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MRC OKs $700,000 in grants, loans

by: Conceptual design of Reynoso Jewelry provided by Hennebery Eddy Architects - Reynoso Jewelry is one of seven businesses which will undergo an exterior renovation as part of the Madras Revitalization Committee's second phase of the downtown revitalization project.


   By this time next year, downtown Madras should have a decidedly different appearance, thanks to efforts of the Madras Revitalization Committee (MRC) and several local businesses.
   Last week, the MRC approved a total of $700,000 for loans and grants for the next phase of the Madras revitalization plan, which will include facelifts for seven local businesses.
   "I think it was a great decision," said Israel Reynoso of the MRC's plan to include his business, Reynoso Jewelry, in the next phase.
   Reynoso and his wife Blanca will be eligible for a grant of about $38,700, and a low-interest loan for the same amount, to fix up the exterior of their business.
   Architects Tim Eddy and Michelle Fickeisen of Hennebery Eddy Architects of Portland drew up conceptual designs for each of the businesses in December, sent the designs off for pricing, and then returned to Madras last week to present the designs and estimates to the MRC and business owners.
   The businesses include: Reynoso Jewelry, Ralph's TV & Furniture, Madras Bowl, Great Earth Natural Foods, the Sheldon Arnett Building, Willow Creek Books, and Madras Vision Center.
   "The MRC met with the architects and several of the business owners and agreed on building designs and project costs," said Mayor Rick Allen, chairman of the MRC.
   Businesses may receive half grant and half loan for the project. "We don't require money down," said Allen. "Our goal is to make it as affordable as possible so the benefits of the new design have a chance to work."
   Those receiving loans pay no interest the first two years, 2.5 percent interest for the third through fifth years, and 5.5 percent for the sixth through 10th years of the loan.
   Money for the program comes from the Madras Urban Renewal District, set up in August of 2002 to fund downtown revitalization with future tax revenues.
   Each local taxing district pays a share of its taxes to the URD, and new businesses pay nearly all of their taxes to the URD, until a predetermined total -- in this case $14 million -- is reached.
   The idea, according to Allen, is to encourage businesses to invest in remodeling.
   Donna Hagedorn, who owns Ralph's TV & Furniture with her husband Ed, was pleased that their business was one of those selected for assistance in modernization.
   "We are thrilled!" she said. "It's going to make a big improvement."
   Their business, located on Fifth and Buff streets, "looks like an automotive repair shop, and needs to look like a furniture repair store," she said, adding that the architect and the MRC were very willing to listen to their concerns and work with them.
   The Hagedorns, like most of those selected for the second phase, will begin work on their project this spring. "We plan to start construction April 1, and finish mid-summer," she said.
   Reynoso said that he was impressed with the architect's concept. "It's a very beautiful drawing," he said.
   "I told the architect I wanted a Latin look, with tile, and they did come (back) with that idea," he said. "The next step is the architect's blueprints. Then, we'll look for bidders."
   The second phase is getting off to a faster start than the first phase, which only included three businesses. The Madras Coffee Station is the only one of the three to have completed its exterior renovation.
   World of Treasures, in the former Hatfield's building, is currently in the process of updating the front and back of its building, and Art Adventure Gallery expects to begin its facelift this spring.