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PreservINg Main Street

  • OCRA
  • Current: PreservINg Main Street

Catalyzed by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs in partnership with Indiana Landmarks and Indiana Humanities, PreservINg Main Street is a multi-faceted community development program designed to build a sustainable historic preservation community ethic, build local capacity for local Main Street programs, and serve as a comprehensive downtown revitalization model. This program will provide eligible Indiana Main Street communities with an additional “tool” in their economic vitality toolbox that will help stimulate local economies using an innovative funding mechanism to preserve downtown historic buildings. The selected pilot community will be eligible for implementation of downtown preservation projects and operational expenses up to $2 million through OCRA’s Community Development Block Grant program. The program also includes multiple capacity and leadership building opportunities through a partnership with Main Street America, Indiana Humanities, and Indiana Landmarks.

Program Overview

All potential applicants should watch the program webinar for more detailed information about each of the program elements.

  • After the pilot community is selected, the Main Street organization will sign an MOU with OCRA
  • $2 million in CDBG funds will be used for transformational façade and building improvements over the two years
    • Building owners will work with an architect to submit renderings following an OCRA determined application process. OCRA and Indiana Landmarks will partner to score and award applications
  • The Main Street organization along with the community foundation and LUG will be responsible for raising a 10% match ($200,000) for the project, which could include a mix of private and local funds. The total match must be raised before the end of the 2-year pilot
    • Of that 10%:
      • 50% will be put in a permanent endowment/revolving loan fund for downtown projects
      • 50% will be supplied to the Main Street organization for long-term sustainability. For example, this could be used for two years of funding a staff position and thus elevating an IAMS community to a NAMS within that two years
  • Indiana Landmarks will work with the Main Street organization and the building/business owners to provide training and conditions assessments for preservation projects in downtown
  • Local Unit of Government along with Indiana Landmarks and OCRA Program Director will assist in using the Indiana state enabling law and model ordinance to develop and adopt a local preservation ordinance, formation of a preservation commission, and designation of a downtown local historic district within the first 18 months. New commission members will be required to attend CAMP training
  • Main Street organization will also implement two humanities-based programs and activities focused on historic preservation using a $20,000 Indiana Humanities Grant distributed in two tranches
    • An "immediate impact" project before March 2022
    • Full activation of projects and activities focused on humanities and historic preservation and rooted in their plan
  • Main Street organization will also attend trainings provided by Indiana Humanities throughout the pilot

Eligible Communities

  • Must have an already listed National Register downtown historic district
  • Must be located in a non-entitlement community
  • Main Street organization, in good standing with OCRA
  • Required partners:
    • Local Unit of Government (LUG)
    • IMS organization
    • Local community foundation
    • Business / building owners

There are 71 designated Indiana Main Street communities that have a listed National Register downtown historic district. If your community is not identified on this map, and you believe your downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, please reach out to the OCRA Program Director to confirm eligibility.

What can be funded?

CDBG funds may be used for the rehabilitation, preservation, or restoration of historic properties, whether publicly or privately owned. For this program, historic properties are those sites or structures that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Historic preservation, however, is not authorized for buildings for the general conduct of government (i.e. City Hall, County Courthouse, Jail etc). Due to staff capacity constraints, please note that OCRA staff will provide CDBG technical assistance to the pilot community after it is selected on project specific items.

Funding Note:

This program is funded through the state’s CDBG allocation. The pilot community will need to secure a certified Grant Administrator before the kickoff meeting on August 14th. Ideally, a grant administrator should be engaged with the applicant prior to the site visit. CDBG funds will be awarded directly to the chosen pilot community’s local unit of government. Because this is a pilot program, this grant will not count against the community’s number of open CDBG grants.

Application Timeline and Instructions

  • Program Opens - Monday, May 3rd
  • Click here to watch the recording of the live “office hours” from May 7, 2021 where communities brought open questions to the program director and talked through any eligibility concerns
  • Applications due- Friday, June 18th 4:00 p.m. E.T.
  • Finalist communities notified- Friday, July 2nd
  • Finalists Site Visits  –
    • Thursday, July 15th
    • Monday, July 19th
    • Friday, July 23rd
    • Please note: all applicants should hold all three dates as these site visit dates will not be able to be modified
  • Pilot Community Announced- Friday, July 30th
    • Feedback Meetings with unselected finalists
  • Kick off- Wednesday, August 11th

The Indiana Main Street organization will submit up to a 3-page letter of interest through GMS by the deadline expressing why they are the best fit for the program. The application submission must also include letters of support from partners (including but not limited to: Local Unit of Government, Community Foundation etc., at least 3 building owners).

Partner letters should at a minimum describe their support of the application and commitment to the program, but preferably outline specific ways they can/will provide support to the MS organization in execution of the program.

Learn more about the program

Applicants are encouraged to initially contact their respective Community Liaison to discuss the project; or you may connect with the OCRA Program Director (Andrea Kern) to discuss project eligibility and competitiveness.

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