Honeycutt investing self in downtown Lewiston

Carolyn Honeycutt

One of the first tasks Carolyn Honeycutt expects to complete as executive director of Beautiful Downtown Lewiston is adding real estate information to the organization’s website.

Her plan is to include pictures, addresses and square-feet, along with a way to reach whoever is renting, leasing or selling the property to make it easier for entrepreneurs to identify potential locations, said Honeycutt, who began her new role on Monday.

That project will be a first step in expanding on the work of her predecessor, Courtney Kramer, and the group’s board to help downtown thrive using a master plan approved by Lewiston’s City Council in 2019, she said.

“If it’s successful for the merchants, then those are the things that we need to build on,” Honeycutt said.

Honeycutt became familiar with Beautiful Downtown Lewiston when she served as the group’s interim, part-time executive director from September through December, while she was a consultant in Ellensburg.

During coming months, she’ll look at other potential projects, such as strengthening Sound Downtown, a warm-weather outdoor concert series, and increasing downtown’s already successful annual Downtown ArtWalk.

While helping figure out how to make downtown Lewiston even better, Honeycutt said she would draw on more than two decades of experience she has working in Ellensburg and Story City, Iowa.

In Ellensburg, she led an effort to rehabilitate a historic, deteriorating building on a prominent, downtown corner.

The upper story was filled with apartments, but six of seven retail spaces on the ground level were vacant where some of the windows were broken.

“We actually had a city council meeting where we packed it with local merchants that said something needs to be done because this is hurting us,” Honeycutt said. The city of Ellensburg purchased the building, completed upgrades such as repairing windows and replacing a heating and cooling system before selling it back to the private sector.

Today the building’s tenants include boutiques, a beer-tasting room and a coffee shop. Its upgrade was the catalyst for the renovation of three other historic buildings, the construction of three apartment buildings and the opening of a hotel.

After playing a key role in Ellensburg’s revitalization, Honeycutt temporarily worked part time in economic development while caring for her husband, who died of cancer in 2019.

Originally, she didn’t intend to seek the executive director post at Beautiful Downtown Lewiston. But she found she wanted to do more for Lewiston during her interim role with the group, helping it set up a new improvement district that’s expected to generate about $150,000 annually for upgrades like lighting and pedestrian walkways.

“I realized what I really was missing was making a big difference in a community, absorbing myself into a community,” Honeycutt said. “I kind of feel like my time is done in Ellensburg. I’ve done a lot there. But I also feel like I need to move on and do a new thing for personal and professional reasons.”

As part of the transition, Honeycutt’s business partner, Creech Hardee, is relocating to Lewiston and will serve as part-time events and promotions coordinator for Beautiful Downtown Lewiston.

In the past, Hardee has worked in alternative schools and juvenile court programs in Tennessee and helped develop a music scene and pub in historic property in Port Townsend, Wash., according to a news release from Beautiful Downtown Lewiston.

Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.