-Behind The Build-
THE MAIN STREET COMMONS
From Dust to Downtown Diamond
Back in 2011, right in the heart of Marion as many of you know two of our downtown buildings were caught right in the cross hairs of a raging fire that left behind nothing but destruction, dust, and charred stone in its wake. The space had then began being used by citizens as a makeshift farmer's market, but in a state of disarray with uneven cement ground, rubble, and safety hazards. After watching the people of Marion gather here week after week - even under the circumstances is what really got Historic Marion Revitalization Association thinking on what can we do to make this better? Then and there a plan was hatched.
HMRA created a hub for activity out of quite literally nothing. We purchased the vacant lots and after much deliberation amongst the board, downtown business owners, and community members alike, a plan was executed to create a greenspace in the middle of town that would be utilized for community events such as concerts, farmer's markets, festivals, and more. This effort took front seat, as the organization focused its efforts on fundraising for the cost of the project and to finally create a viable plan for the space. Realizing a need of the community was a space downtown to gather and to put on events throughout the year, the Main Street Commons was born.
Community support was a crucial element in the success of the project and the process was a team effort that expanded well over a years worth of countless meetings throughout the town. The project was promoted via social media, mailers, and personal phone calls to other potential supporters. HMRA began reaching out to every organization in the community via public presentations wherever the opportunity presented itself. City Council, the Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, the downtown business district and even civic clubs were kept abreast of the concept for these lots and what the addition would mean for downtown.
We had three main goals for the space after it was purchased and that was to: (1) repurpose the abandoned property; (2) revitalize the economy and the aesthetics of Main Street; and (3) enhance the quality of life for citizens/visitors who frequent the historic downtown commercial district. Since the completion of the Main Street Commons, I think its fair to say we have met those goals. Not only has our downtown has seen building owners take much more pride in their buildings and businesses, but we have seen the addition of several new business owners on Main Street and within the historic district. There is quite the buzz surrounding our town now with more action and renovation that our town has seen in over 30 years.
This project has stood out amongst other projects that have taken place in our town, simply because it has completely transformed a once dangerous, gaping hole in our streetscape, into one of the most sought after spaces in town. It has provided a space that can grow and change with the needs of the community. Proving that with support anything is possible. We watched as the space grew from dust to downtown diamond.