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Downtown Beaverton looks to transform

Historic business district accepted into higher level of Oregon Main Street program


FILE PHOTO - New blade signs along Southwest Broadway Street help give the historic business district a new look.Beaverton has taken another small step toward having the downtown of its dreams.

The Beaverton Downtown Association has been accepted to the Transforming Downtown level within the state-run Oregon Main Street program.

The new designation gives the association better access to training and technical support – and potentially future grant funding – to continue work to polish a city core that many see as a diamond in the rough.

“It has its own character and it has so much potential,” said Sheri Stuart, who manages Oregon Main Street, part of the Heritage Program within the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

Stuart’s program recently chose both the Beaverton and Pendleton downtown associations to move up to the Transforming Downtown level, the second-highest level in the program, due to their demonstrated commitment to improve their core business districts.

Recent improvements to the Beaverton Downtown Association’s core area have include a new streetscape and other upgrades on Southwest Broadway Street, which includes some of the city’s earliest commercial buildings.

“Our goal is to revitalize not just Broadway but the whole core of the city,” said Paul Cohen, chair of the Beaverton Downtown Association.

Cohen said the largely commercial area they focus on is located from Southwest Canyon Road to Fifth Street, between Southwest Lombard Avenue and Beaverton High School. The city of Beaverton is a partner in work in those areas while also focusing on the Creekside District north of Canyon.

Beaverton and other Transforming Downtown communities are working toward the fourth and final level, known as Performing Main Street.

Stuart said Oregon has many vibrant downtowns that Beaverton can use as models of what is achievable, including revitalized districts in McMinnville, Astoria and other cities and small towns.

Last year’s Oregon Legislature approved a $2.5 million grant program, funded by Oregon Lottery bonds to be issued next year, to help pay for some building improvement projects aimed at spurring economic development and job creation, Stuart said.

Communities accepted into the Transforming Downtown level like Beaverton, as well as Performing Main Street communities, will be eligible to apply for a share of that money, Stuart said. The grant program is still taking shape, with the application period likely to be next winter, she added.

Stuart, who has worked with downtown business districts for decades, also will provide technical support and education programs to Beaverton and all Transforming Downtown communities, regardless of potential grant funding.

Volunteer opportunity

The Beaverton Downtown Association is looking for more volunteers to help enhance, preserve and share Old Town Beaverton. If interested, contact the organization at info@downtownbeaverton.org.

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