Pendleton: Bowman Building

The year is 1886. Wells Fargo wants to put in one of their banks in Pendleton Oregon; they want it in the Bowman Hotel. With the Bowman being right across from the Union Pacific Train Station, it was a prime location for the bank. Plans needed to be made for the transport of strong boxes full of valuables from the Station to the Hotel. One of these plans called for tunnels to go directly from the baggage room in the train station to the elevator in the basement of the Bowman, and then upstairs to the safe in the Wells Fargo office.

This tunnel was used for many years. Later when Wells Fargo had moved out of town and prohibition was passed; the tunnel came to life in another way. Pendleton, never wanting to be a dry town, created some of the more unusual speak-easies in the area. One of the better known speak-easies was in the basement of the Bowman. You entered down the stairs in the back of the building, gave your password, and went directly to the bar. To the right of the bar was a fireplace and above the fireplace were two lights, a red one and a green one. When the red light came on, that meant trouble and the cops were raiding the speak-easy, so the bartender would pull back the fireplace to reveal a hidden room. This hidden room was actually what was left of the tunnel that ran across to the train station, but the station had moved by then, so you could just make it under the street before you ran out of tunnel. The patrons would wait until the green light came on inside the hidden room, then they would re-enter the bar room and resume their festivities.

When Pendleton had passenger trains, the Bowman Hotel, a three-story brick building across from the railroad depot, was the place to stay. Completed in 1905 by rancher and sheep man O.P. Bowman, this hotel replaced an earlier wood hotel, also called the Bowman Hotel. With the decline in rail traffic the building evolved to an office building, its current use. A local developer bought the building in 2008 and completed a façade restoration while retaining much of the historic interior design and finish.

Funding/Leverage

  • Total project: $16,000
  • Pendleton Development Commission: $10,000
  • Private funds: $6,000

Community Benefits

  • Provided jobs through private contractors
  • Contributes to the historic fabric of the historic district in which it is located
  • Provides low cost office space in downtown Pendleton

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Pendleton: Wayfinding Signage

One of the first recommendations from a tourism promotion consultant, hired by the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce, was that the city install a well-designed directional signage program, one that enhanced the Rodeo City’s brand. The Chamber’s Tourism Promotion Committee set a goal of designing, producing and installing the new signage prior to the 100th anniversary staging of the Pendleton Round-Up.

The process took two years, including multiple presentations to the Pendleton Development Commission, asking for urban renewal funding for the signs. Other sources included Travel Pendleton, the tourism promotion arm of the City, and the Wildhorse Foundation, the charitable giving arm of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

Funding/Leverage

  • Total project cost: $102,000
  • Urban renewal funding from the Pendleton Development Commission was $72,000 for production and installation
  • Travel Pendleton: $5,000 for initial designs
  • Pendleton Chamber: $5,000 for design and production
  • Wildhorse Foundation for consultant: $20,000

Community Benefits

  • Provided jobs through private contractors
  • Contributes to the Pendleton brand, known for its rodeo, the Pendleton Round-Up
  • Provides attractive directional signage for visitors
  • Informational kiosks bring shoppers to downtown businesses
  • Provides design format for additional signage.

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Pendleton: Riverfront Plaza

The Umatilla River runs through Pendleton and creates a perfect place for residents to approach nature within the city. The river is home to a variety of birds, water animals such as beaver and river otter, under a canopy of woodland. The signature bird for the river is the blue heron, seen often catching fish in the river. The Riverfront Plaza park is only the first of what are envisioned as places to increase the connections to the river from streets nearby. The one-block park provides immediate access to the River Parkway, a paved path along the river running from one end of Pendleton to the other.
Although most of the expenditures for urban renewal by the Pendleton Development Commission have funded private development partnerships, there have been several purely public projects, including the Riverfront Plaza. A quiet retreat for much of the year, it is jammed with spectators during Pendleton’s annual Round-Up rodeo, as two parades during Round-Up week wind their way by this park.

Funding/Leverage

  • The Riverfront Plaza had a not-to-exceed budget of $400,000
  • 100% of the funding was urban renewal funding through the Pendleton Development Commission
  • There was no private funding
  • There was no other public funding but the city public works department provided engineering and contract management

Community Benefits

  • Provided jobs through private contractor
  • Opens new access to the Umatilla River
  • Improves the environment of the immediate neighborhood, with residences on both sides
  • Supports new development in the River Quarter, per the Urban Renewal plan
  • Supports tourism

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Pendleton: Round-Up Gateway

As the Pendleton Round-Up approached its 2010 centennial celebration, the Round-Up Association and supporters had raised millions of dollars to refurbish the Round-Up arena, including replacing old, uncovered grandstands with new covered grandstands and the design and construction of the Round-Up Centennial Plaza, with its dominant bronze statue of a bronc rider in front of the arena’s new gates. Nearby is a complicated intersection of several roads and the railroad that is the gateway to the Round-Up arena. In conjunction with other preparations for the centennial, this intersection was re-designed to both change the traffic pattern and increase its attractiveness. New landscaping, paving, fencing and structural designs were included in a cooperative effort of the city of Pendleton, the Pendleton Development Commission, the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Union Pacific Railroad.

Funding/Leverage

  • From an original budget of $1.5 million the project was completed for $1,004,000
  • Urban renewal funding from the Pendleton Development Commission was $384,000
  • Unknown private costs were incurred by Union Pacific Railroad
  • Other public funding came from ODOT, $720,000. In addition, the city provided design, engineering and landscaping assistance
  • Once the project was complete the city parks department assumed responsibility for maintenance of landscaping

Community Benefits

  • Provided jobs through private contractors
  • Beautifies a previously ugly intersection
  • Improved safety of the RR crossing with new fences
  • Improved traffic patterns for safety
  • Supports tourism

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Pendleton: St. George Plaza

As the tallest building in Pendleton, the St. George Plaza dominates Main Street in downtown Pendleton. Built in 1900 as the two-story St. George Hotel, owners changed its Italianate style to art deco in the 1930s and added more stories. The now six-story structure was purchased in 2009 by a private developer who proceeded to refurbish the building from top to bottom as a downtown apartment complex. Improvements included removal of walls, then reconfiguration of living units, installation of new kitchens, bathrooms and building technology, a new external fire escape and façade renovation. A restaurant and lounge opened on the ground floor.

Funding/Leverage

  • Total project cost for exterior renovations: $1.6 million
  • Urban renewal funding from the Pendleton Development Commission was $443,723
  • Bank financing: $1,114,198

Community Benefits

  • Provided jobs through private contractors
  • Contributes to the historic fabric of the historic district in which it is located
  • Provides 26 market-rate living units in downtown Pendleton, supporting downtown merchants and restaurants
  • As of 2016 downtown commercial occupancies are at 96%
  • St. George has remained at 100% occupancy

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