Celebrating growth and looking ahead to an expanded 2024 Washington Main Street network!

Starting January 1, 2024, our network will be ringing in the new year by toasting the Historic Downtown Snohomish Association on achieving Main Street Community designation as well as welcoming five new Affiliates: Cathlamet, Chewelah, Kirkland, Oakesdale, and Pioneer Square in Seattle. The Washington State Main Street Program has been working with grassroots revitalization efforts since 1984, providing support and direction to local leaders to strengthen their historic commercial cores and neighborhood districts through the Main Street Approach. This time-tested framework, stewarded by the National Main Street Center, was developed to address the emptying of historic buildings in the face of urban renewal and shopping malls but has proven time and time again to be effective in strengthening communities through economic and social change. Washington’s Main Street Communities rebounded from the pandemic at a faster rate than similar neighborhoods elsewhere in the state—a testament to the work of local Main Street organizations. We celebrate Snohomish’s designation as a Main Street Community and the expansion of our network to 77 towns and cities because it means stronger, more vital places for Washingtonians.

Cheers to Historic Downtown Snohomish

Following selection committee recommendations, the Historic Downtown Snohomish Association joins the ranks of designated Main Street Communities recognized for actively using the Main Street Approach to highlight local history, support small businesses, and promote the historic district as the heart and soul of their city.

Snohomish is located along the Snohomish River southeast of Everett, notable in the Pacific Northwest as one of the first interior Puget Sound settlements, and a downtown historic district that’s on both the Washington State and National Register of Historic Places. A significant number of historic buildings remain intact with surprisingly few alterations (and unreasonably high charm!), which gives the town a nostalgic feeling that all residents enjoy. Initially incorporated in 2003, the Historic Downtown Snohomish Association (HDSA) became known for bringing people downtown through events. However, it was in joining the Washington Main Street network and reorganizing their work into active Four Point committees that they were able to grow their capacity. HDSA focuses on the grassroots nature of Main Street, as evidenced by a more representative board and a jump from 20 volunteers to more than 200, by implementing strong and streamlined work plans for Outreach, Design, Economic Vitality, and Promotion committees. As HDSA’s vision says, their Main Street organization sees “the Snohomish Historic District as everybody’s neighborhood,” and their success reflects the importance of making clear, accessible, and engaging opportunities for locals to take part in stewarding their downtown. Cheers to HDSA and all “Snohomies” on their work. There’s no doubt First Street is in great hands!

Welcome New Affiliates

Joining our network in 2024 as Affiliates are the Town of Cathlamet, City of Chewelah, the Downtown Kirkland Partnership, Town of Oakesdale, and the Alliance for Pioneer Square. Affiliates are towns and organizations exploring how the Main Street Approach can serve as the guide in meeting their revitalization goals.

Cathlamet is the county seat of Wahkiakum County and a community of around 550 residents along the Columbia River. The town is looking to capitalize on historic assets like the Cathlamet Hotel while strengthening tourism generally. On the opposite side of the state, Chewelah is the “Southern Gateway to the Colville National Forest,” about 45 minutes north of Spokane. Chewelah is a growing community of more than 2,600 along U.S. Route 395, which has already started using elements of the Main Street Approach in their planning to further develop their reputation as a resort town with opportunities for remote work. Kirkland Downtown Partnership will be bringing the Main Street Approach to their urban community east of Seattle with a population of more than 90,000 and a focus on preserving historic buildings and supporting local business owners. The Town of Oakesdale is a community of around 450 folks nestled in the rolling wheat fields on the Palouse Scenic Byway. Oakesdale is currently focused restoration of the historic J.C. Barron Flour Mill as a catalyst to further revitalization. Known as “the original Seattle neighborhood,” Pioneer Square was founded in 1852. Today, it is stewarded by the Alliance for Pioneer Square, which services the residents, owners, and employees of more than 600 businesses and shared public spaces as a town within a city. The Alliance for Pioneer Square has been working with neighborhood stakeholders to implement the Main Street Approach since 2001, building community capacity for sustained neighborhood revitalization. We are excited to welcome and work with these downtown enthusiasts as they strengthen the hearts of their communities as Affiliates.

Using local resources and initiative, the Washington State Main Street Program helps our current network of 72 towns and cities develop their own strategies to stimulate long-term economic growth and civic pride. We provide access to information, support the capacity of local downtown revitalization leaders, and offer guidance to individuals and organizations interested in downtown revitalization. To learn more about Washington Main Street, visit preservewa.org/programs/mainstreet.