National Main Street leaders visits Mac
Frey decided she needed to make a side trip to see just what makes McMinnville's downtown special enough to qualify for such accolades. And after touring Third Street with Cassie Sollars, manager of the McMinnville Downtown Association, she proclaimed, "This is a community that's really firing on all cylinders."
She commended the decades-long effort that brought the community together to create a shared vision and begin turning it into a reality. It was especially exciting, she said, to find buildings like the former Odd Fellows Lodge going through a second round of renovation, filling needed niches along the way.
Some years ago, high-end residential apartments were developed upstairs. Recently, Third Street Flats expanded its reach by converting the space to high-end vacation rentals.
"It's absolutely clear to me why you all did so well in the contest," Frey said. "This is the quintessential Main Street."
She said people are craving unique experiences, and McMinnville has created one downtown. "It also has a decidedly Northwest flair," she said.
"One of the most exciting things for me is watching the 20-30-40-year-olds get just as excited about keeping the charm of the community," Sollars said. She said that tells her it will be in good hands in the future.
She said all 16 communities featured in the contest got a piece of valuable national exposure. She said she's like to visit some of McMinnville's competitors herself.
And Frey noted that half of the honored communities have participated in the National Main Street program, which counts more than 1,000 communities in 42 states.
"I'm so excited for McMinnville," Frey said. "You have worked so hard.
"This is a moment to reflect on everything you've accomplished. This is clearly a place where there's community commitment over a long time."
While she is very happy about the recognition, Sollars said, "I think we'd do it anyway."