We, Ana and I had the opportunity to attend this years national Main Streets conference held in Des Moines a couple weeks ago. While it was a great conference with much to talk about I’ll mention just two.
First… Downtown Beloit Wisconsin | Great American Main Streets Award Winner for 2011!
There are literally thousands of participating community downtowns across the country and thirty six here in Wisconsin alone. Each year the National Trust For Historic Preservation’s Main Street Program recognizes just five communities for this recognition. The National Trust and Main Street use this opportunity to recognize the exemplary work of community downtowns who are getting it right, tell their stories and serve as an example for other communities. While they consider many individual factors in general what they look for is…
- Sustained, long-term effort. Indeed, Beloit has not exhibited some single isolated grand effort but rather has demonstrated repeatedly and over many years that this is an ongoing and concerted effort that has resulted in example after example of how Beloit’s downtown has been reinvesting and renewing it’s historic downtown. These examples are numerous, obvious and touched on here on this website and elsewhere.
- Breadth of initiatives, participation and successes. As opposed to more narrow focused, single pet-project initiatives, has the community exhibited broad ranging projects and community involvement. And here again, Beloit has demonstrated a willingness to address a broad gamut of needs to revitalize it’s downtown. So while the DBA (Downtown Business Association) has led the charge there is considerable support by city government and broad ranging civic groups and community members in making positive changes. Further, downtown improvements have spanned infrastructure redevelopment, communications and downtown organizations development, merchant and public programs development, inter-agency cooperation and much more.
Congratulations to Kathleen Bratz, (dir. of DBA), the individual downtown business owners, the neighbors and broader community that shop and hang out in our increasingly cool and vibrant, historic, center-city downtown.
Secondly… Sustainability, downtowns and changing consumer trends.
The National Main Streets Conference was two weeks ago in Des Moines. Opening keynote, Ed McMahon (Senior Fellow for the Urban Land Institute) gave a wonderful presentation on sustainability, our downtowns and current shifts in consumer trends, public policy etc.
(go to time stamp 01:28:00 to see Mr. McMahon’s presentation)
Work has begun on yet another downtown Beloit facade. Have you seen it?
It’s exciting to see the ongoing renovation of downtown Beloit. The Zilley building circa 1912 is just the latest in a series.
The Downtown Beloit Association (DBA) offers design assistance, as well as facade and sign grant programs to encourage successful, historically sensitive design. (italics ours)
From the DBA “News on the Street” – fall 2008
Does anybody know anything about the history of the Zilley building or who the Zilley’s were? Curious.
For more information on these grant programs, please contact Kathleen Braatz – kathleen (at) downtownbeloit (dot) com
I heard Richard Florida interviewed on NPR about his article in the Atlantic and that was the start.
He presents fascinating research and insight into where we live and why. Additionally and importantly he projects the impact of current economic shifts on where populations will be moving to and away from and why. Its a longer presentation but it’s very rich. I highly recommend it. I find encouraging news for Beloit and direction in much of what he has to say.
The internet is an amazing thing, as are wiki’s.
Below are the “shovel-ready” projects for which this city has requested federal stimulus funding. You can click on a project to read (and add to) its description. You can also discuss the project and vote on whether you believe it is critical or not.
A quick look, as for those projects directly relating to the historic districts…
- 2010: East Side Neighborhood Initiative Streets – Central from Chapin to Emmerson and Chapin from Central to the dead end, Construct 2010.
- 2009: Park Avenue Street Lighting
I don’t recognize anything specific for the Bluff Street corridor. fwiw, I see that there is nothing listed for South Beloit IL, Janesville has $74,374,100 in submitted projects.
Have you seen the the Downtown Beloit Association’s “News on the Street” publication? I’d missed it until just days ago. It’s very well done. Very interesting with great content! I was reading the Fall 2008 edition which is still available and what jumped out at me was:
by Joe Lawniczak, design specialist for the Wisconsin Main Street Program.
- The relative value of new construction -vs- Existing structure rehab in terms of what in fact is “Green”.
- What sustainable development is… and is not
- How historic building are inherently green.
- Preservation as Smart Growth
- Simple ways to make your business, neighborhood (Hey! That’s us!) and community more “green”.
Regardless of if you/we have children in the local schools, the quality of education serving our neighborhood is of fundamental import. It impacts directly the viability or our neighborhood. We’ve not just one but two neighbors generous enough to be willing to volunteer their time and talents for the benefit of everyone. What would folks think of asking all candidates to meet with us. Think about it.
The election is not until April so we’ve some time but sooner/better I’d think. As you likely know there are three seats open and five candidates. I’ll add this to our next meeting’s agenda.
I just saw that the city or utility co. is beginning to cut trees around power lines along Milwaukee, south of White. You’ve likely seen how poorly (IMO) they managed this near East Ridge & the cemetery. Who do we contact? Is this of interest or concern to others or am I being alarmist? I wouldn’t want what they did on Milw a couple months ago on our street.
[UPDATE] Wow! I just got a call from BruceS from the city public works. How’s that for being responsive? They’re aware. They were already on it. They appreciate where we’re coming from with this.
I’d posted this this morning and sent word out. I’d simply hoped to find out who to contact and initiate an exchange. Evidently some unknown friend among our group was kind enough to contact the city for us. Who ever you are… thank you!
So later the same day I got a call. Wow again!
In the private sector the goal is to exceed customer expectations. That was the case here and a pleasant surprise.
Just saw this. IBM is opening up a ‘new’ facility in downtown Dubuque Iowa. With it is planned over 1,000 IT jobs. It’s a great story and a huge win for this city. What I found interesting is that this technology dependent company is moving into an ‘old’ building. A building that will certainly need to meet the technology, OSHA and other infrastructure demands of this tech company.
The term is ‘adaptive reuse’. Its when old buildings are renovated for contemporary uses often very different then their original purpose. It’s often too easy simply to declare that an old building is unsuitable for the fiercely competitive demands of contemporary business and industry. Adaptive reuse is cast as pollyanna or for luddites. The expedient solution lobbied for is often demolition or new development over existing open land requiring additional investment in the expansion of infrastructure.
In the case of Dubuque it would seem part of the draw for IBM was proximity to the city’s colleges/universities along with proximity to other city services, retail, restaurants, lodging, arts & entertainment. We’ve some wonderful examples of adaptive reuse here in Beloit most notably ABC Supply and the Visit Beloit building but also the Arts Incubator, the library and others. It would seem there’s been a lot of demolition in Beloit’s past. I look forward to more adaptive reuse in Beloit’s future.
Thanks to Dr.Bob for pointing out the IBM/Dubuque story to me.
More on companies relocating downtown from the suburbs and taking the jobs with them here.
Once again we got hit with nasty weather the evening of our meeting. All the same over twentyfolks braved the snow and cold including a half dozen new faces which is particularly gratifying. Things continue to come together for us.