Press Releases

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Downtown Tupelo Property Owners to get Design Help

In January, the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association will kick off a workshop series that is geared to educate commercial property owners about good design.

The workshop series, "Keeping Up Appearances," is based on principles from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Debbie Brangenburg, executive director of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, said the group decided to put on the free workshops after seeing the emphasis on design in the city's recently adopted comprehensive plan.

"Design was one of the top priorities and our committees felt one of the first steps should be education," she said.

Michael Grey Jones, a partner at JBHM Architects and DTMSA's design committee chairman, added, "In the design committee, we wanted to be proactive and show people what looks good downtown, instead of sitting back and saying, 'Boy, you didn't do that right.'"

Workshop sessions include "making good design happen" (Jan. 22), "storefronts that sell" (Feb. 19), "design assessment tools" (March 19) and "keeping up appearances" (April 16).

The sessions start at 5 p.m. at the City Council chambers in Tupelo's City Hall. Jones said the workshops should last for about 60-90 minutes.

Jones said the workshops are open to the public, but are specifically geared toward the downtown business owners, public officials, building inspectors, planning department employees and people who are affected by regulations in historic districts.

He said he thinks the information from the National Trust about good signs will be especially useful.

"We want to help people make their properties better," he said, adding that many changes are simple but "make a big difference."

The workshops won't emphasize residential design principles, but Jones and Brangenburg said some of the principles will apply.

By Carlie Kollath
Tupelo Daily Journal

Mississippi Main Street Announces New Member Levels


JACKSON, Miss. -- The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) has unveiled new membership levels for 2009. The membership levels include Friends of Main Street, Association Members, Downtown Network Members and Main Street Members.

The Friends of Main Street membership is reserved for individuals, corporations and other not-for-profit associations who support the work and mission of MMSA. Members receive limited services but are invited to receive limited phone consultation from MMSA staff, subscription to the MMSA E-newsletter, invitation to the MMSA Annual Awards Luncheon and reduced registration fees to regularly scheduled training and educational meetings and workshops. This membership fee is $100 annually.

The Association Membership level replaces the former Municipal Membership. This membership provides a range of services and assistance to meet a variety of community development and readiness levels. It is for communities that are either just starting a downtown revitalization effort or those that do not wish to become a designated Main Street community or a Mississippi Downtown Network Member at this time. Communities participating at this membership level can also take advantage of additional training opportunities by purchasing, at a discounted rate, services from the MMSA Menu of Services. This membership fee is $250 annually.

The Mississippi Downtown Network (MDN) Member is a new level of membership offered. This membership provides for communities interested in being a catalyst for change in their downtowns. The MDN level provides a variety of learning opportunities to stakeholders with a role in the preservation and revitalization of Mississippi's historic resources. Communities may or may not have a paid staff member (a local Program Coordinator is required) or Board of Directors that guides their activities, but are interested in improving the economic vitality of their downtown. This membership package allows for greater levels of consultation and technical assistance with MMSA staff than the Association Membership. Communities participating at this membership level can also take advantage of additional training opportunities that may not be included in the Network Membership package by purchasing, at a discounted rate, services from the MMSA Menu of Services. This membership fee is $1,000 annually.

The Main Street Membership is the most comprehensive and valuable package offered. It is only offered to currently designated Main Street Communities or those invited to participate in the MMSA Annual Application Workshop and Selection Process. Communities participating at this membership level can also take advantage of additional training opportunities that may not be included in the membership package by purchasing, at the lowest discounted rate, services from the MMSA Menu of Services. Many of the services listed are provided with the Main Street Membership. The MMSA Membership fee is $10,000 the first year, $6,000 the second year, $4,000 the third year and $2,000 annually thereafter.

Designated Main Street Communities receive a minimum of $25,000 in Technical Assistance during the first year in the program. This is the only membership level that authorizes a community the use of the Main Street trademarked name and Mississippi Main Street logo. It is also the only membership level that has Exclusive rights to Mississippi Main Street Logo/Road Sign Usage provided by MDOT in conjunction with MMSA.

To see a complete listing of Membership Packages, Menu of Services or to learn more about MMSA, please visit http://www.msmainstreet.com.



Biloxi Main Street’s Bond-Grant House Wins Award

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November 2008 -- The Mississippi Renaissance Garden Foundation, Inc. presented the "Bringing Back the Beauty" Site Award to the Main Street Biloxi Bond-Grant House. The award recognizes outstanding efforts in landscaping, display of civic pride and contributions toward the restoration of green space and beauty, for setting standards for a cleaner and finer quality of life and for contributions to the Renaissance of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Gulf Coast Benefits from Main Street Program

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Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Communities Draw on Main Street Programs to Rebuild Their Historic Town Centers
(Urban Land - November/December 2008 - Developments)


Three years after Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Coast continues to bear much of the burden of the devastating storm. The effects on the western section of the Mississippi Gulf Coast were far reaching and are still evident all the way to the Alabama border. The resolve of the communities affected by the storms to rebuild is evident, particularly in the communities’ historic downtowns.

Most of these communities have benefited from the Mississippi Renewal Forum’s extensive planning charrettes, organized in October 2005 by the Mississippi Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding, and Renewal and the Congress for the New Urbanism. The charrettes provided insightful community visions and far-reaching blueprints for how to rebuild in more sustainable ways that respected the Mississippi Gulf Coast vernacular.

Since then, much progress has been made in reestablishing neighborhoods, providing new and smarter housing, and rebuilding infrastructure. The historic downtowns, however, continued to experience particular difficulties. Among the challenges were downtown districts that were not easily accessible, both physically and visually; poor image and perceptions that predated Katrina; struggling independent businesses; lack of a clear brand or downtown image; vacant properties and gaps in the urban fabric; poor market conditions; and key property owners not closely involved in the rebuilding process.

Since its inception, the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) has recognized that historic downtowns are the heart and soul of the state’s communities and that special attention needs to be given to preserve, enhance and, in some cases, rebuild the town centers of the communities affected by Katrina. MMSA assembled the Mississippi Gulf Coast Resource Team to build on the charrette efforts with a focus on implementation strategies for the downtown core areas of six Mississippi communities along the Gulf Coast—Hancock County (Waveland and Bay St. Louis), Picayune, Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs, and Pascagoula.

As a framework, the resource team effort followed the four points of the Main Street Program—economic restructuring, promotion, design, and organization—to provide holistic solutions to multifaceted problems, recognizing that design alone would not provide the solutions needed. The team developed implementation strategies for business development, branding and promotions, gateways and wayfinding, streetscapes and public open spaces, facade improvements, infill development and redevelopment, and organizational responsibilities.

In every community, however, the approach was to work directly with property and business owners to ensure that the implementation strategies were based on the realities of individuals’ plans—not what the consultants thought the plans should be.
In Waveland, which experienced some of the worst devastation from Katrina, special attention was given to using Katrina cottages—small homes designed as an attractive alternative to Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers—as temporary incubator space for existing and new businesses. The idea was that the businesses could operate out of these facilities in the short term while permanent facilities were being constructed. Waveland had previously commissioned a more detailed follow-up charrette, so it was particularly important for the resource team to illustrate how its recommendations and strategies reinforced the charrette recommendations rather than took the community in a different direction.

In Biloxi, a historic downtown is overshadowed by an extensive gambling district. Rather than try to fight this reality, the team focused instead on capitalizing on the sizable visitor market and making stronger connections between that district and the historic downtown. Strategies included both promotional campaigns and design recommendations to help downtown restaurants and merchants capture some of this market.

While most agreed with the charrette recommendations that called for traditional streets lined with buildings, and structured parking located behind them, it was not clear to many property owners how to achieve this vision. Resource team strategies, therefore, emphasized a phased approach that included initial development along key street edges, with surface parking areas on the balance of the site that could be developed or infilled over time with higher densities and structured parking. The team used simple models to illustrate how new development could be phased over time while reinforcing important street connections right from the beginning.

Through the efforts of the MMSA and the can-do attitude of community leaders and residents, six towns along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast have been able to recognize that there is an opportunity in the rebuilding process to preserve and strengthen their historic downtown districts while implementing the long-term vision for their communities.

Tom McGilloway, a landscape architect and principal with Mahan Rykiel Associates Inc. in Baltimore, was a member of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Resource Team.

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Mississippi Main Street is a program of the National Main Street
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