127 West Davis Street, Culpeper, VA 22701 • 540.825.4416 • email CRI
Designated in 1988, Culpeper Renaissance, Inc. (CRI) is a member of the Virginia Main Street program. The main street program was organized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to help revitalize the economic vitality of downtown commercial districts using the National Main Street Center's successful Four Point Approach.
The results have been remarkable - new businesses are opening, and investors are putting their money into once vacant buildings; tourists are visiting unique shops and restaurants, and residents are enjoying renewed community pride. Hundreds of jobs have been created, a dedication of more than 35,000 volunteer hours and $55 million of private investment in the revitalization of downtown since CRI's founding.
While many of the states participating with statewide programs are vastly different form others and even within a state like Virginia, there are designated Virginia Main Street communities that range from 1000 – 65,000 in population, all the successful Main Street communities have two things in common. They all have a dedicated volunteer corps and they follow the Main Street Four Point Approach that was developed through several years in several communities as the framework for successful revitalization.
The Four Points are the true heart of the success of the Main Street movement and meant to be used in approximately equal measure. They are: Design, Organization, Promotion and Economic Restructuring. Below, you will find a brief overview of these points.
Design: Originally, this mostly meant sprucing up your downtown. Over time, Main Streets learned that Design meant making the downtown usable and safe, too. Today, the most successful communities use design to create an attractive, safe space that functions well for the shop owners, shoppers, multi-generational families and people of all abilities.
Organization: This is the place that keeps the operation running. The work of downtown revitalization is ever evolving and a successful Main Street organization needs to be built to last through the years and decades to tackle new problems and shifts in preferences as they come around. The Organization Committee is focused on making sure the other committees have the resources they need to do a great job.
Promotion: There are at least three levels of promotions: Special events like concerts and festivals that raise funds and awareness of the downtown, Retail events meant specifically to drive shoppers into the stores, and marketing, which can be both paid like newspaper ads and brochures and earned advertising like articles spurred by a press release. All of these have their place in building the success of downtown and it is important to make sure that all of them are being balanced.
Economic Restructuring: This is the most misunderstood of the Four Points. “ER” is different from Economic Development in that it focuses on adjusting the local economy of the downtown to match the ever-changing preferences of the public and matching uses with spaces. Think about it: is your Coca-Cola still bottled in a 15,000 sf building in Downtown? When did you last have your TV repaired? We don’t use the railroad like we used to and the bypass means a lot of traffic doesn’t go through town anymore. We can lament these changes, but they are facts and it is the job of the ER committee to build a plan that adapts to these changes and provide the tools to successfully work that plan.