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Melbourne Main Street Helps to Create Meaningful Memories Downtown

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Melbourne Main Street organization helps with community revitalization and advocates for local downtown businesses. Work is done to develop events, art projects, business and living developments often through intensive advertising. Executive Director Jarin R. Eisenberg explains, "Historic downtowns with Main Street programs grow at a faster rate." Melbourne Main Street's goal is to foster an environment that brings people downtown to create meaningful memories in the place they live."

Memories are made at the many events that Melbourne Main Street has going on. From Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday celebrations and candlelit nighttime shopping to Friday Fest every second Friday with live music, food trucks, vendors and lots of fun street happenings. Eisenberg tell us, "We host Florida Institute of Technology's Homecoming in October featuring a nationally recognized band, and we also close the streets and have vendors, street performers, and other interactive events for the family."

Part of stimulating downtown growth and commerce is to bring out its historic appeal. The working railroad tracks and waterfront location continue to contribute to downtown's history. Hell 'n Blazes Brewing Company, located just by the tracks, will soon open in the approximately 117-year-old building at 1002 East New Haven Avenue. In the heart of downtown lies a former school building from 1919 that now houses The Henegar Center for the Arts.

Highlighting visual art is another way to enliven the area, as in the Melbourne Mural Project. "Engaging the creative sector is key for economic development," explains Eisenberg. "We have currently facilitated the painting of four murals throughout downtown with more to come. The events create a significant economic impact for the businesses that call Downtown Melbourne home." Several arts-related businesses further showcase creativity, such as Henrimae Bell's Fine Art Studio, Strawbridge Art League or Painting with a Twist.

Aside from its many shops to purchase novel items, such as products directly imported from Ireland and Scotland at The Irish Shop, there are numerous restaurants. Worldwide cuisine flavors are plentiful. Eatery choices include Calilou for Spanish tapas, La Crepe de France, La Vela Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria and Southern grits and griddlecakes you make at your table at Backwater. Eisenberg details this new restaurant, "Backwater recently opened and they are truly a destination. The place has a ton of charm and great food."

With the idea to transform downtown into a 24/7 environment where residents are key to its growth, mixed-use residential development is important. "When you look at how other main streets revitalized after the Great Recession, mixed-use residential housing is a common theme in all of their stories," details Eisenberg. Overall, Eisenberg believes, "Melbourne is Florida's best-kept secret and Downtown Melbourne is the heart of this community."

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