Lewisburg selected for the state's Downtown Revitalization Program

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lewisburg is one of a dozen municipalities selected by the state to participate in Tennessee Downtowns, a program to revitalize traditional commercial districts.

The Lewisburg Downtown Alliance, led by the Rev. Leland Carden, a member of the city's planning commission, applied to participate in the Downtown Revitalization Program that offers technical assistance, the state said Tuesday afternoon.

"I'm meeting with them next week to see what the details are," Carden said about his consultations with Andrea Fanta and Jamie Stitt of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. "I'm pleased that we were selected."

TDECD Commissioner Matt Kisber on Tuesday announced that Lewisburg and McKenzie, Henderson, Athens, Linden, Red Boiling Springs, Smithville, Centerville, Brownsville, Mountain City, Rockwood and Pikeville are scheduled for help in revitalizing their traditional downtown districts.

When Carden filed the LDA application on Nov. 8, he noticed that more than 20 other applications had been filed.

"The Tennessee Downtowns program is the first step toward reviving a community's central business district in a comprehensive, sustainable way," the ECD commissioner said. "We applaud each of the selected communities for reaching this milestone and look forward to partnering with them in future endeavors."

LDA members who worked on the program application included Carden, Ken Todd, Ron Maggi, Melody Spence and Melanie Gordon.

"There was a resolution passed by city council in October to support the LDA application," Carden said.

Tennessee Downtowns is a tiered program affiliated with the department's Main Street Program. Communities selected to participate in Tennessee Downtowns will form a volunteer committee of local citizens who will participate in training sessions supported by the National Main Street Center in Washington, D.C.

The curriculum is to teach about comprehensive, sustainable downtown revitalization and historic preservation. The training includes attendance at a two-day downtown revitalization workshop and a grant to complete individualized downtown development projects.

The 12 selected communities are each home to downtown commercial districts established at least 50 years ago and have demonstrated their readiness to organize efforts for downtown revitalization based on the successful "Main Street Four-Point Approach to Downtown Revitalization." The highly competitive selection process was based on five core criteria: historic resources, need (economic and physical), demonstrated local effort, overall presentation and probability of success.

"Tennessee Downtowns will be a vital resource and a basis of support for downtown revitalization efforts for the participating communities," said Rick Meredith, assistant commissioner for Community Development at ECD. "I am confident that each community will see a strong return on their investment of time and resources, and we look forward to being a part of that investment."

Main Street revitalization is a self-help economic strategy that focuses on developing public-private partnerships to enhance community livability and job creation, while maintaining the historic character of the district.