Downtown rejuvenation project begins: First ‘Imagine Chehalis’ open house held, survey now available online


Experience Chehalis, in partnership with the City of Chehalis, officially launched its Imagine Chehalis initiative and began gathering public input during an open house event on Tuesday, June 4.

The gathering was held inside Mint City Coffee Roasting in downtown Chehalis.

Imagine Chehalis is a downtown rejuvenation project aimed at repairing and improving the downtown area while preserving the city’s history. The project was set in motion last January when the Chehalis City Council approved a contract with HBB Landscape Architecture of Seattle to act as the project consultant.

The specific area Imagine Chehalis covers includes Market Boulevard, Washington and Pacific avenues, and Boistfort Street.

Improvements currently being considered include sidewalk and lighting upgrades, better roadways and optimized traffic flow through the downtown area.

Tuesday’s open house was held to begin gathering public input from those who live, work or shop in downtown Chehalis on how they feel the area should evolve in the future.

“We’ll be back in September, maybe end of August, to kind of show concepts. All of tonight and the next month is really just about listening,” HBB Principal Aaron Luoma said at the open house. “We’re not proposing anything at this point. We’re just here to hear about what makes downtown Chehalis great, where it could be improved and everything in between.”

Once HBB has completed Imagine Chehalis’ final project plan, which Luoma anticipated will be ready by the end of the year, it will set the city up to pursue grant funding to carry out the final design and construction of the project.

“Nothing will happen immediately, but this is building the foundation for a really solid plan that state and local agencies really look favorably upon when providing grant funding,” Luoma added.

Open house attendees could write suggestions for what they thought would help improve downtown Chehalis on boards. Suggestions included adding blinking lights on sidewalks, creating bike lanes, building a skate park and installing decorative light poles and more plants for pollinators.

Other suggestions included highlighting existing murals and creating more of them, and having brick or stamped-pattern sidewalks.

Attendees were also asked to prioritize a number of different downtown aspects, which included its ability to host festivals and events, and its historic character. The top three that were listed as high priorities were improving existing infrastructure, protecting historic character and increasing parking.

“I’m so pleased with the turnout,” Experience Chehalis Executive Director Annalee Tobey said. “We did our best to make sure all our businesses are aware of the project.”

As for whatever direction Imagine Chehalis takes the downtown area, Tobey wants to get as much public input as possible.

“I like to say that the energy downtown doesn’t match the infrastructure. There’s a lot of great energy downtown right now. It’s full of businesses and visitors. Things are going well, yet our sidewalks and light posts are lagging,” Tobey said.

She anticipated holding another open house when HBB is ready to debut project concepts in August or September, with 2025 being the year used to secure project funding and construction beginning after funding is secured.

For more information on Imagine Chehalis, visit

For those who missed the open house, a survey is available online to continue gathering public input. It will be open until July 3. To access the survey, visit