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Shaw Wins Great American Main Street Award!

Shaw Main Streets received the 2016 Great American Main Street Award® (GAMSA) at the 2016 Main Street Now Conference in Milwaukee, WI on May 23, 2016. The win was celebrated at a gala fundraiser at the Howard Theatre in the neighborhood on June 1, 2016.

According to a press release from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, of which the National Main Street Center is a subsidiary, the award panel chose Shaw Main Streets for the exemplary manner in which the organization has led the Washington, DC neighborhood’s revitalization and historic preservation efforts. “By actively involving its multicultural community, cultivating tech businesses, and supporting the arts, since its founding in 2003 Shaw Main Streets has reduced the retail vacancy rate from 20 percent to 1 percent, helped over 200 new businesses open, and attracted approximately $3 billion in private and public investment. Under Shaw Main Streets’ leadership, Shaw has earned nationwide attention as a fast-rising arts, cultural and dining destination while maintaining affordability and ties to its proud past as an African-American entertainment district. "

“Shaw’s transformation in the last 13 years has been truly remarkable,” said Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “To bring the neighborhood back from the devastating 1968 riots and the decades of disinvestment that followed while infusing the district’s historic character with new energy and resources, is a tremendous testament to Shaw Main Street’s effective leadership.”

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel E. Bowser joined in congratulating Shaw Main Streets on receiving the prestigious award, which many refer to as the Oscars® of downtown commercial revitalization. “I’m proud that the District of the Columbia is the first urban Main Street program to include three Great American Main Street Award winners,” Bowser remarked. “As a fifth generation Washingtonian, I have witnessed the Shaw neighborhood’s growth and progress – of which Shaw Main Streets has played an important role. Shaw is one of our treasured communities, with a rich cultural history that reflects the diversity and vibrancy of Washington, DC. I congratulate Shaw Main Streets' board of directors, including Chair Gretchen Wharton, executive director Alexander Padro, and hundreds of local volunteers for a job well done.”

“This is a great day for Shaw,” agreed Alexander M. Padro, a founder of the organization in 2003 and its executive director since 2004. “We’re excited to bring this award home to DC. Winning the Great American Main Street Award is the culmination of more than 13 years of a community-driven neighborhood renaissance that has delivered over 250 new businesses and thousands of jobs. We’ve led the dramatic revitalization effort that has transformed a long blighted neighborhood into one of the most attractive dining and heritage tourism destinations in America, while preserving affordable housing and protecting legacy businesses. The small businesses, private investment and jobs created in Shaw over the past 13 years are part of the reason why our nation's capital is one of the 21st century's most dynamic city success stories.

“The award recognizes the dedicated work of hundreds of volunteers and the support of the community and the city as a whole in revitalizing our commercial corridors and some of the nation's most important African American landmarks. Now we have yet another reason to be proud as we live, work, shop, play and pray in the neighborhood where DC comes together,” Padro concluded.

Highlights of Shaw Main Street’s efforts and advocacy include the restoration of the Howard Theatre, once the largest venue in Washington’s segregation-era “Black Broadway,” the creation of flexible work space for 400 start-up businesses in the adaptively-reused former Wonder Bread factory, incorporation of the restored 1881 O Street Market building into the catalytic City Market at O development, the addition of thousands of new units of housing while experiencing no net loss of low and moderate income residents of color, and the creation of Art All Night DC, a popular overnight arts festival that won an Innovation on Main Street Award in 2015.

On Wednesday, June 1, 2016, Shaw Main Streets will celebrate its GAMSA win at A Taste of Shaw, the 2016 Shaw Main Streets Gala, at the Howard Theatre. Over 300 guests are expected at the two and a half hour event that will feature food and beverages from 20 noted chefs, mixologists, and brewers representing Shaw’s leading restaurants and bars. Tickets are available online at

The other two 2016 GAMSA winners are Audubon Park in Orlando, FL and Dahlonega, GA.

To learn about GAMSA and previous winners, visit

About Shaw Main Streets

Shaw Main Streets is the nonprofit commercial revitalization and historic preservation organization serving the commercial corridors of Washington, DC’s Shaw neighborhood. Since its founding in 2003, the organization has helped attract and has supported the opening of over 250 new retail businesses to the area and over $3 billion in private and public investment. The group has championed the growth of the DC Main Streets program and pioneered the Clean and Safe Team programs that are now active throughout Washington, DC. Shaw Main Streets is a designated DC Main Streets local program funded in part by the Department of Small and Local Business Development, Muriel E. Bowser, Mayor.

About the Great American Main Street Awards

Each year, Main Street America, a program of the National Main Street Center, celebrates the country’s best examples of comprehensive commercial district revitalization. Winners are selected from a nationwide pool of applicants by a national jury based on successful and innovative uses of the Main Street Approach. ® Criteria for winning include: strength of the Main Street in creating an exciting place to live, work, play and visit; commitment to historic preservation; implementation of model partnerships, and demonstrated success of the Main Street Approach.® The National Main Street Center is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

About the National Main Street Center

Originally launched as a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, the National Main Street Center pioneered a transformative, grassroots strategy to help flagging downtowns counteract booming suburban growth. This novel approach was in stark contrast to the urban renewal projects that were destroying commercial districts and neighborhoods all over the country. Today, the Center leads a coast to coast network of revitalization programs – known collectively as Main Street America – who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.