Josue Mondragon is one of several downtown business owners talking to Hillsboro officials about sprucing up his business.

Mondragon owns Amelia’s Restaurant, a popular Mexican cafe at 105 N.E. Fourth Ave. He is willing to spend up to $10,000 on upgrades that will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Main Street Enhancement Fund. It is a pilot project operated by the city’s Economic Development Department and the Development Center at Metro.

“We want to make the restaurant nicer for our customers,” Mondragon said. “There’s a big window that was covered up, and we want to open it up and bring more light in. And maybe put up some awnings and put some tables and chairs outside.”

Although the specifics are still to be negotiated, Mondragon hopes the work can be completed by early next year when the mixed use Fourth and Main project across the street is set to open. Mondragon believes that will bring even more customers to the restaurant, which is named after his mother, Amelia “Mely” Ramirez, the head chef HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Amelia Ramirez is the mother of Amelias Restaurant owner Josue Mondragon and the restaurant's namesake.

Many other downtown businesses also have the opportunity to tap the fund, which stands at $240,000. Half the money came from city urban renewal funds and the other half from the Main Street Improvement Program in Metro’s Development Center. It is offering matching grants of up to $40,000 per business. The project is targeting businesses on Main Street between Second Avenue and Fourth Avenue for the majority of the grants.

“We want to make a real impact on that portion of Main Street, but we’ll consider other businesses, too,” said Karla Antonini, Hillsboro’s economic development project manager.

Only two cities in the region are participating in the project: Hillsboro and Oregon City.

“We chose two cities whose downtowns have good bones to begin with and already had [redevelopment] organizations in place and funds that could match ours,” said Lisa Miles of Metro.

Hillsboro has offered a similar but smaller version of the project in previous years. It has provided grants of up to $5,000 to participating businesses. One was Gimre’s Shoes at 265 E. Main St., which removed large awnings that obscured store windows and added lighting to better display its merchandise, especially at night.

For the pilot project, participating business owners must agree to work with contractors previously screened and selected by Metro. They include architects, graphic designers and others who responded to a public request for proposals a few years ago. Miles said Metro chose the contractors to ensure projects were well designed. Business and property owners can choose their own general contractors, but they must also be approved by Metro, Miles said.

Jeff Nelson of the Le Stuff Antique Mall at 234 E. Main St. attended revitalization workshops sponsored by Metro, but thought the Metro-approved contractors were too expensive. Nelson went ahead and improved his storefront anyway, however, by removing a large awning and adding exterior lighting.

“He and his wife are real do-it-yourselfers,” said Miles.

Projects will be funded on a first come, first serve basis. Businesses interested in participating need to write a letter of interest to Karla Antonini and include the names of the business and property owners as well as the extent of the proposed improvements. Hillsboro and Metro representatives will meet with each applicant.

Interested business owners can contact Antonini via email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 503-681-6181.

Go to top