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Austin's Main Street projects on display

Visitors tour the former First National Bank building at 300 N. Main St. Wednesday night during the Main Street Project open house in downtown Austin.

On Wednesday, the Austin Main Street Project gave the community a look inside the buildings that have been renovated in downtown Austin.

The public explored The Bakery bar; Mickey's; the former First National Bank building at 300 N. Main St.; the Philomathian Book and Gift store, and the restored upper levels now accessible by a new back lobby and elevator.

The former Marty's Hobbycraft building at 416 N. Main St. was also be open. It now houses the Style Salon and a completely renovated upper level, featuring loft-type apartments.

Just across the street at 407 N. Main St., the former Nemitz building is home to Novedades Crystal. The building has a new storefront and a second story that's been turned into apartments.

"So much work has been done on the inside of these buildings that we wanted the public to see the transformations firsthand," said Sarah Douty, executive director of the Austin Main Street Project.


"With this event, we want people to come out, meet the building and business owners, and see the commitment and the investment that continues to be made in our downtown," Douty said.

The Austin Main Street Project is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing Austin's downtown district. So far, more than $5 million in funding has supported the program.

The Main Street Project — based on a partnership between volunteers and the government — touches on four areas: finance, development, promotion and design, said Craig Byram, volunteer president of Main Street Project.

"The most visible efforts are the design and the finance," Byram said, "but this has to be a bottom-up-driven program."

Austin has a couple of tools in its belt that not all communities have, Byram said.

The Hormel Foundation has given annual grants of $100,000 for the betterment of downtown; Austin's Port Authority is able to purchase easements from the building owner in order to preserve the building's appearance.

"We look at each building from a design standpoint," Byram said. "We want it both attractive and functional, because in the end, somebody's running a business inside."

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