When we travel to other Hudson Valley Main Streets outside of Kingston, it’s easy to assume that downtown districts are making a rebound everywhere. But that’s not the case.
There are communities across the country that are completely boarded up. The buildings and storefronts are beautiful, but every store is closed—except for a maybe a gas station and a Dollar General. So, what makes a village become vibrant?
At the heart of it is community desire—the people in the town must have a commitment to transformation and involvement. Main Street associations help make this happen, and we see local examples of successful models from Woodstock to Ellenville.
These organizations work on efforts to promote the town by attracting residents and visitors to the heart of town. Strong design elements, community identity, wayfinding (maps and directories), and special events keep people coming back, and the money that is spent continues to circulate through our communities.
Economic vitality is also a key to success. When people feel a sense of community, they tend to spend their money with their neighbors. These neighbors in turn spend their money locally, eventually coming back to us.
At the turn of the 21st century, many local storefronts were vacant. Twenty years later, Main Streets have been transformed into successful commercial centers, with colorful facades and lively businesses everywhere.
It seems like what’s old is new again. Historically, people always gathered in town to share news and create bonds that lasted a lifetime. In these modern times, we’re shifting our focus back to Main Street—sharing art and information, laughing and singing, eating and drinking together, and finding true friendship.