In May, the Central and South Coast towns of Gold Beach and Florence won 2019 Oregon Main Street Revitalization grants from Oregon Heritage, a division of Oregon Parks and Recreation.

Gold Beach was awarded $166,695 toward its Historic Ellensburg Avenue Exterior Preservation Project. Florence won a matching grant of more than $69,000 to be used to rehabilitate the historic Kyle Building in Old Town Florence.

The Gold Beach grant will go toward exterior renovations on two buildings. The first, Dan’s Ace Hardware, was the original Gold Beach Hospital and has operated as a hardware store for decades. The second building is a former 1930s auto repair shop known as Sunset Station that owners hope to transform into a bike hostel. The grant will go toward extensive stucco and façade repair.

Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grants are meant to spur economic development by creating a new business, helping an established business or adding upper floor residential housing. The purpose of the program is to “acquire, rehabilitate, and construct buildings on properties in designated downtown areas statewide; and facilitate community revitalization that will lead to private investment, job creation or retention, establishing or expanding viable businesses, or creating a stronger tax base,” according to the organization’s website. Grants of up to $200,000 may be awarded.

Sheri Stuart, coordinator of Oregon Main Street, says the Gold Beach grant application was a strong one because it focused on improving an existing business and tapping into bicycle tourism with a new one.

“It was two projects that seemed like they would have a really high impact for downtown Gold Beach. It met a lot of the priorities for the Gold Beach Main Street effort,” she says. “Gold Beach had gone through the planning process, linked these two buildings to that process and demonstrated why they would help achieve their goals.”

Gold Beach Main Street Community Coordinator Ariel Kane did community outreach for the grant and wrote the grant application. She credits her organization’s success with doing its homework and researching the nuances of historic preservation.

“Getting feedback in advance from the funder was key to our grant application,” Kane says.

Both projects will work toward visual improvement of downtown Gold Beach, which Kane says is also a key intention of the Gold Beach Urban Renewal Plan.

“We really hope this work will be a good compliment to those goals as well,” she says.

In Florence, the rehabilitation of the historic Kyle Building in Old Town will include a new roof and gutters, structural and flooring repair, plumbing updates and painting the exterior of the 118-year-old building. The Kyle Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

“It is one of the most historically significant properties in Florence,” Stuart says. “That was clearly an important building to maintain.”

She adds that the building accounts for 36 local jobs. The Kyle Building is home to Bridgewater Restaurant, a local favorite, as well as Manna — a boutique selling specialty teas, jewelry and body care products.

The Oregon Main Street Grant program is funded by biennial lottery bond packages. The first round of funding in 2017 saw $2.5 million in grants. This second round of funding awarded a total of $5.2 million in grants to 30 applicants. The next Oregon Main Street Grant application deadline is January 2021. The organization also oversees other grant programs like Diamonds in the Rough and Preserving Oregon, which communities can tap into for building preservation. For more information about these and other grants, visit the Oregon Heritage’s website.

Photo of Florence’s Kyle Building by Ashley Mersereau