Economic Development

Economic Development works to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and retaining jobs, supporting and growing incomes, and expanding the tax base. It leverages public incentives and assistance to attract and induce investment in local businesses that in turn contribute positively to the local economy and community.

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Investing in Our Future

Urban renewal is a partnership between the city and property owners to improve an area and encourage economic development with a "ripple effect" that invigorates businesses, strengthens the local econopmy, and ultimately increases property values. The intent of urban renewal is to improve specific areas that are poorly developed or underdeveloped, eliminate blighting conditions, and improve conditions to encourage economic development. Wherever possible, old buildings are preserved and rejuvenated, and neighborhood character is celebrated rather than demolished. Landowners and developers invest in improvements, aided by grants from the Urban Renewal Agency, which spurs business growth and generates jobs. Property values rise, and everyone benefits — including the city, as rising property values also mean more tax revenue for the city, county, schools, and other local agencies.

Urban renewal has been instrumental in many notable community improvements, including helping to restore the Egyptian Theatre, expanding the Eastside Boat Ramp, and doing seismic upgrades at City Hall. In the private sector, the Façade Improvement Grant Program helped revitalize landmarks such as the old Coos Bay National Bank Building and South Coast Office Supply.

Urban Renewal Districts

Coos Bay has two urban renewal districts -- one downtown, the other in Empire. The Downtown District was formed in 1988 and includes the shopping district and the upper portion of the bay. The Empire District was formed in 1995 and includes a business district and the lower portion of the bay.These districts have helped finance many public and private projects over the years, with improvements ranging from spiffing up a storefront to redeveloping the Hollering Place property on the Empire waterfront. Not every project succeeds, but the overall track record is strong.

Map of Urban Renewal Districts

funding & payoff

Money for urban renewal comes from taxing the increase in property values on property within an Urban Renewal District. Urban renewal does not increase property taxes, it just reallocates the taxes paid on increased property valuation. Jurisdictions don’t receive any less money than they did before the URA was formed. But urban renewal does divert the taxes on any increase in property valuation. During the life of the Urban Renewal District, that portion of tax revenue is invested in projects to improve the area. In the long run, those improvements raise property values, thereby yielding more property tax revenue for all of the taxing jurisdictions.

The payoff from urban renewal can be seen throughout Coos Bay. The Egyptian Theatre restoration, the Hollering Place redevelopment, the Empire Boat Building Center, and façade improvements at many local businesses all reflect urban renewal investment. Pinpointing the exact economic impact of urban renewal is impossible, because many factors affect property values, but we can make a reasonable estimate. We know that property values typically increase about 3 percent per year, and we know how much assessed valuation has risen in the Downtown and Empire Urban Renewal Districts. By subtracting 3 percent per year from the actual increase, we can estimate that urban renewal has enhanced the two districts by about $46 million. That increased valuation will yield higher property tax revenues over the long run.


Coos Bay has used urban renewal previously to improve the city. Before the two current districts, Coos Bay created an urban renewal district in the central downtown core area in 1968 that extended from the bay on the east to 4th Street on the west and from Commercial Avenue on the north to Curtis Avenue on the south. The district's projects consisted of elimination of traffic on Central Avenue from Highway 101 to 4th Street and the creation of a pedestrian mall, undergrounding of many utilities within the district, property acquisition to create parking lots and remove blighted structures, and canopied walkways to connect parking lots and other district areas with the pedestrian mall. The projects were completed in the early 1970s. The district ceased tax increment revenue financing in 1984 and the district ended in 1989. The lasting impact of these improvements is evident in the popular walkable downtown and numerous festivals and community events now held in the area.


The Urban Renewal Agency is headed by the Urban Renewal Board, whose membership consists of the mayor and City Council. Staff support for the URA comes from the city’s Community Development Department.

Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) Chapter 457 establishes and governs urban renewal districts. Administrative costs associated with implementation of urban renewal projects are an allowable expenditure of urban renewal funds.

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The Coos Bay Downtown Urban Renewal Plan and Report were adopted in 1988.

The Coos Bay Downtown Urban Renewal Plan and Report were adopted in 1988 in accordance to Oregon state law.  The Downtown District begins at the north city limits and runs between the navigation channel and Highway 101 south and southeast toward the city's core area. The district's boundaries proceed south until they come nearly in line with the industrial property located in Eastside.  The eastern boundary then turns east to include the industrial-commercial lands in the Eastside area. The westerly boundary proceeds west to include the downtown core area which was a part of the first Urban Renewal Plan and also includes several blocks of transportation corridor immediately west of the core area.  The eastern and western urban renewal area boundaries begin to come together in the southern portion of the city and extend to the south city limits along Coalbank Slough.

The Downtown Plan classifies potential urban renewal projects in three general, broad categories:

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The Empire URA rejuvenates the historic  area.

The Empire district is a historic area on the far west end of the city. Founded in 1853, Empire was once an independent city and was the county seat, poised to become the economic and governmental center of the region. Commerce then shifted farther east towards the more protected bay, and Empire declined. The city of Empire voted to consolidate with Coos Bay in 1965. The historic buildings and varied businesses still show the pride of the area and tie the area to the working waterfront.

The Empire Urban Renewal District borders the bayfront adjacent to Empire Blvd from Wisconsin Avenue north to the shoreline. At the intersection of Empire Blvd and Newmark Avenue, east on either side of Newmark Avenue to the intersection with Ocean Blvd, east to the property line between Norman Avenue and LaClair Street.

The objectives of the Empire Plan are to improve the function, condition, and appearance of the urban renewal area and eliminate existing blight.  Project categories:

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Annual Reports are filed with the City Council each January.

Oregon Revised Statues (ORS) 457.460 requires a financial impact statement from the Urban Renewal Agency be filed with the City Council by January 31st of each year. The annual reports are in addition to the Urban Renewal budgets which are adopted after a public budget process, a public hearing before the Urban Renewal Agency, and in addition to the annual Urban Renewal Agency Audit.

Components of the financial report include:


2019-2020 URA Annual Report

2018-2019 URA Annual Report

2017-2018 URA Annual Report

2016-2017 URA Annual Report

2015-2016 URA Annual Report

2014-2015 URA Annual Report

2013-2014 URA Annual Report

2012-2013 URA Annual Report

2011-2012 URA Annual Report

2010-2011 URA Annual Report

2009-2010 URA Annual Report

2008-2009 URA Annual Report


The Façade Improvement Grant Program helps finance exterior improvements such as painting, brickwork and awnings to promote the revitalization of the city’s two Urban Renewal districts.

Urban Renewal Improvement Program

The Coos Bay Urban Renewal Agency (Agency) offers building improvement financing through the Urban Renewal Improvement Program for the Empire and Downtown Urban Renewal Districts. Financing for commercial tenants and/or property owners on a per building basis can be considered by the Agency in any one fiscal year period [July 1 through June 30]. To revitalize commercial structures and support housing as a secondary use, eligible property improvements may also be considered for Agency loans. Traditionally grants or loan funding are for 50% of eligible project costs; the Agency has sole discretion to increase the grant or loan funding percentage. Minimum grants are $1,000 for a $2,000 project. The Agency can consider grants greater than $1,000 and loan amounts and terms on a case-by-case basis depending upon available funding and benefit to the Urban Renewal District. The Urban Renewal Agency maps are noted below:

Urban Renewal Agency district maps

Qualifying Improvements

  1. Restoration of masonry, brickwork, or wood and metal cladding.
  2. Replacement or repair of architectural features.
  3. Awnings.
  4. Exterior lighting.
  5. Gutters and downsprouts.
  6. Windows.
  7. Entrances.
  8. Structural support or new construction for the facade.
  9.  Painting (as part of a construction project).
  10. Sidewalks (as part of an overall project).
  11. Design, architectural, and engineering services, up to 15% of the total project cost, to a maximum of $7,500,
  12. Building improvements as regulated in CBMC Title 15 (Buildings and Construction) to accomodate housing as a secondary use.
  13.  Building fire/life/safety improvements routinely necessary for cost effective and successful rehabilitation of older buildings including but not limited to HVAC, sprinkler systems, elevators, electrical, plumbing improvements, accessibility work and public infrastructure work related to the building improvement.
  14.  Permanent native and perennial landscaping, irrigation, and hardscape integral to project design visible to the public such as trees, landscape, walls, in-ground lighting and walkways up to 5% of a total project cost. Up to an additional 2.5% may be authorized for project landscaping. The additional funding is used for 'green' landscaping features, such as but not limited to bioswales, rain gardens, etc.
  15.  Other improvements meeting the Program intent.


  1.  A business owner who is a tenant will be required to provide written approval from the legal property owner.
  2. If multiple projects are undertaken at one building, an application must be provided for each project, and one award per project will be allowed in an fiscal year (July 1 through June 30). For facade projects, continuity of building facade improvements from year to year is required.
  3. For single projects, one award per building location will be allowed in any fiscal year (July 1 through June 30).
  4. Program funds cannot be used for routine maintenance.
  5. A property whose owner or tenant is in default on an municipal or Local Improvement District property taxes, special assessments, or debt to the City is not eligible.
  6. The Urban Renewal Agency has sole authority to determine eligibilty of proposed work and acceptability of completed work. Certain areas, such as the Empire and waterfront areas, have design standards that must be followed as noted in the Empire Design Standards and Waterfront Heritage Design Standards. See the Empire Design Standards and Waterfront Heritage Design Standards for information.
  7. The applicant must agree to maintain the Agency improvements in good condition for not less than five (5) years and to make prompt repairs due to any vandalism and eradicate any graffiti immediately.
  8.  Design Assistance Team review for exterior improvements is required.
  9. Three detailed written bids, from licensed contractors shall be required for the project work unless waived by the URA.

How to Apply

City staff will be happy to guide you through the URA Improvement Program process. All application forms can be found on the City's website at There is no fee to apply for the Program. To apply, start by completing a Pre-Application form and returning it to the Planning Division of the Public Works and Community Development Department at City Hall. Located at 500 Central Ave, Coos Bay. You may also email your application to

  1. Participate in a Pre-application conference to introduce your project. This involves meeting and reviewing with City staff and the Design  Review Committee.
  2. Apply for the Program and share in a meeting with City Staff and Design Review Committee your final design. The Design Review Committee  will make a recommendation to the Urban Renewal Agency.
  3. If your property is located in the Empire or Waterfront Heritage area (see map below) - Architectural Design Review by the Planning Commission is required.
  4. Urban Renewal Agency review of the Design Review Committee recomendations is required at a public meeting for Agency action to approve the project.

For more information, contact Debbi Erler at 541-269-1181, ext 2259 or


The Hollering Place is a prime redevelopment site intended to serve as a catalyst to revitalize the Empire District.

The Hollering Place site, which holds a great deal of historical importance, has had two conceptual plans developed over the past few years but nothing has been implemented to-date. The City has contracted with the Oregon Downtown Development Association to develop a market-based Master Plan for the site and move this project from concept to implementation. The City and Hollering Place project consultants held several public meetings in Empire to gather citizen input on the proposed project.  The master plan is a concept of what the citizens would like to develop at the site.

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The historic Egyptian Theatre is located in downtown Coos Bay on Hwy 101.

Egyptian Theatre HistoryEgyptian Theatre sign in the 1920s

In 1925, Charles Noble invested $200,000 to convert his service station and auto garage in downtown Coos Bay into a movie and live-performance theatre. Reacting to the national obsession with Egyptian design and themes (stimulated by the 1922 discovery of the tomb of King Tut), Mr. Noble’s new theatre incorporated bold Egyptian Revival architectural and design themes. In addition, Mr. Noble spent $32,000 to purchase and install a custom Wurlitzer Theater organ in his new venue. Immediately, this unique and vibrant building became an architectural and social landmark in the Coos Bay/North Bend area. While Charles Noble’s investment was bold, his vision was not unique. The exploding popularity of movies and the theatrical design elements of the Egyptian Revival style saw Egyptian Theaters being constructed throughout the United States.

Over the next eight decades, both entertainment and architectural design underwent many major changes. The ornate downtown movie palaces that had been the social and economic anchors of the downtown business districts had largely been replaced by multiplex cinemas attached to strip malls on the outskirts of town. The impact of this trend was clear in 2005, when the Egyptian Theatre in downtown Coos Bay was one of only four known Egyptian Revival style movie theatres surviving in the United States. Further, this worn but in-tact building still included most of the original style décor, light fixtures, curtains, and painted backdrops. In addition, the original 1925 Wurlitzer Theater Organ was still in-place making the Egyptian Theatre the only Oregon movie palace that still had its original pipe organ installation.

Egyptian Theatre marquee at night

In 2005, when the owners of the Egyptian Theatre decided to close the movie theatre and put the building up for sale, the community responded. Not willing to let this landmark fade into history, a group of local citizens and the Urban Renewal Agency of Coos Bay joined forces to purchase and operate the theatre as a community event and celebration space. With revenues generated from second-run movies and rental activities, the ETPA systematically began to replace equipment and address a backlog of deferred maintenance issues. This effort was recognized in 2010, when the theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places and in 2011, when the Historic Preservation League of Oregon named the Egyptian Theatre as one of the ten “most endangered treasures” in Oregon.

The City Urban Renewal Agency and Egyptian Theatre Preservation Association has partnered to raise funds to restore the Egyptian with the goal of re-opening the theater in 2014. For more information about the historic Egyptian Theatre, volunteering, becoming a member, or helping with the restoration project, visit the website at


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