehearsal wedding dinners. A second entrance opens to a flight of narrow wood stairs leading to The Wayfarer Hotel.
The Hotel is self sufficient without check in or full time staff. The walls have exposed brick and original plaster. Even the coffee bar is a shared space.
The Wayfarer Hotel
The Wayfarer Music Hall
She kept the improvements to the interior simple by only carving out what was necessary like a 3 compartment sink, hand wash station, ADA restroom and lockbox. Made me think of Buckeye and how we could so use a space like this to host events. It is a sign of the times to create a space that has an open ended use.
Keep Marching On with Faith, Hope and Love. Dr. Martin Luther King