Main Street and Wine; a Great Pairing

Virginia’s thriving wine industry is boosting the state’s economy and local Main Street districts alike with a total impact of approximately $1.37 billion annually, according to a newly released economic impact study. This figure is an increase of 82 percent from the last study conducted in 2010.

“…one of our top agriculture goals was to make Virginia the preeminent East Coast destination for wine and winery tourism, and I am pleased our efforts are helping make this a reality,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This new study shows that this growth is being driven by small wineries, which demonstrates that the increased rural economic development is truly beneficial to local communities.”

The report showed that from 2010 and 2015, the number of wineries increased 35 percent, from 193 to 261. The number of full-time equivalent jobs at wineries and vineyards saw a 73 percent increase, from 4,753 to 8,218. Wages from jobs at wineries and vineyards increased 87 percent during the same time period as well, from $156 million, to $291 million.

Tourism to Virginia wineries also showed impressive growth. The number of people visiting wineries grew by 39 percent, from 1.6 million visitors in 2010 to 2.25 million visitors in 2015. At the same time, wine-related tourism expenditures grew dramatically from $131 million to $188 million, a significant 43 percent increase.

Culpeper’s Hoptober Fest 2016

Wine and Virginia’s downtowns make a great pairing.  Culpeper Renaissance Inc. expanded their wildly successful craft beverage festival to twice a year and the downtown features several shops that sell local craft beverages, Culpeper Cheese Company and Vinosity.  In Staunton eonophiles can visit Yelping Dog for a their wine fix, and don’t miss Saturday tastings at Vintages by the Dan in Danville. However it is done, Main Street recognizes the local economic impacts of partnering with regional craft beverage producers.

Check out the full 2015 Economic Impact Study of Wine and Wine Grapes on the Commonwealth of Virginia and don’t forget to visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office for more information on the industry statewide.

Preservation Virginia Releases Economic Impact Study of Virginia Main Street Program

Preservation Virginia LogoOn Wednesday, Preservation Virginia released a study measuring the economic impact of 30 years of the
Virginia Main Street program. The report documents the Virginia Main Street program throughout the last 30 years. The report has documented the direct economic effects across Virginia Main Streets since 1985, when the program was adopted in Virginia to revitalize its historic downtowns.

“Preservation Virginia’s study highlights the impressive work the Virginia Main Street program is doing to help our communities across the commonwealth stay healthy, create jobs, grow entrepreneurs and attract visitors,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “These communities are one of the many vital assets that will help Virginia prosper in the 21st century.”

Some notable statistics from the impact study range from the number of businesses and jobs created to the amount of private investment and volunteer time. In the last 30 years, 11,908 net new jobs have been created by Virginia Main Street businesses. More than 3,365 net new businesses have been created in our Main Street districts, and these entrepreneurs are a key component to Virginia’s economic strategy. Virginia’s Main Street districts have been able to weather business cycle downturns better than the overall economy. More than $1.2 billion has been invested in Main Street districts, with 71 percent being from the private sector. Almost $2 billion in total economic impact has been generated from the Virginia Main Street districts.

“Beyond the notable numbers, the Virginia Main Street program has helped these communities embrace the cultural history, a sense of community and a wonderful quality of life that attracts visitors, residents and businesses alike,” said Bill Shelton, director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

Preservation Virginia commissioned the report with funding assistance from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. The report details the economic impacts of the Virginia Main Street Program, an approach to downtown revitalization that purses economic development within the context of historic preservation. The study and research includes case studies on three of the 25 Virginia Main Street communities: Culpeper, Harrisonburg and South Boston.

“In 2014, Preservation Virginia commemorated its 125th anniversary. We used this anniversary as a way to celebrate and highlight the many historic preservation efforts and accomplishments in communities across the commonwealth. We commissioned a three-part economic study by the Center Urban and Regional Analysis at Virginia Commonwealth University to measure the impact historic preservation is having in communities across Virginia.” said Elizabeth Kostelny, chief executive officer of Preservation Virginia. “The second phase of the project demonstrates the value of the Virginia Main Street program regionally and on Virginia’s overall economy.”

To view the entire report, visit

Downtown South Boston Logo Image

Destination Downtown South Boston

Culpeper Renaissance Inc. hosts free seminar for historic property owners

culpeper buildingCulpeper Renaissance Inc. (CRI) and Culpeper Architectural Review Board (ARB) hosted a free seminar entitled Tips to Maintain Your Old Building on June 25.

The goal of the seminar is to provide owners of historic homes and buildings with a basic knowledge of issues related to restoring and preserving their investment.  Culpeper Renaissance Inc. maintains its strong commitment to providing tools and knowledge to businesses and property owners to enable them to prosper and contribute to Culpeper’s economic vitality.” — Chris Martin, Chair of the Culpeper Renaissance Inc. Economic Restructuring Committee

Kathleen Frazier, principal of Frazier Associates, presented Maintenance of Downtown Buildings.  Frazier has extensive experience in historic preservation and is familiar with historic tax credit funding mechanisms. She currently oversees the design services for the Virginia Main Street Program, and she is an affiliate of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center.

Christopher Hamilton presented Understanding Old Brick and Mortar, with a brick care demonstration.  Hamilton is a class-A contractor specializing in older buildings. He also is a committee member of the CRI economic restructuring committee, member of the State Theatre board of directors and chair of the ARB.

Michael Lysczek presented Understanding the Role of the Architectural Review Board in Maintenance, Preservation and revitalization. Lysczek is the owner of Michael Lysczek Architect and board member of the town of Culpeper architectural review board.

Kelsey Carlson, president of Culpeper Renaissance Inc., discussed services that are offered to downtown property owners through Culpeper Renaissance Inc.

Comparing Main Street Districts and Local Big Box Stores

Mapping the Commonwealth recently created a series of photos that overlay ten historic commercial districts (most of them Virginia Main Street districts) with the community’s local big box stores and parking lots.


Culpeper’s 2012 Great American Main Street Award winning Main Street district overlaid by a local big box store and parking lot. Photo credit: Mapping the Commonwealth.

These photos are interesting for several reasons. They help illustrate why the local historic commercial district is so financially valuable to a community. Last November, VMS posted a blog suggesting that rather than compare the value of different land uses within a community building-to-building (for example, a Walmart vs. a mixed-use building in the historic commercial district), it makes more sense to look at the per-acre value of different land uses. Due to the density of development in Virginia’s historic Main Street districts, a vibrant and thriving district with a variety of first floor commercial uses and fully-occupied upper stories is some of the most valuable real estate on a per-acre basis in any community. As you watch the photos overlay one another, think of the number of people living, working, visiting, shopping, dining and celebrating in the Main Street district versus the same acreage of the big box store and its parking lot.

One of the most common complaints heard in many Main Street districts is that there is not enough parking nearby. In most Main Street districts, parking problems are problems of perception and/or poor parking management rather than a lack of available pavement. The big box stores have figured out that shoppers are willing to walk when they are offered something they want. When walking from the parking lot through a big box store and back to their cars, shoppers may walk the equivalent of laps through the nearby downtown, spend their hard-earned dollars and not complain. If people are not shopping downtown, a lack of pavement for parking is probably not the problem.

Valley 4th of July parade through Harrisonburg's Main Street district.

Valley 4th of July parade through Harrisonburg’s Main Street district. Photo credit: Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance.

Finally, it is almost painful to watch these historic commercial districts overlaid by big box stores. With a blink of an eye, all of the things that make Virginia’s historic commercial districts unique and treasured parts of their communities, the historic buildings, unique shops, amazing lofts, tasty restaurants, busy theaters, bustling offices, pocket parks, flowering baskets, farmers markets, celebration spaces and more, are replaced with a parking lot and big box store that looks like every other parking lot and big box store in America. Luckily, the photo overlays are for demonstration purposes only, and Virginia’s Main Street districts are open for business.

Major construction projects in Virginia’s Main Street districts

Designated Virginia Main Street communities have seen more than $741 millions of private investment since 1985. Private investment on Main Street ranges from the replacement of awnings or a new door to multi-million dollar rehabilitation or construction projects. In 2013, major construction projects added or will soon add new commercial, residential, educational and entertainment venues to Virginia’s Main Street districts. Here are some of the exciting construction projects that got underway or were wrapping up in 2013 in Virginia’s Main Street communities.

Once completed in 2014, the $3.6 million renovation of the Taylor Hotel, built in 1848, will add 7,500 sq. feet of new retail and restaurant space and five two-bedroom luxury apartments to Winchester’s Main Street district.  In addition, the area in front of the building on the Loudoun Street Mall will become an outdoor amphitheatre, pocket park, and farmers’ market pavilion.

The completion in 2013 of the $9.3 million historic rehabilitation of the Art Deco State Theatre in Culpeper replaced a blighting, vacant building with a 560-seat, state-of-the-art entertainment venue in the heart of the town’s bustling Main Street district.

The finishing touches are going into the restoration of the historic Beacon Theatre in Hopewell, which will open in January 2014. The completion of the $4.2 million project will re-open a 650-seat, state-of-the-art entertainment venue in the center of the Main Street district that has been closed and abandoned since 1981.

New College Institute’s new building in Martinsville’s Main Street district is approximately a third complete. When it opens in the summer of 2014, the new 52,000-square-foot, $18.7-million building, with state-of-the-art technology throughout and a variety of classroom and collaborative workspaces, will bring hundreds of students, faculty and staff to Martinsville’s Main Street district. The building will include shared office space for both the New College Institute and the Martinsville Henry County Economic Development Corporation and will house programs from NCI’s partner universities, Patrick Henry Community College and the Piedmont Governor’s School.

In South Boston, Destination Downtown South Boston helped to facilitate the development of the New Brick Historic Lofts, which will open in January 2014. The $2.5 million project by Rehab Development of Winston-Salem, N.C., converted the town’s last historic tobacco warehouse into 22 market-rate apartments in the town’s Main Street district.

Construction is underway on the $10.5 million renovation of Bristol’s former Goodpasture Motors Company building, built in the 1920s, which will soon be the home of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. When the museum opens in August 2014, it will serve as a major tourist destination, drawing at least 75,000 visitors per year to Bristol’s Main Street district.

The final phase of construction is underway in Waynesboro’s Wayne Theatre, with completion set for December 2014. The $10-11 million renovation project will reopen a 375-seat entertainment venue in the center of the city’s Main Street district that had sat empty since 2000.

Bedford’s new Jackson Street Tobacco Warehouse Loft Apartment project will convert the abandoned, four-story former Frank Chervan Furniture Company building into the town’s newest downtown residential building. The $3 million project by Waukeshaw Development Inc. will add 32 new apartments to Bedford’s Main Street district when it opens in 2014.

In Marion, construction is underway to convert a 1908 school building into the Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts. When completed the $2 million project will bring hundreds of music students and fans to the town’s Main Street district.

Staunton’s West Beverly Street recognized as one of America’s Great Streets

great_placesPart of Staunton’s Main Street district was recently recognized as one of the 30 Great Places in America for 2013. The American Planning Association (APA) recognized West Beverly Street as one of America’s Great Streets.

According to their website, APA celebrates places of exemplary character, quality and planning. Places are selected annually and represent the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement and a vision for tomorrow.

APA Great Places offer better choices for where and how people work and live. They are enjoyable, safe and desirable. They are places where people want to be — not only to visit, but to live and work every day. America’s truly great streets, neighborhoods and public spaces are defined by many criteria, including architectural features, accessibility, functionality and community involvement.

West Beverly Street
Staunton, Virginia

Preserving a nine-block-long stretch of Victorian-era architecture is not easy. But early successes by preservation activists in the 1960s and 1970s in Staunton, Virginia were enough to fend off urban renewal and highway proposals that would have demolished hundreds of buildings. Today, West Beverly Street boasts more than 100 beautifully restored buildings, and a historic preservation tax credit has spurred $50 million in private investment since 2000. The city had the foresight in 1998 to bury electrical utilities to improve the streetscape and, more recently, the 2006 Historic District Overlay Ordinance and Guidelines address new and renovated structures, signage, lighting and site design along the historic street.

— Excerpted from Planning – The magazine of the American Planning Association

Learn more about West Beverly Street’s designation as one of America’s Great Streets here. And, learn about the Virginia Main Street communities previous Great Streets designee, Culpeper’s Davis Street (2011), here.

VMS Essentials Workshop in Culpeper Sept. 11-12


Sept. 11-12, 2013
The Culpeper Center
137 South Main Street
Culpeper, Virginia

So, your community is known for a festival or two, and the historic commercial district is showing signs of life? It is time to take the next step. Design and economic restructuring strategies cannot only improve the appearance and vibrancy of your downtown, but they can attract additional capital investment, create jobs and spark new businesses.

Make the most of your unique historic buildings, and define the role your organization plays in attracting and developing entrepreneurs and private investment to your historic commercial district. Join downtown volunteers and professionals from across Virginia to hear from architectural design experts from Frazier Associates and the National Trust Main Street Center’s Economic Restructuring Specialist Todd Barman as they present real steps your community can take today. 

The workshop is open to board and committee volunteers, staff, local government, downtown business owners, property owners, residents and other stakeholders from designated Virginia Main Street communities, VMS Commercial District Affiliates and other communities that want to learn more about Main Street strategies for downtown economic revitalization.

This year’s essentials workshop is co-hosted by Virginia Main Street and Culpeper Renaissance Inc. (2012 Great American Main Street Award winner).

Speaker, agenda and hotel information is available here.
Register for this year’s workshop here.