Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Urban strategist Michele Reeves will present her findings and recommendations for Astoria revitalization after months of research, interviews, workshops and block-by-block observation on April 4th at the PAC. Reeves' work is part of the Building Blocks for a Successful Downtownprogram spearheaded by the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association.

In an effort to address the increasing number of commercial building vacancies downtown and the growing big box enclave in neighboring Warrenton, Reeves was hired by the ADHDA last year with additional financial support from its economic development partners the City of Astoria, Astoria Sunday Market and Pacific Power.

Reeves has an extensive background in private sector commercial leasing and redevelopment. With the aim of improving the economic health of an area, she has assisted many Oregon towns, working toward enhancing the downtown experience for both locals and visitors.

In addition to discussion of her feet-on-the-street related-findings, on April 4 Reeves will reveal the outcome of an Identity and Marketing workshop held in Astoria in February in which approximately 70 attendees participated in a fast-paced brainstorming session designed to bring out key elements that factor in downtown's identity or "story" today.

Touching on everything from tenant mix to economic development, grid and circulation, parking, marketing and events, infrastructure, zoning, and retail execution, Reeves will offer some ideas for how downtown Astoria can work better, and tell its story in the future.

"All the findings and recommendations I'll be presenting are oriented toward bringing increased vitality and improved economic performance to Astoria's core," Reeves said. "I will be considering how best to leverage downtown's gateways, its public spaces, and its one-of-a-kind setting."

Reeves noted that downtown Astoria has become a popular regional tourist destination over the last ten years.

"With its unique assets, the whole downtown can continue to grow and prosper in a way that will benefit the entire community," said Reeves.

Dulcye Taylor, ADHDA president, said the ADHDA is committed to insuring the recommendations presented by Reeves are acted upon.

"We don't want this information to collect dust on a shelf; the ADHDA will be working with Oregon Main Street to develop a plan to facilitate implementation" Taylor said.

She explained that Oregon Main Street Coordinator, Sheri Stuart, has been working as a partner on the Building Blocks project by conducting an assessment of the ADHDA's capacity for carrying out the recommendations, as well as assisting in implementation that reaches beyond the ADHDA's sphere of influence or authority. At the April 4 event Stuart will identify the resources necessary for successful program implementation.

Reeves has talked to many people in the Astoria community over the last six months, and is eager to present her findings.

"I look forward to everyone joining me in a lively debate about the future of a great downtown!"

The April 4 Findings and Recommendations session is open to the general public. The event will be held at the Performing Arts Center, located at 588 16th St., Astoria. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; the program begins at 5:45 p.m.

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