There's a new addition to the chain-link fence at the corner of Olney and First Street. A large sign reads "Farm to Street Food Cart" with an oversized green arrow pointing south into what looks like a partially abandoned industrial neighborhood running parallel to Third Street. It's not a street that looks likely to be home to a hip, vegetarian-options-available street food cart. But, the arrow is an unexpected X-marks-the-spot-treasure map to the newly established Makers District in central Bend, the budding business association spanning between Greenwood and Olney on First, Second, Third and side streets in the area, just east of downtown. The Makers District represents a DIY campaign to drive retail traffic and new businesses to the formerly industrial and under utilized neighborhood.
"There are businesses there that people don't know exist," said Scott Wilcox who works for the well-established Hutch's Bicycles that opened Rack-N-Roll on First Street in February. "We're here on the ground floor putting energy into interesting businesses that we hope will become more an extension of downtown as opposed to a stepchild."
Over 20 storefronts make up the Makers District, which was the brainchild of Natural Edge Furniture owner Mike Ross, whose business has been open for three years at its location on Norton Ave. The district all-inclusive, housing businesses from car restoration, to a vintage clothing store to Second Street Theatre.
The recently rebranded Humm Kombucha opened a kombucha taproom, one of the only of its kind in the nation, on First Street.
"It's been a cool combination of businesses that have been there for a while and new and emerging businesses," said Jamie Danek, co-owner of Humm. "We said, 'Let's make a cool community like they have on Galveston in midtown.' "
Free Range Equipment, Sara Bella Upcycled, inMotion, Hold Fast Kustoms, Locavore and newly added food truck, Bethlyn Rider's Global Fusion, among others fall under the banner of the Makers District.
The city has labeled the area the "Central District" and has big renovations in the works, not only for the atmosphere and attitude that the Makers District is working toward, but also toward larger city planning ideals. With calls for higher density in urban areas, the Bend Central District Multimodal Mixed-Use Area plan intends to increase building height restrictions, and make biking and walking in the area more accessible, although there is not funding lined out for execution of the plan yet. Wendy Robinson, with the city's Community Development Department, told the Source it decided to focus planning energy on this area because it has great potential and that the buzz generated by the Makers District is contributing to interest in the neighborhood.
To draw further attention to the area, the Makers District will host a block party this Saturday with live music, beer, kombucha, games and more.
"We are creating an event for the community," said Danek. "Another fun thing showing people what's available here and what eclectic local businesses are doing. A block party to bring everyone together."
Bend Makers District Celebration
Sat. Aug., 30
Olney and Greenwood on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Street and side streets.