ADHDA Secures $153,000 in Grant Funding for Landmark Buildings
Astoria’s historic Merwyn and Riviera Buildings are set to receive grant awards for rehabilitation to promote economic development in the National Historic Register District.
In March, Sarah Lu Heath, Executive Director of the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association (ADHDA), submitted two grant proposals for the renovations of two downtown landmark buildings. Awards were announced on May 9, and Astoria’s projects were chosen for full funding; one of only two cities in the state to receive more than one grant award.
The Merwyn Building
ADHDA submitted a grant-proposal on behalf of Innovative Housing, Inc. (IHI) to secure $100,000 of funding to recreate the original historic glass awning over the entry way, restore wooden windows, and reconstruct the failing west wall. The Merwyn Building on Duane Street between 10th and 11th Streets is under contract to purchase with IHI, a non-profit housing developer, who was introduced to the project by Heath in 2016. Developer Julie Garver says, “Innovative Housing is very excited about the historic preservation grant funding for the Merwyn! We are so pleased that the state can offer these grants to help preserve great old places to contribute positively to the community once again – like they did when they were first built. Astoria loves the Merwyn, and we are working together to assemble the full funding package for this project. We are looking forward to this excellent work -- bringing 40 units of affordable workforce housing to downtown Astoria, while preserving another pearl in the necklace of great downtown buildings. Kudos to the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association and the State for first-in funding!”
The Riviera Building
Anchoring the corner of 11th Street and Marine Drive, the Riviera Building houses some of Astoria’s most beloved institutions: The Columbia Theater, The Voodoo Room, and the Columbian Café. ADHDA partnered with owners Uriah Hulsey and Jeanine Fairchild, the City of Astoria, and private citizens to design an exterior renovation package. The $53,000 award will restore windows, weather proof the building, and restore the shingles and stucco on the exterior. Owners Jeanine and Uriah originally bought the building in 1997 to stave off it’s demolition, and they “love this building and community and are very excited to get these funds and make the Riviera building and downtown Astoria shine.”
Overall Oregon Heritage, awarded 27 matching grants worth $2,355,700 to Oregon Main Street Network organizations across the state for building projects that encourage economic revitalization. Projects range from façade improvement to elevator access and seismic upgrades and awards range from $17,500-$100,000.
The grant program was created during the 2015 legislative session, and placed with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office. The legislation established a permanent fund for the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant, and provided an initial infusion of funds from the sale of lottery bonds. These projects will be used as pilot projects to prove the impact of historic building renovation as means for economic development in hopes of securing permanent funding for the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant.