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

Rain Garden

Awardee: Lorinda Kay and Fred Lindahl

Award: Sustainable Future

Year: 2016

City: Langley

A 2014 remodel of Second Street, a key corridor in downtown Langley, included the installation of the city’s first rain garden. The Langley Main Street Association designed and planted all of the bump-out features of the new streetscape, except the 600’ rain garden, which was designed and planted by a contractor due to the technical requirements.

Rain gardens work like a native forest by capturing and infiltrating polluted runoff from rooftops, driveways, and other hard surfaces. Rain gardens can help reduce water pollution and prevent flooding in the Puget Sound.

After a year, it became evident that the Second Street rain garden had failed. The plants became too big, wilted and folded over under their own weight making the area look like an out-of-control lawn. Water from the street ran along the curb and exited without circulating through the garden. The city approved the redesign plan by the Main Street Association and agreed to cover the new plant costs.

A new plan was designed by Main Street Association intern Emily Martin, a horticulture graduate from the University of Oregon. A rocky channel for better water flow was created to meander through the middle of the garden to guide the water throughout the bed. New plants were added with a greater variety of size, color and fragrance.

With record rainfall this winter, the rain garden was put to the test and passed with flying colors – water channels throughout the garden area now and filters through the direct and sand with no flooding occurring. Residents and merchants are happy with the new design, which adds interesting character, plants, and better functionality.

The Langley Main Street Association plans to make the rain garden a center piece educational tool explaining the importance of the rain garden in filtering street runoff such as heavy metals, gas and oil, before it enters the sound. This will be a pilot project to encourage and educate building owners on storm water run-off and ways to filter and clean water before it enters the storm system and the sea.

Excellence on Main Award

Finholm’s Market

Awardee: Mary DesMarais, Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance Executive Director

Award: Visual Impact

Year: 2016

City: Gig Harbor

In 2013, during the University of Washington Storefront Studio Project, the Finholm District of Gig Harbor’s downtown waterfront was identified as having the “potential to be a bustling neighborhood commercial district engaging both sides of the street.” In the final project report, several options were recommended for updating the exterior of the Finholm’s Market, an anchor building in the district. As it sat, there was a worn and faded mural across the main stucco wall of the structure, and non-working neon signage.

Following recommendations from a Washington State Department of Archaeology & History Preservation building assessment in early 2015, property owners Monte & Teddi Hester repainted building surfaces, refurbished the building’s neon sign, and commissioned local artists to paint a mural on the building. Improvements cost approximately $250,000, a worthy investment for the Hesters, who have longstanding ties to the building. Teddi’s father, John Finholm, was the former building owner and founded the Finholm Market in 1935.

The Hesters wanted the new building mural to celebrate the history of the Finholm district and the Finholm family. Finding inspiration from a historic photograph of the market, artists Lita Dawn Ancich and Bob Henry created a sepia toned painting featuring John Finholm and his brother Edward with their original delivery truck.

This project improved the overall appearance of the Finholm district and has helped the history of the building re-emerge with the painting of the historical mural. Market owners say the exterior improvements have made a huge difference for their business.

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

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

Polson Building

Award: Bricks & Mortar Rehabilitation

Year: 2018

City: Mount Vernon

The Polson Building was built in 1927 for the Golden Rule Department Store, but had recently fallen victim to neglect and several unfortunate alterations before Steve Broman and Vern Curtis purchased it in 2016.

Steve and Vern immediately commenced work on the building, including painstakingly exposing much of the original brickwork and windows, sectioning the commercial space into multiple bays, adding a residential apartment in the underutilized mezzanine level, and remodeling the upstairs office.

Steve and Vern are not only the owners but also the general contractors. They arranged their own financing, handled building design and floorplans, negotiated leases, and were on site through the entire process from demolition to helping new tenants move in. They were at the building every day for a full year, stating that as they discovered more hidden details of the building, they found themselves adding to the budget, justifying it by saying the “building was worth it”.

The Polson Building is the fourth rehabilitation project Steve and Vern have completed together in the last two decades. Three of their four buildings are in downtown Mount Vernon. Their commitment to quality rehabilitation, ownership and property management make them what Ellen Gamson of the Downtown Mount Vernon Association “the kind of property owners that organizations like ours wish for.”

The building was fully leased before the work was completed and the project has served as a positive example of the city’s recently adopted design standards and has inspired additional renovations in nearby properties.

The Polson Building stands as tangible proof of how respectful rehabilitation of an historic building can enliven an entire district. Built as an anchor retail establishment, the building now has a renewed purpose and place in the community.

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

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.

Excellence on Main Award

Sustainable Connections’ Community Energy Challenge

Awardee: Sustainable Connections

Award: Sustainable Future

Year: 2015

City: Bellingham

In 2010, Sustainable Connections started outreach to local businesses and property owners about the Community Energy Challenge (CEC) and encouraged them to sign up for free energy assessments. Over the past five years, 471 businesses and property owners have participated, 84 of which are in downtown Bellingham. These 84 business and property owners represent 91 buildings in the downtown core and include a variety of spaces, many of them historic.

By performing the free assessments, Sustainable Connections was able to identify the most impactful upgrades and retrofits for each space, providing a personalized action plan and assistance with financing options, including access to incentives and rebates. They recommended vetted contractors to do the work and provided ongoing support and monitoring to ensure that energy saving goals are met.

Energy retrofits reduce the environmental impact of those that work and live in the downtown core, and facility upgrades, coupled with energy savings, give property owners a competitive edge in leasing spaces. Businesses are able to enjoy a reduced environmental impact as well as highly desirable spaces with increased comfort and lower energy bills.

The impact of the CEC is substantial. Over $6,000,000 and more than 6,000 tons of greenhouse gases have been saved; over 80 jobs have been supported, and over $16,000,000 in economic activity has been generated. A 2014 study found that every dollar of public funds spent on the CEC projects yields $5.27 in local economic activity. Additionally, Sustainable Connections is currently helping beta test “America Saves!,” an energy efficiency pilot program through the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“The Community Energy Challenge has, to date, exceeded all its participation goals to realize the massive energy savings potential in historic downtowns,” said Sarah Hansen, former Washington State Main Street Program Coordinator. “Sustainable Connections has incentivized energy efficiency retrofits within the context of historic preservation and the needs of small businesses, creating a model program that will have a lasting impact on the community.”

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.”

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

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

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

Sayers Building

Award: Bricks & Mortar Rehabilitation

Year: 2019

City: Walla Walla

Located in the heart of downtown, the historic Sayers Building is a Walla Walla landmark. Not only has the building long been a cornerstone of downtown Walla Walla’s built environment and economic prosperity, it is in itself a living reminder of local craftsmanship, from its time of construction in 1890 to 2018 when the exterior was meticulously restored.

The Sayers Building is also known as the Beehive Building, referring to the Beehive Department Store that occupied the space from 1898 until 1977. It is currently home to Starbucks and Coffee Perk.

When Michael Corliss acquired the building in 2015, the roof was leaking, the masonry deteriorating, second story windows were broken, and the parapet was unstable and in danger of falling from the building. Michael and his son Eben set to work on plans to construct a water tight building envelope and restore the building’s structural integrity while preserving its historic character. Their design team included Tarragon Northwest, RadarTangen, DeMambro Architecture, Swenson Say Faget, and CDH Drafting and Consulting, as well as the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, Whitman College Penrose Library, and Joe Drazan as historical resources. The building’s community significance and distinctive Late Victorian Italianate characteristics were given top priority in the rehabilitation design.

The $350,000 project, which utilized Special Valuation, commenced in April 2017. A team of specialty tradespeople was engaged to complete the work with meticulous attention to detail and celebration of the original design. Some of the contractors were multi-generational tradespeople who recalled having worked on the Sayers Building as young apprentices. That team included PBS Engineering and Environmental Inc., Jackson Contractor Group, Modern Masonry, All-Safe Abatement Services, Gillespie Roofing, Jeff Moeller Construction, Meticulous Touch (for painting and metal finishes), Integrity Metal, Ken Adams Plumbing, and Walla Walla Refrigeration – all local companies.

The owners’ investment and the combined efforts of their many partners restored a spectacular building that highlights the history and local talents of Walla Walla. The project has also served as a catalyst for historic preservation investment throughout the downtown district.