The Southern Chester County Weeklies (http://www.southernchestercountyweeklies.com)

Historic Kennett Square named one of best in Pennsylvania as downtown continues to thrive


By Fran Maye, Kennett Paper

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Kennett SQuare>>Historic Kennett Square has placed fourth in Pennsylvania Downtown Center’s list of best performing Main Street Programs of 2016.

“This certainly is an honor for us,” said Mary Hutchins, executive director of Historic Kennett Square. “It’s due to all the good people in Kennett.”

This award recognizes those programs that have demonstrated an “across the board” capacity to generate new jobs, new businesses, public and private investment and volunteer hours.

Placing ahead of Kennett were Easton, Ebesnburg and Ardmore. Rounding out the Top 10 were Oil City, Hazleton, Boyertown, Kutztown, Wilkinsburg and Allentown.

The determining criteria measures program activity as reported annually by local Main Street managers. Community revitalization organizations are then ranked from top to bottom, with the top performing program in each of the 16 evaluated categories receiving a score of one. This year there were more than 40 community organizations eligible to be evaluated. The rankings across all of the categories are then tabulated and the organization with the lowest total number is the top performing program.

Hutchins credited the revitalization efforts occurring recently for the high ranking. Projects like the private repurposing of the old Kennett Fire Co. building into Anchor Fitness helped Kennett Square in the rankings.

Hutchins said she is sure the momentum will continue with the recent groundbreaking of Mike Pia’s Cannery Row project, and could be a key component of the borough’s thriving downtown. Cannery Row is a residential/commercial building located at the corner of South Mill Road and West Cypress Street, that sits opposite the highly successful Magnolia Place residential development of townhomes and twins.

Historic Kennett Square now encompasses the entire borough, not just the main business district. A major area of focus now is Birth Street, site of the Creamery, a seasonal pop-up beer garden, and the future site of craft brewing company.

Last year, the borough entered into a memorandum of understanding with Kennett Township in which Historic Kennett Square will receive funding for economic development from both municipalities.

All 10 communities have met the 10 performance standards established by National Main Street Center to be a nationally accredited Main Street Program. These standards include topics such as training requirements, planning methods, and community involvement.

“We are at a really good spot right now,” Hutchins said. “I hope this success continues.”

Founded in 1987, the mission of Pennsylvania Downtown Center is to build and support the capacity of local nonprofit organizations, municipalities and individuals to enhance the overall well-being and sustainability of Pennsylvania’s communities.