Press Release | Washington, DC | May 23, 2016


The National Main Street Center, Inc. announced today that Washington, D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood has been chosen as a 2016 Great American Main Street Award® (GAMSA) winner. Shaw Main Streets received the award at the 2016 Main Street Now Conference held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

By actively involving its multicultural community, cultivating tech businesses, and supporting the arts, since its founding in 2003 Shaw Main Streets has reduced the retail vacancy rate from 20 percent to 1 percent, helped over 200 new businesses open, and attracted approximately $3 billion in private and public investment. Under Shaw Main Streets’ leadership, Shaw has earned nationwide attention as a fast-rising arts, cultural and dining destination while maintaining affordability and ties to its proud past as an African-American entertainment district.

“Shaw’s transformation in the last 13 years has been truly remarkable,” said Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “To bring the neighborhood back from the devastating 1968 riots and the decades of disinvestment that followed while infusing the district’s historic character with new energy and resources, is a tremendous testament to Shaw Main Street’s effective leadership.”

“I’m proud that the District of the Columbia is the first urban Main Street program to include three Great American Main Street Award winners,” said Muriel E. Bowser, mayor of the District of Columbia. “As a fifth generation Washingtonian, I have witnessed the Shaw neighborhood’s growth and progress – of which Shaw Main Streets has played an important role. Shaw is one of our treasured communities, with a rich cultural history that reflects the diversity and vibrancy of Washington, DC. I congratulate Shaw Main Streets' board of directors, including Chair Gretchen Wharton, executive director Alexander Padro, and hundreds of local volunteers for a job well done.”

Highlights of Shaw Main Street’s 13-year efforts include the rehabilitation of the Howard Theatre, once the largest venue in Washington’s segregation-era “Black Broadway,” the creation of flexible work space for 400 start-up tech businesses in a former Wonder Bread factory, maintenance of the district’s affordable housing, and the creation of a popular overnight arts festival that won an Innovation on Main Street Award in 2015.

The other two 2016 GAMSA winners are Dahlonega, Ga. and Audubon Park in Orlando, Fla.

To learn about GAMSA and previous winners, visit

For more information about Shaw Main Street, visit and find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About the Great American Main Street Awards

Each year, Main Street America, a program of the National Main Street Center, celebrates the country’s best examples of comprehensive commercial district revitalization. Winners are selected from a nationwide pool of applicants by a national jury based on successful and innovative uses of the Main Street Approach. ® Criteria for winning include: strength of the Main Street in creating an exciting place to live, work, play and visit; commitment to historic preservation; implementation of model partnerships, and demonstrated success of the Main Street Approach.® The National Main Street Center is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

About the National Main Street Center

Originally launched as a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, the National Main Street Center pioneered a transformative, grassroots strategy to help flagging downtowns counteract booming suburban growth. This novel approach was in stark contrast to the urban renewal projects that were destroying commercial districts and neighborhoods all over the country. Today, the Center leads a coast to coast network of revitalization programs – known collectively as Main Street America – who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. | @savingplaces

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