The Mercantile, a new coworking space in downtown Wenatchee.

By Meredith Hilger, Program & Event Director, Wenatchee Downtown Association

That feeling, that emotion, that overwhelming sensation that a place is hugging you; that is downtown Wenatchee. Maybe it’s the mountains, or maybe it’s the architecture, but as you turn 360 degrees in our downtown, you can’t help but feel an embrace. Changes are certainly abounding, but the historic buildings and cross street lighting create a magic that can only be accomplished one place in our community. Downtown serves as not only a hub for local business and entrepreneurs, but also a meeting place, a landmark, simply a spot you want to be. We are thrilled to welcome you to this place we call home April 6-8 for RevitalizeWA.

Like many of your communities, Wenatchee recognized a need for change when the malls started to pop up and shopping habits changed in the late 1970s. In 1986, our “Downtown Business Association” was enacted, largely to try and cope with parking challenges. From that effort grew a group of concerned citizens who sought ways to preserve our historic downtown and renew its vibrancy. Through the years, the organization has remained a strong force in the community, always keeping downtown at the forefront as Wenatchee grows and changes. So much so that in 2003, our downtown received National Main Street’s distinctive Great American Main Street Award.

Today our team is known as the Wenatchee Downtown Association. We are economic development drivers and catalysts of change. We try to always be open to the possibilities, constantly asking ourselves: what could be? Through that mission, combined with dedicated community members and local investment, you see the magic before you today. Externally, we may not look so different from the original days of our organization, but inside these buildings, you will find immense change and adaptation for the future. Step inside the Mercantile and see a state-of-the-art co-working facility bringing a plethora of industry to our downtown, coupled with the latest and greatest in design and aesthetic that would make any jaw drop. Or, take a look inside the Midtown building, and you’ll find creative development, uniquely tailored to the specific needs of the tenants involved.

Our downtown is walkable and diverse. You can find everything from multicultural restaurant options, to a variety of retail, all in an inviting and walkable five-block radius. Tasting rooms, wine bars, and cocktail lounges alike will ensure everyone can find their fancy. As is our community motto: We invite you to choose this place to visit, to explore, or to stay. What will you pick today?
We have not gotten to where we are today without hard work. We have gotten here through partnership with our city, chamber, and the private entities that own these historic buildings. We cannot take full credit for the vision here, but we are honored to be part of the process and the constant evolution that is the future of downtown.

One thing remains the same, and truthfully always will: Downtown is the heart of this community. How it looked then and what it is today, this beating heart is heard throughout our town. The message in Wenatchee is clear: we are a community that looks to the future and appreciates the past, honoring what’s sacred and fostering new goals. We stand together and work hard for this place we call home.

Owners of the Mercantile, Rick & Cory Wray and Jeff & Heather Ostenson.

Linda Haglund, WDA Executive Director (left), and volunteers (right) spend time making downtown Wenatchee beautiful during “Make A Difference Day.”

View of the Wenatchee Valley through the trees of Ohme Gardens.