Main Street Project is coming to a close: Nonprofit to halt after summer renovations
Published 10:26 am Wednesday, July 30, 2014
A project that’s spent more than $6 million renovating downtown Austin is coming to a close.
The Austin Main Street Project will end its development work after renovations are complete on several downtown buildings later this summer.
The project has helped renovate 42 storefronts and created eight apartments since its inception in 2005.
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During that time, project organizers spent about $6.2 million to improve downtown Austin’s look.
In 2012 the Austin Main Street Project was recognized with a Local Government Innovation Award from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute.
In addition, six businesses took advantage of the project’s rent reimbursement program to move into the downtown area. All of those businesses are still open today after receiving help on their rent for the first few months.
“All you’ve got to do is drive through downtown Main Street and you can see it’s been very successful,” said Mayor Tom Stiehm.
Organizers said Tuesday evening in a press release that the project, a private nonprofit, is shutting down because of reductions in government funding and other financial support.
New or expanding downtown businesses also benefited from the rent reimbursement program which subsidized monthly rent for six businesses, all of which are still open and vital to the downtown economy.
After a series of high-profile initial projects, such as the remodel of the old building on the corner of North Main Street and Fourth Avenue, the Main Street Project has consistently done several projects a year. Not every project is high profile, however, as the Main Street Project completed several smaller projects last year that weren’t as noticeable as the construction currently taking place.
The Main Street Project contributed about $250,000 to five projects this year, including three at 330, 326 and 324 N. Main St. for Raymond James Financial, accounting firm Hill, Larson, Walth & Benda and Salon Azteca. The local VFW building and Rydjor Bike Shop also received help from the Main Street Project this summer.
“The Raymond James, Hill, Larson, Walth & Benda PA and Salon Azteca building renovations on Main Street are some of our largest and most important renovations to date,” Austin Main Street Project President Craig Byram said in a press release. “We felt that wrapping up the program after these projects were complete would be a fitting end to our great work downtown.”
Though the nonprofit is shutting down, downtown work won’t end any time soon. City officials and organizers believe Vision 2020 and other organizations will likely do more to improve the downtown area. Main Street Project Executive Director Sarah Douty also serves as a co-chair for Vision 2020’s Destination Downtown committee and expects more downtown improvements in the future.
“The SPAM museum moving downtown, Vision 2020 initiatives and a new downtown master plan will bring growth and opportunities to the downtown,” Douty said in a press release. “I’m pleased the Austin Main Street Project could help lay some of the groundwork for what will likely be a bright future for downtown Austin.”
Byram and Douty couldn’t be reached for further comment Wednesday morning.