Close your eyes and think of Van Wert. What do you see? Images probably come to mind of buildings, streets, parks, restaurants, or community events. Hopefully the images are positive. Chances are, however, that the images you see are of downtown. And you are not alone. With Van Wert being the largest city in our county, downtown Van Wert is often the image of the entire community and the image taken by those who visit each year. This image that your mind forms is powerful and resolutely physical. Similar to a first impression when meeting someone new, whether good or bad, that image of a community is difficult to shake once taken.
For that reason, a city's reputation is based in large part on how its downtown looks. If the downtown shows deterioration and years of disinvestment, the image of the city is not as strong as it could be. Families may not want to move there, tourists will not be impressed with what they find, and it will be harder for citizens to feel good about their community. On the reverse, however, a beautiful and vibrant downtown can be the rising tide that lifts all ships. Each building that undergoes a facelift, renovation, or new business that finds its home downtown adds to the growing excitement about the heart of our community and the potential that is being uncovered.
We feel that potential is fully understood in the Van Wert Downtown Comprehensive Plan, the result of several months of interviews, studies, meetings and planning sessions all focused on addressing the real issues facing our downtown. Although it is a vision document, it encompasses the 4 areas that any downtown revitalization program must focus on to achieve success: organizational capacity, physical design, business enhancement, and district promotions. It is the goal of Main Street Van Wert to plan our projects and activities each year from this Comprehensive Plan, transforming these concepts into a more beautiful and stronger downtown which enhances each person’s image of Van Wert.