Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant funding was part of a 2019 legislature approved lottery bond package scheduled for spring 2021. The sale of the bond package has been canceled due lottery shortfalls from the impacts of COVID-19. Without the $5,000,000 expected from the sale or additional action by the legislature, a new round of grants can’t be awarded.
This is a devastating blow to Oregon’s 93 historic downtowns and organizations that participate in the Oregon Main Street Network. They have struggled these past several months to meet the challenges their communities are facing during the pandemic. They have been vital to the preservation of jobs, businesses, and community resilience. Many have already been preparing for the application process slated to open in January, 2021.
The grant program was created during the 2015 legislative session, and placed with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office. The grant funds building acquisition, rehabilitation, or construction projects that support community revitalization in Oregon Main Street Network communities. The program also requires that at least 50 percent of the funds go to rural communities as defined in the bill.
The legislation established a permanent fund for the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant, and provided an initial infusion of funds from the sale of lottery bonds. Subsequent funding through the sale of lottery bonds was approved in 2017 and 2019. While the 2019 approved funding is now unlikely, the fund itself remains and can be replenished by other sources including other government and private funds.
The first two grants cycles resulted in awards for 56 projects in 37 communities. Awards were spread all over the state, from Enterprise to Lakeview to Gold Beach to Astoria, and included 30 communities under 30,000 population. Types of projects funded include:
- Full restoration of several buildings, some decades vacant, including the Central Hotel in Burns, Merwyn Building in Astoria, Mills Garage in Independence, Au Franc Building in Port Orford, IOOF Building in La Grande.
- Creation of new or improved residential units including eleven new apartments in Coos Bay, six apartments and retail upgrades in Cottage Grove, two projects to support a total of 24 units in Klamath Falls, 40 new units in Astoria, four new apartments in Tillamook, renovation of five apartments in Reedsport, three new spaces in The Dalles, and 10-12 new units in Woodburn.
- Façade restorations including a model block program coordinated by Revitalize Downtown Stayton that includes improvements on seven of nine properties in downtown. Other facade improvements include the Litch Building in Enterprise, Riviera Building in Astoria, Railroad Avenue buildings and The Coin in Oregon City, Morris Miles & Co Building in Newberg, and Alberta district in Portland.
- Structural and roof repairs including five properties in Reedsport, two buildings in Baker City, the historic Masonic Building in Bandon, the Hill Theater (antique store) in Hillsboro, the Bungalow Theater & Museum building in Woodburn, and one building each in Dallas and Weston.
- Historic Theater acquisition and improvements including purchase of the Alger Theater in Lakeview, and improvements to the Liberty Theater in La Grande, Columbia Theater in St. Helens, OK Theatre in Enterprise, and Rivoli Theater in Pendleton.