The West Side is home to many organizations dedicated to the growth and prosperity of the community.
In 2005, three entities, the West Side Neighborhood Association, West Virginia State University, and the City of Charleston, identified a need to reinvigorate the economic sector of the West Side. Thus, West Side Main Street was born. These entities identified the Main Street model as an ideal program for fostering economic development, given the unique historic characteristics of the commercial district. A nationwide initiative used to revitalize communities, Main Street is a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation that capitalizes on a community’s history and resources to tackle the complex issues of revitalizing once-booming downtown neighborhoods.
These three entities saw a unique overlap in the mission of WVSU’s Extension Service and West Side Main Street, as they both aid in the development of education, technology, economic, and social advancements in the State of West Virginia. They accomplish this by identifying resources and programs pertinent to the progression and dissemination of knowledge and services by way of research, teaching, and extension.
West Side Main Street serves the Washington St. West corridor from Pennsylvania Avenue to Rt. 21. Although this is the geographic area primarily served, the unique distribution of West Side businesses has encouraged WSMS to extend its services and programs to businesses outside of the main corridor. Many areas both on and off of the corridor have been neglected for decades, including infrastructure and private reinvestment. Along the corridor are many historic buildings in imminent danger of demolition and in need of historic rehabilitation. All of these properties must be given immediate attention to attract new investment to the district and bring a halt to the blight, economic, and social decline of the district.
In 2007 and every year since, West Side Main Street obtained national certification from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, indicating that the program is meeting all of the Trusts’ best practices and standards.
Accomplishments over the past ten years have included:
33 new businesses have relocated to the West Side
150 jobs have been created as a result
$700,000 plus in private and public funding attracted to projects on the West Side
$7 million plus in new building and infrastructure improvements and façade renovations to existing buildings along the Washington Street business corridor
Streetscape renovation: Phase 1 is complete and Phase 2 has begun
A new public park was established on the corner of Barton Street and Washington St. W.
A public art installation was designed and completed through the collaboration with local schools and West Side artists
Holiday decorations and community events along Washington Street several times during the year
A public mural by Charly Hamilton that depicts Washington St West is being painted on the side of Spa Elements and is to be completed in the spring of 2014
Mural paintings were placed in each of the front facing windows of the Staats building, formerly St. Francis Hospital, to improve the overall aesthetics of the corridor and in preparation of OktoberWest
West Side Main Street is a program of Charleston Main Streets