Department of Housing & Community Development

Downtown Designation

The Downtown Program works throughout the state to bring resources (tax credits and grants) and training and technical services to help affiliated or "designated" downtown organizations preserve and revitalize historic downtowns and create strong communities. 

The program utilizes the Main Street Four Point Approach® (outlined below) which is a consensus building program that fosters community pride and encourages the growth of small businesses, employment and income opportunities, tax revenues, property values and general quality of life.

For an overview of benefits for Downtown Designation click here and for a list of funding opportunities to improve your downtown click here.


From the basics of the Main Street Approach® to advanced downtown development strategies, the downtown program in Vermont offers educational and specialized on site services to support the network of designated downtowns. The program also organizes workshops and quarterly network meetings and assists in the coordination of the annual Historic Preservation and Downtown Conference.  

Getting Started

Looking for help to begin your local revitalization effort? Call or email us.  We will be happy to answer your questions or set-up an on-site meeting.

The Main Street Four Point Approach®
  • Organization – Establishing and maintaining a non-profit organization that works in partnership with the public and private sectors to plan and implement a comprehensive downtown revitalization strategy. 
  • Economic Restructuring – Strengthening and improving a downtown’s economic assets and fulfilling its broadest market potential.
  • Design – Enhancing and improving the physical appearance of a downtown by addressing all design elements to create an appealing environment.
  • Promotion – Creating and marketing a positive image of the downtown district and attracting people to socialize, shop at local businesses and restaurants, and enjoy local history and culture. 
Eight Guiding Principles for Community Revitalization

National Trust Main Street Center has identified eight essential guiding principles that local Main Street or designated downtown organizations must embrace to be successful.

  1. Comprehensive – For successful, sustainable, long-term revitalization, a comprehensive approach, including activity in each of Main Street’s Four Points is essential.
  2. Incremental – Over time, small successes can lay the groundwork for larger ones, leading to more ambitious projects tackling complex issues.
  3. Self-help – No one else can save your Main Street. Long-term local commitment is what must sustain revitalization. 
  4. Partnerships – Both the public and private sectors have a vital interest in the future of a downtown and must work together to achieve common goals.
  5. Existing Assets – Business districts must capitalize upon their unique qualities, like distinctive buildings and anchor businesses.
  6. Quality – All aspects of a Main Street project must reflect quality if a/the downtown is to become competitive again; shoe-string budgets and “cookie-cutter” efforts can send a negative image.
  7. Change – Changes in the physical environment, business practices, and perceptions of a downtown are essential to support and sustain the revitalization process.
  8. Implementation – Frequent, visible projects are a reminder that the revitalization effort is underway and succeeding.  Completed projects create confidence in the local Main Street organization and build greater levels of participation.

Please note, applicants are strongly encouraged to speak with staff before applying for designation. 

Gary Holloway, Downtown Program Coordinator