Arlington earns $15K grant for Depot Square

Years of focus on revitalizing Arlington’s historic Depot Square, sustained work by local merchants and the support of the town’s leaders paid off on June 19. Arlington was named one of only six communities statewide selected for the Tennessee Downtown Revitalization program.

Tennessee DowntownsThat earned the town a $15,000 reimbursable grant, as well as training for an Arlington steering committee to develop their Depot Square project.

The selection means a two-year process for the project’s steering committee, led by town planner, Heather Sparkes. Steering committee members include Sparks; Chris Burcky of Main Street Arlington; Gerald McGee, alderman and member of Main Street Arlington; Tonia Howell of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce; and Don Oliver of First Citizens National Bank.

The first year will be spent in training provided online, in Arlington and in Nashville. A Depot Square project will be developed in the second year, Sparkes said. The city will fund the work and get a reimbursement from the state, per the grant.

That grant will be great for the town and in particular for Depot Square, Arlington mayor Mike Wissman said.

The town’s up-to-date master development plan will work with Tennessee Downtowns’ funding and training to continue improving the area.

“We’re doing all we can to make this a destination point,” he said.

Tennessee Department of Economic & Community DevelopmentThat master plan was a key element in Arlington’s successful application, said Erin Holt, deputy communications director for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Tennessee Downtowns is a tiered program affiliated with the her department’s Tennessee Main Street Program.

“In addition to meeting all of the criteria — need for downtown revitalization, preservation ethic, etc. — Arlington has a recently completed (2013) master plan for its Depot Square area that indicates a clear vision for the area and significant community support for downtown revitalization,” Holt said.

The Tennessee Downtowns program is a prestigious program that requires a downtown commercial district established at least 50 years ago, a demonstrated readiness to organize the revitalization efforts and adherence to five core criteria — historic resources, need (economic and physical), demonstrated local effort, overall presentation and probability of success.

The town’s train depot dates to the 1800s, with commercial growth blossoming around it in the years since.

For more information about Tennessee Downtowns, visit

Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to