Excellence on Main Award

Belmont Building

Awardee: Kirk Nesbeitt, Marya Sessions, and Enrique Ferreyros

Award: Bricks & Mortar Rehabilitation

Year: 2020

City: Port Townsend

On the nomination for Port Townsend’s National Register district designation, the 1889 Sterming Block was noted for its prime example of High Victorian Italianate architecture in a smaller commercial building thanks to its corbeled frieze, straight cornice and projecting bay windows.

The Belmont Building, as it is now known, was a hard-working saloon up until Prohibition. Next it served as a real estate and insurance office, shoe store, confectionery and tobacco shop. Most recently it’s been home to hotel rooms and a restaurant featuring local seafood and a bar that was a gathering place for locals. It came to exemplify a busy, multi-faceted waterfront property, but lately this Victorian pearl had lost its luster.

The building name letters had fallen off the front façade, a dark entrance made the building appear closed even when it was open to welcome customers, and the brickwork was failing. The renaissance of The Belmont began with its purchase in December 2017 by new owners who began looking for ways to restore it to its former glory.

Owners Kirk Nesbeitt, Marya Sessions, and Enrique Ferreyros found that path forward through private funding and a Port Townsend Main Street HUD Revolving Loan for the front façade. Restoring a Victorian building from the ground up is a huge challenge, with all the headaches and joys you can imagine – from wind blowing through the crumbling brick walls to pulling up old carpet to reveal beautiful hardwood floors. Rehabilitation work included re-pointing the brick exterior, copper roofs on the bay window to replace shingles, rebuilt parapets, roof repair, and extensive woodwork on the windows including saving the rope & pulley system. The crew updated everything from the basement up, including completely refreshed hotel rooms and a beautiful new deck overlooking the waterfront to replace the storm-worn one.

Kirk, Marya, and Enrique rallied their resources and local experts like Studio STL for design work and general contractor G. Little to bring the shine back to The Belmont. Their rehabilitation restored its elegance and style–the historic Belmont is an architectural gem in Port Townsend.

Excellence on Main Award

Waterfront Farmers Market

Awardee: City of Gig Harbor, Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance, and numerous volunteers!

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2020

City: Gig Harbor

In 2015 a partnership was struck between the City of Gig Harbor and the Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance to create a Waterfront Farmers Market. It had a meaningful but modest goal to connect people to fresh produce, but within the last five years has developed into a hub for everyone from farmers and entrepreneurs to nonprofits and musicians. One of the market’s greatest accomplishments is also its greatest asset – 250 volunteers who make the market a reality on Thursdays throughout the summer.

For five seasons running, the Waterfront Farmers Market has had a dedicated Market Manager, Heidi Gerling, responsible for the development of that strong volunteer network which has proven key to its success. Held in Skansie Brothers Park right along the water, the park provides a beautiful space for market-goers – but not an easy spot for farmers and vendors to unload. Cue the volunteers!

Vendors are greeted curbside every week by a group of volunteers, ready to help unload the vendor’s goods and displays and ensure each vendor has all the set-up assistance they require. When unloading is complete, the vendor drives their car to an off-site parking location where a volunteer-run shuttle service meets them to return them to the market site. The reverse service is provided at the end of the market. The partnership is a win-win – vendors love having the help, and the volunteer group of the week gets a booth to showcase their community involvement. In 2019, this included the Rotary Club of Gig Harbor, Harbor History Museum, Millville Pizza, Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Club, Gig Harbor Mid-Day Rotary, and the Gig Harbor Dragon Boat Team — to name a few.

Thanks to the positive partnerships between the Alliance, the City, Pierce Transit’s Summer Trolley, farmers, vendors, and volunteers, the Waterfront Farmers Market has grown into a vibrant weekly event with live entertainment, children’s activities, cooking demos, local history and more.

These partnerships have proven indispensable as the Alliance staff, volunteers, and vendors have made necessary accommodations to open the market amidst public health concerns this summer. The market continues to prove its value as an essential economic driver and community space in Gig Harbor.

Excellence on Main Award

Woodin Avenue Landing Park

Awardee: Historic Downtown Chelan Association

Award: Outstanding Special Project

Year: 2020

City: Chelan

Nestled between Campbell’s Resort and the Old Bridge was a hidden gem – public access to Lake Chelan, right off Chelan’s Main Street. Campbell’s Resort is one of the oldest and most recognizable establishments in town and the Old Bridge, another local icon, leads right to its door. This makes the location between them exceptional. And yet, underutilized.

The Woodin Avenue Landing Park is the first capital project taken on by the Historic Downtown Chelan Association. The goal of the park project was to activate this special but neglected area and in doing so create another space that connects two of Chelan’s greatest assets – its lake and its historic downtown district. In 2015, the space was unmaintained asphalt – a dumping ground for old bike racks that many assumed was part of the Campbell’s Resort private property. At least those that even noticed it hidden behind tall shrubbery. Despite its dock, the plot was almost never used by the public to launch boats or access the lake.

The HDCA Design Committee began developing plans and, with an estimated price tag of $120,000, fundraising efforts quickly followed. The vision for the park galvanized donors and within a year $50,000 had been raised. Met by a City contribution of $75,000, work began.

But then the project hit a snag. A few snags. First the slope from rock to dock turned out to be out of compliance with ADA specifications, the aging retaining wall was found to be unsound, and the new bids that were needed to address these issues came back 3x the original! The HDCA Board regrouped and approached their partners. With support from the Mayor and a strong case for the project’s impact on Chelan’s local and visitor experience, the County PUD was eager to support the new retaining wall and the City agreed to contribute additional funding.

The Woodin Avenue Landing Project, completed in May 2019, has effectively turned an unused, unsightly area of downtown into a beautiful park with highly sought-after public access to the lake. Moreover, it has made downtown Chelan a more welcoming, walkable place for all to enjoy.

Excellence on Main Award

Colfax Mercantile

Awardee: Colfax Downtown Association

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2020

City: Colfax

The Colfax Mercantile was first imagined by the Colfax Downtown Association’s Economic Vitality committee – researching business incubator programs in other towns to pick just the right pieces to fit their vision. They knew they wanted to attract and educate entrepreneurs about how to run a business so they could fill storefronts and bring a buzz back to historic downtown buildings. They began by saving one themselves.

The 1893 Ellis-Waite building on Main Street had been vacant and boarded up for 15 years when a partnership between the Economic Vitality committee and local business owners Laura and Austin Storm determined that one of the three storefronts within the property would become the Colfax Mercantile. The other storefronts are also being revitalized with plans for the Storms to expand their retail business already underway. The Mercantile vision added incentive to the investment being made by the Storms, who say they feel like there is a Colfax downtown revival going on right now.

That downtown revival includes seven new businesses that are being incubated in the Colfax Mercantile that now offer vintage finds, frozen yogurt, homemade cookies, furniture, and clothing. The new incubator businesses have created a ripple effect on Main Street – more shops are opening, more storefronts are being updated and filled, and more people from surrounding areas are recognizing Colfax as the gem that it is.

The Downtown Association, Chamber of Commerce, County and City, Mayor, business owners, and citizens all pitched in to make this business incubator a reality – from sweat equity updating the storefront to donating 80 umbrellas to create a one-of-a-kind ceiling display, this is truly a community project.

Excellence on Main Award

Colville Together

Award: Organizational Excellence

Year: 2020

City: Colville

Newly designated a Washington Main Street Community just this year, Colville Together has emerged as a standard of quality and cooperation.

At the encouragement of the City Planner, a Main Street team began coming together in 2014. This effort was spearheaded by a steering committee of community volunteers, the Chamber of Commerce, Tri County Economic Development District, and the City of Colville. They were focused on learning more about the Main Street Approach and eventually joining Washington Main Street. As the committee gained momentum, funding became a hot topic. The group knew they wanted to hire an executive director, but the ability to hire staff felt like a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum.

The answer came in the form of formalizing the partnership as an independent but unified nonprofit now known as Colville Together, which then was able to apply for Lodging Tax dollars and other funding. In 2018, Colville Together hired Rosemary Shaw as its first executive director.

Momentum has truly been building in Colville, with much credit to the strong alliance that came together to form – and continues to support – its Main Street organization. As Rosemary puts it, “Working together makes any goal achievable!”

Excellence on Main Award

Northwest Maritime Center

Award: Sustainable Future

Year: 2020

City: Port Townsend

Operating out of the first LEED Gold building on the Olympic Peninsula, the Northwest Maritime Center views environmental stewardship as integral to its mission as a nonprofit organization that awakens a sense of wonder, connection to, and understanding of the Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest. From their buildings and interaction with the ecosystem to their programming and practices, Northwest Maritime Center walks the talk.

LEED designation in and of itself denotes a commitment to our shared sustainable future. The Northwest Maritime Center campus,

located at the intersection of downtown Port Townsend and Point Hudson, was designed to minimize impact on the environment, reduce energy and water use, lower operating costs, and make the most efficient use of materials and resources. The campus includes solar panels, a super-efficient water pump system, and electric car charging stations. The Center’s dock – which is often used by historic vessels, recreators, and students – was part of a coastal restoration initiative to protect the Port Townsend bay ecosystem.

The Center hosts an extraordinary number of programs, events, and educational opportunities each year, including Marine Thrift, which takes usable boat parts out of the waste stream; the renowned Wooden Board Festival; and hands-on environmental education opportunities known as the Salish Sea Expeditions Program – just to name a few. Northwesterners of all ages benefit from the Center’s programming that connects us to our maritime heritage and a strong sense of place.

The local community is also buoyed by having Northwest Maritime Center as a neighbor. In addition to the beautiful event facility, educational offerings, and waterfront access, the Center is also leading a community-wide charge to adopt sustainable approaches to operating venues and events. They look at all aspects of their business practice – down to the use of plastic cups and other single-use products – and continually strive break down barriers and find creative solutions. Their example and their willingness to mentor others benefit and inspire fellow organizations, the city, and residents to do the same.

Excellence on Main Award

Lighted Tractor Parade

Awardee: Centralia Downtown Association

Award: Outstanding Promotional Event

Year: 2020

City: Centralia

Bringing people downtown is a mainstay of our revitalization work. We want locals and visitors to understand the history while enjoying the hum of a lively present. Events draw people downtown, but a truly outstanding promotion creates a one-of-a-kind experience. The Centralia Downtown Association’s Lighted Tractor Parade does exactly that! Held on the second Saturday in December, this holiday spectacular highlights Centralia’s agricultural heritage and showcases large and small businesses, farmers, civic groups, school groups, and local bands. It’s become a Centralia holiday tradition.

The Lighted Tractor Parade began 10 years ago with seven entries and a lot of doubters. Today, vehicle entries are capped at 90 and every available spot is filled within a few days. The parade lasts for over an hour, illuminating downtown streets with over 100,000 lights on creative and colorful floats, and is enjoyed by 15,000 spectators. Along with the grand marshal, always a local farmer, the Grinch accompanied by Whos from Whoville with huge, sculpted hair surprised and delighted the crowd last winter. Santa is always on the last entry – often on a sleigh pulled by eight giant Harleys decked out in dazzling lights.

The Lighted Tractor Parade is the kind of event where families, couples, and friends create treasured holiday memories. And its reputation is spreading. Local hotels book to capacity well in advance, and the downtown Centralia Amtrak station is hopping as people from all over the northwest come to marvel at the ingenuity and originality that goes into each entry. These visitors often arrive early to buy holiday gifts at downtown shops, bringing a splash of outside dollars into Centralia’s economy. Even with growing regional renown, the heart and soul of the event is the hard-working community of Centralia.

Excellence on Main Award

Phoebe & Jonathan Carpenter Eells

Award: Entrepreneur of the Year

Year: 2020

City: Mount Vernon

Phoebe Carpenter Eells was a well-loved middle school teacher in 2009 when she rediscovered a love (and a knack!) for linocut block printing. She turned this hobby into a side hustle and, as sometimes happens when great passion and talent collide — 10 years later finds herself the owner of an historic downtown building and two flourishing businesses. If you want to keep up with Phoebe and Jonathon, her husband and business partner, you’ll have to lace up your sneakers.

After successfully making and selling art as a hobby, in 2012 Phoebe decided to turn her craft into full time work with business elSage Designs. She began vending at a local farmers market that summer, and within a few years, had expanded to multiple markets, regional craft shows, and wholesale production for retail outlets both local and out of state. The enterprise grew so much that in 2014 Jonathon also resigned his middle school teaching position to dedicate himself full time to the family venture. In 2016, the couple signed a lease on their first brick-and-mortar location downtown. Phoebe and Jonathon celebrated their one-year storefront anniversary by holding a pop-up makers market in their parking lot, complete with live music and a food truck. The event included a dozen other artisans, their way of paying it forward and encouraging others.

Like so much of what Phoebe and Jonathan touch, the market was successful, brought people together, enhanced the local economy, and catapulted them into a new business arm – regular artisan events known as Valley Made Markets.

Of course, that wasn’t all Phoebe and Jonathon were up to. In the last two years, the couple has purchased and renovated the historic building in which they were originally tenants, moved elSage to a prime retail location on Mount Vernon’s Main Street, and opened a second business (Fern Creative Coworking) in their newly renovated building. The coworking space realized a long-held recruitment priority of the Mount Vernon Downtown Association but even more importantly clearly filled a community need since initial membership subscriptions reached the equivalent of 8 FTEs – within one month of opening!

There is so much to admire about Phoebe and Jonathan – their grit, work ethic, love of family, and dedication to lifting others up.

Excellence on Main Award

John Baule

Award: Leadership on Main

Year: 2020

City: Yakima

For over a decade John Baule has worn so many hats and taken care of so many tasks, that he has become a beloved public face of downtown Yakima. If you aren’t a Downtown Association insider you may not know he hosts their annual Christmas party in his home every year (for which he prepares many delectable dishes), but you would certainly recognize him as the “Wrist Band Man” keeping the entrance to the Downtown Summer Nights concerts running smoothly.

Even before the Downtown Association of Yakima was formed, John was treasurer for a preceding downtown effort from its first day to its last. Once DAY was founded, John continued to serve as treasurer… and bookkeeper, payroll manager, budget planner, tax expert, and more! He quietly takes all this on himself, reliably putting in volunteer time every week.

In addition to his board leadership, John is active in DAY’s Organization Committee and as a consummate event volunteer. Aside from the gate at Downtown Summer Nights, you’ll see John doing double shifts selling scrip at festivals, checking IDs during Sip & Stroll, answering questions at the farmer’s market information booth, and is often seen hauling tents or weights at  – as DAY executive director Andrew Holt puts it – the tender age of 71. He is also a major player in DAY’s flower program, working diligently with staff in the selection and purchase of flowers, volunteering on planting day, and acting as the City liaison on the program.

John makes serving as an ambassador of DAY to city, public, and other stakeholders look easy, partly because he brings his credibility and knowledge of Yakima history from over 25 years he spent as executive director of the Yakima Valley Museum. Having John’s leadership on the DAY Board and Organization Committee is second only to having his corny humor and overriding sense of good will to brighten them.

By taking the lead in so many aspects of Downtown Association of Yakima’s work and giving so generously of his own expertise, John does what all good leaders do – he enables the rest of the DAY team to do more work more effectively in its mission to strengthen downtown.

Excellence on Main Award

Dobbs Building

Awardee: Ray and Kathy Dobbs

Award: Bricks & Mortar Rehabilitation

Year: 2020

City: Chelan

Eyesore to inspiration, the Dobbs Building on East Woodin Avenue in the heart of historic Chelan shows how much impact a small storefront can have on both the built heritage environment and façade improvement ethic of a community. Its transformation from cautionary example of façade fails to poster child of historic rehabilitation is well worth celebrating.

When opened as Smith Hardware in 1912, the building matched the brick masonry of its neighbors, but underwent a significant remodel in the 1950s. When Ray and Kathy Dobbs purchased it in 2004 the façade was dominated by a huge shingle awning. From over the roofline to just above the display windows it was shingles all the way down!

This building and its odd-duck-out awning earned local notoriety when it was included in Chelan’s 2010 Downtown Master Plan as a “before” example. In other words, this little shop was called out. Lucky for the building, Ray Dobbs was on the planning commission and had every intention of answering that call.

The owners hired local architect and former Historic Downtown Chelan Association Board Member, Larry Hibbard, to design the Dobbs Building reconstruction. Larry was exactly the man for the job – aside from being a past Main Street board member, he had served on the Design Committee for many years and had previously designed several other downtown preservation projects. Ron McGauhy, General Manager of the Lake Chelan Historical Society, was also consulted. He brought in as many photos of the original building as possible to provide the reconstruction with accuracy. Improvements were made to the façade, as well as the back approach to the building, which had previously presented as a large garage door.

While the building is small in footprint and stature, the notoriety its “What Not To Do” reference in the Downtown Master Plan made this the improvement project to watch. Since work started on the Dobbs Building in Fall 2019, three additional buildings have façade improvement projects underway. Today, you can walk along East Woodin Avenue and see the transformation from ugly awning duckling to brick and mortar swan.

Excellence on Main Award

Mercantile Wenatchee

Awardee: Jeff & Heather Ostenson and Rick & Cory Wray

Award: Excellence on Main Award

Year: 2020

City: Wenatchee

We honor Wenatchee’s coworking space, The Mercantile, and its owners Jeff & Heather Ostenson and Rick & Cory Wray for their transformative rehabilitation of an historic building in the heart of downtown and their tremendous dedication to community and collaboration.

Linda Haglund, executive director of the Wenatchee Downtown Association, won’t mince words about the state of the building before the foursome got their hands on it. Originally built as a mercantile, the Ellis-Forde Building has been a staple of the city center since 1905. It was a Sears-Roebuck, then a JCPenney, and after that a Bonanza. The Emporium apartments were in the upper floors. Over a hundred years of Wenatchee history is infused in the bones of this building, and now it provides a future-focused service for entrepreneurs and remote employees who have made wonderful Wenatchee home.

But before the grand opening last fall, there was a tremendous amount of work to bring the Ellis-Forde Building into the 21st century. Heather took on researching the history of the building and worked with local historians and the city to keep character where it existed and bring it back to light where it had been hidden. Where possible, they highlighted original elements like the brick they exposed on the south wall of the front lobby and the windows facing the alley that had been bricked over. Where new materials were needed, the team chose with sourcing and sustainability in mind – such as the timber purchased from a Colville lumber company that conserves old growth through responsibly harvesting practices.

The success of The Mercantile’s restoration inspired other building owners downtown, and the Ostensons and Wrays are generous in passing their wisdom on to these other projects.

The partners have created an open and collaborative culture within The Mercantile, which represents 31 unique businesses and nonprofits, and offers conference rooms and event space for the public. The vision of the Merc – to promote health, happiness and productivity in your workplace – is as evergreen as our state.