Main Street Communities Honored with Awards
(Crystal A. Proxmire, April 28, 2016)
Royal Oak, MI – Twenty two communities through Oakland County take part in Main Street USA, a program focused on thriving downtowns and community centers. Thursday night people from those Main Street Programs came together for their annual awards program, this year held at the Royal Oak Music Theater.
Holly DDA took home the most awards for the evening, winning in five categories.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson talked about how in 2000 he had seen the program on TV and wanted to bring it to Oakland County. From 2001 – 2015 Main Street Oakland County has brought in $704 million in public and private investment, 7,395 new jobs, and 1,031 new businesses.
“It’s an incredible record we can be proud of,” he said.
For 2015 there was $34 million in investment, 395 net new jobs, 31 net new businesses, 136 buildings rehabbed, $437,000 in cash sponsorships and 52,134 hours of volunteer time. The average vacancy rate for Main Street Downtowns is 3%.
Robert Renchick of the Ortonville DDA was selected as Board Member of the Year. He’s been volunteering for over 15 years and, according to MSOC’s Bob Donohue, has a “relentlessly positive attitude with a never give up spirit.”
Volunteer of the Year was given to two deserving individuals. Nick Klempp of Holly and Rick Ax of Ferndale. Kelmpp and his family have donated over 700 volunteer hours, handling any task needed, including emptying the trash and cleaning the toilet. Ax brings his real estate expertise and over 1,000 hours of volunteer time to the Ferndale DDA. He is Chair of the Business Development and Economic Retention Committee since 2009, and he’s been a volunteer for over 12 years.
The Executive Director of Main Street Holly took home the Outstanding Leader Award. “Andy Potter is always ‘working’ the downtown,” Donohue said. “He wears out his shoes on the street, meeting with the businesses… He has a persistent drive to get things done and Holly is lucky to have him.”
Kristi Trevarrow was honored for Outstanding Diplomacy. As Executive Director of Rochester DDA she navigated the sometimes choppy waters of a community changing Mayors. She was recognized as having “excelled during the transition of Mayors,” and her ability to “deal with a broad variety of personalities.”
Suzanne Perrault, former Executive Director from Holly and Lake Orion, was given the Outstanding Years of Service Award. Donohue called her “a Main Streeter for life,” and applauded her thirst for knowledge.
ITC Holdings, an electric service provider, sponsored the Main Street Awards and was recognized as an Outstanding MSOC Partner.
Highland Township and Highland Township DDA were honored with an award for Outstanding Community Support. When a fire destroyed Highland Feed, the community came together to help the family relocate temporarily to a store Downtown.
The Village of Franklin was recognized with an award for Outstanding Public/Private Partnership that helped preserve an historic building, the Broughton House. Braughton House was built in 1835 and now houses the Village Offices.
Holly also won for the Best Public Relations Effort. Their Main Street Charette was a plan eventually adopted by every organization to help improve downtown. Donohue said that the Charette “identified issues, proven strategies, and designs that have succeeded in other communities.”
Rochester DDA was also given a Best Public Relations Effort award for managing to erect two parking decks in the downtown while still keeping the business owners happy. The group put together a thoughtful plan that included education, alternatives, involvement with the businesses, and events to help draw people into the community even while construction was occurring.
Clawson DDA won for Outstanding Downtown Master Plan. The plan was adopted by the City Nov. 17, 2015.
Oxford DDA and Main Street Franklin were both recognized for having Outstanding Transition in the Organization. Joe Frost is the newbie in Oxford, and Courtney Miller is new for Franklin.
The awards committee, which is made up of volunteers from Main Street Programs outside of Oakland County, selected an Outstanding Special Event that “people love,” and “they hope it will remain for many moons to come. They referred to the Harvest Moon Festival hosted by the Farmington DDA. Donohue described the massive numbers of corn stalks, pumpkins and hay bales that decorate downtown at the signature autumn event.
Main Street Holly won the hearts of judges with their Ladies Night Out, which won for Best Retail Event. Over 30 businesses participated and brought in record numbers of shoppers to Downtown Holly.
Outstanding Unique Event went to Clawson DDA for their allergy-free trick-or-treating event. The event is a great way for kids with special needs to have a fun Halloween experience and a great way to bring shoppers into the downtown stores.
Lake Orion DDA was awarded the Outstanding Public Improvement Project Award for their place-making program. With just $90, the DDA created signage that help guide people and remind them of the interesting places they could visit, such as the Paint Creek Trail and the lake. They added ten directional signs to parking and created a bike corral in one parking spot. There are two Little Free Libraries up in downtown and there is a mini park with places to sit.
The winner for Outstanding Sign was the Clawson Theater Marquee. The 3,000 lb marquee is a reproduction of the 1941 original sign, including the paint colors “alabaster” and “heartthrob.” With 90 bulbs and 650 feet of neon it certainly has its place lighting up Downtown Clawson.
Two businesses were chosen for Outstanding Business: Sniffer Station in Highland and Sullivan Public House in Oxford.
Two businesses were recognized for Outstanding Investment. Lake Orion’s Lockhart BBQ took a nationally registered landmark and gave it a $2.5 million restoration to its original facade. Robert Karazim and Karen Jorgensen won for 47 N. Saginaw Street in Downtown Pontiac. Their restoration included the blue and white paint that makes the space recognizable.
The award for Outstanding Parking Improvement went to Rochester DDA for their 2-deck project that added 550 new spaces to the community.
In the Associate and Affiliate categories, Winter Maket in Birmingham won for Outstanding Event, as did Art Works in Lathrup Village. Oak Park won for Outstanding Vision for their plan to develop 9 Mile into a more downtown-feeling area. For Outstanding Progress Wixom was recognized as the recently started group is working sharing their goals and vision with the public.
The Leonard Mill was recognized for Perseverance in Preservation. The building was constructed in the 1880s and was in operation until 2004 when the roof collapsed. The Village of Leonard acquired the mill in 2014 and is working with Oakland County on preservation efforts.
Highland won for community spirit.
Main Street Oakland County (MSOC) is a unique economic development program for Downtowns, with a historic preservation philosophy and an emphasis on “sense of place.” They help local government develop their Downtowns as vibrant, successful districts that serve as the heart of their communities. Learn more at https://www.oakgov.com/advantageoakland/programs/Pages/main-street.aspx.
Main Street Communities Honored with Awards