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Ninth District



Volume 2, Number 2

October 1987

The Queen City Comes
When Marquette was a thriving
shipping center for Upper
Michigan's mining industry, it
proudly called itself the "Queen
City of the North"; but by the
1980s, the city had seen some tough
times. Then a pair of ominous
events helped impel Marquette into
its impressive comeback. Wards,
downtown's retail anchor, closed
and downtown's aging infrastructure began to deteriorate.

Prior to these events, Marquette
had begun to plan downtown
development in the 1970s as
businesses moved to shopping
centers west of town. In 1976, the
City Commission formed a Downtown Development Authority
(DDA). But the urgency of dealing
with downtown's physical needs in
a declining retail business environment helped property owners,
retailers, and the city focus their
near- and longer-term vision for
the city.
First National Bank President

Marquette's revitalized Washington Avenue meets the Lake Superior shoreline.
Plans are underway to develop a green space at the lakefront.

COMMUNITY welcomes your '
comments and observations. You
are also invited to share your
commubity affairs program or
community development initiatives with COMMUNITY by
writing Carolyn Line, Community Affairs Coordinator, Federal
Reserve Ban1c of Minneapolis,
250 Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55480, or telephone
612-340-2048. To make address
changes or to order additional
coplE!s, contact COMMUNITY at
the same address.

Ellwood Mattson describes the
development as a grass roots
process that has involved business
people, financial institutions, and
the city. City Manager David
Svanda adds that the catalysts
combined at a time when each
party was willing to accept the
risks of comprehensive redevelopment. The city was committed to
necessary sewer and street repair.
Downtown merchants and property owners demonstrated their
commitment by asking to be
Produced by lhe Federal Reserve Bank ol Minneapolis

assessed for extensive sidewalk and
landscaping work. There was also
a keen awareness that downtown
needed systematic marketing and
business development.
As development momentum began
to grow early in the 1980s, Marquette inventoried its assets. High
on the list were the town's usable
historic buildings; and for the first
time, people looked seriously at the
lakeshore's potential.
To make the most of its historic
buildings and at the same time
develop business downtown, Marquette became a National Trust for
Historic Preservation Main Street
City in 1984. (See page ·3.) As work
progressed on streets and sidewalks, Main Street Marquette coordinated downtown's marketing ·
and preservation. Major infrastructure improvements were completed
in late 1984, and in 1986, the DDA
coordinated construction of a
much-needed downtown parking
Lakeshore development is a longerterm goal. The Lake Superior
shore adjacent to downtown had
been an industrial area since the
late 19th century when the harbor
was Marquette's gateway. As the
town's business developed, however, it physically turned away
from the industrial harbor area
and the lake. With a renewed and
vigorous downtown and declining
industrial usage of the lakeshore,
Marquette undertook to develop
the area into an attractive space
that would also reinforce downtown's development. Much of the
lakeshore area is now being turned
into public "green" space. The city
has helped out with infrastructure
continued on page 4

Main Street Center: Bringing the Past and the Future Together
Established by the National Trust
for Historic Preservation in 1980,
the National Main Street Center
focuses on the special problems
faced by aging small city downtowns. It is a human resource and
technical reference center that
provides assistance in stimulating
economic development within the
context of historic preservation.
In 1977, the National Trust, in an
attempt to creatively preserve
buildings in older, small-city commercial areas, launched a pilot program involving three Midwestern
towns. Its goal was to develop a
comprehensive strategy for
economic revitalization emphasizing Main Street's historic assets.
The need was apparent. Even in
many small communities, downtown businesses declined as discount stores and climate-controlled
shopping malls located on the edge
of town. These were easily accessible by highways that bypassed
the central business district.
In response to this turn of events,
businesses often tried to compete
by modernizing building facades
(and hiding ornate architectural
details), adding garish signs, or
closing main streets to vehicular
traffic. These plans failed for the
most part because they ignored the
inherent assets and individual
character of an older downtown:
rich architecture, personal service,
and traditional values.

After three years of intensive
analysis and on-site involvement in
all aspects of revitalization in the
three community laboratories, the
National Trust expanded the Main
Street approach. The National
Main Street Center was established in 1980, and a demonstration
project was undertaken that
involved 6 states and 30 small
cities. Of the 30 demonstration
cities, 28 formed new downtown
organizations or strengthened
existing ones; 28 established lowinterest loan pools or subsidy
programs to encourage facade
renovations and building rehabil-

The Evans Hotel, built in 1892, is located in Hots Springs, South Dakota, one of the
original three Main Stree pilot communities.
Now home to senior citizens, the Evans was restored through the efforts of the Hot
Springs Housing and Redevelopment Commission with the support of the
community and was completed in 1980.

itations; and 5 of the demonstration
states added communities to the
program. Currently, more than 300
communities have made the basic
three-year commitment to the
Main Street approach.
What is this magical formula that
can turn neglected downtowns into
thriving business districts? It is a
pragmatic, integrated four-point
program that builds on the idea of
the downtown's total image and
encourages public/private partnerships. Ironically, the Main Street
approach uses the management
strategies of modern shopping
malls, whose proliferation initially
contributed to the decline of downtowns. It is also incremental in
nature, producing highly visible,
short-term results, while creating
fundamental changes in leadership and the economic base of
downtown. The four interrelated
elements of the Main Street
approach are organization, promotion, design, and economic
Organization. Strong, _unified

leadership by downtown mer-

chants in partnership with financial institutions, city government,
the chamber of commerce, and
others is essential to the development of a consistent revitalization
effort. Formation of a nonprofit
downtown association is one way to
create an organized program.
Promotion. It is essential to

promote and advertise using
special events to convince people
that downtown is an exciting
community stage, a meeting place
bursting with activity. Promotions
can include special retail sales and
festivals and creation of a consistent image through graphics and
media presentation such as a
special logo and a downtown
Design. An attractive downtown
appearance is one step in building
the confidence of merchants,
investors, and shoppers. Rehabilitating tired facades and installing
street landscaping, new signs, and
bright window djsplays will add to
the pleasure of shoppers and other

Economic Restructuring. All
elements of the Main Street
approach should create a climate
for reinvestment. Because downtown competes with the suburban
mall, it is essential that the downtown economy be diversified. Activities include recruiting new stores
to provide a balanced retail mix;
converting unused space into
housing, offices, entertainment, or
cultural facilities; and sharpening
the competitiveness of Main
Street's traditional merchants.

The National Main Street Center
offers a number of publications
and slide show packages to assist
local efforts in the promotion of
downtown revitalization.
For more information, write to:
National Trust for Historic
National Main Street Center
1785 Massachusetts Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20036

John Stevens, Main Street Marquette project manager, lived in many cities
before he retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel. During 28½ years in
the Air Force, John was stationed twice at K.I. Sawyer AFB. He and his family
chose to make the area their permanent home.


Main Street Marquette

mana_ger hil May 1981.,

I~ May 19.84, when ·Main Street Marquette was jlli!t ·
getting started, business on m~in street, Washington
Avenue, was slow. There were ten empty storefronts in
the prime shopping_block alone. 'l'oday, the central
business di~trict is booming with all storefronts oecupied and 75 percent !)f office space rented.

In the midst of a maj0r pliblfo improvement project' ·
that literally tore mafn street apart (see page 1), downtown began to market itself. Main Street Marquette
arid' downtown merchants urged pe0ple to "dare the ',
detours" and shop (iowntown. In November 1984,
public improvements were completed and Main Street
To reverse a decade of neglect of the central business , · Marquette coordinated a thre~~day promotion with a
district, the City Commission' formed a Downtown , variety of festivities. Reta-il sales for that holiday·season
Pevelopment Association-(DDA) in 1976. A1;1 the DDA were 14 p~rcent higher than the previous year.
and local people cataloged, the town's assets, they
realized that an important one was Marquette's historic During 1985,'using a Facade Giant from the.Michigan
buildings. The Main Street program was thus viewed
History Bureau, Main Street provided property owners
by the DIJA as one avenue for downtown revival. When with architectural renderin~ mnd cost estimates for
revitalization around a historical theme wa1; favored
exterior renovatfons. Several improvements were
by respon,dents to a 1988 survey, the DDA further ex: • undertaken that year. ln·mid 198{i;, a two-level parking ·
plored .t he Main Street option. Goals for the'central
facility developed by the DDA opened; and as 1985
blli!iness distrie:t were· consistent witli those of the
came to a close, retail space was 80 perceqt rented.
National Main Street program-to stimulate downtown 1986 brought a full schedule of downtown promotions
econo~ie growth within th~ context of historic preser~ . and special events, more facade impravements and
vation. Marquette applied to become a Main Street eity interior rehabilitation, and t)le beginning of an ongoing
and received designation in February
program for downtown busfness people.
. '
A~ 11-member Board of Directors formed iJi March
1984 includ_ed representatives frofr). both public, a~d
private sectors. C.urrently;&oth First National Bank
and First of America Bank are represented on-the
Board. In May, the Board named Lori Bulera project
manager. Lori guided Main Stree Marquette through
its first thTee years;-John Stevens was n~med project

_A su~cessful down1lown revitalization progra~ is a selt:
help program, which'. means that both the public and ·
private sectors must be wil1ing to share the costs. In
Marquette, total investment since 1984 has been nearly
$7 million. Of this, 58 percent (lncluding special assess..
ments) was private inv~stment. Governt:nent fund~
con~nued on page 4.

Queen City continued from page 1

improvements, and organizers
have raised much of their $100,000
goal. The fundraising effort has
been largely volunteer.
By improving the lakeshore and
creating recreational space,
planners and organizers hope to
stimulate economic use of the area.
They also see the harbor as a
natural extension of downtown.
Their objective is to emphasize the
central part of downtown and the
harbor as a whole to avoid creating
two distinct destinations.
Marquette's investment in its
downtown is now close to $7 million. Of this, 58 percent (including
special assessments) is private
investment. Total project funding
has been complex, involving five or
six funding sources. Marquette has
used these funds and other investment incentives creatively. For
example, the city originated a
special assessment tax credit that
allowed property owners to reduce
their special assessments through
dollars spent on improving their
property, on a 2 to 1 basis. Mar-

quette also lent proceeds of a Small
Cities Block Grant to property
owners for improvements, creating
an income stream (principal and
interest payments on the loans)
dedicated to servicing municipal
debt issued to build the parking
facility. Local lenders have also
been important. Ray Beauchamp, a
local retailer, once observed that
when things were tough and we
needed the bankers, "they didn't
run away from us."
The investment has paid off
tangibly for Marquette. Since
redevelopment started, 40 businesses have opened downtown
bringing 79 full-time jobs; 17
existing businesses have expanded,
creating 47 additional jobs; and
retail sales have increased
Marquette expects better things
yet to come. While there are outstanding land acquisition questions, lakeshore development is
progressing. Downtown Washington Avenue and adjacent streets
are doing well, and townspeople
have turned their attention to the
longer term. Underscoring their

success, townspeople frequently
refer to "enthusiasm," "team
effort" and "pride," and to the
depth of the volunteer effort.
People emphasize that successful
redevelopment is a self-help process that involves willingness to
agree on a common direction and
to support the effort with time and
money. The ability of the city,
merchants, financial institutions,
and individuals to plan strategically and to back it up with personal
commitment is the linchpin of
Marquette's success.

This newsletter is designed primarily to assist
financial institutions in the Ninth Federal Reserve
District in developing credative responses to consumer issues and to the goals of the Community
Reinvestment Act.
COMMUNITY is produced under the direction of
Richard K. Einan, assistant vice president and
community affairs officer, and Carolyn P. Line,
community affairs coordinator.
COMMUNITY is available without charge from the
Office of Public Information, Federal Reserve Bank
of Minneapolis, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55480
(telephone 612-340-2048).
Articles may be reprinted if the source is credited
and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is
provided with copies of reprints.

Main Street Marquette continued from page 3

invested were 10 percent federal, 19 percent state, and
13 percent city.
Today, street-level occupancy is 100 percent; 40 businesses have opened and 17 existing businesses have
expanded. The three-year retail sales average compounded annually for November and December has
increased 30.2 percent. John Stevens says that no one
person or group is responsible for Marquette's
success-that it reflects the hard work and shared
efforts of downtown merchants and financial institutions, the Downtown Development Authority, Main
Street Marquette, and the city of Marquette.
The only major weakness that Stevens sees is Marquette's
lack of a stable manufacturing industry base. But the
town's historic flavor and its location on Lake Superior
are real assets. "The town has been through a rough
time," says John, "but it's on the rebound."
Main Street Marquette will continue to be a part of
Marquette's comeback. The Board of Directors voted
this spring to continue the program for at least two


A Summary of a Roundtable
Sponsored by
the Office of the Comptroller
of the Currency

December 3, 1986
For information and copies, contact:
Marianne Freeman
Customer and Industry Affairs Division
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
490 L'Enfant Plaza S.W.
(Phone: 202/287-4169)
Washington, D.C. 20219