A downtown management organization engaging the community in envisioning two underutilized parks as places that downtown residents, visitors, workers and families can mingle with artists and creatives, and a regional planning organization that created a program focused on supporting local businesses, creating jobs and filling vacant spaces in eight village centers are just two of this year's Awards of Excellence winners being recognized by the Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC). In total, eight recipients have been selected to receive the prestigious awards, including organizations and initiatives from Bridgeport, Unionville Village in Farmington, Hartford, Meriden, New Britain, New Haven, and the Northwest Corner. The awards will be presented at CMSC's Vibrant Main Streets event in the atrium of the Legislative Office Building on May 18 in Hartford.
The other winning entries include:
- a 14-acre flood control project that created a public park and mixed-use economic development in downtown Meriden;
- a comprehensive and complete overhaul of the City of Hartford's zoning language and process;
- an interpretive wayfinding/signage program that connects Walnut Hill Park, Little Poland and Downtown New Britain;
- the restoration of a historic ball bearing mill on the banks of the Farmington River into a mixed-use campus in the heart of Unionville Village;
- a Twilight Bike Race & Street Festival that celebrates biking, food, culture and entertainment in Downtown New Haven; and
- the redevelopment of a 1903 factory building into 72 units of market rate housing within easy walking distance of jobs and transit in downtown Hartford.
"This year's winners represent both catalytic and keystone initiatives that ignite and support significant positive change in Main Street communities," said CMSC Associate Director Kimberley Parsons-Whitaker. "From engaging the community in playing a proactive role in local economic development and envisioning new life for their historic public places, to the complex redevelopment of historic mills and factories for modern residential and commercial uses, our 2017 award recipients are leaders in re-imagining Main Streets."
In addition to its Awards of Excellence, CMSC also named the recipient of its 2017 Founder's Award, presented by Eversource Energy. CMSC founding President & CEO John Simone, who will retire in August, was selected to receive the Founder's Award for his more than 17 years of leading the organization's evolution as the voice of downtown, and for championing the tools, resources and political will needed for Connecticut's Main Streets to thrive.
Connecticut Main Street Center's mission is to be "the catalyst that ignites Connecticut’s Main Streets as the cornerstone of thriving communities." CMSC works at both the local and State level to create and implement successful downtowns that meet the needs of residents and visitors. The organization describes a successful downtown as "one that incorporates housing, retail, social and business opportunities with transportation options for all users – walkers, cyclists, motorists and more." Created in 2003 to recognize outstanding projects, individuals and community efforts to bring traditional downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts back to life, socially and economically, the Awards of Excellence are presented annually.
2017 Connecticut Main Street Center Awards of Excellence
CT Main Street Catalyst Awards
- Meriden Green - Recipient: City of Meriden. Partners: State of CT (DECD, DEEP, DOT); U.S. EPA; FEMA; Army Corps of Engineers; Meriden Flood Control Implementation Agency; Milone and MacBroom; AECOM; and La Rosa Construction.
- Downtown Bridgeport Placemaking Program & Downtown Farmers Market at McLevy Green - Recipient: Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District. Partners: Project for Public Spaces; New Venture Advisors LLC.
- ZoneHartford: Form-Based Code Zoning Regulations - Recipient: City of Hartford. Partners: Fitzgerald & Halliday, Inc.
CT Main Street Keystone Awards
- Collaborative Shared Economic Development Services Project - Recipient: NW Hills Council of Governments. Partners: Goman+York; One Eleven Group; State of CT (OPM); Towns of Canaan/ Falls Village, Cornwall, Goshen, Kent, North Canaan, Norfolk, Salisbury/Lakeville and Sharon
- New Britain Historic Trails & Signage Program - Recipients: City of New Britain; TO Design LLC. Partners: National Parks Service
- Upson Market Place, Unionville - Recipient: Brian Lyman of Parker Benjamin Real Estate Services LLC. Partners: Town of Farmington.
- New Haven Grand Prix: a Twilight Bicycle Race & Street Festival - Recipients: CT Cycling Advancement Program; Town Green District (New Haven). Partners: City of New Haven; Taste of New Haven.
- Capewell Lofts, Hartford - Recipient: CIL. Partners: Capital Regional Development Authority; State of CT (DECD); InsurBanc; Guilford Savings Bank; Crosskey Architects; TO Design