Paducah Main Street, winner of the Great American Main Street Award in 2010 and a 2017 Accredited Kentucky Main Street Community, serves as a model for communities throughout the nation. Selected by a nationwide jury of community development experts, Paducah proves that incremental progress and persistence pay off, creating economic vitality, a unique sense of place, and a greater commitment to community by all of its residents.
Paducah Main Street partners with business owners, property owners, and citizens through historic preservation and effective marketing, maximizes the potential of the unique historic district by focusing on business recruitment and retention, and believes that promotion of the district will make Paducah a thriving, vibrant, and attractive destination, benefiting the entire community.
Mission Statement - The mission of the Paducah Main Street program is to give people a vibrant downtown experience, to promote community spirit, and to stimulate the economic vitality of our historic downtown and LowerTown Arts District. Paducah Main Street unites the community by utilizing the National Main Street Four Point Approach and focuses on community assets and partnerships to preserve and promote historic Paducah.
Darlene Mazzone (Chairperson)
The Paducah Main Street Board meets on the last Monday of each month at 3 p.m. in the City Commission Chambers Conference Room at City Hall located at 300 South 5th Street.
There are several committees that work to advance the mission of Paducah Main Street.
Paducah's historic downtown has a long history of commitment by its business owners. More than $100 million has been invested in historic downtown since the start of the downtown revitalization efforts more than 20 years ago. With more than 4000 employees working and living in historic downtown and the LowerTown Arts District, businesses have access to a steady flow of customers. Shops including Groundfloor Shoes, The Chocolate Factory, and Allen Music are all celebrating more than 25 years of success in Paducah's historic downtown. Plus, new unique boutiques, fabulous restaurants, and speciality shops have been added to our collection.
The City of Paducah Planning Department offers several programs to encourage development, beautification, rehabilitation, and stabilization of the Historic Downtown area. The Downtown Development Programs are as follows:
Assistance also is provided in completing state and federal applications for historic tax credits.
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving historic downtown Paducah will be bustling with holiday shoppers and Christmas cheer. On November 26, enjoy the Dickens of a Christmas Small Business Saturday event organized by Paducah Main Street, a division of the Paducah Planning Department. From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., downtown Paducah will be transformed into a Dickens atmosphere with free Victorian carriage rides, dancers, carolers, and characters in costume.
Downtown Development Specialist/Paducah Main Street Director Melinda Winchester says, “Our Small Business Saturday event is a chance to spend the day with family and friends while supporting your local businesses. This event keeps dollars in the community and creates a thriving downtown. Local small businesses look forward to helping customers find perfect holiday gifts.”
Winchester adds, “This is our third year of hosting Dickens of a Christmas and the community reaction to participate has been outstanding. I believe it will be bigger than last year. It’s a perfect way to wrap up your Thanksgiving holiday and kick off Christmas shopping. Santa and Mrs. Claus and the Princesses will parade down Broadway in the carriage to the gazebo promptly at 10 a.m.”
Other activities on the 26th include a free gift wrapping station and free hot chocolate, wassail, and coffee. There will be roasted nuts and s'mores at the fire pit near the gazebo. Holiday craft stations for kids will be at three locations hosted by MAKE Paducah, McCracken County Public Library, and the Art Guild of Paducah. McMurry & Livingston will host Christmas story-time from 1 until 3 p.m. at 201 Broadway. Four of the Disney Princesses, Cinderella, Snow White, Belle and Rapunzel, will be at the Market House Theatre to meet and greet. Plus, The Grinch Who Stole Dickens will be creating havoc in downtown. Later, the Grinch will be in his sleigh for pictures at 333 Broadway. Elsa and Olaf from the movie Frozen will be at Farmer’s Daughter Soap Company located at 104 Broadway.
Sponsors for this year’s event are Paducah Bank and Paducah Economic Development. Partners include Paducah Tilghman High School, Paducah Middle School, Graves County High School, local scouting troops, Daughters of the American Revolution, Paducah Youth Symphony and the Children’s Choir, and many talented local vocalists.
Paducah Main Street is organizing the third annual Showcase Paducah. The event will be from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 23. Showcase Paducah is an opportunity to tour commercial and residential properties that are for sale or for lease in downtown and Lower Town. The open house format allows anyone to tour the properties and ask questions of the real estate agent or property representative. At this time, 13 properties will be open to the public to tour at no charge. The properties are located at 111, 115, and 117 Market House Square, 311, 314, 405, 500, and 620 Broadway, 420 North 5th Street, 625 North 6th Street, 524 North 7th Street, 525 North 8th Street, and 223 North 9th Street.
The Market Square Art Park is small city-owned park located at 117 ½ South 2nd Street adjacent to JP’s Bar & Grill. It previously was a vacant lot located between two downtown buildings. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the park was held June 10, 2016. Mayor Gayle Kaler initiated the project with the desire to turn a small vacant area into a creative outdoor space. The City of Paducah Planning Department then held a public charrette to gain input for the park. Market Square Art Park photos >>
In addition to seating areas and landscaping, the park features metal art panels designed by Char Downs, fiber art banners created by Freda Fairchild, glazed ceramic art tiles by John Hasegawa, and the sculpture, Fluid Progress, by Paducah School of Art & Design sculpture students Michael Copeland and Lu Colby. Durwin Ursery developed the park’s initial schematic designs with J. Patrick Kerr, Architects completing the final designs. In June 2015, the City accepted a $44,371 bid from Midstates Construction Company for the park’s construction. Paducah Main Street received a Creative Placemaking grant from the Paducah Board of Realtors to assist with the cost of the art pieces. Also, the El Arbol Garden Club sponsored one of the cast iron benches.
In October 2015, Top Value Reviews, a data-driven, customer-centric, value-conscious website featuring product reviews and rankings, released a list of the 50 Best Small Town Main Streets in America. Paducah received the ranking of #33. Whether a place for the locals to hang out or the go-to destination of visitors to town, Main Street is oftentimes the heart and soul of a city or town. Each town on the list has fewer than 60,000 residents (according to the 2010 census) and at least one notable attraction. The towns were chosen and ranked based upon the following:
Inclusion on a major register, such as the National Register of Historic Places, National Parks, National Historic Landmarks, etc. (1 point per list)
Category of downtown attractions (restaurants, wineries, antique stores, art galleries, etc.). (1 point per notable category)
Notable and historic places (1 point each)
A national ranking of some kind (1 point each)
Paducah received 8 points with the following information posted on the website. In 2000, Paducah, Kentucky made the risky move of offering incentives to artists willing to relocate to downtown Paducah. Today, the small Kentucky town is a thriving community built around the arts. Besides the many Victorian houses and art galleries lining the town’s main street, art-loving wanderers will find the series of Floodwall Murals depicting events in local history and the rotating exhibits of the National Quilt Museum. Thanks to Paducah’s Arts a la Carte program, many artists set up workstations directly on the sidewalk for the enjoyment of passersby. A number of festivals — both art themed and otherwise — also occur in Paducah throughout the year.
In 2012, Paducah was designated as a Kentucky Cultural District for efforts in promoting the arts and cultural assets of the community, encouraging community engagement and partnerships that facilitate the stimulation and promotion of local cultural, economic, tourism and social assets. The 70-block Cultural District encompasses six museums, a world-class performing arts venue, arthouse/cinema, public library, farmers’ market, public parks, art installations and approximately 24 art galleries, retail shops and dining establishments. The Paducah School of Art and Design buildings also are located within the parameters of the Cultural District.
In December 2005, Paducah Main Street brought Kent Burnes of Downtown Management Services to Paducah. Burnes made observations and recommendations on ways Paducah can increase success downtown and make smart decisions about retail throughout the City. Click Kent Burnes Observations for a copy of the report.