Falls City’s Downtown Revitalization is Nearing the Final Stages
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Falls City’s downtown revitalization is slated to be complete by mid-2019. The revitalization of Falls City’s downtown began in earnest six years ago when the city received a planning grant. The grant was used to develop a plan for what the community wanted the downtown area to look like. Ultimately, this included beautifying the downtown through the creation of additional green space, making it more inviting and user-friendly.
Additional grants have been received with funds to pay for streetscape work and façade improvements. According to Gary Jorn, City Administrator, $329,000 will be spent on this next phase of improvements with grants covering 75 percent of the cost and private building owners or the city matching the remaining 25 percent. Downtown businesses and building owners can use these funds to pay for structural improvements and city code requirements. The remaining funds will be used to improve the streetscape by doing things like lowering the height of curbs to make them handicap accessible and easier to navigate. With the addition of updated street lights, banners, greenspace and planters, Falls City is becoming more accessible and more beautiful. “A lot of out-of-town visitors comment on how beautiful the downtown is. This will further enhance that” commented Amber Holle, Executive Director of the Falls City Chamber of Commerce.
Collaboration and Community Partnerships are Key
The Downtown Revitalization Committee is working closely with the City and community members to create and implement revitalization plans that everyone can be proud of. They have been working diligently to achieve the goals that were set for downtown revitalization six years ago. This Downtown Revitalization Committee is through the Mainstreet program at the Chamber of Commerce Office. Part of their job is to make final recommendations for the finished product and to ensure that upcoming changes will mirror the work that has been completed in Phase I.
Creating Opportunities for Falls City Businesses and Residents
A revitalized downtown will create a warm and inviting space where Falls City residents can meet friends and spend time with family, something that improves the quality of life for all our residents. This project will also make our community a more attractive destination for people traveling on Hwy 73 and Hwy 75. Amber Holle commented, “We are in the Tri-State area, so we get people from across the border coming to shop in Falls City. We are getting a lot of businesses like home décor and clothing businesses that make it worthwhile for people to make the trip into town.” To encourage them to stop, the Chamber has erected a billboard on Hwy 75 to tell them to turn on Hwy 73, so they can shop in Falls City.
The Chamber and Mainstreet program also puts on events to create a buzz around downtown activities. They are hosting first Sunday events and will continue with similar programs. Retailers are being supportive by offering extended hours and different promotions that can be used to increase out of town traffic.
There is also room for business growth. “We have a really good spot open right now in the downtown area. We can also make room for new businesses downtown and have a business start-up guide on our website with a checklist and list of resources for new business owners. It talks about funding, etc. We encourage young entrepreneurs and have a lot of businesses where the business owner is getting older and would like to sell. We work to match those businesses with younger entrepreneurs looking for ownership opportunities,” said Amber Holle.
The Importance of Downtown Revitalization
The ultimate goal of downtown revitalization is to promote shopping and dining in Falls City, while improving quality of life for our residents. As Amber Holle put it, “We encourage shopping local because it keeps tax dollars and revenue in our community, which in turn creates jobs. We want everyone to keep in mind the wonderful things we have here and to visit our downtown to enjoy them.”