A statewide program that has given Woodburn a couple shots in the arm has refueled for the next biennium.
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced that Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant Program was awarded $5 million by the 2019 legislature, which was included in the lottery bond bill HB 5030. The funds will be distributed to Oregon Main Street Network programs in the spring of 2021 to fund projects that spur economic development.
Woodburn has been the recipient of Main Street awards in recent years, instrumental funding that boosted the Bungalow Theater with $100,000 and another $200,000 for the former city hall located on First and Lincoln streets.
Funding allotted to the Bungalow, which is attached to the Woodburn Historical Museum, went toward roofing and seismic upgrades. That Main Street grant saw its funds matched by the city of Woodburn. Those efforts also spurred advocates toward other fundraisers dedicated to the theater's restoration.
Built in 1894, the Bungalow operated as a movie theater from 1910 to 1954.
The museum, which received a $8,000 grant in 2015 from Oregon Heritage for new exhibits, was founded in 1986. The city has owned the buildings since the 1990s.
The former city hall building at 550 N. First St. was built in 1914 and served as the city headquarters until 1977. It's one of only a three buildings in town with National Register of Historic Places status.
Gresham developer Anthony Young purchased the building at a foreclosure auction for $390,000 and announced plans to convert it into an apartment complex.
Last May city of Woodburn announced that the building had received the OMSR grant, and city officials stressed that they would be working closely with Young to help see the renovations through.
The developer has worked with architects in order to determine the building's best use, which appears to be a mix between housing units and retail space, though thoughts of rental offices have also surfaced.
The OMSR infusion sparked a new round of optimism for the venerable edifice.
"For the ten years I have been with Woodburn, the old city hall building has remained vacant and, from time to time, been problematic," City Administrator Scott Derickson said last May when the grant was announced. "But, the really exciting part of the grant award is that it will leverage an additional $500,000 in private financing and potentially $100,000 in URA (urban renewal) grants.
"This means the grant award will actual create an $800,000 renovation project with the goal of putting the building back into productive use for the benefit of everyone," he noted. "We're really excited to see this project, which just lends to the energy and transformation occurring downtown."
Oregon Main Street legacy
The OMSR grant program began in 2015 when the legislature established permanent funds and placed it within the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office fold. Initial funds came from lottery bonds, while additional funding was approved during the 2017 legislative session.
OPRD announced this month that 57 matching grants totaling $7,599,994 were awarded in 2017 and 2019 to Oregon Main Street Network organizations statewide. Those awards range from $17,500 to $200,000 for projects from façade improvement to elevator access and seismic upgrades.
Outside of Woodburn, a sample of those projects include:
•$200,000 in Coos Bay for eleven new apartments;
•$200,000 in Cottage Grove for six apartments and retail upgrades;
•$149,751 for four new apartments in Klamath Falls;
•$200,000 for four new apartments in Tillamook;
•Klamath Falls Downtown Association received $100,000 to install elevators in two downtown buildings, addressing a downtown housing goal with 20 units;
•Astoria Downtown Historic District Association received $100,000 for a downtown housing project that comprises 40 units and retail space;
•A $100,000 project in Burns restored a historic hotel left vacant for decades;
•A $100,000 project in Independence is rehabilitating an underused building to be a local brewery;
•$200,000 to improve a block of façades in downtown Stayton.
Kuri Gill, Oregon Heritage's grants and outreach coordinator, noted that successful applications were able to demonstrate how each proposed project met clearly established goals for the downtown improvement efforts and were going to attract or retain businesses, generate new or retain jobs or create downtown housing opportunities.
The next round of the Main Street Revitalization Grant will be open in January 2021.
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