Press Release – For Immediate Release
January 22, 2019
Marketing & Development Director
HARTFORD, January 22, 2019 – Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) is pleased to announce that the Town of Windham, Arts at the Capitol Theater Performing Arts Magnet School (ACT), and Thread City Development will host CMSC’s 2019 VIBRANT MAIN STREETS awards celebration on Monday, June 3, 2019. The event begins at 4:00 pm with an opening reception and awards presentation at the Capitol Theater, 896 Main Street. Willimantic will then host a Downtown Block Party featuring food, entertainment and performances.
“Willimantic is undergoing a 21st Century rebirth,” said Kimberley Parsons-Whitaker, Associate Director of CMSC. “From creative entrepreneurs leading local commercial success, to efforts to recapture the Willimantic River waterfront by developing an urban waterfront and whitewater park, to myriad local anchor and cultural institutions that bring life to downtown, Willimantic boasts an authentic, unique and compact Main Street that we look forward to sharing with attendees of our VIBRANT MAIN STREETS awards celebration,” said Ms. Parsons-Whitaker.
Since 2016, development in Downtown Willimantic has been notable. Historic Jillson Square has been converted into a quintessential “Town Green” with decorative fencing and a band shell, Shaboo Stage, was constructed to host concerts and other arts and music events. The Town of Windham acquired the site of the former Jillson Cinema and is overseeing construction of a state-of-the-art Community/Senior Center in the heart of downtown. Walkability and a sense of place have been enhanced in the historic downtown thanks to Main Street beautification efforts including new trees, trash receptacles, lighting and improved access to Riverside Drive businesses. Additionally, the Willimantic Farmers’ Market was relocated and there are plans for construction of a pavilion to expand opportunities for local farmers. These public improvements have also leveraged private sector investment – the Town has been working with developers on the redevelopment of five large Main Street buildings, vacant, in some cases, for decades. Today, three of the five buildings are under new ownership and four of the five have plans underway for mixed-use development that will total 200 new housing units.
“I am thrilled that Downtown Willimantic is going to host the 2019 VIBRANT MAIN STREETS awards celebration later this year,” said state Senator Mae Flexer (D-Danielson), whose 29th State Senate District includes Windham. “There’s no place like downtown Willimantic. Ever since I was a student at UCONN, I’ve been attending great events here, each with fabulous food, music, and art. From the ‘Third Thursday’ festivities to the Boom Box Parade on July 4th, Downtown Willimantic has got it all. I’m almost afraid that my own secret gem of a city will make thousands of new fans this summer, but they deserve it!”
“The Town of Windham is honored to be chosen to host the Connecticut Main Street Center’s 2019 VIBRANT MAIN STREETS awards celebration,” said James Bellano, Economic Development Director for the Town of Windham. “As those of us in economic development know, the task of Main Street revitalization is one that requires a commitment from all stakeholders, including town government, community-based agencies, local businesses and the development community. We appreciate the opportunity to showcase Windham/Willimantic’s Downtown to our friends and colleagues from other Connecticut municipalities at this important event,” said Mr. Bellano.
The CT Main Street Awards program was created in 2003 to recognize outstanding projects, individuals and partnerships in community efforts to bring traditional downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts back to life, socially and economically. Submissions are judged on criteria which include innovation, replication, representation, partnerships utilized, and impact. The 2019 award winners will be announced in March.
About Connecticut Main Street Center
CMSC’s mission is to be the catalyst that ignites Connecticut’s Main Streets as the cornerstone of thriving communities. CMSC is dedicated to community and economic development within the context of historic preservation, and is committed to bringing Connecticut’s commercial districts back to life socially and economically.
CMSC is supported by its Founding Sponsors, the CT Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD) and Eversource Energy. CMSC is also supported by its Growth Sponsors, UIL Holdings Corp. and the State Historic Preservation Office . More information is available at www.ctmainstreet.org.