Oregon Main Street announced its 2021 “Excellence on Main” award winners Thursday and released videos of all the recipients. A total of 21 businesses, projects, partners and people were recognized. Three of those recognized were from Coos Bay and Gold Beach based on nominations submitted by the Coos Bay Downtown Association and Gold Beach Main Street.
Best Adaptive Reuse went to the 999 N. Front Street building owned by Heidi Sause. This is the second year in a row Sause won this award. Beginning in April 2020, the 999 N. Front Street project leveraged a facade grant to salvage and restore a mostly vacant, blighted and collapsing 1930s waterfront warehouse. Sixty-two local tradesmen representing 21 different businesses worked for over a year, providing expertise, talent and labor in the restoration of this building. The 16,000 sfquare-foot warehouse was converted into individual, unique, affordable workspaces. Ten out of the possible 11 spaces leased immediately, demonstrating the demand for this price point and size of commercial space for lease. Seven of these enterprises are new to Coos Bay enhancing the economic base and expanding the dity’s diversity. Most of the internal building materials were all repurposed from the renovation of the structure to bring it up to code. Three, unimproved buildings remain in this Front Street District and will soon face the same process to recover the highest and best use of the buildings for the greater good in the community. The lessons learned at 999 will improve the efficacy of future partnerships between city and private investment.
Outstanding Partnership went to Gold Beach Small Town Christmas. The importance of partnerships was drilled home when Gold Beach Main Street needed to pivot their traditional holiday activities to comply with COVID protocols. Switching up activities increased meaningful partnerships and connections for Gold Beach Main Street beyond the usual suspects and included local artists; residents; utility companies; the Port District; retail, professional, and service businesses; local government and more. They worked with these partners and donors to host three events including a Santa Drive-Thru event, Children’s Christmas Art Contest and an enhanced home and business Christmas light competition. By working together, this tiny town of 2,400 was able to provide Santa gift bags for 300 children, with 458 people overall participating in the drive-through style event. Gold Beach Main Street also helped advertise for partner projects that came up after they were inspired by the COVID-friendly events, such as a socially distanced Christmas light parade down Main Street. While Gold Beach Main Street had similar holiday season events before, this was their first time trying to hold events with such tight precautions, and, through great partnerships, they had more people participate than ever before.
Volunteers on Main award: Tim O'Dwyer was one of six volunteers recognized for his volunteer efforts. Tim has been an asset to the work of Gold Beach Main Street for the past few years. He was the catalyst for the creation of 13 mini-parks and the installation of 26 benches along Main Street. These parks have made a world of difference in creating a more enjoyable walking experience along the commercial corridor for all. And, the benches have memorial plaques which has made an impact on the emotional connection people have with the sites. This project wouldn’t happened without Tim’s hard work and expertise. And, these changes are inspiring business and property owners to make streetscape improvements on their own sites as well as well as instilling a stronger sense of pride in the town.
Oregon Main Street’s Excellence on Main Awards were created in 2010 to recognize the efforts of those who work day-in and day-out to revitalize Oregon’s historic downtowns and traditional commercial neighborhoods. Thirteen other towns in Oregon were honored with awards this year.
“2020 was a particularly challenging year on Main Street,” said Sheri Stuart, state coordinator, Oregon Main Street. “Our main street communities demonstrated amazing resiliency, working tirelessly to support, encourage, and nurture the people, businesses, and property owners in their communities. These awards recognize the outstanding efforts of local programs in creating and supporting projects and activities that exemplify Oregon Main Street’s mission to build equitable, livable, and sustainable communities that will grow Oregon’s economy while maintaining a sense of place.”
The wide range of awards is reflective of the comprehensive Main Street Approach™ to downtown revitalization developed by the National Main Street Center. This model is used by the communities participating in the three-tier Main Street Track of Oregon Main Street Network. From 2010 to 2020, communities participating in the Performing Main Street and Transforming Downtown levels – the top two tiers – have seen $125 million in private building improvement projects, $124.6 million in public projects, 1,347 private rehab projects, 639 net new businesses, 163 business expansions, 126 business acquisitions and 3,961 net new jobs. In addition, 250,348 hours of volunteer time has been contributed to local main street organizations in the top tiers.
Oregon Main Street is part of Oregon Heritage, a division of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. For information, visit www.oregonmainstreet.org.