Niles Main Street
Niles: A Michigan Main
Meet the Director
Cultural Economic Development Plan
Downtown Design Guidelines
Niles Market Profiles
Riverfront Park, Leave a Legacy
What is Niles Main Street?
The City of Niles’ Main Street Initiative (formerly the Downtown
Development Authority) was created in 1978 by the implementation of
Ordinance No. 251 of the Niles City Code of Ordinances. The Niles
Main Street was given all the powers and duties prescribed under the
State of Michigan Public Act No. 197 of 1975 which read in part, " .
. . an act to provide for the establishment of a downtown
development authority; to prescribe its powers and duties; to
correct and prevent deterioration in business districts; to
encourage historic preservation; to authorize the acquisition and
disposal of interests in real and personal property; to authorize
the creation and implementation of development plans in the
districts; to promote the economic growth of the districts; to
create a board; to prescribe its power and duties; to authorize the
levy and collection of taxes; to authorize the issuance of bond and
other evidences of indebtedness; and to authorize the use of tax
NILES MAIN STREET DDA
Niles Main Street DDA is the organization that brings beautiful
decorations and Christmas lights to our downtown.
If you see an event
with horse-drawn carriages for all to enjoy. . . it's a Niles
Main Street DDA event.
If you see a crowd gathering downtown or. . .
You see an ice carver hard at work. . .
It's a Niles Main Street DDA event
If you see Dragon Boats racing down the St. Joseph River or . .
If you see Mrs. Claus and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer waving
as you pass by, it's a Niles Main Street DDA event
If you see wonderful flowers downtown or . . .
If you see others enjoying a summer day at the French
Market, stop by and enjoy it too cause that's a Niles Main
Street DDA event.
Please remember to thank them for all they do
for our community. For more information on downtown
activities, check the community calendar on this website or
contact Niles Main Street at 269-687-4332 or via
Niles Main Street has many functions, which it
carries out under the discretion of and for the City of Niles. Niles
Main Street is made up of nine (9) area citizens and business
professionals who each serve 4-year terms on the board. They are
charged with facilitating the redevelopment plan of the downtown
area. This plan is considered a "work in progress", and was revised
in 1988 and again in 1998. The plan includes many interrelated
concepts and ideas. The following is a summary of some of those
redevelopment plans and ideas, many of which have already been
completed and others that are on going.
Increased residential density in downtown Niles
Increased density in the downtown area is
beneficial to the City in a number of ways. The increased
population provides an improved customer base for downtown
business, supports economic expansion and an improved tax base.
The residential population in the downtown area
additionally provides "eyes on the park" to increase security and
provide for a safe ‘"pedestrian-friendly" environment in the newly
developed Riverfront Park and the rest of the downtown area.
Development of publicly and privately owned land
Assisting the City with the purchase and sale of
real properties from/to both public and private developers
securing a redevelopment mindset and economic conditions that
facilitate the continual redevelopment of the area.
Niles Main Street may enter into a limited
partnership with a developer of real property. Niles Main Street
may retain ownership of the project while the developer acts as
the general contractor to build and market the property.
Increased Commercial Development in downtown Niles
Increased commercial development strengthens the
city’s tax base and draws more people to the downtown area.
Commercial development is achieved through the
construction of new commercial buildings and the renovations/reuse
of buildings that are presently vacant, or economically
Niles Main Street also has a marketing director
to assist with the sale/lease of vacant properties in the downtown
Improved streetscapes help to make the downtown
area more pedestrian friendly and a more "walkable" area.
Streetscape improvements have included wider
sidewalks, benches, lighting, stone flower planters and improved
A program of parking lot maintenance and
improvements has been in place since the mid 80’s. On going
programs that include sealing, striping and landscaping city
parking lots to make it easier for visitors to park and just walk
the downtown area to enjoy shopping. All city parking lots provide
Improvements to all intersections including,
widening, striping and other changes to make intersections safer
Recent improvements to the streets and roadways
have been made by changing the street striping format and traffic
lanes to slow vehicles and make it easier for shoppers to park on
Most streetscape improvements are facilitated as
joint, coordinated cooperative efforts between the Michigan
Department of Transportation, the City’s Engineering, Street and
Utilities departments, and Niles Main Street.
Riverfront Park is the only city park in the
Niles Main Street district. Niles Main Street has served as the
lead developer of Riverfront Park and works with the Park and
Recreation Board in a shared, ongoing responsibility to address
maintenance and programming issues at the park.
The project has spanned many years from the
original property acquisition in the late ‘80’s and new features
are added on a regular basis to attract citizens and visitors to
the downtown area.
Riverfront Park and its features are entirely
handicapped accessible. It is recognized as a recreational jewel
by citizens and visitors that enjoy it’s varied venues. Among
those visitors have been the National Canoe and Kayak Association.
Riverfront park sports a marked walking/biking
trail, a fishing pier, picnic areas, an amphitheater and a large
children’s play area to name just a few of it’s amenities.
A new boat dock in the park and on the St.
Joseph River was completed in 2001.
These are just some of the many responsibilities
of Niles Main Street. To learn more, contact the Niles Main Street’s
Director of Marketing and Administration
or by telephone at 269-687-4332. The Niles Main Street fax number is
Niles: A Michigan Main Street
The architectural detail and historical
significance of downtown buildings is now available for all to
see and enjoy.
~Niles Main Street ~
"The purpose of Niles Main Street is to enhance
our community identity and heritage, foster a center of activity and
ensure economic stability for the heart of downtown Niles through
broad based community support."
Since January 2001, Niles has been working a program for downtown
revitalization utilizing the National Main Street Center's (NMSC)
Four Point Approach to commercial district revitalization, along
with their eight guiding principles: 1) creating a comprehensive, 2)
incremental, 3) self-help program focusing on 4) the development of
partnerships, 5) using history as an asset, 6) quality projects, 7)
changing attitudes and practices, and finally 8)
implementation...making a difference today.
This inclusive and results driven methodology has been utilized
by the NMSC to create independent, self-sustaining Main Street
Programs in over 1500 small cities and towns throughout the country
over the past 20+ years.
Main Street programs are volunteer-driven, with broad-based
community support. The Niles Main Street board of directors and
various committee members represent a cross-section of Niles
The picture above shows three views of the same building in the
200 block of downtown. First picture shows early 1900
photo, then 1950s and 2003 with aluminum storefront facade
Initial activities sought to create highly visible projects that
had immediate impact in the district, such as the facade
improvements, streetscape upgrades, and promotional events.
Now that revitalization efforts are maturing, downtown has begun
the process of conducting market analysis for the purpose of
developing an appropriate marketing plan, business mix, as well as
to identify market gaps and encourage business retention, expansion
and attraction to occur.
Niles Main Street is ready to grow. In order to accomplish all we
can, we need your help. At Niles Main Street there are jobs that
last one hour and committees you can work with for years! If you are
interested in getting involved with the program, read about the four
committees and their 2005 plans to see what interests you. If you
have any questions, don't hesitate to call 269-687-4332 or
The Main Street approach to downtown revitalization is based on
the following four points:
Economic Restructuring, and
Black wrought iron fencing, designer lamp posts and matching
trash cans highlight new brick sidewalks, flower planters and
Design takes advantage of the visual
opportunities inherent in the commercial district by directing
attention to the improvement of all its physical elements: public
and private buildings, store fronts, signs, public spaces,
landscaping, merchandising, window displays, parking and traffic
circulation. Its aim is to stress the importance of quality design
in all of these areas, to educate people about design issues, and to
expedite design improvements in the district. The Design committees'
goal is to work to provide design assistance to property owners,
promote downtown's architectural history and undertake some public
improvements. 2005 will be a busy year, as the committee works with
the Michigan State Historic Preservation office to explore the
potential of designating the Main Street district a National
Historic District. Other projects include the development of Window
Design and Merchandising programs as well as working to define and
develop a Directional Signage System.
Organization establishes consensus
and cooperation by building partnerships among the various groups
that have a stake in the commercial district. Through these
partnerships, the Main Street revitalization program is able to
provide effective, ongoing management and advocacy of the district.
Diverse groups from the public and private sectors (city government,
banks, merchants, merchant organizations, civic associations,
property owners, community leaders and others) must work together to
maintain a successful program. The Organization committee will be
focusing on developing a Main Street Membership program, as well as
coordinating volunteers. This committee will also partner with the
Promotions Committee to explore the development of another program
fund raising event. Lastly, the Organization committee will begin to
develop a speaker's bureau in order to educate the community about
DDA Main Street is ready to grow. In order to
accomplish all we can, we need your help. At DDA Niles
Main Street there are jobs that last one hour and committees
you can work with for years!
Economic Restructuring strengthens the
district's existing economic base. This is accomplished by retaining
and expanding existing businesses to provide a balance commercial
mix, by converting unused or underutilized space into productive
property, and by sharpening the competitiveness and merchandising
skills of the commercial district's business owners. The Economic
Restructuring committee will be using the market study prepared by a
company called Downtown Professional Network, which works through
the Michigan Main Street program to identify market opportunities,
develop programs to strengthen the current district, and recruit new
businesses to the district.
Promotion takes many forms, but
the goal is to rekindle community pride in the commercial district
and change people's attitudes from negative to positive. Promotion
increases sales through special retail events, brings new audiences
to the district for festivals and celebrations, and builds the
district's image through marketing campaigns. All of these
activities serve not only to attract shoppers, but also attract
investors, developers, and new businesses. The Promotions committee
is responsible for the January Hunter Ice Festival, the May
Celebration Auction, the June Garage Barrage, the November Decorate
Downtown for the Holidays, and the December Holiday Homecoming, as
well as the Blooming Bridges Project. This year, they will be
developing additional special events, new retail promotions and
downtown marketing activities.
If you'd liked to learn more about the program, call our office
at 269-687-4332 to set up a time to meet with someone and talk a
little more in-depth about what we do and see where might be the
best place for you to help Niles realize the Vision Statement that
"Downtown Niles is a vibrant, exciting, inviting and a welcoming
place to live, work, learn, shop and play."
requires the cooperation and commitment of a broad-based coalition
of public and private groups. The current Downtown Niles
Revitalization Project and Niles Main Street are a result of
cooperation and partnerships developed between the City of Niles,
the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), Michigan Economic
Development Corporation (MEDC), Michigan State Housing Development
Authority (MSHDA), Michigan State Historic Preservation Office
(MiSHPO), Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), the Greater
Niles Community Development Corporation (GNCDC), the Four Flags Area
Chamber of Commerce, downtown business and property owners, local
foundations such as the Hunter Foundation and the Plym Foundation
and countless volunteers from the greater Niles community.
Lisa Croteau is the Director of Marketing
and Administration for Niles Main Street (formerly the Downtown
Development Authority). Lisa’s primary responsibilities are to act
as a facilitator in the marketing of the downtown area, and to serve
as the administrative liaison between the Niles Main Street board of
directors and the merchants and property owners in the Niles Main
Street district. As an employee of Niles Main Street, the Director
of Marketing and Administration works with downtown merchants to
implement ideas that will improve customer satisfaction, attract
shoppers, create economic vitality and promote new business locating
to the downtown.
If you would like information and assistance and are considering
opening a new business in Niles, please call Lisa. She can provide
you with all the information you need on existing space for lease or
purchase as well as provide information on available property for
any new developments. The Niles Main Street office can assist
individuals with almost every aspect of starting a new business,
expanding an existing business and/or direct you to other agencies
in the area. Niles Main Street can also provide statistical,
demographic and geographical information that will help you to
decide what location may be best for your business. Please call the
Niles Main Street office for more information at 269-687-4332.
Park, Leave a Legacy
When you purchase a tree, bench, bike rack, engraved
paving brick, grilles, etc. for placement in the Niles Riverfront
Park, or make a donation, you help fund the future growth of the
park. Your contribution will serve as a building brick in the
foundation of Niles' future.
If you would like to contribute, you can
click here to view/print a Riverfront Park Form. This form
shows the various ways you can contribute.
Pictured here are just a few of the things your
donation can buy.
Up to 3 lines of text
Six Foot Wrought Iron Park
Ten Foot Wrought Iron Park
Wrought Iron Picnic Table
Bike Rack Loop (six shown)
Niles Market Study
The Downtown Niles Market Study
is available to view in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format. Make a selection below
by clicking a brochure: