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Grandview eyes downtown revitalization

GRANDVIEW - Downtown Grandview could be on its way to receiving a facelift if Grandview City Council chooses to move forward with the creation of a downtown revitalization plan.

Monday night, Gregg Dohrn of Jones and Stokes of Bellevue talked to city council members about the planning that goes into putting together a successful downtown revitalization plan.

Downtown revitalization is a subject Grandview City Council, as well as the Grandview Chamber of Commerce, have been discussing for several months. City Clerk Anita Palacios told council members Monday night that Dohrn had already had a chance to sit down and talk about revitalization strategies with a small group of city representatives, including herself, City Councilman Robert Morales, Chamber President Jim Herriman, Public Works Director Cus Arteaga and Bill Huibregtse of Huibregtse Louman Associates Inc.

"We sat down and talked about where we want to start and how we get going," Palacios said.

Dohrn told council members before anything can be done in regards to a downtown revitalization plan the council has to sit down and answer three questions. The three questions Dohrn presented to council members were: Is the revitalization of downtown a high priority for city council? Is the council willing to spend time, money and commit resources to the revitalization process? And, is revitalization a priority to downtown businesses?

"The answer to all these questions has to be yes," Dohrn told council members.

He said all of those questions have to be answered in the affirmative because downtown revitalization is a big project. He noted that you can't just wave a magic wand and have the project complete itself.

"It's not that easy," Dohrn said.

However, Dohrn told council members that Grandview does have a few things going for it already in terms of putting together a revitalization project. He said, for one thing, Grandview already has a downtown area, a main street with buildings on both sides. He said there are some communities Jones and Stokes is working with that are trying to not only revitalize their downtown, but also create one.

Dohrn also pointed to Grandview's recently completed infrastructure project that improved Wine Country Road leading into downtown and included the removal of a railroad overpass, which Dohrn said used to cut off the downtown area from the Wine Country Road corridor. Dohrn said the increased interest in the area's wine industry could also help in the revitalization of Grandview's downtown area.

"You have perhaps a number of options here," Dohrn said, noting that the Wal-Mart distribution center has also helped put Grandview on the map. "I see a number of things that say the condition might be right," Dohrn told council members.

According to Dohrn, one of the first things council members can do in order to get the ball rolling on a revitalization project is to head out into the community and evaluate what they have to work with. Dohrn pointed out that in driving through the community earlier Monday he had taken notice of the many interesting brick buildings that make up most of the downtown corridor, as well as the good condition of the buildings.

Dohrn said after evaluating what the downtown area has to offer, it is important to come up with several alternative plans for action. He said the city needs to define areas of interest in downtown, as well as places it would like to see highlighted by a revitalization project. Dohrn said it is important for communities, like Grandview, to customize a revitalization plan, making it work for what the city has to offer.

"You have to make it unique to Grandview," Dohrn said, noting that not every community in Washington can be like Leavenworth.

Another important part of creating a downtown revitalization plan, Dohrn said, is implementing it. He said it's important to come up with a plan of action, a way to put the plan in motion. Dohrn said by the time the project gets to this point there will be people who are very supportive of the plan, those who are very against the plan and those in the middle who will be looking for something to happen before getting on board.

Dohrn told council members when looking at downtown revitalization it is important to remember that the entire downtown area doesn't have to be done at one time. Instead, it is ok to focus on one place or on one thing before moving onto the next piece of the project.

Mayor Mike Bren said in order for the revitalization project to succeed city council can't be the one driving force behind it. Instead, he said the Chamber of Commerce has to get on board, as well as local downtown business owners.

Huibregtse agreed with Bren, noting that downtown businesses should be the driving force behind a project like this one.

Jim Sewell, city administrator, said this isn't the first time Grandview has looked at creating a revitalization plan. He said in 1990 steps were taken to improve the downtown area, including sidewalk improvements at the intersection of Second and Division streets, as well as the creation of Stokely Square. However, he said when it came time to get the downtown businesses involved, the project fell flat.

Bren said council members will discuss the revitalization plan during their upcoming retreat, scheduled to take place Feb. 9. Bren said before coming together for the retreat he hopes to get a feeling of whether the revitalization effort is something both the Chamber of Commerce and downtown businesses would support.

. Elena Olmstead can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail her at eolmstead@eaglenewspapers.com

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