Downtown painting project kicks off over weekend

Benny Westcott

Residents and visitors alike may have become accustomed to a downtown Sweet Home visage that includes vacant storefronts and buildings painted muted grays and browns.

But that started changing last week as the downtown core began getting a much-anticipated facelift.

Sweet Home’s Downtown Painting Project got up and running Friday, July 14, when a crew of local volunteers including the Youth Volunteer Corps of Corvallis, led by local painting contractor Fitzpatrick Painting, started applying a fresh coat of color to the old City Hall building and Osaka Sushi. Volunteer efforts continued on Saturday and Sunday, despite the heat.

The overall project, a partnership between the city, Portland-based Miller Paint, Fitzpatrick, and a number of volunteers, is expected to bring color to over 45 retail shops, offices and restaurants with a Northwest-inspired color palette, including 10 to 12 original murals.

“Our partnership with Miller Paint is allowing us to transform how Sweet Home presents itself to both tourists and residents,” City Manager Kelcey Young said. “We have so much natural beauty and cultural history in our town to share, and we think a refreshed downtown with vibrant storefronts will encourage people to stay longer and help our local businesses to thrive.”

City representatives met with Miller Paint’s color consultants to choose an upbeat, colorful palette from the company’s new Northwest Color Collection to create a cohesive “color story” downtown. The Northwest Color Collection features 132 paint colors that aim to reflect the spirit and style of the Pacific Northwest region – from the high desert to the coast.

“We’re thrilled to introduce the Sweet Home business community to our regional color collection and help create a more colorful and vibrant downtown business district,” said Puji Shere, Miller Paint Vice President of Marketing, Color & Brand. “Color has the power to transform a community, and we believe that a colorful downtown can inspire pride and make Sweet Home a destination for local Oregonians and those visiting our beautiful state.”

Numbers-wise, according to Young, Miller Paint has offered to supply a $200,000 value, including paint for buildings (with some city match), 100% of the paint for murals, color consulting, national press (commercials and print campaigns featuring city banners and signage); and discounted supplies.

Fitzpatrick Painting, meanwhile, committed to providing a four-man painting crew in Sweet Home for 10 weeks at no cost to the city.

And then there’s the volunteers.

One of them on Friday was Sweet Home area resident Jennifer Gaspard, who painted with her two kids, Eva, 11, and Gage, 8.

After noting some of the more difficult parts of the work for the youngsters, Gaspard said that her kiddos were “hanging in there and helping out,” adding “It’s kind of important in our family, so here we are.”

“I think it’s an awesome event,” Gaspard continued. “How many cities can manage to get paint donated to spruce up the town? When you get a situation like that where you get free paint, we’re going to come up and help Sweet Home look better.”

Her daughter Eva had a very simple motivation for painting buildings in the heat: “Because some of the buildings are kind of hideous,” the 11-year-old said matter-of-factly.

Another Sweet Home volunteer, Jen Castañeda, said “I think it’s really going to help revitalize downtown. It’s going to help Sweet Home stand up a little taller when they walk downtown. It’ll look nice, and I think it’s going to do a lot for the morale and for the city.”

She added that “Everybody was really excited to be doing something revitalizing. We had a few people there who had never volunteered. They told me they’ve been in Sweet Home like 12 years and they’d never volunteered, but they couldn’t pass this up.”