Washington | 2003 Great American Main Street Award® Winner | Posted: 5/19/2003
As the city annexed land in the 1960s, the population shifted to outlying areas and the businesses followed, vacating their buildings and pulling sales with them. Scrambling to maintain their market share, the surviving businesses formed the Park and Shop Association and eventually joined forces with the chamber of commerce in 1970s. After many studies and slow progress, the business organized the Downtown Business Association in 1983 and adopted the Main Street Four-Point Approach™.
Wenatchee businesses initially focused on creating a more pedestrian-friendly downtown through a $1.8 million streetscape project and reconfiguration of its main street, which was a four-lane state highway. The newly named Wenatchee Downtown Association evaluated its assets and challenges by conducting market analysis and building inventories. It then strengthened its businesses by offering a low-interest loan program for façade improvement, providing design guidance and crafting promotional activities. By 1992, Wenatchee qualified to participate in the Washington Main Street program.
Its foundation in the Main Street Four-Point Approach™ helped the organization survive and thrive despite the onslaught of big boxes in the late 1990s. White elephants along the blighted Columbia Street warehouse district were rehabilitated and converted into more than 50,000 square feet "loft-living" and mixed-use commercial space. Wenatchee levered this redevelopment success and convinced the public sector to anchor the Wenatchee commercial district with the Columbia Station transit center at its south end and an expanded Convention Center at its north end. Their downtown revitalization efforts have decreased street-level vacancy to nine percent, created 735 new jobs, rehabilitated 186 buildings totaling over $13 million and attracted over $25 million of public sector investment.
Built progressively on a strong foundation of programs, projects, and partnerships, Wenatchee is once again a driving force in its region's economic development, historic preservation, and community-building.
The National Trust Main Street Center awarded Wenatchee a 2003 Great American Main Street Award on May 19, 2003, during the National Trust's annual Town Meeting on Main Street conference held in Cincinnati, Ohio.
To learn more about the National Trust's Great American Main Street Awards, contact Camille Inez at (202) 588-6140 or read the About the Awards section. For more information about Wenatchee's efforts to revitalize their historic commercial district, contact Wenatchee Downtown Association at (509) 662-0059 or visit www.wendowntown.org.