Restoring the downtown business district to its former glory will take coordinated efforts from not only city and business leaders, but also from residents, according to state preservation officials.
Like their peers in other Utah County cities - particularly Spanish Fork, which beautified its Main Street, and Lehi, which is beginning a historical restoration of its downtown - Springville residents are looking at ways to bring business back from the edge of town to the downtown.State Historical Society Program Coordinator Roger Roper said this week the most effective way to restore the area may be to offer incentives to businesses locating in the downtown, and "to make sure the community does not continue to lose its focus as a community."
Though the historical society can offer matching grant moneys and lend a hand in forming technical assistance programs, "the burden of what happens next to your city is up to you as city leaders and as residents," Roper said. "It's your decision."
In their presentation to city leaders, Roper and Utah Heritage Foundation Executive Director Michael Leaventhal said the city is blessed with a beautiful downtown area, and already has a strong supporter in its Springville Historical and Preservation Society, which could make a downtown renovation project easier.
More than 600 U.S. communities that have restored their downtowns looked at the success formulas for shopping malls and applied them during the renovation projects, which also helped greatly and could benefit Springville, Leaventhal said.
"The malls operate on four principles - organization, design, promotion and economics," he said. "For instance, one voice controls what goes on in the malls - from stores having a common frontage, to having sales at the same time."
The key step, though, will be for residents to determine what kind of community Springville is, Leaventhal said. "You must figure out what Springville is all about, what kind of values the community has."
For example, some Midwest farm communities that restored their downtowns determined that the close-knit, small-town ambience is what their Main Streets were missing, Leaventhal said.
"There must be a commitment by the city to its downtown businesses, there must be a commitment by merchants to understand local citizens and there must be a participation by both merchants and residents in finding common goals for the downtown," he said.
"Without that emotional and financial commitment, the city will be doomed to lag behind the malls. With that commitment, the end result will be a renewed sense of pride in your community, growth in your community and a sense of stewardship from your community."
City officials asked Roper and Leaventhal to make a similar presentation to the Springville Chamber of Commerce, as well as interested city organizations, to gauge public interest in the program.