A commercial revitalization plan for the Walnut Street Historic District
The decline in patronage, decrease in building density, and loss in property values suffered by Downtown Muncie, Indiana is a result of competition from shopping malls. This deterioration will continue unless there is a concerted effort by citizens, property owners, and the city to promote commercial revitalization of this area.The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street Center suggest that communities can achieve commercial revitalization through a four part program which combines organization, design, promotion, and economic restructuring. Mary Jo Ruccio of the National Development Council, suggests that commercial revitalization cannot be successful unless the approach includes a comprehensive plan that addresses a downtown's unique problems.In order to create a functional commercial revitalization strategy for Muncie's downtown, the commercial district's history was reviewed, the existing buildings were surveyed, published historic preservation plans and commercial revitalization plans ware reviewed, and a variety of funding sources were studied. These efforts led to the development of a commercial revitalization strategy that is patterned after the Main Street Center's program. A major component of this strategy is the Downtown Commercial Revitalization Network that is recommended to act as a steering committee for a Downtown Development Director whose sole purpose is to direct downtown revitalization. The strategy recommends residential adaptive-use of the second stories in downtown buildings to promote economic development, and to preserve the historic structures. Low-interest loans with design standards are recommended to provide funds to create this housing stock without damaging the historic fabric. This will supply downtown with regular customers, thus strengthening existing establishments, creating the need for new businesses downtown, and diversifying the economic base.This strategy can be applied to the current downtown revitalization efforts by the City of Muncie. The ideas and general theories can also be applied by small Indiana towns which suffer from economic problems. A comprehensive plan that is tailored specifically for a downtown which account for the organization, design, economic, and promotion needs of downtown will set the course for successful commercial revitalization.