Adding New Dimensions to Downtown Revitalization

Downtown Milford Delaware Streetscape

Downtown Milford, Inc., (DMI) is incredibly excited to have been selected by the National Trust Main Street Center to participate in the Main Streets in 3D project – a collaboration with Google and Igloo Studios. This project will give us, along with the four other communities (Fairmont, West VirginiaDowntown South, Orlando, Florida; Jefferson, Georgia; and Oregon City, Oregon), free on-site technology workshops, access to the online Google SketchUp™ learning center, and assistance in teaching our volunteer team to use Google SketchUp and Earth and create 3D models of our downtown to use in our Main Street revitalization efforts.

Downtown Milford Delaware Pink BuildingAs I pondered how to describe why we wanted to submit an application for Main Streets in 3D, my eye was drawn to an old third-grade history project lying on my desk. For this project, students from a local elementary school were given disposable cameras, note cards, and pencils after they took a historic walking tour of downtown Milford, Delaware. Ten years ago, by “thinking out of the box,” local elementary school teachers immersed their students in the architecture and history of our buildings. Now, in an age of new and emerging technologies, DMI has the opportunity to take the lead from these teachers and bring our community, specifically the youth, funders, and stakeholders, into a multi-dimensional world of architecture and history.

Keeping your community, especially the younger generations, excited about revitalization projects can be somewhat challenging. By giving the community online access to 3D models and fly-through videos with the click of the mouse, this technology will bring people out from behind their computers and onto the streets of downtown Milford.

Downtown Milford WaterfrontDMI staff and volunteers believe that Main Streets in 3D will allow our organization to reach the next level in applying the Main Street Four-Point Approach® to successful downtown revitalization to our town. Not only will we be able to promote cultural and heritage tourism, we'll be able to offer potential new and expanding businesses a greater visual understanding of the benefits of locating in downtown Milford. And downtown business owners will see, almost immediately, ways to improve their façades. Currently, DMI is working with the City of Milford on a streetscape program to modernize the downtown area. Our organization will now have 3D model resources available so that during the design stages, work groups can visualize options and make better choices regarding uses of the streetscape program funds.

The DMI board of directors felt so strongly about the value of learning and utilizing 3D modeling technology that even before we were selected to participate, our organization began to meet with our community partners, including a local architectural firm and IT management company, to develop a work plan to move forward with this project. Since being selected as one of the five communities for Main Streets in 3D, we have continued to actively recruit volunteers for the project from our local schools and universities. Not only will the 3D modeling program add a new dimension to the resources our organization can offer for revitalization projects, but the DMI staff and volunteers truly believe it will inspire, encourage, and engage the youth in our community.

A lot has changed in the last 10 years, since the days of disposable cameras, note cards, and pencils for a third-grade history project. We can only imagine what opportunities lay ahead in the next 10 years of technological advances. Perhaps Main Streets in 4D? We are ready for the challenge and look forward to sharing this journey with our fellow Main Street programs.