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H Street Honored with Great American Main Street Award

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Yesterday, H Street Main Street was honored with the Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA).  The award recognizes H Street continues its amazing rise from a struggling business district to one of America’s greatest treasures, on par with its historic roots in our culture.

Anwar Saleem, the Executive Director, of the H Street Main Street (HSMS) organization was excited with the news of the award. “In our field, this award is like receiving an Oscar or Grammy Award,” Saleem said. – Examiner

H Street Main Street is a Great American Main Street Award winner for its work in adapting the Main Street Four Point Approach® to work in an urban and predominately African-American neighborhood. In winning this award, H Street proved that, with a few changes, the Approach can be quite successful. H Street uses a less formal committee structure and relies more on constantly-changing work groups. Most volunteers identify more with projects than with the organizational structure.

Other adaptations include a strong central leader and extensive public support. Anwar Saleem was a founder of H Street Main Street and became the executive director in 2006. H Street is proud that he has been able to help other Main Street programs through the National Trust for Historic Preservation. H Street has relied strongly on support from the municipal government to launch this revitalization effort. Because so much of the demolition of historic H Street NE was publicly funded, H Street needed more help to overcome that legacy. The leadership and funding from the District of Columbia was instrumental in H Street’s success.

H Street NE is nationally recognized as a valuable historic place – one of the last intact “riot corridors.” Our program has managed a complex revitalization effort to save H Street NE as an authentic place and garnered much national media coverage for our work. The effort has succeeded and been faster than anyone expected. This revitalization effort is an important case study in how to use historic preservation to save African-American neighborhoods.

The GAMSA is awarded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. According to its website “Each year, the National Trust Main Street Center recognizes exceptional Main Street communities whose successes serve as a model for comprehensive commercial district revitalization. These award-winning communities have demonstrated proven success in using the Main Street Four Point Approach® to create economic vitality, a unique sense of place, and a strong commitment to the community by all stakeholders.” Applicants for the awards are put through a rigorous review process and are compared with amazing neighborhoods from across the country.

“It’s truly an honor to receive this award and it’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, businesses, elected officials and public servants,” said Saleem. “Everyone in the community, our sponsors, donors and the city deserve a round of applause for helping make the H Street renaissance a reality.”

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