The City of Reedsport has gone through many changes in the years since it was incorporated in 1919. Originally a boardwalk town built on the banks of the Umpqua, then a crucial site of lumber transportation and processing, and now it is a place where one can enjoy a small town lifestyle in the bucolic setting of Oregon’s Coast Range. While many things have changed in the past century, it has always been Reedsport’s Downtown that has embodied the heart of the City. It was out of recognition of Downtown’s core importance that the Reedsport Main Street Program was created to utilize citizen volunteers to make Reedsport a more livable, sustainable, and effervescent place to live.
In 2017 the Main Street Program had the opportunity to apply for the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant to rehabilitate the Burdick Building. The Burdick Building in many ways exemplifies Reedsport’s heart and the changes the town has undertaken over the years. It is located in the center of Downtown and bears the name of a historical resident. It has also endured the ups and downs the economy and the wear and tear of the wet, coastal, weather. To address this deterioration, Reedsport Main Street devised a plan to rehabilitate five upstairs apartments and bring the facilities up to a condition in which they could be rented.
Oregon Main Street awarded the Reedsport Main Street Program $100,000 to match $50,000 provided by the Program. This rehabilitation project would serve several needs of the Reedsport community. Bringing apartments into Downtown would increase the number of people who would shop in local stores, eat and drink at local restaurants, as well as create a safe and homey environment. It would also provide affordable living in a housing market constricted by geography and economic conditions. This need is critical in Reedsport since many employers could not find housing for workers and so had unfilled positions. This meant less people making, and spending, less money in Reedsport. Obviously, something had to be done.
Just over a year after the Reedsport Main Street Program was awarded the OMS Revitalization Grant we are happy to report that we have completed our project and are already reaping the rewards of our work. Not only do we now have a stock of quality apartments in our Downtown ready to be filled by tenants, but there has also been a virtuous cycle of spending carried out by private owners. Vacant store fronts have been filled, facades have been redone, and new businesses have been started since we received this grant. While Reedsport Main Street cannot take credit for all of this positive change, many private owners have referenced this project, and the fact that we have a Main Street Program, as a reason they felt confident investing in Reedsport.
While our work on Main Street is never truly over, we are proud to have made substantial progress in our partnership with Oregon Main Street on raising local property values, encouraging new and current businesses, and creating a vibrant sense of place in Downtown Reedsport. Reedsport has changed a lot since it was built on the banks of the Umpqua, and no doubt it will continue to adjust in the future, but when people come together with the common mission of making their town a better place, that change will be in a positive direction.
Written by: Emerson Hoagland, Reedsport Main Street Program
Originally Published in Oregon Heritage Exchange Blog