Bold strokes cut a path to downtown successes
Those who achieve notable success in a challenging endeavor inevitably face a dilemma. Do they press on, risking hard-fought gains in hopes of reaping yet more rewards, or do they stand pat, easing into a comfortable status quo?
We raise the issue in connection with McMinnville’s widely acclaimed downtown, whose vibrancy and vitality resonate with all who visit. And we believe its mantra should be, without question, “Press on!”
Thus, we take encouraging note of recent developments, including two announced just this week — groundbreaking on the KAOS project, which promises to serve as an eastern anchor for Third Street’s bustling commercial strip, and extension of McMinnville’s popular park ranger program to the downtown core, which promises to rein in the nagging loitering and littering problem in a cost-effective fashion.
What’s more, they come against the backdrop of a series of other positive developments — adoption of a lodging tax to fund a new tourism promotion push, emergence of the historic Granary District as a worthy new point of focus, creation of an urban renewal district encompassing the downtown core, Granary District and Northeast Gateway District in a complementary package, and discussion of a transportation funding package that could make the Gateway’s Alpine Street spine a priority.
Through a combination of luck, wisdom, effort, persistence, and both internal and external vision, downtown McMinnville has become a pedestrian-friendly showcase of regional and even national renown.
It features a stock of historic buildings largely well preserved if not painstakingly restored; narrow, pedestrian friendly, two-way streets made even narrower with the addition of prominent bulb-outs at each intersection; wide sidewalks featuring a bevy of outdoor beer, wine, coffee, conversation and dinner opportunities; underground utilities, mid-block crosswalks, period streetlights, a magnificent array of street trees and an extensive mix of permanent housing and temporary lodging above the ground floor.
Being the epicenter of a world-renowned wine industry, of course, has helped immeasurably. Wine business has helped generate an even greater array of food purveyors, as fine wine and fine food inevitably go hand in hand.
Downtown also owes a debt of gratitude to Oregon’s nation-leading craft beer industry, which is responsible for producing such anchor establishments as McMenamins Hotel Oregon, the Golden Valley Brewery & Restaurant and the new Grain Station Brew Works.
The McMenamin brothers’ decision to purchase and rehab a historic multi-story hotel in the heart of downtown, at a cost of $3.5 million, was a signal event. So was that of Harvest Fresh to heed entreaties to relocate its natural foods grocery to a downtown block.
We see no reason to stop there. The Mack Theater and Ray’s Automotive properties are challenges needing solutions, and there is enormous promise for a number of properties in the adjacent Granary and Northeast Gateway districts.
Those content with treading water inevitably wind up either washed up on shore or swept out to sea. It requires a continuing series of bold strokes to cut a path to rewarding new territory.