No need to travel to Disneyland or watch fictional Mayberry on “The Andy Griffith” show to experience Main Street USA.
Just head to Audubon Park in Orlando, Florida; Dahlonega, Georgia; or the Shaw District in Washington, D.C.
The three communities are winners of the 2016 Great American Main Street Awards winners, chosen by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“The 2016 GAMSA winners have succeeded in making their towns an exciting place to live, work, play and visit through implementing our historic preservation-based methodology for downtown revitalization,” said Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center, in a statement.
“In each locality, the local Main Street organization has collaborated with residents, business owners and other local partners to revitalize their district by promoting the assets that makes that community special.”
The awards were presented Monday night at the center’s 2016 Main Street Now Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Winners were chosen by a national jury composed of former award winners, community development professionals, and government representatives involved in historic preservation and community revitalization.
Criteria include “strength of the Main Street in creating an exciting place to live, work, play and visit; commitment to historic preservation; implementation of model partnerships, and demonstrated success” of the center’s approach to revitalizing downtown corridors, the center said.
Audubon Park, Orlando, Florida
Developed post-World War II, Audubon Park was once dominated by a wide, four-lane commercial road with strip malls.
With Audubon Park Garden District leading the way, a foreclosed church has been transformed into a nationally recognized food and culture hub that anchors a hopping dining and shopping scene.
The site of the first U.S. Gold Rush, Dahlonega Main Street gets more than a million visitors every year to the walkable downtown just 65 miles from Atlanta.
Restaurants from sandwich spots to fine dining attract every price point, while antiquing and Southern Appalachian-themed stores abound.
Shaw District, Washington, D.C.
The rehabilitation of the Howard Theatre, the onetime venue for Washington’s segregation-era “Black Broadway;” the creation of flexible start-up business work space in a former Wonder Bread factory and a hot dining district are some of the successes in the Shaw District.
Renaissance Covington in Covington, Kentucky and Los Alamos MainStreet in New Mexico were picked as “Ones to Watch,” neighborhoods making progress revitalizing their downtown districts.
Previous winners include Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Montclair, New Jersey; and Rawlins, Wyoming in 2015 and Harrisonburg, Virginia; Milledgeville, Georgia; and Woodbine, Iowa in 2014.