Effective design review in historic commercial districts


As most of us who deal with downtown and community development know, it is the historic character of the central commercial district that sets one neighborhood or community apart from others. That visual appearance and character affects what people think about the entire area, and can aid in business recruitment and retention, and make it attractive for people to invest, spend time, or even live in the district. Preserving that character, however, doesn’t happen on its own. Communities of all sizes have enacted local tools to aid in protecting this irreplaceable asset. Things like historic preservation ordinances, landmark or preservation commissions, financial incentives, design guidelines, and design review are all common and effective tools.
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Farmers markets: helping grow downtown


Farmers markets are a common sight in many Wisconsin communities. Markets create activity during off-peak hours, support local entrepreneurs, and increase access to healthy foods. Increasingly, these markets also incorporate performances from local arts groups, cooking demonstrations, food trucks and community engagement.

The Homesteader Pantry, open four days a week, welcomes more than 10 local producers as part of an indoor year-long market. The storefront provides many local artisans the opportunity to grow their business in a low-risk environment, illustrating the power of local entrepreneurial programs to cultivate a unique local business mix.

brewster bros

When the Chippewa River Distillery/Brewster Bros Brewing Co. was searching for a downtown location for their new facility, Carol and Jim Stirn saw potential in the riverfront site at 402 W River Street, despite the limitations of the existing concrete block former auto service center. The project involved gutting the buildings to the walls, installing […]

Fond du Lac

The winner of the best retail event at this year’s Main Street awards was The Shop Small Raffle in downtown Fond du Lac.  Now in its third year, the event is aimed at reminding shoppers to think of downtown first during the holiday shopping season. The Shop Small marketing campaign runs from November 1 to […]