Mid-1960s-Faced with the construction and competition of the Valley Mall in Union Gap, the City of Yakima and private groups support the effort of Allied Stores (owner of the Bon Marche) and others to create an indoor shopping mall downtown. This is accomplished by purchasing the two churches and several commercial buildings in the block bounded by A Street to the north, Naches Blvd to the east, and Yakima Avenue to the South and Fourth Street to the west.
Late 1960s-Downtown Yakima Mall is completed by building two new department stores (J.C. Penney and People’s) on the cleared block, roofing over the alley that runs from 3rd Street to Naches Blvd., and building the parking ramp that closes off Fourth Street.
Late 1960s-Further clearance of the land between 2nd and 3rd (across from the Capitol Theatre) on which the downtown Sears store and the Donnelly Hotel were located, land occupied by commercial buildings behind the Federal Courthouse on South Fourth Street, and land with commercial properties on North Second Street results in new surface parking lots. The expense is covered by bonds which are to be paid off through an assessment levied on the business and property owners (NOT in the downtown core. Levies were partially based upon the number of employees, and these levies were prone to underpayment when business owners failed to update the lists with new hires.
Late 1960s-early 2000s—Business and property owners paying the assessment formed what eventually becomes known as DARC (Downtown Area Redevelopment Committee). DARC has no enforcement power; it exists for property owners to have a sounding board and to join together for marketing and promotion.
2002—A new group of concerned citizens get together to explore how to take advantage of the State of Washington legislation allowing communities to form a PBIA (Property Business Improvement Area). Public meetings are held with stakeholders. This new group lobbies the City of Yakima and receives about $300,000 from the funds left over in the DARC account after the parking lot bonds are paid off PLUS the proceeds from the forced sale of the parking lot behind the Federal Courthouse to the Federal Government. Money is received on the condition that a matching $300,000 is raised. The condition is met with generous gifts from the private sector.
2006—Committee For Downtown Yakima (CDY) incorporates and gets underway with the retention of consultants and other downtown improvement professionals. The result is the decision to form a Yakima Downtown PBIA, which requires passing a threshold of at least 60% of the owners of property in the boundaries of the proposed improvement district voting to form such a district and to tax themselves based on the value of the property.
2008—Downtown PBIA is formed for a three-year term as the 60% threshold of “yes” votes is met. The City of Yakima collects the assessments and passes the funds on to the Committee For Downtown Yakima (CDY), which hires a Director and a downtown clean and safe crew.
November 2008-November 2011—Committee For Downtown Yakima buys and maintains the downtown hanging flower baskets, maintains all green spaces in cooperation with the City of Yakima Parks Department, builds Performance Park on the corner of A and Second Streets with a grant from Yakima County, removes graffiti, sweeps streets, assists in the downtown event logistics and clean-up, establishes the First Friday Downtown effort, and begins to consider ways to market as well as physically improve Downtown Yakima.
2008- 2011—Committee of Downtown Yakima comes under criticism (some justified and some not) by some owners feeling they’re not getting value for the assessments.
Early 2011—CDY leads the drive to get the PBIA renewed for a new and longer term. More property owners sign on than in the original 2008 drive. This larger number of owners owns the majority of property downtown (about 54%), but this is short of the 60% required.
Late 2011—The City of Yakima agrees to renew PBIA – as it has the legal right to do so if the property owners fail to reach the 60%. The City of Yakima then requests bids for the downtown maintenance services. C DY bids to retain the contract, but the City chooses to hire Block By Block, a national company that contracts with cities to perform maintenance and other services in improvements districts. The City also appoints a citizen oversight committee independent of the Committee For Downtown Yakima.
Spring of 2012—Block By Block takes over the downtown maintenance contract and the Committee For Downtown Yakima essentially ceases business.
2014—A new group forms to attempt to win Main Street designation for Yakima. The advantage of Main Street is that it has a number of tried and tested tools that help in downtown revitalization, and the State of Washington allows business owners to divert their business and occupation tax to local groups employing Main Street techniques.
December 2014—Main Street designation is given, and the old Committee For Downtown Yakima (CDY) is reborn as the Downtown Association of Yakima (DAY).
January 2015—DAY begins its work by trading, for one year only, its ability to collect the business and occupation tax for a $123,000 grant from the City of Yakima and a dedicated portion of the time of the new full-time economic development associate recently hired by the City of Yakima. (In 2016, this arrangement with the City of Yakima may be renewed or it may be abandoned in favor of DAY seeking its own contributions and hiring a staff directly.)