As activity in the urban renewal district has slowed down in recent months, the Pendleton Development Commission held a two-day meeting to set goals for the next two years.
On Oct. 2 and Oct. 3, urban renewal consultant Elaine Howard facilitated a discussion between members of the commission, its various committees, the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce and downtown business owners.
Councilor Chuck Wood, the development commission chairman, said the commission has set goals in the past, but this is the first time they’ve involved the larger business community.
Increasing housing in the downtown area was a lengthy point of discussion at the meeting.
Besides a few notable success stories like the St. George Plaza, many second story apartments on Main Street and the surrounding are underdeveloped or aren’t developed at all.
Building owners don’t seem that interested in city assistance either — a city report states money spent on the commission’s second story improvement program has accounted for only 1 percent of expenditures since the urban renewal district was established in 2003.
Whether it be from sentimental attachment or a perceived lack of profitability, city staff and other attendees said building owners were unwilling to invest in second story housing.
Councilor Al Plute, owner of the St. George, said developing housing options in the downtown area is important because downtown residents shop in downtown stores, using his own tenants as examples.
There was debate as to what might compel building owners to develop housing, like assistance with water suppression or more parking spots, but there was no definitive answers.
Attendees also wanted to see a increased focus on code enforcement for things like blighted homes and time-limited parking spaces.
“There’s a lot of people parking on Main Street all day long,” said Fred Bradbury, owner of Elite Guns & Bows and the president of the Pendleton Downtown Association.
Discussion also centered around how to make Pendleton’s downtown a year-long attraction.
“You need to look beyond the Round-Up and the 2A basketball tournament to survive,” said Paul Chalmers, a member of the commission’s advisory committee.
Councilor Jane Hill said downtown needed more diversity, adding that Western stores like Montana Peaks Hat Co. were perfect for Round-Up week but might not appeal to shoppers during the other 51 weeks of the year.
Wood said a rough draft of the commission’s goals would be released next week along with a summary of the attendees’ comments. Those forms would be passed on to the commission’s advisory board for review and refinement before they’re presented for their final approval.
Contact Antonio Sierra at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0836.