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Kendall Whittier Main Street Wins National Revitalization Award

Kendall Whittier Main Street

Tulsa’s Kendall Whittier Main Street has earned a national honor.

The organization was one of three presented with Great American Main Street Award in a virtual ceremony on Friday.

"Main street doesn’t happen in a silo. It takes a whole village to create a great main street. And so, it’s a true testament to not just our board members — who have given thousands of hours of volunteer time and just blood, sweat and tears — but our property owners, our business owners, our city leadership, our state coordinating program," said Kendall Whittier Main Street Executive Director Jessica Jackson Seay.

The Great American Main Street Award recognizes preservation-based commercial revitalization. It considers things like local investment, business development and vacancy rates. Kendall Whittier Main Street boasts $158 million in investment, almost 50 new businesses in its service area and 100% occupancy in Whitter Square.

Oklahoma Main Street Director Buffy Hughes said Kendall Whittier Main Street knew their direction from the outset in 2013.

"They knew they wanted an arts focus. They were one of the first seven certified cultural districts designated by the Oklahoma Arts Council. They went from an occupancy of 35% to 100%. And it was nothing but hard work and dedication," Hughes said.

Kendall Whittier was a semifinalist for the Great American Main Street Award a second straight year after being named "one to watch" in 2019.

In the 2020 award announcement, Main Street America said Kendall Whittier Main Street was being recognized "for turning an area of decades-long blight into a lively hub for arts and culture."

The City of Tulsa's Destination Districts program was modeled after the work done by Kendall Whittier Main Street.

Michigan’s Boyne City Main Street and Mississippi’s Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association also won this year.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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