Contractors’ coalition to build community building for fire-ravaged Detroit

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Santiam Rebuild Coalition announced this week that it has secured property for a new meetinghouse in fire-stricken Detroit.

Chris Tardiff, President of the Detroit Lake Foundation, signed the papers Wednesday and acquired 345 Santiam Avenue in Detroit.

Miraculously, a large piece of land was left virtually untouched by the recent forest fires. The coalition shared their vision of restoring Detroit with owner Kim Fowler, who then donated a large portion of the two-acre property to the project.

The property used to be the location of Detroit High School. The school building was demolished a few years ago, but the gym is still standing. Recovery plans include using the existing structure.

The Santiam Rebuild Coalition was formed to support Detroit and bring relief to the Canyon.

Nick Harville, Business Retention & Expansion Manager at SEDCOR / Marion County (Strategic Economic Development Corporation), and Rich Duncan, owner of Rich Duncan Construction, formed the coalition. They plan to build a community building for the area to promote the redevelopment of the region.

The coalition brings together licensed members of the local construction industry who are volunteering to expedite construction of a new community building in Detroit – and together doing more than they could individually.

Mary Louise VanNatta, Coalition Communications Coordinator, says, “We hope the meetinghouse is a place where residents of Detroit and the surrounding area can meet and begin rebuilding what is known as the Oregon Playground.”

There is much work to be done to restore life to the canyon. Duncan said, “If Detroit doesn’t come back, Canyon can’t come back.”

Although more people live in the surrounding communities such as Gates and Mill City, Detroit has been the economic engine for all residents of these areas. In addition to the community building, the new plans for Detroit include features such as a thriving and beautiful downtown area with new shops, a historic monument, and a visitor center.

The Santiam Rebuild Coalition was designed for multiple purposes. One is to provide Canyon residents with contacts for a group of trusted local building trades. On the other hand, the logistics are to be improved at the beginning of the reconstruction. At an organizational meeting in mid-October 2020, over 90 contractors committed to provide workers and materials.

The Detroit Lake Foundation, a 501 (c) 3, is accepting donations of funds and materials on behalf of the project on The coalition has created its own website,, to help contributors communicate and coordinate schedules. Approved licensed contractors have access to a discussion forum and are listed on a public directory.

Tardiff said, “The Detroit Lake Foundation is blessed to be part of such an inspiring project. We are working hard to make this project a reality and are amazed at the many donations and help from the community. We are excited that this is a place that will benefit the Detroit community, families and visitors alike. “

The project brings together many of the partners who were involved in building Extreme Makeover: Home Edition under the direction of Duncan in 2010. Thousands of citizens gathered to revive the Oregon School for the Nightmare Factory for the Deaf and Dormitory for Boys.

Duncan said citizens were overwhelmed with industry support. “It’s great to have a relationship with trusted colleagues who we can call back together a decade later to work on this important rebuild,” said Duncan.

Contractors can find the Volunteer / Deliveries Donation Form at To make cash or other contributions, visit


About the Santiam Rebuild Coalition: After fires devastated Santiam Canyon, generous community members pledged to help. The Santiam Rebuild Coalition is a group of licensed and insured members of the construction industry who have deployed materials and manpower to expedite a community building for Detroit.

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