January 6, 2022 | Community Spotlight: How Three New Mexico Main Street Communities Improved their Downtown Facades | By: Jessica Mraz, Communications and Promotions Specialist, New Mexico MainStreet |
From left to right: Gallup’s Coal Avenue Commons Ribbon Cutting in Gallup, NM; construction underway in Deming, NM; Daniel Gutierrez, Director of New Mexico MainStreet and Charmeine Wait, Executive Director of Silver City MainStreet in Silver City, NM. Photo courtesy of New Mexico MainStreet
In March 2020, Main Street America announced four states (Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Wyoming) were selected for the inaugural NPS Main Street Façade Improvement Grant Program. New Mexico MainStreet, a Main Street America Coordinating Program, was awarded $140,625 for historic building façade improvements in three downtown districts: Deming Luna County MainStreet, Gallup MainStreet Arts & Cultural District, and Silver City MainStreet. Each district played a pivotal role in connecting partners for these projects and overcoming unexpected challenges, especially during a global pandemic. Here are their stories and top recommendations to other Main Street affiliates wanting to take on this kind of work.
122 Pine Street, Deming, NM. Photos courtesy of New Mexico MainStreet
Deming Luna County MainStreet
worked with a local building owner to restore the windows, repair the stairs and apply a new color scheme to the historic Deming Bank/Marie’s Italian Grill building (122 Pine St.) in their district. The project leveraged additional private reinvestment in surrounding historic buildings and brought a fresh look to one of Deming’s biggest historic buildings in the heart of downtown.
“We’re honored to have played a part in the amazing renovation of one of Deming’s historic downtown buildings,” said Deming Luna County MainStreet Executive Director Chelsea Evans. “As soon as the project started, it was instantly rewarding because community members and other building/business owners complimented and inquired about the renovation work."
“It’s been wonderful to see these historic façades in downtown Silver City be restored,” said Silver City MainStreet Executive Director Charmeine Wait. “I would advise anyone who is pursuing this challenging and rewarding work to make sure the building owners have the appropriate resources to complete the work, and to pre-screen potential buildings to ensure they are a good fit for the grant requirements.”
New Mexico MainStreet’s Preservation and Design Revitalization Specialist William Powell worked extensively on these projects and offered the following top recommendations for others pursuing similar work:
- When choosing façade projects in your district, look for low-hanging fruit. Examples include visibly prominent buildings where just a little work and attention can make a big improvement in the district.
- Work with your local Main Street Program to discuss design and preservation considerations. These programs have many resources available to assist you since this is the nature of their work.
- Professional drawings and renderings make a world of difference in communicating ideas to the review committee and proposing changes to a façade.
- If the project/building is considered historic, a design professional with historic preservation experience is essential to the team. Having this expertise will save time, especially if compliance to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act is required.
- Though the paperwork can seem daunting, showing up is half the battle. Rely on your Main Street Executive Director or Coordinating Program staff to assist you – it will be more manageable if you work together.
- In many cases, preservation can save money, so be openminded about conserving materials and working with the building’s design and limitations. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with signage, lighting and paint while leaving a historic façade intact.
Thank you to Main Street America for welcoming New Mexico MainStreet’s districts to the inaugural Main Street Façade Improvement Grant Program, and for allowing Deming, Gallup and Silver City to share their experiences and top recommendations on the Main Street blog!
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