By Molly • Molly Walker • 

Mac finishes as Parade's first runner-up

Parade named the winner online Friday and followed up with a spread in its print publication, which is included in Sunday newspapers around the nation, including The Oregonian in Portland.

Online, the magazine offered a gallery of 12 photos of McMinnville, in addition to a synopsis of its historic Third Street. But in print, it was limited to a black and white photo picturing friends snacking on small plates on the sidewalk outside the R. Stuart & Co. Wine Bar.

Collierville received four color photos on the cover and five more inside, in addition to a 12-photo spread online. The coverage included a story on how communities can revitalize their own main streets.

Cassie Sollars, manager for the McMinnville Downtown Association, said her first reaction was, "Oh, darn." But she said that was soon overridden by a feeling of pride.

"Oh my gosh, it's incredible to get this kind of appreciation from a national magazine," she said. She termed it "priceless."

Even though McMinnville finished second, Sollars said the magazine still did a wonderful job of selecting photographs and complimenting the community. "I'm still kind of on a high right now," she said.

In the voting, McMinnville first topped Placerville, California, then Georgetown, Texas, and finally Siloam Springs, Arkansas. On the other side of the bracket, Collierville topped Greenville, South Carolina, then DeLand, Florida, and finally Ellicott City, Maryland.

Other cities making the list, culled from thousands of nominations submitted by readers, were Flagstaff, Arizona; Holland, Michigan; Excelsior, Minnesota; Galena, Illinois; Rockland, Maine; Ridgefield, Connecticut; and Corinth, Mississippi. All were mentioned in the Aug. 17 edition of Parade, which claims 54 million readers around the country.

Patrice Frey, National Main Street Center's president and CEO, was happy for the recognition for the communities and for Main Streets in general.

“We are pleased to see McMinnville recognized as a destination-worthy downtown that has distinguished itself as a meeting place for the arts, commerce and culture," Frey said.

"As an organization that has worked to spur the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods nationwide for more than thirty years, it is extremely gratifying to see that the two finalists — and fully half of the 16 contestants — follow the Main Street Center’s methodology for downtown revitalization, the Main Street Four-Point Approach. It is no surprise that this strategy, plus the hard work and passion Main Street leaders are known for, would result in places that resonate with Americans."

He went on to say, “Our hats go off to McMinnville, Collierville, and all the contestants for their success. We thank Parade for bringing the national recognition that these Main Streets deserve. Stories like these are an important testament to the enduring power of Main Street to entertain, inspire and compete with online retailers and big box stores, even in tough economic times. There’s just something magical about Main Street.”

Barbara Sidway, who chairs the National Main Street Center's board, has roots in helping to restore McMinnville's downtown core. In 1990, Sidway and her husband, Dwight, purchased the 1909 Oddfellows building at the corner of Ford and Third renovated it.

They developed luxury loft apartments on the second and third floors and office and retail space on the ground floor. Theirs was the only Historic Tax Credit program ever completed in McMinnville.

The apartments were recently converted into vacation rental lodging by Third Street Flats, building on its previous success with a project at Cowls and Third.

"We would never have taken on this pioneering project without the Main Street organization first being in place," Sidway said. "The Main Street program provides the structure that allows committed community members to achieve the goals of livability and economic vitality, providing a solid foundation on which real estate investors and developers can rely."

She recalled, "McMinnville was a bit stagnant in the retail mix in the 1990s, when we were all frightened to learn Walmart was planning to open a store. The community rallied under that Main Street flag, and slowly reinvented itself. Rather than a regional farming service center, we now have rich offerings, driven by the exceptional wineries that surround out town.

"No big box could ever rival the fun lifestyle of McMinnville's Main Street today. So, in a way, the coming of Walmart was a major driver inspiring out downtown."

Sidway, now living in Baker City, has worked on renovation of other historic buildings, including the Geiser Grand Hotel. Both she and Frey plan to be in town Wednesday for a tour.

Sollars said officials from Parade magazine plan to come to town later this month — accompanied by Oregoninan Publisher N. Christian Anderson III, their biggest Oregon customer — to present McMinnville with its first runner-up award.


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