The 2016 Great American Main Street Award Winners


The National Main Street Center is pleased to announce that Audubon Park in Orlando, Fla., Dahlonega, Ga. and Shaw District in Washington, D.C. were chosen as 2016 Great American Main Street Awards® (GAMSA) winners. The awards were presented at the 2016 Main Street Now Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“The 2016 GAMSA winners have succeeded in making their towns an exciting place to live, work, play and visit through implementing our historic preservation-based methodology for downtown revitalization,” said Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “In each locality, the local Main Street organization has collaborated with residents, business owners and other local partners to revitalize their district by promoting the assets that makes that community special.”

The 2016 winners are a diverse group in geography and character, but together demonstrate the broad applicability of the Main Street Approach:

Audubon Park, Orlando, Fla.

Watch: Audubon Park Garden District

Developed post-World War II, Audubon Park was long defined by a wide, four-lane commercial main drag dotted with suburban strip malls. Under Audubon Park Garden District’s leadership, that corridor is now flourishing with small businesses, gardens and events that stand in stark contrast to typical suburban sprawl. The redevelopment of a foreclosed church into a nationally recognized food and culture hub, a thriving shopping and dining scene and a retro modern home tour are just a few of the attractions that make this neighborhood one of America’s best.

Dahlonega, Ga.Watch: Dahlonega Main Street

Drawn by a charming and walkable downtown, first-rate restaurants, and unique shops featuring the best of Southern Appalachian hospitality, Southern Appalachian hospitality, downtown Dahlonega is a top destination in the Southeastern United States. Located just 65 miles north of Atlanta and the site of the first U.S. Gold Rush, more than a million visitors travel to Dahlonega (pop. 6,000) every year. With the Main Street approach as its guide, Dahlonega Main Street uses a combination of tools, including preservation grants, design guidelines and promotion strategies to preserve downtown Dahlonega’s strong sense of place while also expanding economic development opportunities.

Shaw District, Washington, D.C.Watch: Shaw Main Streets

By actively involving its multicultural community, cultivating tech businesses, and supporting the arts, Shaw Main Streets has transformed a long blighted neighborhood into a hot dining and entertainment district while preserving affordable housing and protecting legacy businesses. Highlights of Shaw Main Street’s 13-year tenure include the rehabilitation of the Howard Theatre, once the largest venue in Washington’s segregation-era “Black Broadway,” and the creation of flexible work space for 400 start-up tech businesses in a former Wonder Bread factory.

GAMSA winners were selected by a national jury composed of former award winners, community development professionals, and governmental agency representatives who are active in community revitalization and historic preservation. Criteria for winning include: strength of the Main Street in creating an exciting place to live, work, play and visit; commitment to historic preservation; implementation of model partnerships, and demonstrated success of the Main Street Approach.

Ones to Watch 

The National Main Street Center also selected Renaissance Covington in Covington, Kentucky and Los Alamos MainStreet in New Mexico as “Ones to Watch”— places that are making great strides in using the Main Street approach to revitalize their downtown. Renaissance Covington is recognized for its restoration of the historic Odd Fellows Hall, its successful use of pop up spaces for retail and performance purposes, and streetscape and façade improvements. Los Alamos MainStreet has preserved the unique history of a town that run by the US Atomic Energy Commission in until 1957, while maintaining its reputation as a hub for innovation and invention through lively events, public-private partnerships and building redevelopment projects.