Excellence on Main Award

Finholm’s Market

Awardee: Mary DesMarais, Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance Executive Director

Award: Visual Impact

Year: 2016

City: Gig Harbor

In 2013, during the University of Washington Storefront Studio Project, the Finholm District of Gig Harbor’s downtown waterfront was identified as having the “potential to be a bustling neighborhood commercial district engaging both sides of the street.” In the final project report, several options were recommended for updating the exterior of the Finholm’s Market, an anchor building in the district. As it sat, there was a worn and faded mural across the main stucco wall of the structure, and non-working neon signage.

Following recommendations from a Washington State Department of Archaeology & History Preservation building assessment in early 2015, property owners Monte & Teddi Hester repainted building surfaces, refurbished the building’s neon sign, and commissioned local artists to paint a mural on the building. Improvements cost approximately $250,000, a worthy investment for the Hesters, who have longstanding ties to the building. Teddi’s father, John Finholm, was the former building owner and founded the Finholm Market in 1935.

The Hesters wanted the new building mural to celebrate the history of the Finholm district and the Finholm family. Finding inspiration from a historic photograph of the market, artists Lita Dawn Ancich and Bob Henry created a sepia toned painting featuring John Finholm and his brother Edward with their original delivery truck.

This project improved the overall appearance of the Finholm district and has helped the history of the building re-emerge with the painting of the historical mural. Market owners say the exterior improvements have made a huge difference for their business.

Excellence on Main Award

Kleinberg Building

Awardee: Dale & Susan Sherman

Award: Visual Impact

Year: 2017

City: Ellensburg

The Kleinberg Building in downtown Ellensburg was built by successful hay merchants Samuel and Henry Kleinberg in 1889 using unreinforced masonry following the great fire downtown earlier that year. After the brothers moved to Seattle in 1918, the building became a number of retail business and the single-room occupancy Palace Hotel. In the late 1920s, a severe fire in the hotel severed accessibility to the upper two floors. The upper floors would sit vacant for nearly 90 years until Dale and Susan Sherman purchased the building in 2012 and began rehabilitating it. What the Shermans found inside was stunning.

Original fluted door casings, unique wood modillions, 14-foot tall ceilings, and large transom windows adorned the upper floors, but were found to be in terrible condition. Downstairs a drop ceiling divided the space in half.

The Shermans diligently tackled all of these issues with exquisite craftsmanship and have given the Kleinberg Building a new life. Structural strengthening was performed to tie the façade back into the walls, fire damage and lead paint were remediated, and the historic charm of the upper floors was completely restored. The drop ceiling was removed to expose original tin ceilings. The storefront was reconstructed to match the character of the original building, and a new entrance for the upper floors was added from the street.

After five years of hard work, the Shermans have created six high quality apartments and a retail space that will serve as a model for historic rehabilitation statewide. They went the extra mile to restore damaged millwork upstairs, and spared no expense when it came to creating very high quality living space. The first floor is already leased by a restaurant and the upper floors will soon be available to hopeful residents. Carolyn Honeycutt, Executive Director for the Ellensburg Downtown Association adds, “Ellensburg has been dying for more downtown living space, and the Kleinberg has set a new standard for quality downtown apartments.”

Excellence on Main Award

Frick Lane

Awardee: Langley Main Street Association Board President Janet Ploof and Langley Mayor Tim Callison

Award: Visual Impact

Year: 2017

City: Langley

Frick Lane is a walkway from First to Second Streets in downtown Langley. The lane, which runs between two historic buildings, was overgrown with foliage and not living up to its potential as being a major pedestrian corridor connecting Langley’s two most significant downtown streets. Determined to bring the lane back to life, the Design Committee of the Langley Main Street Association began planning for improvements in 2015.

Stumps were removed, electrical and concrete work was completed, antique street light fixtures were installed, the archway was restored, and landscaping improvements were made. The team of Main Street volunteers also created and installed five steel and fiberglass panels, each with photographs and descriptions of the town’s early history. The project, which cost just under $15,000, was completed in April 2016. Hundreds of LMSA volunteer hours made the Frick Lane improvements possible, with an estimated labor value of over $7,500.

Frick Lane is now visited by locals and visitors alike on a daily basis, and serves as an attractive and entertaining connection between First and Second Streets. The project has also spurred interest from several partners: nearby property owners with renewed interest in improving their historic buildings, shop owners requesting historic photos of their building to put on display, and the Port of South Whidbey which intends to install 10 history panels at the marina.

Frick Lane is an example of underutilized public spaces holding the key to inspiring change and reinvestment community-wide.

Excellence on Main Award

Prosser Facade Improvement Program

Awardee: Historic Downtown Prosser Association

Award: Visual Impact

Year: 2015

City: Prosser

In 2011, the Historic Downtown Prosser Association (HDPA), the community’s Main Street organization, implemented a 60-month trial for a façade improvement program. Using Main Street Tax Credit Incentive dollars, the program offered an interest-free loan of $5,000. Its purpose was to provide HDPA members with incentives for business and/or property owners to restore building facades. After garnering very little interest, the HDPA decided to change its loan program to a grant.

The program requires that renovations must integrate with the historic quality of the downtown core, and design guidelines were implemented to stipulate what projects are appropriate. Typical projects that meet criteria include exterior building remodeling and improvements such as masonry repairs; window and door replacement; awnings, paint, and trim; ornamental rails, signage, hardscape, landscaping, and historic designation. The HDPA Design Committee reviews the application, executes site visits, and recommends changes to improve the historic quality of the work. A total of eight grants have been awarded since the program started, and this $48,000 has triggered over $1.8 million in total revitalization efforts.

“This façade grant program has allowed the Historic Downtown Prosser Association to make a tangible investment within the downtown, resulting in an incredible amount of both public and private investment,” said Sarah Hansen, former Washington State Main Street Coordinator. “Prosser has proved that façade improvement programs can have a dramatic impact on the economic health of downtown.”