Our Purpose is to create and support a sustainable, vibrant downtown that will be a highly desirable destination point.
One group, one vision working in a well maintained and vibrant historical downtown filled with a successful mix of businesses ready to satisfy the cultural, residential, and entertainment needs of the different segments of the Community.
Winchester, Tennessee, is not so different from many other small towns across America. Winchester’s downtown area, once a thriving and vibrant central attraction for the whole county, has given way to empty buildings and office space.
For many years, city officials, building owners, merchants and citizens have been frustrated with this decline and lack of growth. Several years ago during his term in office Winchester Mayor Richard Stewart appointed a group of merchants to meet on a regular basis and study the possibilities that might exist for the future. Funding for revitalization of the downtown area became the central topic.
Governor Bredesen’s administration took a hard look at the challenges facing small towns across Tennessee and in 2005 initiated a grant called the Courthouse Revitalization Pilot Project Act. The grant, which could only be applied for by a county seat, came to the attention of Judy Taylor at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. She brought it to the City of Winchester and the application process began. City Administrator, Beth Rhoton, made this a top priority and spent the next four months compiling the data necessary to complete the process.
The state’s original plan was to award one city in West, Middle and East Tennessee. The competition was so fierce it was decided that two cities from each section of the state would be awarded the opportunity. The City of Winchester was one of two cities to receive this grant from Middle Tennessee, and Dayton was the other. The grant specifies a tax rebate zone be established in an area of the downtown. Once established, all state sales tax dollars collected within this zone are refunded back to the zone to be spent on it’s revitalization. The aerial photograph above outlines Winchester’s tax rebate zone.
Downtown merchants, businesses and professional groups quickly organized and formed the Winchester Downtown Program Corporation. With the corporation now in place, the City of Winchester discovered that many limitations could be overcome by having a private nonprofit corporation assume responsibility for the grant. In April of 2008 spending and administration authority were turned over to the WDPC.
After interviewing several capable architectural firms the corporation chose the firm of Looney Ricks Kiss to lay out the long term strategic plan for the revitalization of the downtown area. In August of 2008 the firm laid the ground work with two separate visits culminating in a 3 day charrette* where the public was invited to offer input.The firm is now in the process of disseminating the information into the first rough draft of the long term strategic plan. View initial architect’s renderings.
* In urban planning, charrette is a word describing a technique for consulting with all stakeholders during the planning and design process.