SHAW WINS GREAT AMERICAN MAIN STREET AWARD!
Shaw Main Streets received the 2016 Great American Main Street Award® (GAMSA) at the 2016 Main Street Now Conference in Milwaukee, WI on May 23, 2016. The win will be celebrated at a gala fundraiser at the Howard Theatre in the neighborhood on June 1, 2016.
According to a press release from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, of which the National Main Street Center is a subsidiary, the award panel chose Shaw Main Streets for the exemplary manner in which the organization has led the Washington, DC neighborhood’s revitalization and historic preservation efforts.
“By actively involving its multicultural community, cultivating tech businesses, and supporting the arts, since its founding in 2003 Shaw Main Streets has reduced the retail vacancy rate from 20 percent to 1 percent, helped over 200 new businesses open, and attracted approximately $3 billion in private and public investment. Under Shaw Main Streets’ leadership, Shaw has earned nationwide attention as a fast-rising arts, cultural and dining destination while maintaining affordability and ties to its proud past as an African-American entertainment district.”
“Shaw’s transformation in the last 13 years has been truly remarkable,” said Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “To bring the neighborhood back from the devastating 1968 riots and the decades of disinvestment that followed while infusing the district’s historic character with new energy and resources, is a tremendous testament to Shaw Main Street’s effective leadership.”
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel E. Bowser joined in congratulating Shaw Main Streets on receiving the prestigious award, which many refer to as the Oscars® of downtown commercial revitalization. “I’m proud that the District of the Columbia is the first urban Main Street program to include three Great American Main Street Award winners,” Bowser remarked. “As a fifth generation Washingtonian, I have witnessed the Shaw neighborhood’s growth and progress – of which Shaw Main Streets has played an important role. Shaw is one of our treasured communities, with a rich cultural history that reflects the diversity and vibrancy of Washington, DC. I congratulate Shaw Main Streets’ board of directors, including Chair Gretchen Wharton, executive director Alexander Padro, and hundreds of local volunteers for a job well done.”
“This is a great day for Shaw,” agreed Alexander M. Padro, a founder of the organization in 2003 and its executive director since 2004. “We’re excited to bring this award home to DC. Winning the Great American Main Street Award is the culmination of more than 13 years of a community-driven neighborhood renaissance that has delivered over 250 new businesses and thousands of jobs. We’ve led the dramatic revitalization effort that has transformed a long blighted neighborhood into one of the most attractive dining and heritage tourism destinations in America, while preserving affordable housing and protecting legacy businesses. The small businesses, private investment and jobs created in Shaw over the past 13 years are part of the reason why our nation’s capital is one of the 21st century’s most dynamic city success stories.
“The award recognizes the dedicated work of hundreds of volunteers and the support of the community and the city as a whole in revitalizing our commercial corridors and some of the nation’s most important African American landmarks. Now we have yet another reason to be proud as we live, work, shop, play and pray in the neighborhood where DC comes together,” Padro concluded.
Highlights of Shaw Main Street’s efforts and advocacy include the restoration of the Howard Theatre, once the largest venue in Washington’s segregation-era “Black Broadway,” the creation of flexible work space for 400 start-up businesses in the adaptively-reused former Wonder Bread factory, incorporation of the restored 1881 O Street Market building into the catalytic City Market at O development, the addition of thousands of new units of housing while experiencing no net loss of low and moderate income residents of color, and the creation of Art All Night DC, a popular overnight arts festival that won an Innovation on Main Street Award in 2015.
© 2016 Malcolm Lewis Barnes content and photos.