Our History and Projects

30+ Years and Counting

Paul Intagliata, the first Venice MainStreet President,
talks about the organization’s creation

Since its inception, Venice MainStreet has contributed greatly to the improvement of the downtown historic district. The timeline below and photos to the right highlight the most significant goals and projects accomplished over the organization’s 30+ year history. For a list of Venice MainStreet awards for these and other projects, click HERE. For a list of past VMS board presidents, click HERE.

CURRENT PROGRAMS & PROJECTS

– Collaborating with Venice Area Chamber of Commerce have collaborated to form the Reopening Task Force to aid businesses in their resumption of business activities during the COVID-19 crisis. The committee is comprised of board members and business leaders from both organizations.

– Coordinating alleyway improvement project with City of Venice, Venice MainStreet Alleyway Committee, building owners and tenants.

– Organizing four “Breakfast with The Mayor” gatherings where community members are invited to have face-to-face time with the City of Venice mayor.

– Managing volunteer downtown ambassadors, called the “Downtowners,” from November to April, who staff the downtown information kiosk and walk the streets greeting visitors and answering questions.

– Managing event flyer postings at the kiosk and information posted on gateway arch sign at intersection of W. Venice Ave. and Tamiami Trail.

– Organizing events: Bi-monthly Friday Night Concert Series in Centennial Park, Easter Eggstravaganza (25+ years), Christmas Walk (30+ years), Children’s Halloween Parade (with Lion’s Club 30+ years), 3 annual Miami Avenue Craft Festivals, March Art Classic (15+ years), November Downtown Venice Art Festival (30+ years), Downtown Sidewalk Sales (30+ years), Wine Walks (3+ years), Christmas in July (10+ years), Venice Beach Party (4+ years), Oktoberfest (2+ years), and Barstool Open (2+ years). For more information about our events CLICK HERE.

– Maintaining community-wide calendar of events and updating content on our website.

– Celebrating holidays: installing flags along W. Venice Avenue at war memorial sites and City Hall for Memorial Day; coordinating a holiday storefront window decorating contest in the district in late November and awarding prizes.

– Coordinating yearly poster contest for the Annual Downtown Venice Art Festival held in November, a 30+ year tradition.

– Publishing weekly e-newsletter to 11,000+ subscribers with event and business information; publishing annual Restaurant Guide and Business Directory; publishing bi-monthly full page article in Venice Gondolier.


ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY & DOWNTOWN PROJECTS
1985
The Downtown Venice Association was formed by the former Merchants Association in Venice, originally established in 1965.

1987
The Downtown Venice Association, with support from the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Venice, decides to form a non-profit corporation enabling them to apply for the Florida Main Street Project. By a unanimous decision of those at this meeting, Paul Intagliata, George Hunter, Jr, Bill Reilly, Jerrel Towery and Don Patterson were elected as the first five board members of Venice Main Street, Inc.

1988
Venice is chosen as a Florida MainStreet City and selects its first MainStreet manager. Venice MainStreet, Inc. received its 501(c)3 tax exempt status. First year activities concentrated on the foundation work. A full-time manager, Doug Mann, is hired to oversee the activities, educate participants and the public and promote the program. Heavy emphasis is placed on promotional activities and producing newsletters, brochures and special events held in conjunction with other community groups. Rehab projects, locating new businesses in the downtown area and annual special events give an overall sense that the core of the downtown area is not only thriving but progressing and that the program is working.

1989
Second year activities encompass more visible aspects of the program, such as the Gateway Arch sign at the entrance of the downtown area, in the median of the first block of West Venice Avenue. Supported by pairs of columns, this sign shows the Venice commitment to preserving its Northern Italian-style architecture. The area is enhanced by the Venice Area Garden Club’s landscaping project. 

1992
Venice MainStreet donates $1,500 to the historic Triangle Inn.

1995
Venice MainStreet partners with the City of Venice to design the Centennial Park restrooms. The City receives national awards for the designs.

1996
Installs cement podiums and way-finding maps throughout downtown Venice.

Together with Venice Heritage Foundation, VMS funds a feasibility study of renovating the Historic Train Depot.

Designs and purchases city light pole banners and Christmas lights. The City of Venice helps to install them.

Approved and participated in the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce 20/20 Vision of Venice Task Force.

1997
Installs newspaper boxes downtown.

Rollins Coakley sat on the Venice MainStreet Task Force for renovation planning of the Historic Venice Train Depot.

1998
Designs and constructs the downtown Information Kiosk in Centennial Park.

2006
Through grants from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Ehrhart Family Foundation, VMS installs the Intergenerational Fountain in Centennial Park.

2011
In partnership with Venice Area Beautification Inc, VMS installs 12 bike racks.

2014
VMS, Venice Blue’s Festival, and Suncoast Blues Society donate $1,000 for Venice High School Band Sousaphone repairs.

2015
Installs lighted Venice advertisement at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ).

Partners with Venice Heritage, Inc. (VHI) to produce and install 186 Historic Sign Toppers that identify the historic John Nolen District. VMS and VHI receive the 2016 Heritage Award in Public Education for the project by the History & Preservation Coalition of Sarasota County.

VMS, Venice Blue’s Festival, and Suncoast Blues Society donate $3,000 to the Venice High School Band.

Launches www.VisitVeniceFL.org, the go-to website for Venice residents and visitors. Within a year the site gets 10,000 visitors per month.

2016
Updates iconic West Venice Avenue archway sign with state-of-the-art, electronic LED sign.

Launches Lovin’ Our Locals summertime campaign directed at creating a renewed sense of ownership in downtown by year-round Venice residents.

In a joint project with Venice Area Beautification Inc, VMS installs 13 planted pots along Miami Ave. This project was supported by a grant from the Venice Area Garden Club. 

2017
Installed large advertisement mural titled “Venice Is” at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) showcasing all the benefits Venice has to offer visitors and the community, with the help of supporting grants from Visit Sarasota, the Ehrhart Family Foundation and our advertising partners.

2018
Begins year-long “Summer of Love” marketing campaign, with support from Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Venice Gondolier Sun, to keep locals and tourists visiting the historic district during construction resulting from the Downtown Venice Beautification Project by the City of Venice (Venice, Florida Municipal Government).

2019
Completes interactive, three-dimensional mural project at the corner of West Venice Avenue and Nassau Street (east wall of Celebration Corner) painted by David Lee with funding from Visit Florida, Ehrhart Family Foundation, and private donors.

In the summer, begins monthly appearances on ABC7’s Suncoast View to showcase downtown Venice district and shops.

Launches improved website visitvenicefl.org with interactive map of local businesses and organizations funded by Visit Florida.

On November 12th, the City of Venice makes a proclamation to welcome new fairy residents to Venice. This launches the fairy door project in downtown Venice where ceramic doors made by local artists and high school students are installed by The Venice Company. It is a joint project between Venice MainStreet and The Venice Art Center with funding from The Ehrhart Family Foundation.

2020
Installed 4 alleyway signs for Calle de las Tiendas to begin wayfinding and beautification project for alleyways in historic district.

Continues appearances on ABC7’s Suncoast View to showcase downtown Venice district and shops through spring.

Launches VeniceFairies.com website, Facebook page and #VeniceFairies to promote 15+ fairy doors installed downtown, a joint project between Venice MainStreet and the Venice Art Center with funding from The Ehrhart Family Foundation.

Assists local businesses through COVID-19 impact by creating a local resource guide on our website visitvenicefl.org with links to local, county, state and federal information and guidelines.

2017- Layout of Venice MainStreet’s “Venice Is” advertisement mural installed at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) baggage claim

1987- Members of the Downtown Venice Association and City of Venice officials formed a MainStreet Exploration Committee to look into transitioning into an official Main Street program.

1989- Gateway arch sign groundbreaking

1989- Completed gateway arch

1996- Light pole banners and Christmas lights are purchased for the downtown district

1998- Designed and constructed information kiosk in Centennial Park

2006- Completed Intergenerational Fountain in Centennial Park

2011- Installed 12 bike racks throughout downtown, in partnership with VABI

2015- Installed lighted advertisement for Venice at Sarasota International Airport

2015- Installed 186 historic district street sign toppers in partnership with VHI

2016- Upgraded the iconic gateway arch sign with state-of-the-art LED lights

2016- Installed 13 flower pots along Miami Ave. in partnership with VABI and Venice Area Garden Club

2017- Installed large advertising mural “Venice Is” at Sarasota International Airport

2019- Completed 3-D mural project at corner of W. Venice Ave. and Nassau St. painted by David Lee

2020- Installed alleyways signs

2019- Began monthly appearances of Venice MainStreet on ABC7’s Suncoast View program

2020- Launched VeniceFairies.com and Facebook page in partnership with VAC and Ehrhart Family Foundation