Downtown Colorado Inc (DCI) had our thirteenth webinar of the series covering various topics on the commercial district response to COVID-19 and how people can support each other while maintaining the CDC’s recommendation of social distancing. Thursday’s call focused on funding opportunities and a helpful guide for outdoor expansion.
The June 25 call focused on helping communities move business outdoors. The speakers Sophie Shulman, from Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Cheney Bostic, StudioSeed provided resources to help communities plan for different types of spaces. Sophie shared two grant opportunities from CDOT. The funding is available for main street revitalization and encouragement and promotion of teleworking. Both grants are on a rolling application basis which allows for timely distribution. Cheney Bostic of Studioseed shared a friendly business guide for outdoor expansion tactics which included multiple options for varying contexts, design ideas, and helpful resources. After Cheney shared the guide, we heard from attendees who shared some of their reopening experiences and what adaptations were being made as well as what challenges they are facing.
DCI was pleased to showcase resources for funding ideas from Sophie Shulman, CDOT and outdoor expansion tactics from Cheney Bostic, Studioseed.
CDOT GRANT OPPORTUNITY
CDOT has a new grant program to support public health and active transportation. The grants are varying sizes and will provide communities with the ability to improve the built environment in a way that is especially needed to encourage social distancing with safe and healthy transportation and outdoor dining and business.
Revitalizing Main Street
The Revitalizing Main Street grant helps with the revitalization of main streets and adaptation of varying tactics which have been highlighted during the reopening of downtown businesses and restaurants after the initial stay at home order due to COVID-19. The Revitalizing Main Street CDOT grant has a rolling application process.
Safe & Flexible Communities
CDOT will soon be releasing the grant application for Safe & Flexible Communities which will include microgrants of up to $5,000 to local communities and nonprofits. The grants will help add capacity to encourage and promote continued teleworking. The grant has a rolling application process and applications will soon be available.
CDOT Grant applications and instructions
FRIENDLY BUSINESS GUIDE FOR OUTDOOR EXPANSION TACTICS
A Friendly Business Guide for Outdoor Expansion Tactics was put together by Cheney Bostic of Studioseed for the town of Lakewood and can be adapted to any community. The guide includes various layouts and settings with a selection of options for each, design ideas, and resources.
The layouts include:
Main Street Context
Shopping Center Context
Drive Thru Context
The guide includes outdoor design ideas of seating, parklets, and street/parking barriers, designated alcohol area, physical separation/distancing, planters/landscaping and more with consideration of price and permanence. After the design options there is a list of resources of Colorado-based companies as well as online tactical urbanism materials helpful for outdoor expansion .
A Friendly Business Guide for Outdoor Expansion Tactics
COMMUNITIES’ REOPENING EXPERIENCES
Following the sharing of the outdoor expansion guide, attendees from various Colorado communities shared their experiences with outdoor expansion and some of the solutions as well as challenges they have faced.
Denver restaurants are exploring the idea of expanding into adjacent alleys but there are varying factors that need to be considered. The factors include safety, and fears of cars quickly turning into alleys. To mitigate the fear, there are ideas of ensuring there is clear signage and portrayal to vehicles on the street that may want to turn into the alley that they won’t be able to. Another factor being considered for opening into alleys is the presence of smelly dumpsters and grease traps which would negatively affect customers’ dining experience. To mitigate this, there are ideas of ensuring there is buffer space between the diners and the dumpsters, as well as a possibility of controlling the air to send the smell away from the diners.
Retailers are looking at partnerships with businesses and nonprofits to expand outdoors. On 14th and Ogden nonprofits are partnering with retailers and a yoga studio. The nonprofit partner will hold the liability insurance policy which makes expansion easier for the retailers and yoga studio.
Golden has barricades, which they have adjusted as they have been able to observe pedestrian and downtown movement during the weekends. Restaurants and businesses have had the opportunity to decorate the barriers if they would like. Golden closed down Washington Avenue, which is one of their main downtown streets for two weekends. They found that people didn’t like it, so they allow vehicles on the road and use barriers between the moving vehicles and seated customers for expanded outdoor restaurant space and business. Golden is also in the process of expanding outdoor restaurant space into Miners Alley which has 3 restaurants that share the alley.
Throughout reopening, there has been some disagreement over closing certain streets with fears in ease of accessibility. Greeley implemented a good neighbor agreement which needs to be signed if there is an objection in closing the streets. The agreement comes up with solutions for everyone involved, and makes sure everyone is comfortable with the situation. The agreement includes contact options for people to call if they need certain access to the closed street and that it can be adjusted specifically for that purpose. The purpose may include moving someone’s mattress or helping somebody bring their groceries in.
QUESTIONS + ANSWERS
Are there any communities that are thinking of the outdoor expansions as potentially permanent?
There are communities that are definitely considering it, or at least seeing it as a potential seasonal opportunity.
Does the DOLA grant money/application that is currently available online for outdoor expansions as well, or is that money yet to be determined?
Here is the online information for the DOLA grant: DOLA Information
ABOUT CHENEY BOSTIC
Cheney is a professional consultant with 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, urban design and planning. Cheney works with communities of all sizes - from visioning “big ideas” to implementing complex projects. Cheney has worked on urban design projects throughout the United States, with a focus on the Mountain West and West Coast communities. Her passion lies in urban infill projects that respond to an existing context, corridor projects that seek to transform over time, and transit-oriented development projects that add value to underutilized land. An overarching goal in all of Cheney’s projects is a desire to increase quality of life for residents and inspire action.
ABOUT SOPHIE SHULMAN
Sophie Shulman, who began her career as a presidential management fellow, served as acting director of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration in the Department of Transportation (DOT) from November 2016 to January 2017.Shulman is from Seattle, where she graduated from the Lakeside School in 2006. She then went east for college, earning a B.A. in international studies in 2010 and an M.A. in American foreign policy, international economics from Johns Hopkins University in 2011. In April 2013, Shulman took a job in the White House as deputy press secretary and executive secretary for the Domestic Policy Council, moving up to deputy press secretary in November. In July 2014, Shulman was named the council’s deputy chief of staff. She moved to DOT in June 2015, first as a policy adviser in the office of the secretary, then, in April 2016, as senior policy adviser. While at DOT, Shulman worked on the Smart City Challenge, in which medium-sized cities were given the opportunity to come up with plans for integrated efficient transportation systems optimizing technology and data.