Washington (May 23, 2016) The National Main Street Center, Inc. announced today that Audubon Park in Orlando, Florida has been chosen as a 2016 Great American Main Street Award® (GAMSA) winner. Audubon Park Garden District (APGD) received the award at the 2016 Main Street Now Conference held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“We are incredibly proud APGD has been recognized as one of the country’s best examples of comprehensive neighborhood revitalization,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “This award is a testament to what can be accomplished when residents and business owners come together to create a shared vision for their neighborhood, transforming it into a vibrant district that is now home to popular small businesses and host to favored events that draw thousands of visitors. The district, which has become known to have one of the most unique personalities of any neighborhood in Orlando, is also an economic engine creating new jobs and opportunities for residents.”
Developed post-World War II, Audubon Park was long defined by a wide, four-lane commercial main drag dotted with suburban strip malls. Under Audubon Park Garden District’s leadership, that corridor is now flourishing with small businesses, pollinator gardens and events that stand in stark contrast to bland suburban sprawl. With the Main Street Approach as its guide, Audubon Park Garden District has emerged as a hip place to be. The redevelopment of a foreclosed church into a nationally recognized food and culture hub, a thriving shopping and dining scene and a retro modern home tour are just a few of the attractions that make this neighborhood one of America’s best.
“Audubon Park is to be commended for reinventing itself as the home of several destination-worthy small businesses and the epicenter of Orlando’s good food movement, while also pioneering green practices for businesses and commercial districts,” says Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “APGD’s skill in providing low-cost, high-touch support to its small businesses has paid huge dividends, driving retail vacancy rates to just 2 percent. They should take great pride in creating such an inviting place for people to live, shop, and open businesses.”
Other hallmarks of Audubon Park Garden District’s success include the creation of 521 new jobs since 2009, the rehabilitation of two abandoned buildings into showpieces, and the district’s efforts to secure $3.5 million in private investment. The $3 million East End Market project to create Orlando’s only urban market brought twenty new businesses and over 100 new jobs to the area.
“As part of our inaugural class of Orlando’s Main Streets, the Audubon Park Garden District continues to grow a strong, close-nit community, dedicated to sustainability in every way,” said City of Orlando District 3 Commissioner Robert F. Stuart. “From supporting a vibrant, eclectic small business network, involving their residential component in numerous partnerships, creating a community garden and market, advocating for composting, creatively promoting themselves as a must-visit destination, and fashioning a cohesive, eye-catching, green brand, APGD has been an example of what public and private partnerships can do to help communities and small business.”