Fredericksburg officials and business leaders will be meeting later this morning to discuss a proposed Main Street program for the downtown area. On hand will be Julie Markowitz, executive director of the Staunton Downtown Development Association. Dating back to 1996, Staunton has one of the longest histories in the Virginia Main Street program.
The Virginia Main Street Program, first implemented in 1985, is an economic and cultural initiative sponsored by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and National Trust for Historic Preservation.
"Fredericksburg enjoys vibrant retail, arts and tourism initiatives within our historic downtown," reads an EDA brochure promoting the meeting. "A Main Street program would coordinate and expand these initiatives year-round, making Fredericksburg more of a destination and benefiting all downtown business and property owners.
The program is executed through the “Main Street Approach,” a customized plan that helps communities develop long-term economic strategies around a traditional downtown district. In Fredericksburg, the proposed Main Street district would encompass Sophia, Caroline and Princess Anne streets between Lafayette Blvd. and Lewis Street and William Street from Washington Avenue to Sophia Street.
Currently, Fredericksburg is a commercial district affiliate of the Virginia Main Street Program.
Fredericksburg already meets the three essential criteria for the program—having a population of less than 75,000, 50 commercial enterprises, and 70 commercial structures in its downtown district. If Fredericksburg is accepted as a designated community, it would be the 22nd town to be a part of the current program.
A Main Street program is not cheap. Statewide annual average budgets for Main Street programs run about $175,000, funded through a mix of grants, government funding, membership dues and other private sources. The program will also need to hire a full time manager and assistant to run it.
The informational meeting on the Main Street program will take place at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall in Council Chambers.