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Downtown Centralia Revitalization Plan
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PO Box 609
118 W Maple St
Centralia, WA 98531
Phone: 360-330-7820
Contact: Polo Enriquez, Economic Development Director
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  Downtown Centralia Revitalization Plan

Historical Background
The City of Centralia was first platted as Centerville in 1875 by George Washington as a transportation center, taking advantage of its location on the major north-south shipping routes and the newly built railroad. Access to shipping allowed local coal mining, lumber and agriculture businesses to trade in national markets.

Centralia's rail depot was the largest outside of Portland and Seattle and hosted 44 passenger trains daily. The arriving passengers patronized the fourteen hotels that dotted Tower Avenue. Five theaters, 24 taverns and a dozen downtown restaurants entertained and served local residents, conventioneers and loggers on holiday. The demands of a flourishing economy forged Washington's first community college, Centralia College, in 1925.

The rise of the automobile culture decimated rail passenger flow, and Interstate 5 siphoned the currents of people and commerce away from downtown Centralia. The fall of the lumber industry deflated the earning power of the local working class. In 2000, Centralia's elected leadership confronted the rate of declining commercial property tax revenues, along with the rising costs of providing services to the business and residential communities.

The Vision
The resulting vision projects a future in which Centralia is again the Hub City for small conventions, business meetings, seminars, entertainment, and recreation. A thriving hospitality industry is a core element of the local economy. Centralia's historic ambience, friendly atmosphere and high quality of life make it an attractive place to visit, do business, live and raise a family.

Goals

  1. To redevelop downtown Centralia's historic infrastructure to its original use for hospitality, business conferences, entertainment and commerce.
  2. To stabilize the property tax base by restoring every building to its historic appearance and making all commercial space productive.
  3. To make current businesses more competitive in their markets while attracting new, high-quality businesses to the area.
  4. To capitalize on geographic, infrastructure, labor pool, educational and market advantages to grow the local economy as reflected in average household income, low crime rate, high rate of home ownership, and high academic achievement.
  5. To establish an economic environment conducive to commercial prosperity, while enhancing the quality of life for local residents.
Resources
The City of Centralia has made a dramatic commitment to the revitalization of downtown Centralia by investing in its public infrastructure.
  1. Centralia Railroad Depot Restoration: As the interstate highway system becomes more congested and the cost of owning and operating a private vehicle rises, local and regional travel by rail will become more attractive to the general public. Centralia's historic Railroad Depot will be a major resource as the train schedule advances to provide hourly service in both directions from 7AM until 7PM daily.
  2. Early 1900's Streetscape: The detail of historic architecture, small town atmosphere and friendly service will bring visitors back for business and recreation. Business meeting planners and tourists seeking a change of pace from daily life will find that replenishing respite just an hour away by rail.
  3. Commercial Infrastructure: The City is rich with infrastructure and ripe for redevelopment. Much of the hotel and entertainment space that served the flow of people through Centralia and funded its construction sits vacant, awaiting the work needed to revive the flow of visitors and commerce that once made Centralia the Hub City.
  4. Facade Improvement Program: Centralia's Facade Improvement Program is available to all of these buildings, either to restore modified structures or to preserve those that remain in their original state. To date, the Facade Improvement Program has distributed more than $100,000 as matching grants to 18 local building and business owners willing to restore the fronts of their buildings.
  5. Partnerships: Successful completion of this plan hinges on combined efforts by a number of partners intent on revitalizing the City of Centralia:
    A. Port of Centralia: Attracting and keeping industrial business that provides family-wage jobs requires a clean, vibrant, stable city that offers the educated work-force, raw resources and amenities demanded by a large company.
    B. Centralia Providence Hospital: The modern medical facility that serves the entire region requires a community that will be attractive as a home to the highly educated staff and their families.
    C. Centralia Community College: The college shares with the hospital the need to recruit highly educated staff and faculty to maintain their high standards of service level. Reciprocally, the availability of a respected institution of higher education that is responsive to the needs of local industry is a major resource to Centralia's business infrastructure.
    D. Lewis County Convention and Visitor Bureau: This nonprofit entity will work to bring small conferences, meetings and conventions to Centralia.
    E. Chamber of Commerce: As the economic environment begins to respond to revitalization efforts, local business will need a focal point around which efforts to meet the needs of a growing industry can be coordinated. A primary role will be the retention of existing businesses while adding to the business mix of the area.
Putting the Plan to Work

First Priority: Procure redevelopment of vacant and under-utilized hotel/entertainment space.

A. Fox Theater
121 N. Tower Avenue

2003 tax value/revenues: $248,300/$0

Current market value $235,000

Square footage:

   First floor: 8,040

   Second Floor: 3,600

   Third Floor: 1,200

   Basement: 1,200

Total usable: 14,040 square feet

Current upper floor egress: 3 stairwells from balconies, no elevator

B. Wilson Hotel
328 N. Tower Avenue

Current tax value/revenues: $166,300/$1,794.38

Current market value $308,000/$0 ($3,323.32)

Square footage:

   First floor: 8,160

   Second Floor: 8,160

   Third Floor: 5,304

   Mezzanine: 1,000

   Basement: 1,100

Total usable: 23,724 square feet

Current upper floor egress: 1 stairwell, no elevator

C. Dale Hotel
220 N. Tower Avenue

2003 tax value/revenues: $166,300/$1,794.38

Current market value $200,000

Square footage:

   First floor: 6,120

   Second Floor: 6,120

   Basement: 2,500

Total usable: 14,740 square feet

Current upper floor egress: 1 stairwell, no elevator

D. Liberty Theater
419 N. Tower Avenue

Current tax value/revenues $581,600/$6,275.46

Current market value $820,000

Square footage:

   First floor: 15,588

   Second Floor: 6,935

   Third Floor: 1,000

   Basement: 450

Total usable: 25,125 square feet

Current upper floor egress: 3 stairwells, no elevator

Second Priority: Procure gap financing to instigate entrance-egress improvements to expand use of commercial space to full potential.
A. Centralia Square (Elks Club), 201 S. Pearl
B. Centralia Center/Hoss Buildings, 208 - 216 N. Tower Ave.

Third Priority: Establish and set into motion an aggressive Convention and Visitor Bureau.

Summary
This plan will raise tax values and annual tax revenues. It will add 60,819 square feet of currently unused second and third floor space to Centralia's commercial space inventory. More than 75 hotel rooms will be added to the downtown mix, along with 1,700 seats for conferences, meetings, concerts and stage shows. The special valuation and income tax credits that accrue to restoration of historic commercial buildings will put $1,407,547 in the hands of the building owners over a ten-year period






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  Downtown Centralia Revitalization Plan - Phase II

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