Friday, May 15, 2009

Back on the Hill

From the web site
Barracks Row Main Street’s new executive director has a hands-on management style that fits well with the Hill’s burgeoning vitality. James Dalpee answers the doorbell at the group’s office at 733 1/2 8th St. with a laundry list of ongoing projects he’s overseeing, and a bag of trash to take to the Dumpster.

Walking up the block for a quick cup of coffee, 32-year-old Dalpee catalogs every little change — a new planting here, a tidied-up storefront there — in a landscape that has transformed dramatically in the last 10 years.

Dalpee has good reason to note these changes. He’s a hometown boy, raised just around the corner from his new work digs, schooled within a few blocks of the Marine Barracks. He’s grown up with 8th Street, watching the once-beleaguered strip raise itself up to a glittering standard.

“I remember what it used to be like,” Dalpee recalls. “I went away to college and I didn’t see it for a while, and one day I came back and it was completely different. I was completely shocked. It was a big surprise — obviously a good surprise.”

Dalpee translated that excitement into a career with the Main Street Program, an initiative overseen by The National Trust For Historic Preservation, aimed at revitalizing downtown shopping districts in communities around the country. Putting to good use a recent master of business administration degree from Portland State University, Dalpee sees limitless possibilities in Barracks Row’s renaissance.

“We’re continuing the beautification of the street, and maintenance of the streetscape,” in cooperation with the government agencies, Dalpee says. “We’re continuing to promote the street and trying to create buzz about it. We just had the Taste of 8th; it’s one of our promotional events. It was overwhelmingly successful — we couldn’t have asked for a better turnout.”

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