This week the roof is being replaced on the Chamber Headquarters building on Main Avenue, which is also the Visitor’s Center. While the sidewalk out front has been complete (and access to our front door open) for quite some time, the Dutch Mill (our neighbors to the north) are currently renovating their façade, where, in addition to the temporary removal of their iconic sign for refitting, the awning has come off along with the front siding- equating to a rather large pile of construction debris at short intervals. Two awestruck out-of-towners seeking hotel information navigating Main on Monday stopped in and asked if we had coordinated all of our downtown building remodeling with the timing of the Highway Project, and while we laughed together in the moment and talk turned toward local accommodation options, the reality of their observation is worthy of reflection.
Despite a noisy bunch of social media commentators who would have you believe that “downtown is dying,” all evidence points to downtown being on the verge of an entirely new life. Every single block in the Tillamook Main Street “Downtown District” has renovation projects either recently completed, on the immediate horizon, or actively underway.
Every single block.
While there is zero doubt that the construction impacts of the Highway Project have been extremely challenging and have created intense hardship for the economy and the commute through town, the coinciding business expansion in downtown, number of real estate transactions on commercial properties in the downtown core, and the large number of private investment dollars being invested to revitalize the infrastructure of the buildings is a promising indicator that Tillamook is weathering these trials and that the future is bright.
One example of these efforts is on Third Street, on the west side of the intersection of Main. The water main work has been completed there, and the contractor is expecting the sidewalk along that corner to be poured and in place next week. The eastern edge of the project would have brought the sidewalk work to a stop about two-thirds of the way along the side of the historic Beals Building. Recognizing that this is the moment to maximize the efficiency of the crews on the ground, investor owners Valerie Schumann and her husband Gary have connected with the contractors and have decided to privately fund the sidewalk work along the remainder of their building, bringing the new stamped concrete eastward from Main up to the alleyway. When speaking with Gary yesterday, he explained that after the roofing work they did to make sure the building is dry inside, they have now begun more extensive interior work and are addressing many of the realities of renovating a one hundred-plus year-old building, including sorting out asbestos abatement, plumbing headaches, and comprehensive electrical work.
Further north on Main, the sidewalk in front of Fat Dog Pizza is on track for being poured later this week. The Alderman Building, which hosts Fat Dog Pizza, Voo Doo Vapor, Shanny’s Nail’s and Second Street Coffee, recently had the long awning that stretches from the western corner of the building on Second toward Main rebuilt and refitted, providing shelter from both rain and the occasional intense sun for the outdoor seating there.
Bear with it, folks. Change is hard and slow and disconcerting, and in the end we will likely all be able to point at things we wish were different, but the tide is pushing us all along and as we near the end of this project and there becomes less and less to report about projected timelines, there becomes more and more to see and do unfolding in front of us. In the next few weeks, the top soil in many of the bioswales will go in, and the street trees will begin to be planted. Pavers along Main will begin to fill the gap between the new sidewalk and the curb, and the paving and subsequent reopening of parking along Main is in the not-too-distant future. If you are looking for an excuse to explore the Downtown District in the next few weeks, September 1st the Tillamook Revitalization Association and the Headlight Herald are hosting a community garage sale, and booths are available for $15- just register at the Headlight Herald or Lucky Bear Soap. The following Saturday, September 8th, the Monday Musical Club of Tillamook is hosting their annual Oktoberfest event, which is a great family-friendly day of live music and delicious food (and also beer for those 21+).
Hope you all are enjoying these final weeks of August, and please be safe out there,