Vermont Downtown Development Program

The Vermont Downtown Program was established in 1994 to provide technical assistance and training to communities and help them develop skills and strategies for their downtown revitalization efforts. The Program is an affiliate of the National Main Street Center, a division of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which has worked in over 1,400 communities nationwide revitalizing and redeveloping “Main Streets.”

Technical Assistance

As an affiliate of the National Main Street Center, the Vermont Downtown Program has access to high quality resources for downtown revitalization. The Program uses these resources to provide ongoing technical assistance to help each local organization develop and implement their own revitalization strategy.

Downtown Resource Library

The Program maintains a comprehensive downtown resource library of more than 100 publications and audiovisual materials addressing a wide variety of revitalization topics, available on loan.

Statewide Gatherings

The Program holds an annual conference featuring local and national revitalization experts. Quarterly networking meetings provide an opportunity for participants to share stories and learn new ideas.

Comprehensive Training Program

The Downtown Program offers Comprehensive Training services to local programs that wish to receive more intensive training. The training is structured to help local organizations grow during their first five years. The Program consists of on-site training and technical assistance, consulting, and a series of statewide workshops. The training begins with the basics of revitalization during the first year. In subsequent years, the training progresses to more advanced revitalization topics, and participants receive more targeted consulting expertise. To begin the Comprehensive Training Program, there must be a local program with a demonstrated readiness and commitment to participate in the training. Downtown designation, as described below, is not required for this training.

Downtown Designation

The 1998 Downtown Development Act provides substantial support for downtown revitalization. Towns that receive downtown designation under the Act are eligible for a number of benefits, including tax credits, loans and grants from various state agencies, and permitting incentives. To qualify, towns must develop a comprehensive revitalization strategy for the downtown district and demonstrate broad-based community support. The strategy must involve a long-term commitment to enhancing economic opportunities, preserving historic buildings, and improving public spaces and infrastructure in the commercial district. Interested communities should contact the Vermont Downtown Program for more information. As of 2014, Vermont had 24 designated downtowns. Find a full list here.

Village Center Designation

The Second Downtown Development Act (2002) created a new level of designation for Village Centers. Village centers are eligible for benefits including tax credits and priority consideration from other state programs and agencies. As of 2014, Vermont had over 110 designated village centers. Is your village designated? Check here.

Neighborhood Planning Areas

Recognizing that housing near downtowns and villages helps reinforce economic development, walkability, and other smart growth goals, in 2013, the Legislature adopted the Neighborhood Development Area designation. This program helps municipalities and developers plan ahead for neighborhoods near downtowns and villages, and provides permitting and tax incentives for multi-family housing built in these areas.


More information:

For more information on any of these programs, including contact information for Department of Housing and Community Development Staff, visit the Community Revitalization page.