"Our customer counts have been going up yearly," says Peggy Preisz, a manager at Mo's restaurant.
Almost every building in the Taft area where the glass foundry is located has been renovated over the past 15 years, making it one of the city’s biggest draws beyond the beach. The city has put $7 million into the area and given more than a dozen businesses zero-interest loans (most of these are $50,000 with a 10-year payback). What used to be a place of rundown buildings with rotting windows battered by the sea air, pitted sidewalks and an old crab pit now boasts pedestrian-friendly streets with a copper and brass archway decorated with a larger-than-life Dungeness crab crafted with so much detail that its mammoth pincers can open. There’s a neon-pink ice cream store, Eleanor’s Undertow, Once in a Blue Moon Gallery and just east of Mo’s Restaurant is Tiki’s, a shell shop selling knickknacks and beach food. “It’s drawing tourists but there’s still room for growth,” says Hollingsworth. “It’s budding.”
Hawker believes continuing to build attractions beyond the beach and luring young retired boomers, who will bring their time, expertise and capital to town, are the two best ways to grow the city’s economy. City officials are working to better brand Lincoln City as not only a coastal vacation spot but a place to try new things. They are hoping to see more business development on and off Highway 101 and to continue to find ways to bring visitors in the off-season.
No one can predict whether electric cars will be lining up to use the charging stations. But city administrators and locals aren’t worried. It’s slow, sustainable growth — and cooperation rather than cutthroat competition — that this city is after.
“We want to succeed,” says Hawker, flashing a rare smile. “We want to be the No. 1 city on the Oregon Coast.”