SDDA gets $25K state grant

staunton2editsThe Staunton Downtown Development Association was recently awarded a Main Street Improvement grant valued at $25,000 to fund a temporary performance stage with lighting and amplification in The Wharf.

Greg Beam, SDDA board president, remarked on the grant award: “The SDDA Street Entertainment Program has proven to increase Friday evening traffic, build an inviting Downtown performance culture encouraging District connectivity and business participation for SDDA events and programs.  The stage installation will polish that effort and increase the vibrancy in the Wharf area to attract new business and inspire community activities.”

Virginia Main Street Downtown Improvement Grants of up to $25,000 per designated community were made available for special, one-time projects. The grant opportunity is designed to offer communities the ability to complete a Main Street-related project for which financial resources are not otherwise available. Grant criteria included economic, measurable impact or deliverables, committee or volunteer project leadership/involvement, leveraging of other fund sources, local government involvement/support and short duration of project.

The performance venue will create an anchor presence that increases foot traffic to an area of the District that has an interesting combination of historic landmarks, mature destination businesses, restaurants and galleries paired with small, affordable storefronts perfect for micro-business development in addition to several large vacant spaces ready for large business models. The Sunspots lot is ideal as it is adjacent to the large Wharf parking lot and is accessible, audible and visible from all or most of the business cluster vantage points.

The visual impact of the stage installation and the quality of the sound and lighting will establish the parking lot as a performance venue to encourage artist participation as well as community interest.  In addition to a formal schedule of musical performances, the stage will be offered to the community as an attractive space to encourage more and different kinds of performances and activities Downtown and expand the customer base generating more foot traffic in the area for the existing businesses.   This venue will satisfy the need for an open community performance space for performance artists and theater groups.

This upgrade will be completed through the leveraging of a strong partnership between the Staunton Downtown Development Association, Frazier Associates, the City of Staunton and Doug Sheridan, owner of the parking area that borders Byers Street. “I’ve had this dream to provide that parking lot as a music venue for twelve years and partnering with the SDDA and Main Street is going to complete the first phase toward a permanent venue giving much needed affordable access to a variety of performing artists,” says Mr. Sheridan.

“The completion of the lighting upgrade and the rehabilitation of the Sears Hill Bridge has encouraged evening foot traffic and activity for outlying businesses and has offered opportunities for the Staunton Downtown Development Association to increase connectivity between Beverley Street, the Wharf area, and the surrounding Sears Hill neighborhood,” said Julie Markowitz, executive director of the SDDA. “Additional Funding for a professional stage will provide a unique opportunity to better serve cultural groups and artists and attract a new Downtown audience that will encourage the permanent development of the lot.”

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