Rochester, Michigan

2013 Great American Main Street Award

Rochester, Michigan

Award Type: GAMSA

The Numbers, Over 13 Years

  • Main Street began: 2000
  • Population: 12,793
  • Net new jobs: 2352
  • Net new businesses: 132
  • Building rehabs: 46
  • New buildings: 12
  • Housing units: 114
  • Vacancy rate when Main Street started: 38%
  • Vacancy rate now: 4%

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In Their Own Words

We’ve been practicing Main Street a long time, casually since the 1990s and formally as a part of Main Street Oakland County since 2000. We have used Main Street as the foundation, but our methods have evolved in response to our growing community. We don’t see our committees as islands, but rather as partners. The committees work together to accomplish their goals and their successes are evidenced through our 96% occupancy rate, 100 event days per year and consistent private sector investment in our downtown. Through this approach we have not only built a diverse, volunteer driven organization, we have created innovative programs that set our program at the forefront of downtown revitalization today.

Our most important measure of success is the engagement of our community. The community is invested in our downtown – financially and emotionally. This was never more apparent than when we hosted the Downtown Yard Sale. It was an event where the community could buy a piece of history – a brick, bench, streetlight – all removed from downtown as a part of the Makeover. We weren’t sure if the community would embrace this opportunity, but our doubts were quickly dismissed once we saw the half mile traffic back up two hours before we opened. The event was filled with stories and memories of downtown, along with cars and trucks piled high with pieces of Rochester’s history. It was a great day and it proved how much our downtown is truly the heart of our community.

They're Not Done Yet

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

A: With the completion of the Main Street Makeover, it would be easy for us to rest on our laurels. Instead, across the board all of our committees are re-energized and ready to tackle new projects. While our efforts for the past few years have focused on Main Street, our task for the next several years is to expand the Main Street Makeover elements to the rest of the downtown district. New streetlights, sidewalks and streetscape amenities are all on the drawing board for execution over the next 3 years.

The DDA is also focusing on placemaking projects, creating more green spaces and gathering areas for people to enjoy the district. The next project is the Downtown Splash Pad, a revitalization of the area that originally held our Tree Lighting Ceremony and has now sat dormant for several years. The project is another example of our public-private partnerships, with the property being donated and funds raised through a capital campaign and grants.

Since our inception in 1983, the DDA has acquired several properties within downtown that have been repurposed as downtown parking lots. We have reached a point where demand is high for new development areas in downtown and we are currently working with developers, reviewing proposals for mixed-use projects with sensitivity to the existing downtown environment. This is the next step to ensure the future economic viability of our business district.