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UNION GAP, Wash. — There’s a lot that’s new in and around Union Gap’s Valley Mall that’s bringing in visitors, business and tax dollars.

Unfortunately, it’s juxtaposed with Union Gap’s old downtown — and the main drag is showing its age.

Rows of splintery wooden power poles, cracked blacktop and a hodgepodge of mismatched storefronts dominate Main Street south from Valley Mall Boulevard to the U.S. Highway 97 exit. It’s an aesthetics problem that the City Council seeks to correct, but it wants ideas from residents and businesses for a united effort at improving downtown.

Several business owners in the area of the proposed makeover said they weren’t aware the city had those plans in mind, but they were happy to find out.

“Amen,” said Michele Foster, owner of Behind the Chute clothing and apparel store on Main Street, when she heard the area would be getting a revamp. “Some change is much needed.”

Foster, whose store has been in the same building just south of the Second Street intersection for the past 11 years, said the street could use sidewalks, beautification and a median to ease traffic congestion.

Foster said the mall has brought more people to this part of town, but the older businesses get passed over by most people because Main Street looks more like a bypass than a destination.

“It seems like everybody stops at Valley Mall and doesn’t come down here anymore,” she said. “We’re kind of the back burner.”

The city has about $4.8 million in grant and loan money to improve about six blocks of Main Street from Second Street south to Franklin Street. Projects already planned include replacing 80-year-old water mains and storm drains that run below Main Street, but the appearance and aesthetics of the road are in the early phase of discussions.

Any of the nice touches along storefronts on Main Street now are conceived and maintained by business owners, such as the manicured shrubs in front of Jean’s Cottage Inn, a Main Street staple since the 1960s.

Allan Marks, who bought the restaurant with his wife, Kristi, in 1997, said transforming Main Street near Valley Mall Boulevard would create a gateway for out-of-town shoppers and diners to try out the locally owned businesses and sites along the old stretch.

“Union Gap is a great little city, we just maybe need a little visual improvement,” Marks said.

The current proposal would be part of a larger project to revitalize all of Main Street within the next five to 10 years. Improvements could include large sidewalks, fewer lanes with a median, new street lamps and landscaping.

Juanita Sullivan, co-owner of Del-Anns gift shop near the corner of Main and Franklin streets, said she thinks Main Street business will only improve when the state and national economy “gets much better.” But Sullivan, who has run the business with her husband in the same building for 36 years, isn’t opposed to the idea of rolling out the red carpet for when that happens.

“It’s good that they have that money to spend” on revitalization, Sullivan said. “Maybe it will help, I don’t know.”

City officials hope to have the first phase along Main Street from Second Street to Franklin Street underway within a year.

Carolyn Pierson, owner of Valcare Medical Billing near Second and Main streets, said downtown revitalization reflects the pride a community takes in itself. Pierson is a Moxee resident, but said having her business on Main Street makes her root for Union Gap’s downtown.

“It makes a better statement for how it reflects itself as a town,” she said.