Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) continues to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishment of over $1 billion in private and public investment in Missouri Main Street districts since 2006, when MMSC started recording this information. This private and public investment over the past 15 years represents 2,812 improvement projects in Main Street downtown districts that includes building rehabilitations, new buildings constructed, buildings saved, new or renovated parks, updated streetscapes and sewers, and other miscellaneous projects that improved the district for residents, workers, and visitors.
2020 was a year of projects for the Missouri Main Street network as many communities were affected by the pandemic leading them to not necessarily operate like normal yet still accomplished great things for their district. In fact, 2020 represented the third highest year of investment since 2006 in Missouri’s Main Street districts with a total of over $70.8 million dollars. Main Street communities Washington, Independence, and Marceline completed unique projects in 2020 that illustrate how Missouri’s Main Street programs continue to revitalize their districts through innovative projects, rehabilitations, and new buildings that meet the needs of residents, workers, and visitors.
Downtown Washington, Inc. reported $9 million in investments in the downtown Washington district for 2020 making it a very good year of investment in their district. Part of this $9 million investment was one large and transformative project, the conversion of their old International Shoe Factory into apartments. This one project represented a large investment in new housing not only for downtown but for the community. Many rural Missouri communities are in desperate need of more housing options and this project certainly will bring those much needed apartments to Washington. The extensive rehabilitation added 85 new one- and two-bedroom apartments while keeping many of the architectural features of the old shoe factory which creates very unique living environment for the tenants.
The new Shoe Factory Lofts offer high ceilings, exposed beams and brick walls, along with amenities like a fitness room, onsite laundry facilities, dog park, meeting room, and green space.
Total public and private investment reported by the Independence Square Association in downtown Independence totaled $183,000. One of those improvements was a building improvement at 111 North Main Street that included improvements for one of the buildings occupants an established brewery, 3 Trails Brewing, and also created space for a new business. 3 Trails opened their doors in February of 2019 with great success but much of the building was still empty. Therefore, in 2020, the storefronts were reconfigured to make room for additional businesses to open downtown. For communities that have a tight downtown district or have lost a portion of their historic building stock and able to utilize infill; reconfiguring storefronts offers the ability to allocate an existing buildings space in a way that allows for another business to open a storefront. One of those was Flying Horse Flatbreads. This space was reimagined by adding a commercial kitchen into the new space along with seating. Flying Horse Flatbreads already had a storefront in Waldo, a commercial district in Kansas City, and has now expanded to Independence bringing its signature flatbread to offer the patrons in March 2020. Since opening, the Flying Horse Flatbread company has had a symbiotic relationship with 3 Trails as beer patrons now have a food option while enjoying their favorite brew.
Downtown Marceline saw over $476,000 in private and public investment in 2020 representing 25 different and unique projects. One of those projects was a much needed restaurant downtown. Noted in the 2018 Community Master Plan created by MMSC, the community residents and visitors wanted more restaurant choices in Marceline and downtown had several vacant buildings that would be ideal locations for a new food choice. Los Chimas took over a space at 112 North Main Street USA in 2020 bringing not only a new restaurant but a new food type to the community. The renovated space included a new kitchen, bar, restaurant, and COVID friendly to-go pick up window. The community is excited about this new business and has supported it from day one.
These and the 388 other projects, rehabilitations, and new buildings in Missouri’s Main Street districts had a huge impact during COVID. Not only were there over $70 million in investment but 151 new businesses started with 83 businesses closing or relocating outside the Main Street district resulting in 68 net new businesses started. These new businesses resulted in 311 net new jobs created in 2020. This number is not the largest in the past decade but beats the 10-year average of 252 net new jobs created.
2020 will go down in the history books as one to remember for the pandemic but here at Missouri Main Street; we will mark it as the year our Main Street communities surpassed $1 billion in investment in their districts.