The workshop in Coos Bay, Oregon, organized by the South Coast Development Council and held October 12-14, focused on downtown revitalization of seven towns in Coos County. This beautiful region has suffered economic decline from changes in the timber industry, and its isolation from large cities and the Interstate has hampered growth. The area, however, has remarkable scenic, historic, and social assets to build upon. The workshop concentrated on strategies for enhancing the seven downtowns through design problems specific to Coos Bay and neighboring North Bend, both on the bay.
Highway 101 runs straight through the middle of both communities, and each is largely cut off from it waterfront by roads, a railroad, and industrial uses. Workshop speakers addressed strategies to tame a highway, focus retail, develop infill, and improve the waterfront. Scott Day of Urban Development Services in San Antonio was the keynote speaker and informed much of the workshop with his downtown development expertise. Todd Scott of King County, Washington and Mary Bosch of Marketek, Inc. in Atlanta, similarly provided excellent insights into second-floor space, design guidelines, and marketing. At the end of the workshop, participants signed on to pursue unanswered questions toward implementation. We look forward to hearing about next steps in Coos Bay.
-Excerpted from Your Town: Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, Update, Fall, 2011