Home Opinion Editorials Project breathes life into La Grande downtown
Project breathes life into La Grande downtown
Don’t expect a quick fix when it comes to the La Grande Main Street
program and its goals to improve downtown. Sure, the city has loads of
potential. Attractive shops, dynamic business owners, lots of great
deals, a wonderful shopping experience — all are possible already and
will be improved upon in the future.
Anyone who has followed developments knows that for years advocates have taken aim at brightening the downtown and trying to reverse the trend of shoppers escaping to big box stores on the outskirts. Part of the Oregon Main Street initiative, the La Grande Main Street program is gearing up to breath new life into downtown. Two grants for improvement of building facades has launched the latest effort. The grants will help spruce up the Anthony Building (better known as the Earth N Books storefront) and the Bryan and Dunphy Building (better known as the former quarters of J.C. Penney and Mamacita’s). More facade improvements will occur later as grant money and funds from building owners become available.
The city is expected to roll out its own facade improvement program in coming weeks. The two facades chosen for the initial projects are among 12 the city received proposals for.
Credit goes to the civic-minded individuals serving on the Organization, Design, Promotion and Economic Restructuring committees. Their tireless efforts have helped get the
La Grande Main Street program off the ground. Their investment in the community is bound to pay dividends. These involved citizens are making a difference.
A safe and more attractive downtown, one with a sense of community so lacking in impersonal big cities, will add to La Grande’s strengths. The city is known for its low crime, its bountiful urban forest, its status as an educational hub and for its natural beauty as the dominant city in the Grande Ronde Valley. Improvements in the city’s aesthetic appeal is one more step in attracting more shoppers back to the downtown core. The hope is that people with entrepreneurial spirit will ride a new wave of backfilling economic development to fill vacant storefronts. Risk-takers who see a business opportunity and make the most of it, with proper preparation and due deliberation in the face of the recession, will be rewarded.
The facade investment will help the city attain long-term goals. With patience and a solid economic blueprint, the city will find itself in a win-win situation for local businesses and for the shoppers who flock to the downtown stores in search of great customer service and