The downtown core of coastal Tillamook is mostly a drive-through experience. It sits hard on the highway and most of the tourist traffic heads straight for the coast or turns north, away from downtown, to visit the popular Tillamook cheese factory.
Tillamook’s indoor public market at Second and Main aims to create downtown foot traffic.
PHOTO BY OREGON BUSINESS
TILLAMOOK The downtown core of coastal Tillamook is mostly a drive-through experience. It sits hard on the highway and most of the tourist traffic heads straight for the coast or turns north, away from downtown, to visit the popular Tillamook cheese factory.
“I’ve watched this downtown slowly die,” says Doug Henson, chair of the nonprofit Tillamook Revitalization Association. Locals chart the demise of downtown, which is more than 100 years old, to a decade ago when a Fred Meyer superstore opened north of town. Henson estimates that at least 30% of the downtown buildings are vacant.
Henson, a co-founder of the local farmer’s market, is also part of the Second Street Market Committee, which has been working for the past year to open an indoor public market at the corner of Second and Main in the historic Independent Order of Odd Fellows building. If the construction that’s now under way stays on schedule, the market should be open by Thanksgiving.
The Tillamook Urban Renewal Agency invested $95,000 in the rehab of the building, which also received $10,000 from the transit room tax and $20,000 from the revitalization association. The building’s owner, John Janac of Portland, is leasing it to the market.
“We’re hoping that the public market will attract a little different clientele to the downtown area,” says Don Hurd, who sits on the renewal agency. “We hope it brings tourists into that part of town, and more foot traffic.”
Vendors can rent a small stall on the ground floor for around $200 a month, which includes utilities. The market can accommodate between 20 and 30 vendors. Henson says that six vendors are signed up and eight are ready to sign. Five of the vendors will be food-related and Henson wants to emphasize the sale of quality goods. “This is not a flea market,” he says. The low overhead for vendors will allow the market to act as a business incubator. Henson also sees the public market, which will be open seven days a week, as a vital anchor store for the downtown.
Henson says the indoor market is just the first phase of the redevelopment of the Odd Fellows property. There are plans to convert the second floor into a convention center, with a commercial kitchen and ballroom, and office space. Each floor has about 8,000 square feet.
The market is part of the town center plan that is incorporated into the urban renewal plan adopted in November 2006. Hurd says that next steps include improving some of the facades on the storefronts and possible purchase of about 12 to 15 blighted properties. More parking and better signage to attract the tourists from Highways 6 and 101 are also needed.
“Our downtown has not kept up with some of the things that would help,” Hurd says. “It’s locked into a time warp.”