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'F' as in Frank

Building downtown by building unity

Downtown Sunnyside has been rocked by the closure of an entire block after two businesses were lost to fire.

It's a sad circumstance for the families impacted and the community at large.

Joni and I will miss dining at El Conquistador and like everyone we hope it and the Safari are rebuilt.

And that brings me to how the shock to downtown these past few days might be a chance to rebuild and renew the downtown corridor. There's a void now, obviously, and a need to remove the rubble once an investigation is completed.

But it's also an opportunity for downtown building owners, the city and chamber to pull together and in that void catch a vision for what downtown could become.

It doesn't necessarily have to be a theme park like Leavenworth's Bavarian village or Prosser's Tuscany-inspired wineries and shops..

But it could be gaining new appreciation for the historic buildings in downtown and building a vision around that. Starting with what we have, so to speak, and building on that.

One step could be establishing a local register of historic buildings in Sunnyside, including downtown.

The register could open the door towards financial incentives for property owners to improve their historic brick buildings downtown, such as the Central or old city hall buildings.

For that to happen, though, the city council will need to give its approval and volunteers will be needed to serve on a historical register board.

Further, the chamber will need to spread the word to its members, be an advocate for building owners to help preserve historic Sunnyside.

That's a lot of steps, a lot of involvement and it will take time for it all to develop.

But it starts with a first step, recognizing the void created by fire and rebuilding with a vision.

It can happen with a unified effort...and if there's ever been a time to unite Sunnyside it surely is now.

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