Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol. 12, Issue 1

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.

Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center
CMSC Welcomes New Staff 

After years of a staff of two taking on the Herculean task of keeping CMSC running, we now find ourselves in the happy position of adding new employees. As many of you know, we recently filled two of the three positions we identified during our strategic planning process as critical to the targeted growth of our organization, while the remaining position is anticipated to be filled this summer. Below is a brief description of each position and the corresponding new staff person.

  • Communications & Office Manager - Works to increase and strengthen the name awareness and brand recognition of CMSC while providing day-to-day management of CMSC's office. Christine Schilke, formerly of CHFA, started in this role in April.
  • Downtown Economic Development Director - Assists municipalities in building their capacity to develop mixed-use, mixed-income development by facilitating working relationships between property owners, business owners, downtown management organizations and municipal and state agencies. John ("Jack") Burritt was chosen for this position in June.
  • Community Engagement Director - Trains and supports local and regional Main Street revitalization organizations and partners by providing guidance and leadership in organizing strategic, tactical revitalization efforts. It is anticipated the chosen candidate will begin their tenure later this summer.
You'll be seeing and hearing more from us as our team gets assembled and settled in. We've already begun spending more time talking with current and prospective members about how we can help them grow and move forward with their individual downtown revitalization plans, which we will continue to do with increasing frequency. We'll also provide additional information and education through newsletters, our website, social media and one-on-one conversations and meetings. Not only are we excited to see our team grow, but we're especially thrilled about how much more we'll be able to offer our members and industry colleagues as a result. 


Second DRI Workshop on Complete Streets a Complete Sucess

CMSC recently held the second in a series of three Downtown Revitalization Institute (DRI) workshops on Complete Streets. These workshops are designed to assist towns, municipalities, city planners and others implement the Complete Streets legislation passed over a year ago by the Connecticut General Assembly. This legislation requires streets be safe for all users in all future street projects. CMSC is working with UConn's Center for Transportation and Livable Systems, Fuss & O'Neill and the CT Dept. of Transportation (ConnDOT) to develop the workshops as a way to both educate municipalities about the legislation and provide guidance on funding Complete Streets within future transportation initiatives.


While the first workshop provided an overview of the legislation, the second workshop, titled Working Together to Design Great Spaces, focused on defining what makes a Complete Street, offering unique design perspectives and case studies as examples of successful Complete Streets here in Connecticut and around the country. Nearly a hundred people attended the day-long conference at ConnDOT's headquarters, where topics ranged from an in-depth look at the I-84 Viaduct Study to Cleveland's highly successful Euclid Corridor bus rapid transit system ("BRT"). By the end of the day, people left buzzing about road diets, back-in angled parking, BRT's and the idea of incorporating safety response vehicles (such as fire trucks) into street planning.


The third Complete Streets workshop, Implementing Complete Streets, will be held in the Fall, and will focus on implementation of the legislation, including tips on acquiring funding. The main topics of discussion will be: Benefits/Return on Investment (ROI), Engaging All Stakeholders, Funding and Regulatory Framework.


For those who were unable to attend the workshop or those who would like a review, the speakers' PowerPoint presentations are available on the CMSC website, as is a short video with highlights from the day.


2012 Awards Gala a Night to Remember  

CMSC's annual awards gala was held in June at the elegant Cheney Hall in Manchester.  The festivities began with guests mixing and mingling during the Fuss & O'Neill-sponsored Welcome to Main Street reception on the portico in front of the storied theatre.  Several people also enjoyed a tour of the recently renovated market-rate apartments on nearby Main Street.  Afterward everyone gathered in the main hall for the awards presentation.  Nearly two hundred people cheered as the various stories of downtown revitalization unfolded, each more moving and impactful than the last.

Such was the case when the audience boomed their enthusiastic support for Andrew Gutt, owner of Cafemantic in Willimantic, as he went onstage to accept the award for Main Street Business Owner of the Year.  Since opening Cafémantic in 2009, Andrew has worked hard to cultivate a relationship with the community, with the result thatCafemantic customers watch the Fourth of July parade as they sip their iced coffee in downtown Willimantic. the coffee shop has quickly become a favorite hangout among the locals.  Empowering his staff to be leaders and listening to the feedback of his customers resulted in increased demand - Andrew now has plans to expand.  In addition, new businesses have since sprung up in neighboring buildings. Next door to Cafemantic a gallery and a bookstore opened, and on the other side, a smoke shop.  New businesses in 2012 include a skateboard shop, Willimantic Records, a cupcake shop, an Irish Pub & Restaurant, and Fred's Blues & BBQ. The best part of all is that every one of these businesses is locally owned and owner/family managed, creating a true community venture.


CMSC's annual event provides an opportunity for CMSC members to recognize the importance of work of those like Andrew and many others, as well as the collective effect of their dedication to main streets and downtowns throughout Connecticut.  As a result, the awards gala continues to grow in popularity each year, garnering additional attention from local and state leaders, as well as the press.  This year several State and local officials attended the event and provided special certifications to the award winners, many of whom were featured in state and local publications. 


Photos from the night have been posted to our Facebook page.  We invite you to view the camaraderie and communal inspiration that was evident in the many smiling, proud faces of the awards winners and their supporters.  Learn more about the winning initiatives and individuals here.

Re-Mains of the Day 

This newsletter is meant to be a vehicle to coManchester 869 Main Stmmunicate with our member communities, industry colleagues and generous supporters.  If you have information about events happening in your downtown, captivating pictures of your Main Street or news regarding your organization that you would like to share in our monthly newsletter, please let us know.



President's Message 

It's an exciting time here at CMSC. Not only is our staff more than doubling in size, but the depth and breadth of our work is undergoing tremendous growth as well. Of special significance is the frequency with which we're being called upon by the State to assist with the administration and marketing of statewide programs. For instance, as many of you are aware, we're helping the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to educate municipalities on the Main Street Investment Fund - a program that provides grants for downtown revitalization activities to eligible communities - by coordinating a series of workshops throughout the State. The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA), a quasi-public agency that provides financing for low- to moderate-income housing, recently contracted with us to administer a mixed-use, mixed-income real estate planning program, the details of which will be announced this Fall.


Not only is CMSC being sought out and more actively engaged by the State, but we are also strengthening our existing relationships with several State agencies. A great example of this occurred at the last DRI workshop in June. We worked in close concert with the CT Dept. of Transportation on the second Complete Streets workshop, holding the event at ConnDOT's state headquarters in Newington. Moreover, half of the audience members were ConnDOT employees, while Tom Harley, Bureau Chief, Bureau of Engineering & Construction, provided welcome remarks and Will Britnell, Principal Engineer, CT DOT Roadway Design Unit, gave an excellent and engaging presentation. Many audience members commented that they were glad to see the collaboration between us and the receptivity of ConnDOT to new ideas and suggestions from town officials and urban planners.


Another good example is our amicable and productive relationship with the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) with whom we engage on a regular basis. Not only do we work with them on the administration of the Preservation of Place (POP) grant program, but we also have a strong dialogue with representatives from their Arts Division, sharing a common goal of creative, engaging placemaking.


We are very proud that the State recognizes us a vital contributor to the success of their programs. Our work as a promoter of downtown revitalization and driver of economic activity is reflected in the accomplishments of our members, and only serves to reinforce our expertise. With our new staff will certainly come additional responsibilities and success as we work together to inspire great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.


Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



In This Issue
CMSC Welcomes New Staff

Second DRI Workshop on Complete Streets a Complete Success

2012 Awards Gala a Night to Remember

Re-Mains of the Day

President's Message
Upcoming Events
OPM Main Street Investment Fund Workshops
July 30-August 3
SNEAPA Conference
September 20-21

DRI Workshop, Complete Streets #3
Fall 2012
Check us out on Facebook
CMSC 2012 Awards Gala - Welcome to Main Street Reception at Cheney Hall, Manchester 
See pictures from the CMSC 2012 Awards Gala on Facebook.