Revitalizing Main Street


8-1/2″ x 11″, softcover, 220 pages,
National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Revitalizing Main Street provides a detailed framework for downtown growth and development.

Short on theory and long on practical approaches and useful examples, this comprehensive handbook covers virtually all aspects of downtown revitalization from developing a mission statement to bringing new businesses downtown to streetscape improvements.

For ease of use, the handbook is organized into four major sections which cover:

  • Organization — focusing on strategies for getting stakeholders to work toward the same goal and for assembling the appropriate people and financial resources to implement your program.
  • Promotion — covering best practices for creating a positive image of the downtown area to encourage consumers and investors to live, work, shop, play, and invest.
  • Design — focusing on creating an inviting atmosphere, through facade, streetscape and other design improvements as well as ongoing maintenance of the downtown area.
  • Economic Restructuring — detailing approaches to strengthening the competitiveness of existing businesses, recruiting new businesses, and converting unused or underused space to more productive uses.

All of this is accomplished in 22 detailed chapters, each of which is enhanced with case studies of these approaches in action in communities around the country.

Table of Contents


1. Why Main Street Matters

  • Main streets fall and rise
  • A movement is born
  • The building of a national network
  • Not just for small towns
  • The next Main Street

2. How the Main Street Approach Works

  • Challenges facing Main Street organizations
  • Endless opportunities


3. Planning Main Street’s Work

  • Mission statement
  • Developing your vision
  • Work plans
  • Organizational phases of a Main Street program
  • Benchmarking progress
  • Resources

4. Running a Community-Driven Program

  • Sharing the workload
  • Working with volunteers
  • Creating a volunteer recruitment program
  • Interviewing and placing volunteers
  • Orienting and training
  • Effective supervision and evaluation
  • Recognition
  • Multicultural Main Streets
  • Resources

5. Financing Main Street Revitalization

  • Myths of Main Street funding
  • Tools for funding Main Street revitalization
  • Long-term funding options
  • Resources

6. Funding Mechanisms for Main Street

  • A closer look at membership
  • Federal programs

7. Promoting the Main Street Program

  • Targeting communications
  • Communication tools
  • Working with the media
  • Crisis communication
  • Resources

8. Effective Advocacy for Main Street Programs

  • Why is advocacy necessary?
  • Where to begin
  • Putting advocacy into practice
  • Communicating with your elected officials
  • Communicating with Main Street advocates
  • Methods for mobilizing success
  • Proactive and reactive advocacy
  • Lobbying by 501(c)(3) organizations: The basics
  • Resources

Economic Restructuring

9. Improving Commercial Dynamics

  • Reversing the disinvestment spiral
  • Learning about your district’s economy
  • Using market research
  • Understanding your district’s strengths
  • Clustering businesses
  • Understanding marketing demand
  • Understanding consumers
  • Synthesizing market information
  • Crafting a market-based business development strategy
  • Diversifying Main Street’s uses
  • Working with existing businesses
  • Bringing new businesses to Main Street
  • Developing new businesses
  • Resources

10. Real Estate and the Main Street Business District

  • Basics of real estate
  • Why get involved
  • Understanding the market — cost and value
  • Why building owners don’t invest
  • When to get involved
  • How to get involved
  • Development incentives
  • How to become a developer
  • Resources


11. Visual Merchandising: Building the Main Street Experience

  • The five-year rule
  • Customer service
  • Window display design
  • Proportions and transparency
  • Maintenance
  • Interior design
  • Historic interiors
  • Resources

12. Improving Appearances

  • Main Street architecture and design
  • Building rehabilitation
  • Encouraging building improvements
  • Taming teardowns and demolitions
  • Encouraging appropriate repairs
  • It’s not just the facade: Improving alleys and rear entrances
  • Accessibility and the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • New construction
  • Signs and awnings
  • Awnings and canopies
  • Resources

13. Historic Preservation Tools

  • Design guidelines
  • Local financial incentives programs
  • Design review
  • Rehabilitation tax credits
  • National Register of Historic Places

14. Revitalization and Sustainability

  • Environmental sustainability
  • Inherently sustainable design
  • Preservation and LEED
  • Economic sustainability
  • Sustainable small business
  • Social sustainability
  • Resources

15. Public Improvements

  • Streetscape improvements
  • Streetscape amenities
  • Planning public improvements
  • Wayfinding
  • Funding public improvements
  • Resources

16. Master Planning: Advancing the Future for Main Street Communities

  • Benefits of commercial district master planning
  • Elements of a commercial district master plan
  • Levels of master planning
  • Putting the master plan together
  • Making your master plan effective
  • Resources

17. Zoning and Other Land-Use Regulatory Tools

  • Zoning basics
  • Types of zoning
  • Main Street zoning issues

18. Managing Traffic on Main Street

  • Why convert to two-way streets?
  • Should you convert to two-way streets?
  • Conversions and the regional transportation network
  • Accommodating customers in the business district
  • Resources

19. Parking on Main Street

  • Parking problems: Perceived and real
  • Understanding parking supply
  • Secrets unveiled by a parking study
  • Methodology of a parking study
  • Local parking policies and parking design options
  • The economic cost of excessive parking and underutilized land
  • The future of parking

20. Clean and Safe Main Street Districts

  • Crime: A perceived or real problem?
  • Safety and cleanliness
  • Design as a safety tool
  • Carrots versus sticks
  • Working with enforcement agencies
  • Dealing with vagrancy
  • Resources


21. Promotion: Building Excitement

  • Competitive advantage
  • Media
  • Events
  • Developing a promotion calendar
  • Special events and fundraising
  • Retail/Business activities
  • Evaluating promotional activities
  • Funding promotional activities
  • Dealing with prickly issues
  • Resources

22. Heritage Tourism: Capitalizing on Not Being AnyPlace, USA

  • Trends in heritage tourism
  • Are heritage travelers different?
  • Opportunities for Main Street
  • Can your Main Street be a heritage destination?
  • Developing a successful heritage tourism strategy
  • Potential heritage tourism partners
  • Ways to measure the impact of heritage tourism
  • Resources


About the Author

Project editor, Andrea Dono has assembled a team of 16 experts to contribute to this volume. They are subject area specialists at the National Trust Main Street Center, consultants and Main Street managers from around the country.


Read Chapter 3: Planning Main Street’s Work


Revitalizing Main Street is guaranteed. If you are not 100% satisfied, you may return it within 30 days for a full refund.