It is the mission of the Downtown Redevelopment Authority to preserve and promote “The District” as the cultural, historic, and business heart of the City of Bowling Green and Warren County. We strive to build civic pride and a sense of community by creating opportunities for citizens and area businesses to participate in the life of downtown.
Sixty years ago downtown Bowing Green was thriving with numerous car dealerships, groceries, gas stations, and retail shops. As Scottsville Road and I-65 began to develop, the District area began experience a sense of neglect, as well as a steady decline in the trends of economic growth and residential development. As many business darted for the new territory and market campaigns proved no avail, local merchants and business owners soon realized that they must focus on the overall needs of the District area, instead of only a small demographic, if they were to revitalize the area.
The Downtown Redevelopment Authority (DRA) was thus formed by members of a local merchants group, who focused on the overall needs of downtown Bowling Green. To begin this initiative the DRA enlisted community funds and support to revitalize Historic Fountain Square Park. The DRA raised over $60,000 from passionate individuals and businesses who were committed to seeing downtown Bowling Green at its full potential once again.
The DRA began its mission to show the local community the organization could lead the growth and development of The District area. This included forming a board of directors and acquiring volunteer members whose interests were diversified. The group focused on re-expanding the size of Downtown Bowling Green, adopting the motto “From the River to the Hill, from the Railroad to the Bypass, The District”, and began working with local government and the community to renew interest and investment in the downtown area.
The DRA led the community in the creation of a vision for the future of downtown, which included historic preservation, the development of new and existing residential and retail spaces, and an increase in visitors to downtown. All of these factors proved to be key elements in the revitalization of the District area. In this master planning process, the community selected the recreation of an historic green space, formerly known the Circus Lot, as a catalyst for downtown revitalization and private investment. The goal of Circus Square was to become a focal point, encouraging higher value development in the downtown, attracting residential developers, and promoting under-utilized properties for redevelopment. The recreation of this historically significant green space in the heart of downtown BG is fast becoming a pedestrian destination for the residents of Bowling Green, creating a link between Fountain Square Park, Shake Rag, and Mitch McConnell Park, strengthening the appeal of Bowling Green as an important heritage tourism destination.
The result of the DRA’s participation in the Kentucky Renaissance on Main Program, the organization was able to bring in over $15 million dollars to invest in the downtown area. Funds were used in the form of façade grants for commercial and residential properties , streetscaping in and around Fountain Square Park (redesign of landscaping, new park benches and trash receptacles, lighting, sound system), the creation of the Heritage Walk, the recreation of Circus Square Park, and other various economic projects including Park Row Apartments, Renaissance Village, etc. The excitement stimulated by these projects and investments is resulting in the resurgence of businesses and development in the District, as well as community interest and events.
Through the creation and development of new facilities, the DRA began to focus their efforts on promoting community and residential participation by creating The Concerts in the Park Series. Held each summer in Downtown Bowling Green, the series will celebrate its 37th birthday in 2016. The series has grown exponentially over the years. In the beginning the series drew about 250 residents and was consider a success; in recent years, participation numbers were estimated as large as 20,0000 people throughout the summer event. Dedication to the District area and the mounting success of the DRA’s revitalization efforts has kept many larger community events in the area, including the Duncan Hines and International Festivals.
Currently, the DRA continues their commitment to “The District” to better serve our members and community. We are excited to announce we have employed the professional services of CrowdSouth, to help assist us in building a state of the art website and cohesive social media campaign, giving the public a real time open window in our ongoing redevelopment efforts. In keeping the District’s 30 year rich tradition and commitment to our community, our team looks forward to working toward a even better and more vibrant downtown atmosphere.
Although much work has been done, we are not through! As the District continues to grow, so do our efforts. Together with the strength and determination of our community – the future is even brighter!
We subscribe to the theory that a well informed public is very active and supportive public. Our executive director, Ron Murphy will be happy to share with each of you how collectively and individually you can join with us in promoting and sharing a role in the future of The District and its contribution to the community as a whole!
When asked why, our reply is why not? And if not now, then when?