HUNTSVILLE – Foley’s downtown revitalization efforts received three state awards recognizing the significant contributions to the community.
Main Street Alabama presented the awards at the group’s 10th-annual Awards of Excellence Banquet held Aug. 17 in Huntsville to celebrate the success of local programs.
The Awards of Excellence recognized winners in 17 categories. Foley Main Street district was recognized with three Awards of Excellence. Foley was recognized for promotion, for planning and public space and for historic preservation.
The Foley Main Street District joined Heflin, Montevallo and Oxford for reaching a major milestone of $10 million in reinvestment efforts. Economic impact numbers of private property owner investment, property bought by private investors and the city of Foley investment in downtown improvements reported monthly by Foley Main Street were used in the calculation of this recognition.
The Downtown Foley Main Street district was awarded an Award of Excellence for Planning and Public Space for the Pine Street Pocket Park. The park began as a plan by the Foley Beautification Committee to create a public space. The facility was built on the former site of the Foley Methodist Church at the corner of Pine Street and West Laurel Avenue.
Foley created an outdoor auditorium to be used by the schools and for the community. Foley Main Street received a $20,000 AARP community grant for the outdoor musical instruments located at the back of the handicapped accessible stage. What started out as a minor project blossomed into the city committing and spending over $600,000 for the park.
The Baldwin County Public School System also took part in the project by leasing the site to the city.
Hollis Interiors of Foley was awarded the Award of Excellence in Historic Rehabilitation. The award recognizes outstanding historic rehabilitation projects that continue the economic use of a historic building.
The project must be located in the Main Street District and includes exterior work but could be both exterior and interior. It must meet the Secretary of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation. The Hollis building was constructed by the George C. Randolph company for the Orange Crush Bottling Company in 1922. The Hollis family worked to preserve and revitalize the building, which they have owned since 1952.
The windows were uncovered when the signs were taken down. The Hollis’s fixed the windows and left them exposed. The project consisted of removal of signs, making repairs to exposed windows, caulk, and paint. Other work included repointing and repairing mortar, painting brick and mortar and replacing front doors. The owners also bought and installed new signs and awnings.
Foley Main Street district was also awarded the Award of Excellence for Promotion with their CATalyst event. The CATalyst event kicked off Cat Alley, a Foley Main Street public art initiative, held in the heart of Downtown Foley. The event featured artist ARCY painting the first mural with a cat hidden in it
The project included 1,500 entries in the Cat Alley elementary school art contest, 3,000 sets of flyers and color sheets sent out to parents and teachers which enhanced the promotion of CATalyst. 1,500 plus attended the event. Foley Main Street also partnered with Safe Harbor Coalition to promote their Trap, Neuter, and Release program for South Baldwin County.
The Foley Art Center was awarded the Foley Main Street Hero Award.
Local Main Street programs select a Main Street Hero that honors an individual, business or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to their program and was recognized at the Toast to Heroes Reception sponsored by Regions Bank prior to the banquet.
Since 1966 the Foley Art Center has served the Gulf Coast area with Cultural Enrichment Programs in local schools, Grants to Art teachers are presented to area schools for students aged 4 to 18 and art classes for children and adults.
The Foley Art Center was a sponsor for the Foley Main Street CATalyst event – sponsoring the art contest and the Downtown Foley 28-foot 7 panel community mural. The art contest went out to over 3,000 students, teachers, and parents. As a sponsor, and a downtown business, they share their time and talents with Foley Main Street.
Foley Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the efforts to revitalize downtown Foley deserve the state recognition.
“Foley Main Street, celebrating their fifth year, has exceeded the city’s expectations from when we began the process of becoming a main street district,” Hellmich said. “We came away with state awards recognizing the outstanding work happening in Downtown Foley. Our progress shows what we can achieve when we partner with private businesses and organizations to accomplish goals.”
The Alabama Municipal Electric Authority and Alfa Companies sponsored the awards ceremony. Main Street Alabama President and State Coordinator Mary Helmer Wirth and Assistant State Coordinator Trisha Black, recognized projects and individuals who made significant contributions to their communities. The Awards of Excellence program highlighted the impact of the honorees in their respective areas.
“Last night, a celebration was held to recognize the achievements of various local Main Street programs,” Wirth said. “Each community has been working tirelessly to improve, reinvigorate, and revitalize their downtown or district. The success stories shared at the event were truly inspiring, showcasing the dedication of businesses, organizations, and individuals in making their communities the best they can be.”
The Awards of Excellence Banquet is a highlight of LAB, a three-day annual conference that bolsters the efforts of communities participating in the nationally acclaimed Main Street program or those communities interested in district revitalization. More than 150 community leaders from Alabama took part in.the 10th- annual event.
Main Street Alabama has 32 Designated Programs and 32 Network Communities. Alexander City, Anniston, Athens, Atmore, Birmingham’s Historic 4th Ave Business District, Birmingham’s Woodlawn District, Calera, Centreville, Columbiana, Decatur, Demopolis, Elba, Enterprise, Eufaula, Florence, Foley, Fort Payne, Gadsden, Heflin, Jasper, LaFayette, Leeds, Marion, Monroeville, Montevallo, Opelika, Oxford, Scottsboro, South Huntsville, Russellville, Talladega and Wetumpka each have designated programs. Communities interested in downtown revitalization can participate in Main Street Alabama’s Network.
Main Street Alabama is a non-profit organization focusing on bringing jobs, dollars and people back to Alabama’s historic communities. Economic development is at the heart of our efforts to revitalize downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.
The full list of winners and descriptions can be found on the Newsroom page on Main Street Alabama’s website, www.mainstreetalabama.org.