Twisp with a Twist: A Plan for Economic Revitalization

You can almost  hear the whistle from the old Westerns. You expect to see a tumbleweed roll by. There really is a brown, wooden bar with a sign on the top that reads,  “Branding Iron Saloon.”

In Twisp, Wash., it’s easy to think what you see is what you get.

But after decades of reinvention, the town that just won’t quit is proving once again it’s earned its name as the “heart of the Methow Valley.” This heart doesn’t stop beating.

Where the Twisp and Methow rivers meet in the eastern foothills of the northern Cascades, Twisp’s scenic landscape and central location have kept it going through economic transitions from mining to timber to agriculture, and now SCJ is helping the town bolster its current resurgence as a vibrant arts community and tourist destination.

“Twisp has a rich history and a strong spirit,” said SCJ Principal Eric Johnston. “In the economic revitalization plan we created for them, we identified specific actions the town could take to increase economic success while preserving, and even enhancing, that character and unique spirit.”

SCJ worked with the town and other community groups to gather ideas to bring more tourists to Twisp and ensure established businesses could be seen by people passing through.

Proposed design elements draw attention to the downtown business area, encouraging highway traffic to pause, park, and walk around town.

“Twisp today is filled with artists and craftsmen who have adopted the valley as their home,” Eric said. “They are crafting a community identity and are ready for significant infrastructure improvements consistent with that identity.”

The economic revitalization plan includes improved lighting, wayf inding signage, pedestrian corridors, streetscape upgrades, and public art. Significant gateway projects at multiple locations define the town center.

Eric added, “The plan is able to touch on so many of the different elements that make Twisp unique. Working together, we wove artistic elements, economic vitality, public spaces, and both vehicle and pedestrian transportation into a buildable plan that will really make a difference for this community.”

It’s still Twisp, just with a twist.

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