DCI and Redevelopment in the Western Slope

06/13/2019 11:27 AM | Morgan Pierce (Administrator)
On May 29-31, 2019, Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI), the City of Durango, and the City of Montrose
held the first Western Slope Redevelopment & Reinvestment Symposium in Durango, CO. The goal
reshape ideas for redevelopment and reinvestment in Western Slope communities. This will be the
first of a series of symposiums that will be held across communities along the Western Slope. The
next event will take place in Montrose, CO on September 16-17, 2019.
The Symposium featured delegates from Buena Vista, Cortez, Denver, Durango, Grand Junction,
Ignacio, La Plata County, Montrose, Mountain Village, Pagosa Springs, Ridgway, Silverton, and

On May 29-31, 2019, Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI), the City of Durango, and the City of Montrose held the first Western Slope Redevelopment & Reinvestment Symposium in Durango, CO. The goal of the symposium was to blend informal connections, case studies, and interactive dialogue to reshape ideas for redevelopment and reinvestment in Western Slope communities. This will be the first of a series of symposiums that will be held across communities along the Western Slope. The next event will take place in Montrose, CO on September 16-17, 2019.

The Symposium featured delegates from Buena Vista, Cortez, Denver, Durango, Grand Junction, Ignacio, La Plata County, Montrose, Mountain Village, Pagosa Springs, Ridgway, Silverton, and Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

Brief Synopsis of Sessions

Creating a Shared Community Vision

Scott Shrine, City of Durango Ann Christensen, DHM Design, and Brandon Stam, Downtown Grand Junction opened up the main portion of the symposium by breaking down what redevelopment means; the importance of involving the community early on in the development process;  which tools to use when gathering community input and how to effectively visualize redevelopment ideas to the public. Case studies included vision work for Durango’s Camino del Rio district, Longmont’s St. Vrain District, and Grand Junction’s Downtown Plan update.

Identifying Projects and Partnerships for Redevelopment

David Fishering, Storm King Distilling Co., and Chelsea Rosty, City of Montrose, used an interview style format to open up discussion about the redevelopment timeline of the Storm King Distilling Co. project which saw a neglected site turn into a successful business. They discussed the financial tools, incentives, partnerships and grit required to create quality redevelopment. The conversation also looked at common misconceptions about the redevelopment process.

What Does Successful Redevelopment Look Like?

Savannah Lytle, City of Durango Ann Christensen, DHM Design, and Elizabeth Boone, Reynolds Ash + Associates broke down the fundamentals and history of crafting design standards to correctly guide redevelopment; what it takes to have a sense of what communities want buildings to look like and how they should function; and the importance of a building’s context, scale and relation to public realm. Examples included: Main Street Pagosa, 3rd Ave in Durango, and the Cheyenne West Edge neighborhood plan.

Redevelopment & Reinvestment Perspectives

Troy Bernberg, Northland Securities, moderated a lunchtime panel of Bill Bell, Monica Rosenbluth, Paul Benedetti, Diedra Silbert, and Doug Dragoo. Discussion topics included the importance of collaboration; knowing which partners are involved at different stages in the redevelopment process; what a municipalities needs from a developer to effectively evaluate a project and what a developer needs from a municipality.

Urban Renewal Authorities 101 & 201

This series of breakout sessions were led by Steve Art, Paul Benedetti, Bell Bill, Troy Bernberg, and Monica Rosenbluth is DCI’s signature session which gives an overview of how urban renewal authorities work in Colorado. Attendees gained an understanding of the tools, laws and structure that an urban renewal authority has. The 201 portion took a deeper dive into how tax increment financing (TIF) works and how to structure deals with developers.

Brownfields, Historic Preservation and Other Unique Aspects of Redevelopment

Doug Jamison, Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Virgil Turner, City of Montrose, and Savannah Lytle, City of Durango, gave attendees an overview of what brownfields are; where brownfields are  commonly located in communities; the history of redevelopment incentives involving brownfield remediation and the benefits associated with brownfield redevelopment. Virgil Turner shared case studies on how historic preservation efforts and brownfield remediation led to excellent redevelopment projects in Montrose. Examples include d Art Moderne-style City Steam Laundry building; the plans for developing the Bullock Power Plant and the Sharing ministries which utilized CBDG Grants and incentives granted by the City of Montrose to be completed

Creative Districts: Arts & Culture as a Redevelopment Tool

Diedra Silbert, Town of Ridgway, and Hayley Kirkman, Durango Creative District and Local First,  broken down the history and legislation behind Colorado Creative Districts; what defines a “creative” in terms of use for a district; how to navigate the process of becoming a Colorado Creative District.  Diedra broken down what it means to be a Creative District, examples of projects in Ridgway, Trinidad and Carbondale. Hayley Kirkman gave attendees a first-person perspective on how to navigate the process of becoming a certified Creative District as Durango itself is currently going through that process.

Redevelopment Financing Tools & Layering Opportunities

An expert panel of Troy Bernberg, Northland Securities; Doug Jamison, CDPHE; Laura Lewis Marchino, Region 9; Chelsea Rosty, City of Montrose; Brandon Stam, Downtown Grand Junction discussed the tools and programs that can be used in helping create vibrant downtowns. Brandon Stam gave an iverview of how Grand Junction is utilizing BIDs, DDA and a Creative District to plan for development, events, streetscaping and planning for the future. Chelsea Rosty talked about how Montrose uses a combination of URAs, DDAs and a development and revitalization team to help its downtown and businesses grow.

Doug Jamison covered the incentive programs and grants targeted towards brownfield remediation such as Colorado’s Voluntary Cleanup Program; Colorado Brownfields Revolving Lof enterprise zones; the basics of opportunity zones and how layering different tools and zones can lead to successful projects. Examples of layering included the Commons Building in Durango. The Commons Building hosts the Durango Adult Education Center, Southwest Conservation Corps and other small nonprofits. It was developed by a combination of an Enterprise Zone, USDA Community Facility Loan & Grant Program, and New Market Tax Credits.an Fund; Colorado Brownfields Grant (H.B. 1306) Program and the Colorado Tax Credit for Remediation of Contaminated Land.

Solving for Redevelopment: Breakout Exercises

Attendees were asked to engage and interact with each other by breaking into groups and answering three dynamic questions focused on shaping the future of redevelopment on the Western Slope. The three groups were:

  • What are the components of equitable design and engagement to create successful projects?  How do we accomplish this in smaller communities? 
  • What does redevelopment and resilience mean to the Western Slope? 
  • How do developers and property owners navigate the development process? 

Each group had around 45 minutes to an hour to answer the question(s). The guidelines for the exercise were to answer the main question(s) by addressing: the tools, methods, and/or polices that will help achieve the goal, the key partnerships and communication that need to take place, and to address the next steps.

What are the Components of Equitable Design and Engagement to Create Successful Projects? How do we Accomplish this in Smaller Communities?

Moderated by Diedra Silbert, Ridgway and Ann Morganthaler, Montrose

FindingsEquitable design to this group meant meeting the community where they are, and recognizing that different people within the community have different needs. A major issue that was identified was how and when developers/ municipalities reach out to the public during the development process.

StakeholdersThe group identified a list of stakeholders who are or should be involved in the development process. This includes: developers, property owners, tenants, local government, the planning department, architects, and the community-at-large. The group felt that it is coming for the tenants to be left out of the process, although a lot of times along the Western Slope tenants have been in the community for a long time and should have their voices heard.

Tools for ImplementationNext steps and tools mentioned included a re-structured design review process that allows for greater review of the sketch design and sketch subdivision portion so there are less 11th hour challenges from the public. In conjunction with the idea of re-structuring the design review process was for those involved to use layman’s terms instead of “industry lingo”, as it will help the public understand and not become as frustrated with the idea of the project. Another tweak to the development process would be to offer meetings at different times (not just after traditional work hours), as different people within the community are available at different times of the day.

What does Redevelopment and Resilience mean to the Western Slope?

Moderated by Imogen Ainsworth, City of Durango and Kate Busse, Department of Local Affairs Resiliency Office

FindingsShocks and stressors as related to resiliency were two major topics discussed by the group. Shocks are “external short-term deviations from long-term trends, deviations that have substantial negative effects on people’s current state of well-being, level of assets, livelihoods, or safety, or their ability to withstand future shocks” (Zseleczky and Yosef, 2014).  Shocks that effect the Western Slope include wildfires, floods, rapid loss of extractive industry and the pace of technological change.

Stressors are seen as the long-term societal, economic, climatic or geographic issues that have negative effects on a communities or person. Stressors that were identified include affordable housing, climate change, long-term drought, connectivity/ transportation, lack of diversity, and .geographic remoteness.

There was lots of discussion on how shocks and stressors affect the mental health of the community. The question “how are you supposed to create a sense of community after a shock such as a fire?” was raised.

StakeholdersThe group identified a list of stakeholders that need to coordinate to in order to have a positive response to shocks and stressors along the Western Slope. Stakeholders included: Local government, DOLA, media, EMS, social services, teachers, local business leaders, developers, banks, mental health professionals, and other regional partners (county).

Tools for ImplementationThe group discussed the need for communities to create readiness and/or resiliency plans. The need to define metrics or find metric on how to track success short-term as well as long-term is crucial for these plans to be successful.  There was discussion about creating a committee to search for funding opportunities to help begin the process of writing a resiliency plan for the region. An example of how Fort Collins has a “Futures Committee” that meets on a regular basis to discuss long-term trends for the community, and how they want Fort Collins to development over the course of the next 40-60 years. Communication is key, and a structure to elevate community voices in Western Slope communities will be an important step.

How do Developers and Property Owners Navigage teh Development Process?

Moderated by Monica Rosenbluth, Butler Snow and Brandon Stam, Grand Junction

FindingsThe key finding for this group was how important building and nurturing relationships between the public and private sector are for successful development and redevelopment projects are. Clear definitions of the roles each of the stakeholder and how they interact with each other are important to share so groups do not get tunnel vision and lose site of the big picture.

StakeholdersStakeholder include property owners, developers, local government, planning department, community-at-large, downtown organizations,

Tools for ImplementationThe key takeaways revolve around building relationships within the community and to develop a cohesive vision for what future development in the community should look like. That should happen long before projects are brought to the table.  Private sector stakeholders should build relationships with those in the local government and define the role that each entity will play during the development process.

An idea of creating business-to-business meetings or coffee dates between businesses, property owners, and developers was discussed as it has been successful in communities such as Grand Junction and Castle Rock. The creation of a “development checklist” that can be shared to property owners and developers on how to navigate the process would also allow for greater clarity and show those looking to redevelop property if it will align with the community’s goals as well as if it will work on said property.

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