Centralia is a special place. “Those of us who are involved with business and cultural promotion of Centralia know that we have a great city, we just need to get the word out to the rest of the world,” says Max Vogt, designated broker/owner for Windermere Centralia and Mayor Pro-Tem. But how do you get the word out? That’s what the Centralia Downtown Association (CDA) was working on when they thought of creating a 3D video tour and guide to downtown Centralia.

This is the first screen you will see when you enter the food guided tour. It will give you information, including where you are located and how to move forward. (Just click the white dot!)

Member of CDA and Rogue Leader (Owner) of Trillium Creative Solutions, Tory Graf said it was a group brainstorm that led to the idea of the 3D video. “We were talking about how awesome downtown Centralia is – it’s cute, there’s lots going on – but the question was, how do we get people to see that so they want to come here and stay for a weekend? Everybody knows it as an antique destination but it has so much more to offer. We want to reach other demographics.”

Graf explains that nowadays, people are used to being able to see and even experience places through their electronic devices, including using virtual reality technology for 360 degree “immersion” experiences. “This is especially appreciated by the millennials – the younger image group – which are not the groups that typically know about Centralia,” she adds. “So we decided we had a great opportunity to create that kind of tour, so they could see for themselves how cute and fun it is and hopefully want to come and stay for a weekend, get out of their city.” Trillium Creative Solutions has done some 360 photography and video in the past, but never on this scale.

If you follow the dots to a restaurant, you have an option to keep walking by, or step into the restaurant by clicking on the white dot.

“As both the owner of a real estate company in Centralia and also as the Mayor Pro-Tem, I am very excited about this new technology that is putting our little city on the cutting edge of the marketing and promotion industry,” says Vogt. “We might be the first city in America to have its downtown core photographed in 3D technology!”

Experience Downtown Centralia from Your Couch

Funded by the lodging tax, work on the project began at the end of August. The finished product will allow anyone with an internet connection to get an inside look at the main historic blocks of Centralia – from the pink to purple blocks on both sides of Pearl and Tower, including the side streets. “You ‘walk’ downtown on your computer or phone, just like you do Google Earth,” explains Graf. “Only, it also goes inside each store, restaurant or business.”

Once inside, you can explore a 360 degree photograph of the inside of the restaurant.

There are currently three options for 360 degree tours you can take on the downtown Centralia website. You can explore downtown restaurants from the inside, helping you plan where you want to dine when you visit. There is also a page dedicated to 360 degree interior tours of downtown Centralia businesses. Finally, there is the guided food tour. The guided food tour actually allows you to “walk” down the sidewalks. But unlike Google Earth, it gives you information about where you are and where you are headed. Currently, the restaurant tour is live and there will soon be a business version as well. Users will find the tour to be remarkably easy to use. Simply click on the link to get to the start screen. From there, follow the white dots to explore Centralia!

The Trillium Creative Solutions team working on their 360 photography. Photo courtesy: Trillium Creative Solutions.

See a restaurant you like? Follow the white dot inside to experience more through 360-degree photographs. When you want to exit, just click the white dot at the door and head back to the street to continue your tour. It’s like playing a video game, except no zombies are chasing you.

Graf says they are running ahead of schedule and hope to be done with the project by Thanksgiving. In addition to adding the business tour, there will also be a map that you can look at and “jump into” the tour at any point. And they are working on a more mobile-friendly version. She says right now Android users may experiences some issues.

It’s fun to explore downtown Centralia online! Photo courtesy: Trillium Creative Solutions.

Using virtual reality, 3D technology and a soon to be mobile-friendly interface makes it custom-built for millennials, and that’s definitely the point. Millennials have an estimated $200 billion spending budget. “This is just personal spending,” Graf explains. “So if we could get just a fraction of that coming to stay for the weekend, if they saw Centralia or Lewis County as a vacation destination, it would do great things for our economy. It would really be good for all of us.”

“I know that it will not only help businesses here promote and market themselves, but the town will be seen as an interesting place to visit and move to, which will help our economy in general as well as the real estate market,” adds Vogt.

To follow their progress or take a tour, visit the downtown Centralia website.


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