Excellence on Main Award

[click image to view larger]

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

[click image to view larger]


Awardee: Port Townsend Main Street board members Connie Segal and Sandy Spencer

Award: Sustainable Future

Year: 2017

City: Port Townsend

In 2015, Kate Dwyer and Myron Gauger, both artists in Port Townsend, were inspired to start an all-electric, short distance taxi service in their own town after experiencing a similar service in Portland.

After speaking with local business leaders and developing a plan for what they were to dub “PTeRiders”, establishing the legal framework proved to be a challenge. Because low speed electric taxi services did not yet exist in Washington, each step – including insurance, licensing, and taxes – was a first in the state. Kate and Myron crossed many hurdles to see their vision through, including amending state law to allow low speed electric vehicles on highways with speed limits of 30 MPH or less.

PTeRider hit the streets with two electric roadsters in 2016 to much fanfare and a more successful first season than expected. Kate and Myron themselves are the drivers and de facto tour guides. It was clear to the couple even in the first days of opening up the service to the public that the greatest interest was in utilizing the historic tour aspect, which Kate estimates made up 75% of their business in the first year.

PTeRider has also become highly integrated into Port Townsend’s active tourism economy, providing shuttle service for ship passengers and boaters who dock downtown, as well as event attendees for various festivals, races, and other events.

Kate and Myron have demonstrated ingenuity in every step they’ve taken since hatching the idea for PTeRiders. Significantly, they have also paved the way for other Washington communities to invest in lively and inviting forms of energy efficient transportation.

Excellence on Main Award

[click image to view larger]

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

[click image to view larger]

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

[click image to view larger]


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

[click image to view larger]

Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance

Awardee: Alliance Board President Pat Schmidt and Executive Director Mary DesMarais

Award: Organizational Excellence

Year: 2017

City: Gig Harbor

The Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance was formed in 2008 after three forward-thinking citizens attended the National Main Street Conference in Seattle the previous year. They adopted the Main Street Approach, formed a nonprofit, and achieved state designation as a Washington Main Street Community in 2011 and National Accreditation by 2012.

Today, the Alliance is a well-oiled machine, boasting four strong and active committees overseen by an engaged board of directors and a highly capable staff of three: Mary DesMarais, Josh Sherwin and Heidi Gerling.

Volunteerism and passion define the people that together make up the Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance. In 2016 alone, the Alliance logged nearly 4,000 volunteer hours.

The Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance is a leading example of Main Street principles at work: local people working together to make change. The Alliance’s impact on Gig Harbor cannot be overstated.

As one downtown shop manager put it, “The Downtown Waterfront Alliance works hard to bring our waterfront district together. They help us make the most out of ourselves and our neighboring merchants.”

Excellence on Main Award

[click image to view larger]

Morning Jam

Awardee: Alice Clark, Marissa McGrath, and Morgan Henry

Award: Outstanding Special Project

Year: 2017

City: Bellingham

Many makers and creators call Bellingham home, yet the community was largely unaware of this and the creators themselves seemed to lack support and a network. The Downtown Bellingham Partnership knew that these individuals and their initiatives are essential to the downtown’s vitality, so they launched a creative lecture series called Morning Jam in June 2015.

The speaking series highlights the creative, entrepreneurial energy of downtown Bellingham, with a different individual featured each month. The speakers  represent a huge range of passions — animation, documentary film making, projection mapping, sustainable farming, math theory, mural creating, seaweed foraging, wine making, desired light design, small business bootstrapping, metal working, portraiture, and elevated mobile experiences…just to name a few.

Morgan Henry, Downtown Bellingham Programming and Events Coordinator, personally scouts speakers and interacts with various media platforms including local community radio station and a Sound Cloud account which holds monthly recorded content for a growing body of online listeners.

Morning Jam takes place on the second Wednesday of every month. Attendees arrive at the Pickford Film Center, pour themselves a cup of Block Dog Coffee, and prep their breakfast at the toast bar using refurbished toasters from Bellingham’s Toaster Museum.

Local blogger and regular attendee Tammy Thiele says that Morning Jam has changed her relationships with the town she has lived in for 20 years. She says, “My curiosity for Bellingham and my neighbors has grown and I find myself felling much more connected to my community and my place in it.”

We are all thirsty to connect with the people around us and the places we call home, and Morning Jam provides a platform that is building invaluable social capital in Bellingham’s downtown.

Excellence on Main Award

Greg Hafner

Award: Excellence on Main Award

Year: 2017

City: Kent

The Excellence on Main Award, the highest honor presented to one community, organization, or person each year, recognizes outstanding projects and people that reflect an attitude of perseverance and dedication to community revitalization in Washington.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of talking with Barb Smith about her passion for her community knows that downtown Kent has an abundance of outstanding people. And tonight we are honored to be recognizing someone she describes as the board member that all executive directors dream about.

Greg Hafner is an avid volunteer who has made a long-term, community-minded commitment to his downtown. He has been a steady, positive force in downtown Kent’s revitalization efforts for more than a decade, serving in key roles such as legal counsel and board member.

As board president in 2016, Greg made it his mission to learn more about staff responsibilities and to better understand the scope and nuances of the organization. By doing so, Greg became even more of an advocate for the program and its staff, taking on more projects and encouraging other board members to do the same to help relieve the workload on the staff of two.

As Barb puts it, Greg inspires, empowers, and accomplishes a great deal without expecting recognition. He not only plans the event or design project but is the first one there to set-up and the last one there tearing-down.

Whether it’s help with a city permitting process or a recommendation for a good locksmith, Greg is consistently sharing information and offering his assistance to small business owners. When Greg learns about issues facing downtown, such as a historic property that has potential to be preserved and fully utilized, or the noise pollution from the trains that run through downtown Kent several times a day, Greg immediately seeks solutions, putting together working committees or advocating to the city for necessary changes. He is known for his positive attitude and follow-through, which serves the Kent Downtown Partnership extremely well as he acts as one of their strongest spokespeople.

We all know that downtown revitalization does not happen overnight, but rather takes long-term commitment, passion, and innovation – all of which Greg Hafner has in spades.

Excellence on Main Award

[click image to view larger]

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

[click image to view larger]

Downtown Farmer’s Market

Awardee: Shane Laib of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2017

City: Walla Walla

During the 1990s, as downtown Walla Walla was beginning the extensive Local Improvement District rehabilitation process, an idea was brought forth to develop a farmers market to enhance and showcase the local agricultural and artisan offerings of the Walla Walla Valley. The overall goal was to attract local shoppers to the downtown core.

Original plans involved the city building a market structure on an abandoned lumber yard adjacent to downtown, but it was soon clear that this was a cost prohibitive plan. Not willing to let the proposed market die, the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation and members of the City Council developed a new plan to build an open-air market on the vacant block. The market kicked off its first season in 1997.

Several nay-sayers said it wouldn’t last, but through the efforts of the vendors, volunteers, staff, sponsors, and patrons alike, the market recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Originally subsidized by the city and private donations, the market is now 100% self-sustaining.

With its central location in the downtown core, the market has become one of the unique gathering places for residents and tourists alike. In 2016, survey results showed that 42% of market visitors were from out of town and 92% of them planned to purchase during their visit. The 2016 market produced an additional $500,000 in sales for the local economy.

Market vendors transitioning to successful brick and mortar locations and local chefs purchasing products for their restaurants on a regular basis are signs of a market that is fully integrated and serving as an economic engine in the community. The Downtown Farmers Market is a vibrant, healthy market that is a consistent source of economic impact on the local economy.

Excellence on Main Award

[click image to view larger]

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.