The Downtown Camas Association and Journey Community Church recently received the Community Partnership award at the Washington Main Street Program’s Excellence on Main awards ceremony in Chelan.
According to a press release, when DCA officials learned in 2009 that a key property was to be converted to a church, they were, at first, apprehensive. The property had been a bar and restaurant in the past, and they had hoped it would be revived as a brew pub or retail establishment. They soon learned, however, that the church had chosen the location because its leaders wanted to engage with the core of the community and support downtown growth.
“Having a church on your main street might not seem ideal, but Journey Community Church in downtown Camas is a marked exception,” said DCA Executive Director Carrie Schulstad. “From renovating a historic and prominent downtown building in dire need to supporting the DCA through sponsorship, volunteerism and use of their beautiful space, having Journey as a key partner in our downtown has changed the way we can do community development.”
The building Journey purchased was once the JC Penney department store. The building had fallen into disrepair and required a great deal of investment by the time Journey hired a local architect to bring the building back to life. Valuing the history of the building, efforts were made to preserve the original brick and wooden beams, and repurpose other historic materials. The multimillion dollar renovation was completed in late 2009 with volunteer labor from congregation members.
Today, DCA’s partnership with Journey makes year-round, free community events feasible in downtown Camas by providing a large venue during poor weather, volunteers to help run promotions, and activities for children. Events like Girls’ Night Out, Camas Car Show, Plant & Garden Fair, and the DCA’s annual awards dinner rely on the unique community space.
In addition to events, Journey has impacted commerce and activity downtown.
According to the press release, when Journey purchased the building next door it had two vacant storefronts. Church officials turned down multiple applicants as they waited for tenants that would add to a vibrant business mix downtown, knowing that DCA’s recruitment goals focused on restaurants and retail. Today, these storefronts house two successful businesses – a bakery and a dance studio – that bring people downtown at all hours of the day.
“The partnership between Downtown Camas Association and Journey Community Church is a unique example of the power of having a shared vision for downtown,” said Breanne Durham, Washington State Main Street coordinator. We are truly impressed with what the community has accomplished and look forward to their continued success.”