DENISON, TX - The city of Denison was recently recognized for its efforts to revitalize and redevelop the heart and soul of its community: its downtown. The city is one of eight semi-finalists for the Great American Main Street Awards.
The award would recognized the effort by cities and communities to revitalize and bring new life to central commercial districts through redevelopment, improvement and other investments.
"We started the revitalization of our Main Street back in 2000 and for us to be honored back-to-back as a Great Main Street Award (semi-) finalist is quite an accomplishment and it demonstrates all the effort our entire community has put into the heart of our community, which is our Main Street," Denison Mayor Janet Gott said.
To date, only two Texas cities have received the award itself. However, this marks the second time that Denison has reached the semi-finalist stage.
"These eight semifinalists are shining examples of the kind of transformation that is possible when using the Main Street Approach," said Patrice Frey, president and CEO of Main Street America. "These programs have brought renewed vibrancy to their communities and sparked impressive preservation-based revitalization."
Denison was last recognized in 2020 as a semi-finalist, but did not advance further. The awards were not presented in 2021.
In its description of Denison, Main Street American highlighted Denison's transition away from its roots in the rail industry to the community it is today with many businesses, restaurants and other attractions.
"We had significant accomplishments for the last application cycle, but covid happened between the cycles," Main Street Director Donna Dow said. "So it was amazing the kinds of efforts we've had for this cycle."
Dow cited several projects as possible reasons for Denison's selection including events and other efforts that show a community support of the central business district, Dow said. Other projects that contributed included the relocation of the railroad museum to its new home and the ongoing redesign and development of main street through the D3 project, which will improve the streetscape of Main Street.
While she remained optimistic of Denison's chances, Dow said it is not uncommon to see a city be in the finals multiple times before it is selected. Still the honor of being a semi-finalist recognizes the efforts that have taken place over the years in Denison.
"We feel like this is a 33-year effort that everybody has contributed to in the downtown. It is the culmination of the effort yet it is still ongoing," Dow said, citing the length of time Denison has been in the Main Street program.
Michael Hutchins | Herald Democrat
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