Excellence on Main Award

Linda Haglund

Award: Excellence on Main Award

Year: 2022

City: Wenatchee

Linda Haglund has been the Executive Director of the Wenatchee Downtown Association since 2011. Her parents met, married, raised their family, and lived lives as community servants in Wenatchee. Linda is a culture-builder and, over more than a decade in Main Street, has contributed almost as much to the positive culture of the Washington State Main Street Program network as she has to the culture of her own beloved Main Street community in Wenatchee.

Linda boldly uses words like “family” and “heart” and “cheerleader” to refer to her work. She is the first one to say “welcome”, the first one to take someone under her wing, the first one to send a message out of the blue that lets you know that she sees you and appreciates you. Linda will tell you that she’s usually not the most qualified person at the table, and yet she’s moved absolute mountains through her expert abilities to highlight opportunities and convene the right players. She is the ultimate champion for her hometown, for her beloved small businesses, for her property owners, for her partners, for “Main Street family” near and far.

Linda’s mix of tenacity, encouragement, and unrelenting optimism have made her a critical leader and partner in her hometown as well as across the state. Her work reflects her beliefs – that everybody has gifts they can share, and that we make a difference one person at a time.

Excellence on Main Award

Rotary Marketplace

Awardee: Downtown Association of Yakima, Yakima Rotary Clubs, and Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2022

City: Yakima

The Downtown Yakima Farmers Market, which is managed by the Downtown Association of Yakima (or “DAY”), has been growing and becoming a major fixture in the downtown – due greatly from a strong team effort led by market manager, Yvette Lippert – but it is held on a street with very little shade, and each week is a struggle with closing down the street, the scarcity of electricity and water, and the weather conditions. Then-Rotary President and longtime downtown advocate, John Baule, wanted the annual Rotary Project to focus on downtown. After conferring with DAY Executive Director, Andrew Holt, the decision was made to pursue a permanent home for the market with a meaningful structure that provided necessary resources and a sense of place.

The three local Rotary clubs approved the project, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital approved leasing the property to DAY for $10 per year and allowing construction of the pavilion, and DAY agreed to manage and maintain the space once it was built. Many individual givers and local businesses also stepped up to support the pavilion. The total cost of the project is in the neighborhood of $1.4 million. John Baule was the leading fundraiser and the project manager who made this vision a reality.

Construction is anticipated to wrap up before the start of 2023’s market. When completed, a main pavilion comprised of brick and wood will face the street and right behind it will be a secondary pavilion with a tinted translucent covering. The two structures will provide 300 feet of shade with 80 individual stalls for vendors, equipped with electricity and water.

Yakima is an agriculturally based community with an abundance of small, independent family farms. Having a strong, vibrant farmers market is important to the community in assisting its economy and also furthering its identity. The pavilion will allow micro businesses a better chance to grow. Previously, a vendor might not attend because they could not provide their own power or lack of access to water, or they might not even have a tent. The pavilion will eliminate all of those obstacles, while also giving even more credibility to the ever-growing market as a vibrant weekly event as well as an economic driver. An additional benefit is that the pavilion will act as a public space for other community events.

A service club, a major employer, and the Main Street organization came together, each playing their necessary role, to fulfill a vision which makes the Downtown Yakima Farmers Market a fantastic example of community partnership.

Excellence on Main Award

Geddis Building

Awardee: Real Works, LLC

Award: Bricks & Mortar Rehabilitation

Year: 2022

City: Ellensburg

The largest historic building in the Ellensburg Historic District, the Geddis Building’s rehabilitation is a testament to tenacity and downtown partnership.

Built in 1889, the two-story Geddis Building is the former home of the Vendome Hotel and a once-thriving retail hub in the downtown core. Over several decades in the late 1900s and into the 2000s, the 30,000 square foot building fell into disrepair. Located in the heart of downtown, the building’s condition resulted in an inability to attract tenants and, by extension, a major obstacle for the rest of the district’s progress. After extensive measures to encourage the then-owner to make necessary updates or put the building on the market, the City of Ellensburg, encouraged by a cadre of nonprofit and economic development partners, purchased the building in 2012 with the intent of transferring ownership back into the private sector.

When MJSS LLC purchased it from the City in 2015, they immediately got to work on repairing and stabilizing the building – a $400,000 project. They replaced the roof, ample plumbing, and dangerous electrical systems to restore the inside of the building to working condition. Commercial tenants moved into the building at this point and worked on their own improvements as well.

During the summer of 2020, the project continued with Pioneer Masonry repairing the façade and Architectural Elements replacing the historic midband cornice. That same summer, the second phase of the project began as MJSS spoke with the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation about their plans to convert the abandoned hotel on the second floor into 17 high-end apartments, with preservation as a priority and restored finishes from the original construction in 1889. Construction began in May 2021 with a $2.6 million loan from Cashmere Valley Bank.

The results of the ongoing rehabilitation speak for themselves: vacant store fronts at the street level have become thriving shops with increased foot traffic, opportunities for historic downtown apartments has renewed local interest in living within the historic district rather than simply visiting, and pride of place has led to street-wide beatification,

Excellence on Main Award

Thai House Facade Project

Awardee: Colleda Monick, Steve Weise, Roger Wilson, and Joe Mann

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2016

City: Yakima

As a new Washington Main Street Community, Downtown Association of Yakima wanted to show the power of Main Street by making a visual impact and investing in the downtown business community. A façade grant program was developed and a selection committee toured downtown Yakima to identify a business that would benefit from a façade enhancement.

Hidden behind an aging storefront, lacking adequate windows or visual appeal, and located on a key block at the center of the downtown district, the Thai House restaurant was unanimously selected for the pilot project. Based on recommendations from an architect, multiple improvements were made in 2015, including removing the security screen from the building, creating an outdoor seating area in an underutilized planting bed, and installing floor to ceiling windows and a glass door. Funding for this project was a 50:50 grant match between DAY and the business and property owner.  In total, over $20,000 was spent in façade improvements.

The impact of this project has been greater than anticipated and enhanced the building not only visually, but also spurred activity to the area and surrounding businesses. The Thai House is reporting over 25% increase in sales and visible increase in foot traffic near the restaurant. Since the project has been complete, 3 new businesses have opened within a 100 feet of the business.

The success of the Thai House façade project has spurred DAY to develop a long-term façade grant program that is now open to downtown businesses and property owners who desire to make improvements to the façade of their buildings. DAY intends to do 2-4 projects a year based on demand.

Excellence on Main Award

Buskers in the ‘Burg

Awardee: Carolyn Honeycutt and Linda Schantz

Award: Outstanding Promotional Event

Year: 2016

City: Ellensburg

In 2011, the EDA hosted its first Ellensburg Fallfest, a new downtown event that embraced the arts, including street performers. After just one year, the term “busker” made its way into common Ellensburg vernacular and the festival was renamed Buskers in the ‘Burg! In five short years it has grown from a small, one day event to a two-day festival featuring performers from all across the country.

That first year, an artist named Brian Kooser applied to be a busker at the festival. While performing, he wore a giant handmade puppet and was an immediate hit at the new event. The following year the EDA commissioned Kooser to create more puppets with the goal of incorporating a parade into the festival. At the 2012 event, after months of preparation, Kooser and other EDA volunteers stunned festival attendees by wandering through the event dressed in larger-than-life puppet costumes. Each year since, the puppets have gotten more creative and the parade has grown larger.

The impact of Buskers in the Berg has been significant for the downtown business community. In 2015, an estimated 2,000 people participated in the festival. Over 450 children and their families signed up to participated in the kids’ activities that are a highlight of the event. Many downtown merchants boast high sales numbers during the festival, and credit that success to not just number of attendees, by the layout of the event. With 25 buskers and other acts stationed on sidewalks throughout the district, there are plenty of reasons for festival attendees to explore, dine and shop in downtown Ellensburg.

The EDA now draws musicians, aerial artists, magicians, and other performers from all over the country, while still providing a venue for many local musicians and artists to promote their talents. An additional stage was recently added specifically to accommodate local dance groups.

Ellensburg Downtown Association has taken a fun idea and turned it into an unforgettable festival that continues to grow and adapt.

Excellence on Main Award

Meet Me Downtown

Awardee: Linda Haglund and Steph Grubich

Award: Outstanding Special Project

Year: 2016

City: Wenatchee

When the Wenatchee Downtown Association learned that the City was planning a major infrastructure improvement project for summer 2014, they knew they would have to pull resources together to support the downtown business community during the inevitable disruption. Out of this need came the concept of a campaign that would put a face to the locally-owned businesses that populate downtown Wenatchee.

The Meet Me Downtown campaign ran for 24 months, from January 2014 thru December 2015. Each month, a different downtown business owner was spotlighted with an ad printed in a local publication and shared online. The ads included a picture of the business owner(s), a brief profile that included aspirations for investing in downtown Wenatchee, and an invitation to visit the business. The business owners were given 50 souvenir Meet Me Downtown shopping bags to give away during the month they were featured by the campaign.

The Meet Me Downtown campaign helped people connect with businesses in a new way and created a greater sense of place. By telling the stories of the business owners themselves –  people like Peggy Nichols, Kyle Hendrickson, and Pete and Sarah Lolos – the Meet Me Downtown campaign effectively created a personal connection and further reason for community members to support a vibrant local economy by choosing to shop at local downtown businesses.

Excellence on Main Award

Rory Turner

Award: Excellence on Main Award

Year: 2016

City: Ellensburg

The Elks Building was an important part of downtown Ellensburg since 1933, but after the Elks Club disbanded in the early 2000s, the building fell into a state of disrepair and many in Ellensburg believed the building was not worth saving.

In 2014, a Central Washington University alumnus and Wenatchee resident named Rory Turner, recognizing the value to the community and purchased the building.

Rory is no novice in the world of historic property renovation; he and wife Laurel have been investing in Wenatchee’s downtown for years – properties include the Exchange Building, Wenatchee Hotel and the Dore Building. Laurel serves on the Wenatchee Downtown Association board of directors and chairs the organization’s Economic Vitality committee. Rory is currently the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce board president and was recently elected Port of Chelan County Commissioner. Despite numerous community commitments, the Turners still find time to engage in lasting change for Wenatchee’s historic downtown properties. They have been instrumental in working with the city to identify barriers and opportunities to the viability of property renovations, particularly those that add housing units to upper floors downtown and provide spaces for small start-up businesses.

In Ellensburg, the life Rory and his team have breathed into the Elks Building has spurred new businesses and new investment in nearby historic properties. Since the purchase in 2014, the Elks building has recruited three tenants, with more interested as spaces become available. The upstairs is currently being renovated to include a huge ballroom which will be available as a rentable event space.

Rory’s passion for historic preservation and for downtown has transformed significant Central Washington buildings back into viable properties and sources of great community pride. His attention to detail and preservation ethic are prevalent in everything he does, from selecting fixtures that complement the historic building to going the extra mile to involve the community in a project. We are honored to recognize Rory’s impact on Wenatchee, Ellensburg, and the entire state of Washington with the Excellence on Main Award.

Excellence on Main Award

Downtown Camas Video Series

Awardee: Caroline Mercury, Dawn White, Randy Curtis, and Carrie Schulstad

Award: Outstanding Promotional Campaign

Year: 2017

City: Camas

Much of the appeal of downtown Camas is visual – the walkable streets, the historic buildings, the lights, the trees, the welcoming merchants. Yet, there was no such visual representation of the community. Recognizing this, the Downtown Camas Association embarked upon a video series project.

One of the challenges was finding an equitable and interesting way to incorporate multiple merchants, not to mention coordinating with their busy schedules. The DCA and their production company, Anthem Media, decided to create a series of “day in the life” videos, which feature local residents and business owners going about their daily routines. In addition to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday videos, the series also includes a “Why Come to Camas” promotional piece and two personal stories focused on specific merchants. In total, seven videos were created, featuring 32 different downtown businesses.

Since their launch in January 2016, the videos have already received tens of thousands of views. The videos are being utilized by multiple stakeholders, including the city and the downtown hotel.

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

Día de Los Muertos Chalk Art Festival

Awardee: Colleda Monick and Joe Hudon

Award: Outstanding Promotional Event

Year: 2017

City: Yakima

Downtown Yakima is host to many successful events which are very popular with the 21 and older crowd. In an effort to showcase downtown as a place that is inclusive to all ages and demographics, the Downtown Association of Yakima began a series of Second Saturday events featuring free family friendly activities.

One of the most popular Second Saturdays, hosted for the first time in 2015, featured a chalk art festival. The event was located in an area of downtown which features family oriented businesses, a market that is currently lacking in downtown Yakima. While successful in its first year, DAY looked for ways to improve the chalk art festival in year two.

Nearly 50% of Yakima residents are Hispanic, and yet downtown still lacks diversity in its business mix and programming. In 2016, DAY shifted the chalk art festival’s theme to focus on Día de Los Muertos in an effort to connect with a demographic they hadn’t always easily connected with in the past.

The Día de Los Muertos Chalk Art Festival opened the doors for DAY to partner with community organizations such as the Yakima-Morelia Sister City Association, a nonprofit that promotes mutual understanding and the sharing of cultural diversity between Yakima and Morelia, Mexico. Also involved in the festival were Yakima Symphony Orchestra musicians, professional artists from outside the community, and 35 Yakima Valley College students from a ChicanX Art & Culture class. Approximately 500 people participated in the 2016 festival.

Downtowns are for everyone, and the Downtown Association of Yakima is showing commitment to inclusivity through thoughtful programming and partnerships.

Excellence on Main Award

Arktana

Awardee: Ann Matthews

Award: Entrepreneur of the Year

Year: 2017

City: Camas

Ann Matthews opened Arktana, a boutique shoe store in downtown Camas, which is affectionately named after her family’s two states of origin – Arkansas and Montana – in 2014. With an entrepreneurial background and a robust business plan in place, Ann was able to hit the ground running to quickly develop her business into a shopping staple in the region.

Ann’s passion for her business benefits customers, employees, and the community at large. By working closely with vendors to ensure only the highest quality products and by providing creative opportunities for customers to engage with the shop through private parties, appreciation nights, and extended business hours, Arktana emphasizes customer care.

Arktana’s employees also benefit from this people-first model. Ann intentionally provides first job opportunities to young people in Camas and calls out special skills she sees in her employees.

Ann intentionally runs a very community-oriented business. Arktana recently partnered with a human services nonprofit in a promotion that resulted in Arktana donating 100 pairs of new shoes to low-income families in the Camas-Washougal area.

Ann and her staff consistently collaborate with other downtown Camas merchants for photo shoots, promotions, and events. When severe winter weather kept many customers away during pivotal sales months, Ann contacted the Downtown Camas Association to suggest a special shopping promotion to bring the community downtown. Ann lessened the burden on the DCA by helping coordinate activities, paying for the graphic work, and assisting with promotion of the event, which resulted in a successful sales weekend for many downtown merchants.

Ann is a model and champion for the role of a downtown business owner in revitalization efforts. Arktana’s positive impact on downtown Camas extends far beyond its own four walls.

Excellence on Main Award

Wenatchee Downtown Association

Awardee: Steph Grubich and Linda Haglund

Award: Organizational Excellence

Year: 2016

City: Wenatchee

The Wenatchee Downtown Association has fully embraced an important principle of any successful downtown revitalization strategy: partnerships!

One such partnership is with the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce. In 2014, the two organizations established a joint membership program and a scholarship program that allows a new business to become a member of both organizations at no cost their first year in business. New businesses also have opportunities to be connected with an experienced business owner through the joint mentorship program. By working together, rather than competing, the WDA and Chamber are offering important services to local entrepreneurs.

Downtown Wenatchee is now a brighter place thanks to a partnership forged between the WDA and the City of Wenatchee to update downtown’s aging street lights. The WDA and the City joined forces to purchase 114 new LED lights for downtown, which has created a warmer, safer, and more appealing commercial district.

Community partnerships have resulted in several other successes for WDA in recent years. By connecting with a local elementary school, the WDA engaged students in an art competition, asking them to draw images depicting their favorite things about downtown Wenatchee.  Sixteen of these images were turned into beloved new “Why I Love Downtown” banners now hanging prominently along Wenatchee Avenue.

The business community’s support of WDA is clearly evidenced by the high turnout and contagious enthusiasm found at their Annual Dinner. WDA’s annual celebration includes the awarding of “Downtown’s Best”, which recognizing locally-owned businesses. The awards are highly valued by the business owners, in part because the community at large is invited to cast their vote.

Executive Director Linda Haglund puts it best, as only she can: “We are the heart of this community…I dare you to come downtown and not feel that.”

Excellence on Main Award

Camas & Journey

Awardee: Ellen Scott of Journey Community Church, and Caroline Mercury, Dawn White, and Carrie Schulstad of Downtown Camas Association

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2016

City: Camas

When the Downtown Camas Association learned in 2009 that a key property was to be converted to a church, they were, at first, apprehensive. Journey Community Church’s location in downtown Camas is a marked exception to the logic that churches don’t belong downtown, due in large part to the incredible partnership Journey and the DCA have forged over the last six years.

The building Journey purchased was once the JC Penney department store. The building had fallen into disrepair and required a great deal of investment by the time Journey hired a local architect to bring the building back to life. Valuing the history of the building, great efforts were made to preserve the original brick and wooden beams, and repurpose other historic materials. The multimillion dollar renovation was completed in late 2009 with a great deal of volunteer labor from congregation members invested in the new space.

DCA’s partnership with Journey makes year-round, free community events feasible in downtown Camas by providing a large venue during poor weather, volunteers to help run promotions, and activities for children. Events like Girls’ Night Out, Camas Car Show, Plant & Garden Fair, and even DCA’s Annual Awards Dinner rely on the unique community space. At the annual Spring Clean-Up and Planting Day, Journey provides not only lunch for 50-75 volunteers, but also recruits congregation members and their children to serve their community.

In addition to events, Journey has impacted commerce and activity downtown. Using their public art fee required with all downtown improvements at their level, Journey worked with DCA to provide 8 locally made artful bike racks through downtown. When the church purchased the building next door, which had two vacant storefronts, they turned down multiple applicants as they waited for tenants that would add to a vibrant business mix downtown, knowing that DCA’s recruitment goals focused on restaurants and retail. Today, these storefronts house two successful businesses – a bakery and a dance studio – that bring people downtown at all hours of the day.

Excellence on Main Award

Partnership for Historic Chelan

Awardee: Linda Van Lunsen, Erin Peterson, and Erin McCardle from the Historic Downtown Chelan Association

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2018

City: Chelan

Recognizing their shared goals around Chelan’s heritage and historic treasures, the Historic Downtown Chelan Association and the Lake Chelan Historical Society forged a partnership in 2016.

First, the two organizations worked together to institute Chelan’s first historic plaque program. In its initial stages, the Downtown Association’s Design Committee selected four historically significant downtown structures, all of which are over 100 years old and have maintained their historic integrity: Campbell’s Resort, Saint Andrews Episcopal Church, Woodin Avenue Bridge, and Ruby Theatre. The Historical Society Manager, Ron McGaughey, served as an advisor on the program and coordinated Society volunteers to find historic photographs of the properties. The two organizations jointly designed and presented the plaques at a media-covered event in 2017.

The historic wrap program draws attention to historic aspects of the town by covering a modern necessity with historic images. The project, another collaboration between the two organizations, is located at a key intersection downtown. Images were selected for their historic significance, cultural relevance, and reflection of life in downtown Chelan during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Each side of the wrap takes a different look at Chelan’s history, with themes including wood-framed buildings, legacy businesses, homesteaders, and life in a frontier town.

The Downtown Association and the Historical Society plan to continue both the historic plaque and wrap programs in the future, and have also begun developing a walking tour to provide additional opportunities for the public to learn about Chelan’s history and built environment.

This partnership has elevated the preservation ethic in Chelan through community pride and education, and has resulted in increased interest among downtown building owners. These projects illustrate the importance of partners coalescing around shared goals.

Excellence on Main Award

Salud!

Awardee: Gerald and Yolanda Taylor and Tony and Raechill Dotson

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2018

City: Camas

Salud! is owned by two married couples, Gerald and Yolanda Taylor and Tony and Raechill Dotson, who had a vision for a business that would provide their fellow community members with opportunities to spend time together, learn, and create friendships. Wine enthusiasts all, they developed a plan for a wine bar that is equal parts tasting room, meeting space, event venue, and wine storage facility where people can store their own wine in temperature controlled spaces.

Before opening their business, the Taylors and the Dotsons tackled an adaptive building reuse of grand proportions. The building in downtown Camas was long home to Sears, and when the store closed its doors in 2016, it was unclear what new use the large, open space would hold. The building was certainly large enough for the various uses Salud!’s owners had in mind, but creating the intimate environment suitable for the wine bar and meeting spaces took a great deal of remodeling, much of which was done by the Taylors and Dotsons themselves. They exposed old beams, put up walls, and built a wine storage area complete with street signs, such as “Chardonnay Way,” along a Main Street corridor.

Salud! opened its doors in August 2017 and has since brought thousands of people to downtown Camas. In addition to opening their meeting space to nonprofit organizations and other groups, Salud! hosts many of their own events, including chef dinners, murder mystery parties, movie nights, a 1980s-themed prom, and more. They often partner with fellow entrepreneurs to bring people to downtown Camas for more than just their own destination business. Collaboration and cross-promotional advertising with Salud! has benefited the historic Liberty Theatre, the Camas Hotel, as well as nearby food and beverage establishments. The Taylors and the Dotsons are handily accomplishing their goals of bringing the community together through their business.

Communities everywhere are struggling with reuse of historic buildings originally suited for department stores. Salud! represents the innovative spirit of Main Street: adaptive, creative, and rooted in bringing people together.

Excellence on Main Award

Tree Top Park

Awardee: Whitney Stohr, Barb Petra, and Rachael Glaspie

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2017

City: Selah

Downtown Selah suffers from a lack of green space, beautification elements, and public gathering areas. The Selah Downtown Association’s Design Committee wanted to create a project that would show the community the value of these elements, and in May 2016, they launched Tree Top Park, a traveling, pop-up parklet.

With financial support from Tree Top, Inc., an apple juice processing plant, and material donations from King’s Row restaurant, Russell Landscaping, and Spinner Wood Products, the SDA created its moveable parklet, complete with artificial grass, picnic tables, chairs, umbrellas, and potted birch trees planted in small apple bins. The park was assembled, enjoyed, dismantled, moved, and reassembled 10 times during the course of the project’s 5 month stretch.

The SDA programmed at least one activity for each location and encouraged the host business and other community organizations to view the parklet as a public space and use it as they would any other park. They were encouraged to host events at the parklet or use it as an outdoor dining area.

Initially, the SDA simply wanted to show the community different ways that beautification could be integrated into the streetscape. However, they soon realized that they would first have to take a step back and prove to the community that there was even value in doing so. With community education and involvement as the new primary goal of the parklet, the SDA soon found that they were in fact changing public opinion about the value of green space.

As a newer Main Street Community, Tree Top Park was something of a coming out party for the SDA. It allowed them to galvanize a strong volunteer base, test their public communication skills, and develop important community partnerships with sponsors, the city, and the local business community.

After the parklet left their storefront, business owners often invested in their own outdoor furniture and plants, and several have plans to develop larger, permanent green spaces. Spurred by the positive feedback and new partnerships, the SDA will install three semi-permanent parklets in 2017.

Tree Top Park was a seemingly modest installation that yielded significant results, in large part because the SDA embraced the spirit of community engagement and education.

Excellence on Main Award

Claim Clothing

Awardee: Megan West and Linda Johnson

Award: Entrepreneur of the Year

Year: 2015

City: Ellensburg

Claim Clothing co-owner Megan West began sculpting her visions of a women’s boutique that caters to an array of fashion forward, affordable styles while working towards a degree at Central Washington University, where she helped craft the clothing section at the Wildcat Shop. After a year of building her business plan for Claim Clothing, Megan began to seek out funding but was repeatedly turned down from banks based on her young age of 22. She eventually teamed up with Linda Johnson, a business advisor at the Washington Small Business Development Center, to help her achieve her vision.

Claim Clothing’s 1,600 square foot location is in the middle of historic downtown Ellensburg in the newly renovated Geddis Building. The City had recently purchased the building, and Megan had to sell her vision to the City, the Ellensburg Business Development Authority, and the Ellensburg Downtown Association before she was approved to lease space.

With help from her family, she stripped the space to expose the original brick walls, and she used reclaimed barn wood, industrial pipe, and other material sourced mostly from local stores to complete the remodel on time and 10% under budget.

On May 3, 2014, Claim Clothing opened to the public and quickly became a success. With its original tagline, “Claim Your Closet,” Megan’s overall goal is to have every type of woman come into her store and embrace her body and personal style. Claim is a place where you feel as if you are in your own closet and where you can be completely comfortable and confident. The store features many different clothing brands such as Celebrity Pink and Gypsy Bound Bracelets, all catering to a wide age range and making Claim a diverse and unique place to shop.

As a downtown business, Megan has become a major asset to the community. She is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and has been involved with Ellensburg Downtown Association events. In spring 2014, Megan organized the first Fashion Night Out with the EDA and Mangos Salon, and it was a huge success. She has also made connections with Central Washington University by offering internships and mentoring opportunities.

After only six months of being open for business, Claim met its sales goal for the first year of operation. The store started with one employee and hired a second within five months, and they anticipate hiring a third this summer when they launch a fully functional online retail store. Megan explains that her success cannot be measured in numbers but that her success is defined by seeing her employees grow as individuals and witnessing her customer base increase by offering a unique and positive experience.

Excellence on Main Award

Orchard Corset

Awardee: Jeff and Leanna Kurpuis

Award: Excellence on Main Award

Year: 2015

City: Wenatchee

Opening in 1997, Orchard Corset is an industry leader in off-the-rack, steel-boned corsets. From humble beginnings selling vintage clothing on eBay, Jeff and Leanna Kurpuis have grown their company into one of the Wenatchee Valley’s largest online retailers. Having outgrown several locations over the years, the company was desperate for expansion space, and in May 2014, Orchard Corset found a new home in the historic Elks Lodge in downtown Wenatchee.

Construction was completed on the original lodge in 1922, but a major fire in 1958 necessitated a complete overhaul of the building, including the construction of its iconic and somewhat nondescript mid-century façade. When the Kurpuis’ purchased the building, it had sat unused for years – boards covering the basement windows had been in place for over 30 years.

This 40,000 square foot building is now bustling! All of Orchard Corsets’ inventory, shopping, web design, media production, and photography is done in-house. Since moving into the Elks Lodge the staff has grown from 13 to 25, and orders have been flooding in at the rate of close to 7,000 per month.

The interior of the lodge is being rebuilt and repaired and still features some fantastic amenities once enjoyed only by the Elks. Probably one of the highlights is the third-story ballroom, which has become an 8,000 square foot roller rink. Complete with chandeliers, 120 pairs of skates are available for employee use, and the Roller Derby girls use the space for practice twice a week. An indoor swimming pool in the basement should be rehabbed in time for July pool parties. Additional work will include upgrades to electrical and HVAC systems and the installation of high-speed fiber optic lines.

Not only have the Kurpuis’ breathed life into a Wenatchee landmark, they have created an amazing working environment for their valued employees; the Kurpuis’ understand that customer service is the key to their business’s success, and that happy employees make happy customers. Their generosity doesn’t stop there – they are huge supporters of the Wenatchee Downtown Association. They have funded a scholarship program to any business, new or old, that needs training in online marketing and promotions, which includes a membership in the Wenatchee Downtown Association. They also are willing and able to provide mentoring and support to downtown businesses in need of a boost.

“Orchard Corset has been an incredibly dynamic addition to Wenatchee’s downtown district, and their love and care of the historic Elks Lodge is truly a game-changer,” said Sarah Hansen, former Washington State Main Street Coordinator. “Jeff, Leanne, and their entire staff have become supporters and mentors to all entrepreneurs in Wenatchee, and we are honored to recognize their incredible generosity and commitment to Wenatchee with the Excellence on Main Award.”

Excellence on Main Award

Ellensburg Downtown Association

Award: Organizational Excellence

Year: 2015

City: Ellensburg

The Ellensburg Downtown Association (EDA) is a grassroots local non-profit working to preserve and revitalize Ellensburg’s historic downtown core. The EDA formed in 2004 and is a nationally accredited Main Street program. While they have been a Main Street program since 2004, the list of accomplishments over the past several years is truly impressive. Staff has increased from one to three employees, and the organization’s budget has more than doubled.

The EDA’s partnerships within the community have contributed to the rehabilitation of four historic buildings and the construction of two new buildings, including apartments. Partnering with the Rotary led to the creation of the Elmira Downtown Event Center. The venue includes two storefronts: one features a serving area/bar, restrooms, and a commercial kitchen while the other features 2,000 square feet of usable space with a sound system, projector, screen, stage, and sound booth.

The most dramatic project downtown has been the overhaul of the historic Geddis Building, an iconic building in the core of downtown. Working strategically with the “Downtowners” – a collaborative community group, which included representatives from the EDA, the Ellensburg Business Development Authority (EBDA and the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce – the City of Ellensburg was able to purchase the building. Now, the building is almost fully leased, and the upstairs apartments are full. In fact, there are only four retail spaces currently available downtown.

The holidays are brighter downtown thanks to the addition of 180 lighted snowflakes on light poles throughout the district, and this year the EDA is completing roofline lighting. During the nicer months, residents and visitors enjoy beautiful new planters, trash receptacles, and benches designed and manufactured right in Ellensburg. Events have continued to grow and now include Buskers in the Burg, a fantastic celebration of busking throughout downtown; Hoedown in the Downtown in partnership with the Rodeo; and Fashion Night Out, featuring clothing and jewelry from downtown retailers. Hometown Holidays expanded to cover the entire month of December, and Girls Night Out is flourishing, bringing in over $50,000 in revenue for downtown merchants this year.

“Under the leadership of Executive Director Carolyn Honeycutt and a fantastic board of directors, the EDA has grown tremendously,” said Sarah Hansen, former Washington State Main Street Coordinator. “The impact of this Main Street organization on downtown Ellensburg cannot be overstated, and we continue to be blown away by their innovation, passion, and record of success.”

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.”