Jul. 27—LA GRANDE — Thanks to La Grande Main Street Downtown's Facade Grant Program, one of Adams Avenue's newest additions just got a facelift.
La Grande's branch of Finance of America Mortgage, 1214 Adams Ave., received the grant funded by the city's Urban Renewal Agency for renovations to its storefront this year. With fresh paint and new signage and window trimmings, the building that once housed Tap That Growler now has a markedly different feel.
Corri Klebaum, branch manager and mortgage adviser of the La Grande branch, moved to town in July 2018. She set up shop at a few other offices around town, but kept her eyes peeled for a larger space on Adams Avenue.
She moved into the branch's current location a year ago and applied for the grant while finishing the last details on the interior renovations that began in March 2021. Now, with the business' newly renovated storefront on the main drag, Klebaum has found what she called her "forever home."
"Our goal is not only to be great loan advisers, but to be good stewards of this building and honor the history that's here," Klebaum said of her intentions for the new space.
Klebaum, who grew up in Oregon and Washington, never thought she'd find herself in La Grande — but she's not complaining. Her oldest daughter, Jordan, went to school at Eastern Oregon University, fell in love with La Grande and got a teaching job in Union County. Corri Klebaum and her family decided to see for themselves. She pitched an idea for a satellite branch with the higher-ups at the national company, and in 2018, she and her husband of 30 years, Kirk, moved to La Grande with their two youngest daughters and son. Her parents followed suit.
Klebaum credited Union County for its giving and close-knit nature, recalling the generous donations collected at the first Eastern Oregon Livestock Show she and her family attended while considering the move.
"We definitely wanted to raise our kids in this community," she said.
At present, Klebaum and her assistant, Andi Warn, are the only employees in the office. Still, with mortgage licenses in 11 states, Klebaum keeps busy. She serves more than 75 families in the area, from first home purchases to high dollar investment properties.
The grant funded the renovation of the facade, but the revamp didn't stop at the front door. Klebaum finished remodeling the building's interior in late May, replacing the darkened space with crisp, bright colors and fixtures.
The building, constructed in 1892 by an early settler to La Grande, is one of the latest grant recipients of the program. For 10 years running, the program has aimed to incentivize downtown businesses to repair and preserve their storied facades.
"We are not going to approve any renovations that deteriorate the historic character," Taylor Scroggins, the executive director of La Grande Main Street Downtown, noted.
Businesses can apply for up to two grants every four years, for unique projects. From signage repair to brickwork and paint jobs, between four and five business owners apply yearly.
Other downtown businesses that recently received funding from the program include the Country Financial building just one door down from Klebaum's renovated space.
"It has been a fairly successful and popular program," Scroggins said.
Klebaum expects to fully utilize the new space in the coming years and has begun working on classes for new homeowners and community members looking to increase their financial literacy.
With an almost 30-year background in banking and finance, Klebaum has seen firsthand what happens when customers don't meet their financial obligations. She said this allows her to better serve a wide array of customers with options that accommodate for credit and savings barriers.
"My philosophy has always been to leave no stone unturned," Klebaum said. "If it can be done, I'm the girl to do it."
The branch held a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house last month to celebrate the completed renovations and their new location. Now, it's back to business.
"Now that my agenda is pretty much clear of big events and projects," Klebaum said. "It's kind of time for us to really get back to work and do what we do best."
Shannon Golden is a reporter for The Observer. Contact her at 541-624-6015 email@example.com.