Downtown revitalization in Texas: the intersection of the Main Street and Historic Courthouse Preservation Programs
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The two most successful preservation initiatives in Texas are the Main Street Program (TMSP) and the Historic Courthouse Preservation Program (THCPP). A downtown revitalization strategy and grant fund program respectively, the initiatives are structurally different. However, they inevitably affect the same communities. The two organizations have never combined forces to achieve their goals, but the potential to integrate efforts could lead to reviving many more Texas communities. This study investigates the question: how can the TMSP and THCPP coordinate to create stronger preservation efforts in counties across the state? The program processes were analyzed to better understand the mechanisms used to carry out each initiative at the state and local level. Then, twelve case study cities were evaluated in order to understand the interactions at the local level. Interviews with program professionals, occupancy surveys, and reinvestment statistics were used to discern these effects. Through the interventions of both programs, all twelve cities have seen a decrease in vacancy ratings and an increase in rehabilitation projects. However, no Main Street program had any input into their local courthouse restoration. Alternatively, the courthouse restoration boosts local pride and ownership in the surrounding community, but these results are just “snow ball” effects; the restoration does not consider its impact on the greater community. The investigation also shows that rural communities rely more on the courthouse square to function as a traditional county seat, while suburban communities are transitioning their courthouses into new uses. Coordinating the TMSP and THCPP initiatives and creating preservation efforts at the county level could result in the successful revitalization of more rural communities across Texas, who could not achieve it on their own.