Culpeper Renaissance, Inc

2012 Great American Main Street Award

Culpeper, Virginia

Award Type: GAMSA

The Numbers: Over 23 Years

  • Main Street began: 1988
  • Population: 10,000
  • Net new jobs: 683
  • Net new businesses: 324
  • Building rehabs: 390
  • New buildings: 0
  • Housing units: 62
  • Vacancy rate when Main Street started: 86%
  • Vacancy rate now: 2%

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In Their Own Words

From the time of the original Town Charter in 1759, the downtown district has been the heart of Culpeper.  Early architects of the Town knew how important it was to co-locate businesses and residential uses together and create active streets. Most of downtown reflects this pattern with retail stores on the first floor and offices and/or affordable apartments above.  Buildings have been renovated and reused to maintain their historic character. Late 19th century buildings now house coffee shops, gourmet restaurants, boutiques, banks, and offices.    

The downtown district is truly the heart of the town and county and is the center of social interaction. Residents and visitors alike gather throughout the year to enjoy one-of-a-kind specialty shops, restaurants, and CRI’s special events. During warm weather, people and pets may be seen enjoying the small park at the end of Davis Street. Every Saturday from April to November, CRI’s Farmers Market becomes the social event of the week. People gather to visit with neighbors, buy fresh locally grown produce and crafts, and enjoy live music.     

CRI’s long list of VMS awards and designations is a testament to the downtown district’s success as a trend-setter for other communities. Through the years, representatives of CRI have been mentors to other communities seeking to revitalize their own downtowns. Within our own community, the revitalization of the downtown district is both a catalyst and example for redevelopment.

They're Not Done Yet

Q: What are your district’s strategic initiatives for the next five years?

A: CRI recently expanded its footprint to build on previous successes.  Two upcoming projects tie in well with the newly expanded footprint by improving the economic and social vibrancy in the entire Downtown.    

One future strategic initiative involves a public/private partnership between CRI, the Town of Culpeper, Parking Authority, and local businesses to improve the alleyway that runs from a parking lot on Cameron Street to the shopping areas on both Davis Street and Main Street. Free design services by Frazier Associates Architects (funded by VMS) are being utilized.   The project will transform the parking lot and alleyway into an attractive, clean, safe, and convenient entryway into the heart of downtown shopping on Davis and Main Street.     
Mimicking the expanded CRI footprint, CRI worked together with the Town of Culpeper and Department of Tourism to establish Culpeper’s first-ever arts and cultural district in 2010, which provides a tax break for qualifying entities.  The completion of the State Theatre will be the catalyst for bringing the arts district to life.  The arts are emerging as a key component in the CRI comprehensive plan to revitalize downtown and act as a component of economic growth.   
Culpeper downtown has experienced many challenging events from the civil war to outlaying strip malls to most recently an earthquake on August 23, 2011.  Culpeper’s downtown began as the heart of the community and after 250 years, is still serving its people well.