By: Lara Serbin, Buckeye Main Street Coalition
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.
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.
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.
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/