SALEM — Oregon Main Street just accepted the La Grande Main Street Downtown and The Dalles Main Street programs at the Performing Main Street level of Oregon Main Street. They join Albany, Astoria, Corvallis, McMinnville, Oregon City, and Roseburg at this top level. Communities participating at this level have a high degree of commitment to using the Main Street Approach® as a model for their downtown revitalization effort. The Main Street Approach® is a comprehensive downtown revitalization program that uses historic preservation as one of its most important tools. It is a practical program that helps a community build on their district’s unique assets.
When hearing the news, Thomas Taylor, executive director of La Grande Main Street Downtown, stated, “We are very proud to reach this benchmark. A lot of energy has been built around our downtown revitalization efforts since we began our main street organization. We have a great working relationship with our city, several key properties have been renovated, new events have added vitality to downtown, and we have a stronger business mix.”
And, Matthew Klebes, executive director of The Dalles Main Street, said, “This reflects the hard work of our numerous volunteers that make up our Board, committees, and task squads. The Dalles Main Street has seen amazing growth over the past few years. This is a direct result of our community stepping up and working hard on many different projects, programs, and events that have strengthened our historic downtown.”
Over the past few years, Oregon Main Street has seen an increased interest in building a comprehensive downtown revitalization effort using the Main Street model and a renewed awareness of the link between local heritage and sustainable economic development across the state. Between 2010 and 2014, communities participating at the Performing Main Street and Transforming Downtown levels – the two highest levels in the OMS Network – saw an increase of 295 net new businesses, 1,995 net new jobs, 719 private sector building improvement projects representing $53.9 million of private sector reinvestment.
Communities participating at the Performing Main Street level must have a cohesive core of historic or older commercial and mixed-use buildings that represent the community’s architectural heritage and may include compatible in-fill. They must also have a sufficient mass of businesses, buildings, and density to be effective, as well as be a compact and pedestrian-oriented district.
Acceptance into this level allows communities to participate in training, community assessments, technical assistance, the Oregon Main Street network, and receive local capacity building support. There isn’t a fee to participate in the Oregon Main Street network. Communities participating at this level are also eligible for recognition as an accredited community by the National Main Street Center.
Currently, there are over 80 communities participating in one of the four levels of the Oregon Main Street Network: Performing Main Street, Transforming Downtown, Exploring Main Street, and Affiliate. While not a pre-requisite for acceptance at the Performing Main Street level, both La Grande and The Dalles previously participated at the Transforming Downtown level.
“We are very excited to have both La Grande and The Dalles join the six other communities participating at the Performing Main Street level,” said Sheri Stuart, coordinator, Oregon Main Street. “It has been exciting to watch the progress they have made over the past few years to engage community partners in revitalizing their historic downtowns.”
Oregon Main Street is part of Heritage Programs in Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and is a designated coordinating program member of the National Main Street Center. Oregon Main Street provides assistance to all communities whether they are just beginning to explore options for their downtown or are seeking recognition as an accredited Main Street® town.