Up on Main

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Following a devastating James River flood and the opening of a suburban mall, the National Historic Trust for Preservation commented in a June 2006 press release, "many had given up on the town" of Lynchburg, Virginia, a 49 square mile city of about 64,000 180 miles southwest of the nation's capital.

But not anymore, thanks to Lynch's Landing, a designated Main Street organization, that, since 2001, has recruited more than 1,500 volunteers, enlisted more than 100 corporate sponsors and generated more than 45,000 hours of service to reclaim its downtown.

[Photo: A boy in canoe exploring the water of downtown Lynchburg]
Exploring the Attractions of Downtown Lynchburg

And HUD has been an active partner in the process, contributing CDBG and HOME funds as a substantial part of the more than $36 million in public investments and $33 million that have sparked a downtown revitalization that, the Trust says, "shows no signs of stopping."

You can see the results almost everywhere you walk in downtown. At Amazement Square, for example, an abandoned industrial building transformed into a children's museum that attracts 90,000 visitors annually. Or at the historic Academy of Music currently under renovation. Or at an old tobacco warehouse being turned into a first-class hotel. Or at any of the 37 news businesses that have created more than 350 jobs downtown. Or in any of the old, but historic buildings that have been converted into almost 400 units of housing that, realizing the City Council's vision, made the area a 24/7 downtown.

Since 2001, the Trust reports, downtown's tax base "has tripled" and attendees at special events downtown have spent more almost $22 million. "Lynchburg has overcome many obstacles in its quest to reclaim" downtown, said National Trust president Richard Moe, but now "the community is thriving."

So much so, in fact, that earlier this year Lynchburg was one of just four cities and only the third Virginia city since 1996 to be honored by the Trust with a Great American Main Street Award.

"The people and government of Lynchburg have worked so long and so hard to revitalize their downtown," observed HUD Richmond Field Office Director Bill Miles, "that it has been easy for partners like HUD to step forward with resources and assistance. They never gave up on their downtown. The Great American Main Street Award is just one more tribute to the strength of their commitment and the effectiveness of their hard work."


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