The Vineland Downtown Improvement District/Main Street Vineland promotes, enhances and revitalizes historic Landis Avenue as a thriving commercial district and community-gathering place for shoppers, residents and visitors.
The Ave will be the hub of the Vineland community where residents and visitors find a thriving commercial district full of exciting shops, restaurants, entertainment and experience.
The district will be a palette of color due to the lush, hanging flower baskets, handsome banners and seasonally planted flowers throughout the downtown.
Volunteers and other partners will play an important role in managing and organizing downtown micro-events to promote the downtown and its businesses, as well as the national award-winning, seasonal special events.
Year-round, the sidewalk cafes, shops, and entertainment venues will keep the sidewalks of downtown Vineland hopping.
Russell Swanson writes a regular column for The Grapevine. On August 10 of this year, he expounded on the meaning of a downtown to any community. That piece is reprinted here to help readers form a comprehensive view of the VDID/Main Street Vineland mission.
A community is only as strong as its core.
This column has been dedicated several times over the years—by my predecessors and me—on the important role that a downtown plays in a community and why preserving and revitalizing a downtown is a major priority. Still, there are those who feel that the downtown receives too much attention that should be focused elsewhere. It’s worthwhile, then, to repeat some important reasons why investment in a downtown is so important.
The downtown is the heart and soul of a community. When a downtown area of a city or town deteriorates, that community loses its core. Yes, suburbs pop up on the outskirts. Malls, shopping centers, and big box stores establish themselves in surrounding areas. More often than not, however, these new business centers are like cookie-cutter copies of each other, with little if any individuality and personality. The feeling that you are an integral, important part of that environment is lost.
In the downtowns, you can find the character, personality, and individuality that make each community unique. In the words of the National Main Street Center, the headquarters of all the Main Street districts throughout the country:
“The Main Street movement grew out of a recognition that a community is only as strong as its core. In an era when many people had given up hope about the commercial and cultural viability of downtown, and when suburbs, shopping malls, and big box retailers were dominating the American landscape, this seemed like an unlikely proposition. But, the practical frameworks outlined by the Main Street Approach, as well as the passion of the professionals and volunteers who make up the Main Street network, helping pave the way for the renaissance of healthy, vibrant downtowns that we’re experiencing today.”
This trend hasn’t been lost on the consultants who are in charge of development. The JGSC Group, which has helped us work on projects and has supplied us valuable demographic data, used to supply these services to the malls. As malls began to dominate the scene at the expense of our downtowns, that organization saw that a change in direction was necessary to restore the balance and is now working with downtowns in their redevelopment efforts.
Some statistics will serve to show the tremendous effect that downtown revitalization has had on communities nationwide and Main Street’s role in this. Since 1980 to the end of last year, the total reinvestment in physical improvements from public and private sources amounted to $65.6 billion; the number of building rehabilitations numbered 260,011; the net gain in jobs numbered 556,960; and the net gain in businesses numbered 126,476. These are impressive figures, indeed, and show the power of economic development and reinvestment in downtowns within the Main Street framework. This has a ripple effect on the economic health of entire community, not just the downtown.
We, in Main Street Vineland, are moving ahead on a variety of projects. Some of these projects have been mentioned in previous columns, while others are in the planning and discussion stages. All of them will have a profound impact on our downtown and on all Vineland. So, in Vineland and elsewhere, as the downtown goes, so the community goes.