Going Downtown: Redevelopment projects aim to put the ‘cool’ back into Maine’s downtowns

by Lori Valigra, MaineBiz

The lights dimmed across many formerly thriving downtowns in the 1970s, an era known internationally for its economic upheavals and a time when city dwellers fled to the space and greenery of the suburbs on new superhighways near proliferating big box stores.

This “hollowing out” phenomenon referred as much to the lost sense of community as to the lack of people strolling down sidewalks with shopping bags. Stores closed, empty buildings decayed and many downtowns became mere thoroughfares rather than destinations.

The trend is starting to reverse, buoyed by local, state and federal programs offering know-how and helping with private and public fund-raising to restore or repurpose empty or neglected buildings. In places like Norway, Gardiner and Waterville, many of those buildings are historic and could be tourist attractions. Read more…

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