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Downtown Dallas

Forces align to revitalize commercial core area

DALLAS -- Those not involved in the process might not have noticed Dallas' revitalization yet.

Soon, it will be hard to ignore.

Buildings will get facelifts and new occupants. Murals will add some color to outdoor scenes.

These changes have started to surface out of continuing efforts from a dedicated group. The City of Dallas, the Dallas Economic Development Commission, and the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce joined forces to breathe new life into the city's commercial core area.

That core extends from the traditional downtown out to East Ellendale Avenue.

Lately, even the vacant downtown buildings have seen new foot traffic. Williams Investment Co., the manager for seven vacant properties, negotiated with the Economic Development Commission to get the properties appraised.

Commission members and Williams had disagreed with Williams over their value.

Dallas Community Development Director Jerry Wyatt is optimistic about filling those buildings with retail stores. "If there's a fair price, people will be interested in buying them," he said.

After so much planning and preparing, improvement efforts will start coming together all at once, Wyatt said. The City's loan program to improve building fa‡ades was approved at the April 1 City Council meeting.

Already, four local businesses have shown interest in getting city loans to update the fronts of their buildings.

The Silverton Mural Society's president will speak at the Dallas Chamber's April 16 Renaissance Committee meeting, 8 a.m. at Grandma's Attic.

Silverton's outdoor murals, painted by local artists, show some of the city's history.

With Dallas' core area improvements taking so many forms, things can get confusing. That's why Dallas officials want to hire a manager to coordinate things.

A state rural investment grant would pay for a shared manager with Monmouth and Independence. Dallas officials have their fingers crossed until around June, when they find out whether they'll get the grant.

A manager could organize efforts to bring people into Dallas and convince residents to shop in town.

Chamber of Commerce events can also draw attention to Dallas, said Chamber President Brian Dalton. "Having a really rollicking Summerfest certainly attracts people into town."

Moving events like Wheels of Summer and the food, wine and art festival into the fall extends the active summer season, Dalton said.

"We're trying to bring energy back into town," he said.

And with energy comes people and business. "We need to have a great commercial element to the community," Dalton said.

"We're getting there, but given the recession in Oregon, it's been slower to develop than we've hoped."

Wyatt hopes core area businesses will thrive, recession or no recession. "The goal is to have every building filled and vibrant.

"I don't think the economic slowdown will affect those goals."

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