Waterford, Michigan -- Ferndale is one of five U.S. cities chosen as recipients of the 2010 Great American Main Street Award by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Ferndale is the first of the 11-member Main Street Oakland County (MSOC) group to win the designation and the first in Michigan to be named a Great American Main Street Award winner since Bay City in 1999. Representatives of the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority received the award Tuesday during a ceremony in Oklahoma City.
"The award places Ferndale among the elite communities," Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. "We’re delighted Main Street Oakland County was able to provide Downtown Ferndale with a boost."
A community celebration of the award is planned for May 10 at Anita's Kitchen, 22651 Woodward Avenue in Ferndale. The event runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Patterson, along with various local and state officials, are expected to attend the celebration.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, which oversees the national Main Street program, praised the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority for its "stellar" record of reinvestment and new employment. Commercial vacancies have dropped from 30 percent to six percent over the past decade.
Patterson noted as much in a letter of support he wrote for the award, which is a validation of the Main Street Oakland County program and Ferndale's own efforts. He said reinvestment in the downtown was $23 million since 2008.
"Through the leadership of the Ferndale DDA, its volunteers and community partners, Downtown Ferndale has transformed into a strong, creative, economic center in our county unrivaled by others in Michigan and nationwide," Patterson wrote. "… I personally have witnessed the transformation of Downtown Ferndale, and I am so proud of the community in all they have accomplished."
The other winners were from Fairmont, W.Va., Columbus, Miss.; Paducah, Ky.; and Lee's Summit, Mo. Winners were chosen by a national jury of former award winners, community development professionals and governmental employees active in economic development and historic preservation.
Main Street is a trademarked program of the National Main Street Center in Washington D.C. Farmington, Ferndale, Franklin, Highland, Holly, Lake Orion, Ortonville, Oxford, Pontiac, Rochester and Walled Lake are MSOC communities. Berkley, Clarkston, Clawson, Hazel Park, Leonard, South Lyon and Waterford participate in the mentoring program.
Oakland County was the first county and is now the only county in the United States to operate a full fledged county-wide Main Street program. The county program was formed in 2000. Investment in its first decade totals more than half a billion dollars.