CRT Stories: Dickson’s Successful Approach to Downtown Revitalization


Recently, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer announced a grant for downtown Dickson in the amount of $627,782. The grant will go towards Phase II of Dickson’s Downtown Revitalization Project designed to improve the downtown experience, and as Governor Haslam noted in a press release,

  “…Dickson’s efforts to give its downtown a more vibrant, inviting appearance and have positive impacts on the local economy, making downtown areas more accessible to residents and visitors.” 





The grant was made possible by a federally-funded program administered by TDOT. Dickson was one of 22 projects awarded the grant this year by TDOT, which has funded more than $270 million in “non-traditional” transportation projects. Dickson’s success has relied on proven strategies that have helped other communities in our region pursue similar downtown reinvestment goals.

CRT’s Quality Growth Toolbox highlights these six basic strategies communities of all size can follow:

  • Define and Focus on Promising Areas

In 2007 a downtown committee made up of private and public leaders was formed to look at revitalizing downtown Dickson as the economic and cultural center of the community.

  • Create a Good Redevelopment Plan

A comprehensive plan that expresses public policy regarding redevelopment within a specific neighborhood is essential to success. Using local funds, Dickson hired the Nashville-based firm Lose & Associates to plan and apply for a grant that included new downtown improvements. In 2009 a matching grant was provided by TDOT. Dickson used this grant to plan and implement Phase I of the Downtown Revitalization Project.

  • Make Reinvestment Possible

To make investment in older developed areas more appealing, political and regulatory barriers should be removed as appropriate. In the case of Dickson, local leaders were aware of the success of other similar downtown communities in our region, such as Columbia, Gallatin, and Ashland City, and sought to replicate those efforts. By leveraging the political will and $1.5 million in private and public investment Dickson was able to complete Phase I in November of last year. This action clearly demonstrated the city’s commitment towards downtown revitalization efforts.

  • Use Incentives to Promote Reinvestment

Renovating or removing site improvements and supporting infrastructure can be expensive, which is a significant deterrent to reinvesting in older, developed portions of the community. Sometimes the community must make reinvestment more attractive for private organizations by providing financial incentives and sponsoring infrastructure improvements. Dickson did this by partnering with downtown business and property owners in the Phase I investment which helped to fund parking lot renovations, and streetscaping.

  • Design Attractive Community Centers

Using design guidelines, streetscapes specifications, and civic design principles can ensure that redevelopment efforts contribute to the unique features of communities.  Phase II of the improvement project will include ornamental street lighting, sidewalks with brick pavers, cross walks, resurfacing, and landscaping

  • Maximize Organizations and Resources in Revitalizing Areas

Many groups exist to help downtown revitalization efforts, such as The Tennessee Main Street and Tennessee Downtown Programs. From 2006 to 2010 the region’s four Main Street communities: Columbia, Gallatin, Franklin and Murfreesboro totaled $341.1 million in downtown reinvestment. Dickson worked with its downtown business and property owners to pursue enhancement grants provided by TDOT.

CRT applauds the City of Dickson, along with the many other communities in our region that are working to enhance and revitalize downtown centers and corridors. As our region and local communities continue to pursue economic development, Quality Growth and the principles and strategies of downtown reinvestment will continue to play a key role.

Click Here to learn more about CRT’s Quality Growth Toolbox.

New CRT Research: Downtown Reinvestment is Economic Development

RTR-Gulch Development-Davidson

Creating a thriving economy is vital to our region’s long-term success and to our standard of living. After the 1960s, development largely skipped over our region’s once-bustling downtowns and headed to the suburbs. The last decade, however, has seen a reversal of this trend. Significant private investment has been attracted to several Main Street communities and downtown Nashville. In 2007 CRT published our award-winning Quality Growth Toolbox, which highlights CRT’s Principles for Quality Growth goals, standards, and practices and provides strategies, resources, and tools for growth planning and implementation for our region.

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