The decade is almost over and DCI has been helping Colorado communities through it all. We have been so blessed this year, as every year, this decade and for 37 years, to work with all of you downtown champions. As always, we would like to specifically thank all of our members, sponsors, and partners for making our work possible. We had an incredibly fun and busy 2019 (including more than a few deviously timed snow storms). We expanded our Challenge Program to make more of an impact than ever, held several series of symposiums and trainings for redevelopment and reinvestment, and completely revamped our brand. In 2020, we will have a strong focus on our membership with the help of our Membership Coordinator VISTA, Becca Elder. So, look forward to hearing how to get more from your membership with DCI!
We want to say thank you to two people that moved on to new adventures this year from DCI.
First, thank you to Andrew Curtis who served as DCI’s VISTA Leader for two years. Andrew not only helped to grow our VISTA program, but he also used his incredible gift and skill for graphics and design to make us look better than ever. Andrew is now using his design skills getting his Masters of Landscape Architecture at Cornell.We miss Andrew as a presence in Colorado as well as his curiosity, passion, and intellect he brought to our office.
And a special thank you to Val Peterson who served as our Communication Capacity Builder VISTA the past year. During her service, Val was able to coordinate everything that DCI does including all communications, events, the conference, and grant communities. She has helped DCI members, board, and staff build community and economy in Colorado. Outside of all the incredible work she did during her year, the most important thing Val contributed to DCI was her passion for people and her truly caring spirit. We already miss you Val.
We started the year having conversations about downtown improvement districting in Greeley and Glenwood Springs. This theme continued through the year with our multi-part series focusing on strategies for increasing investment and financing development on the Western Slope starting with Durango and Montrose. The goal of these symposiums was to blend informal connections, case studies, and interactive dialogue to reshape ideas for redevelopment and reinvestment in Western Slope communities. You can see the recaps for Durango here and Montrose here. The third part of this series will take place on February 13th in Grand Junction!
This year, we have focused a large portion of our programming on our Urban Renewal Training Series centered on urban renewal in rural communities. In some ways the combination of urban and rural is counterintuitive, however, rural Colorado is faced with a pattern of disinvestment that results in a loss of historic buildings, housing, and workforce. Urban renewal helps these communities engage with leaders from the public and private sector to review the tools, opportunities, and components for designing quality partnerships and projects to enable successful redevelopment. The communities who learned about how urban renewal might best help finance their development goals were: Lamar, Breckenridge, Florence, Fountain, Montrose, Wheat Ridge, and all that attended our 3rd annual Southern Colorado Urban Renewal Summit.
Testimonials from these events:
[My biggest takeaway from the event was] The importance of collaboration and partnerships in accomplishing community goals. Also, the necessity of strong and clear leadership in shaping the organizational culture needed to implement an ambitious vision. – Attendee, Durango Western Slope Redevelopment and Reinvestment Symposium
The positive role that Urban Renewal has played in Western Slope communities and the challenging process involved in establishing a URA and crafting the plan to suit your community. I also learned a lot about affordable housing and what is involved in pro forma development for projects. - Kim Grant, Colorado Preservation, Inc.
Despite the Bomb Cyclone 2k19, IN THE GAME 2019 was our most successful conference yet! As we continue with our out-of-the-box conference format, IN THE GAME, the more we see how much collaboration, energy, and inspiration it provides for all of our attendees. As always, our conference differs from most where instead of using the typical formula of session, break, session, etc., we got our participants out of their seats engaging with one another and seeing the City of Aspen first hand. This year we took our conference location back into the mountains in Aspen, and showcased the innovative ideas coming from the community through our speakers, lunches, and tours. Our theme for this year's conference was "Stewardship, Equity, and Unintended Consequences" where our discussions investigated ensuring that all members of our communities are heard in the process of building stronger communities. You can see the entire recap here. We hope to continue these themes of resiliency and collaboration and we can't wait to see you all IN THE GAME in Colorado Springs in 2020! Registration is now open here! Early Bird prices will end on January 31st!
Here’s what attendees had to say:
IN THE GAME was so beneficial for me. Working for a Downtown is a unique job, so to be surrounded by other like-organizations is a great way to brainstorm, ask questions, and share issues or topics that may be going on in other downtowns. I'm really looking forward to next year! – Caitlyn Love, Downtown Grand Junction
Each year gets better and better. We find value in the ideas, people and connections that this conference creates. As a consulting firm, it's great to have dialogue with our current and potential clients across the state – Karen Current, DHM Design
IN THE GAME was an immensely useful, inspiring, thought-provoking experience. Seeing the passion and commitment with which leaders from all over the state are addressing their communities was very energizing. - Alan Fletcher, Aspen Music
Our Colorado Challenge Program expanded once again this year to become a comprehensive approach to technical assistance. DCI has expanded the program to act as a year-round team-building accelerator focused on pin-pointing and implementing a plan of work and proposal that engages public, private, and nonprofit partners to transform challenge into opportunity. The five-phase challenge program focuses on:
The work is rooted in a community driven process supported by seed investment, connections, mentorship, educational components and a ﬁnancing institute. Outcomes of the program are focused on using place-based initiatives to strengthen economies; increase community health and wellness; build civic engagement and resiliency; achieve housing affordability and equity; and improve quality of life for all residents.DCI has also created a special Colorado Challenge Accelerator Program (CCAP) Membership type this year that is exclusive to Challenge Communities and Program Partners. New and previous communities will all benefit from this membership type. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
The Challenge Communities this year were Aspen, Center, Eagle, the Southwest Corridor, and Trinidad. The outcomes of the challenge studios this year included:
5 action reports following the IN THE GAME Challenge Studios (read the reports here)
4 community activations – including beautiful community dinner tables and human arcades
1 Downtown Assessment report for Eagle
1 VISTA site creation for Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre
Here’s what the communities had to say:
It was my first time and by participating in the Center Studio Workshop, I saw the immense amount of expertise all of the attendees brought to the table to learn and glean from. It was invaluable. I also loved being able to learn about local projects and gain lessons learned for my part of the state. – Jeff Owsley, Community Relations – San Luis Valley, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority
We had a challenge studio at the In the Games conference and for the first time collaborated with our neighboring communities of Silverton and Ouray. You can try to do a lot over phone calls and emails, but there is nothing like working on a project in one room together. The addition of conference attendees from across the state helped to provide insight into our challenges and ways to refine our project with an outside lens. As a result, our three communities are working together to pursue grants at a state and national level for our region. -Kiki Hooten, Local First La Plata
On December 5th, Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) co-hosted an entrepreneurship studies webinar with Jeremy Wickenheiser. Jeremy has years of experience providing opportunities for youth to prepare for the modern workforce through experiential learning with his entrepreneurship studies (E-Ship) programming.
The webinar started out with setting the basis of the value experiential learning brings, especially in the modern workforce where many people have college degrees. College graduates have a hard time finding jobs since employers are looking for people with skills and experience outside of a classroom. The entrepreneurship studies program equips youth while they are still in middle school and high school to confidently face the various situations that arise outside of a classroom.
Important questions and learning transpire through the program which include the deeper understanding of who the person is, what talents and gifts they bring, and seeing how they will create impact. The problem solving, and opportunity to deal with real world situations at a young age encourages the youth to understand their place, and where they come from. The work focuses around the question of “what problems do you want to solve?” instead of “what career do you want?”.
Through the experiential learning opportunities youth were able to problem solve, present ideas to local business leaders, gain feedback from businesses, conduct interviews of customers, and gain mentoring. The skills gained teach youth resilience, and how to overcome failure. The entrepreneurship studies program can be curated depending on what works best for the area one is working in, which may include an after-school program, weekend event, or a summer intensive program.
Jeremy has experience and first-hand knowledge of successfully leading these types of youth programs and is a great resource for anyone interested in starting one. The programs give young people the tools to do what they want to do and support the thoughts and genius they have within themselves.
Questions and Answers
These resources further show the Entrepreneurship Studies (E-Ship) programs:
MONTROSE URBAN RENEWAL WORSKHOP
September 16 , 2019
On September 16th-17th, Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) worked with the City of Montrose to develop a Western Slope Reinvestment and Redevelopment Symposium on urban renewal tools and practices for the Montrose Urban Renewal Board and partners. The event was supported by City of Montrose, City of Durango, City of Grand Junction, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, and Dean Brookie Architecture.
The first evening included a private workshop for attendees including Montrose City Council, Montrose Urban Renewal Authority, and the Montrose Development and Revitalization Team (DART). Presentations by DCI’s Katherine Correll and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck discussed how the city vision shapes the projects, the toolbox of funding options, how to right size tax increment financing areas, and how to encourage the types of development and redevelopment that communities are looking for.
Symposium attendees were invited to come early and conduct a project area tour of the recently developed Mayfly Outdoors. This project combined private investment, tax increment, and Great Outdoors Colorado (GoCo) funds to develop a top notch manufacturing facility and a trail that connects the development to downtown while enhancing river access to neighboring communities. We also enjoyed a fabulous reception at Horsefly Brewing. Reception sponsored by Dean Brookie Architects.
On day two, the Western Slope Reinvestment & Redevelopment Workshop in considered how to maximize impacts using Urban Renewal and the benefits of downtown management programs. Speakers included Bill Bell, City of Montrose; Katherine Correll, Downtown Colorado, Inc.; Kim Grant, Colorado Preservation, Inc.; Karen Harkin, CHFA; Alex Rugoff, City of Durango; Mike Scholl, City of Loveland; and Carolynne White, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.
Attendees included representatives from Montrose DART, Colorado Workforce Development Council, La Plata County, City of Montrose, Town of Collbran, City of Grand Junction, Town of Pagosa Springs, Grand Junction Downtown Partnership, City of Durango, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Development Research Partners, Colorado Housing & Finance Authority, Colorado Preservation, Inc, City of Loveland, Town of Walsenburg, Community Builders, Art District on Santa Fe, Colorado Main Street, City of Monte Vista, and the Department of Local Affairs.
The dialogue included an introduction to urban renewal and how it can support catalyst projects and community priorities. Speakers shared some background on important factors for a successful downtown, including historic preservation, housing, and brownfield sites. The conversation explored each area and why projects cost more as well as the resources that help to level the playing field to make these projects feasible for the private sector to address. Participants were then walked through a project pro forma, the financial road map to financing a development project, and were able to discuss in small groups the details of the pro forma, the private sector gap, and the purpose and process for the Third Party Review.
Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) is honored to work with The City of Brush! is as we continue efforts around the revitalization of Central Platoon School and the Brush! Challenge initiated in 2017.
As we look to the future of Central Platoon School, the DCI Colorado Challenge Accelerator Program will use a holistic approach to focus on a vibrant downtown with sustainable partnerships increased entrepreneurship and economically vital businesses, and clear communications to assist with marketing opportunities in and around the community. Our efforts will outline the steps and help drive the process for the public sector to access and focus private sector investment toward the community vision of a sustainable and thriving community with a revitalized activity hub in the Central Platoon School Building.
The Colorado Challenge Program is a unique team building accelerator focused on establishing a plan of work and proposal for funding over the course of twelve months. The program includes planning and development that will help to engage citizens in the strategy for moving forward toward a sustainable business-ecosystem for entrepreneurs and creative innovations and intervention. The Brush Challenge objectives for the next phase include:
Join Brush! Leaders as we share our efforts, invite regional and state-wide guidance, and establish a plan for the future! Please review our proposed agenda and plan to join us for this dynamic event to share our vision and find partners and resources. The agenda is an work in process and may be subject to change!
Read the Brush! 2017 Challenge Report
Dealmaking with Urban Renewal & the Downtown Toolbox
In August 2019, Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) the Town of Florence requested support to align private and public initiatives for downtown redevelopment. DCI was pleased to develop a program and team to focus maximizing impacts in downtown with Urban Renewal, how to collaborate with Business Improvement Districts, Downtown Development Authorities, and downtown management programs. DCI’s team included representatives from Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck (BHFS), Butler Snow, City of Loveland, the City of Colorado Springs Urban Renewal, City of Loveland Urban Renewal and the City of Wheat Ridge Urban Renewal. Our approach focused on basic education around tax increment financing (TIF) with an increasing level of complexity delving into layered resources available to revitalize their downtown.
The City of Florence recently implemented a recommendation from the DCI 2014 Downtown Assessment to form an Urban Renewal Authority. The innovative community leadership is focused on how the TIF tool might be used to drive the community vision as laid out in the newly updated Master Plan, and several new private initiatives focused on revitalizing historic buildings. The City engaged DCI to plan and facilitate this training as DCI is Colorado’s association for building awareness, education, and training for URAs and special districts in our state.
Downtown Colorado, Inc. believes that urban renewal and special district financing tools are an important tool to encourage good development and land use in Colorado. Building an informed and aware Board of Directors for urban renewal authorities creates a stronger network of urban renewal advocates across the state.
Attendees Included: Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Butler Snow, Central Block Properties, City of Florence, City of Loveland, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA), Downtown Colorado, Inc., Emergent, Florence Citizen News, Fremont County, The Mezzanine, Northland Securities, Second-61, Upper Ark Development Corp.
Speakers, facilitators, and event planners included: Steve Art, Wheat Ridge URA; Wade Broadhead, City of Florence; Katherine Correll, Downtown Colorado, Inc.; Caitlin Quander, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck; and Monica Rosenbluth, Butler Snow, Mike Scholl, City of Loveland.
Dealmaking with Urban Renewal Part I
Florence’s Dealmaking with Urban Renewal sessions included a two-part approach, starting with a private session for the Florence URA Board to discuss current initiatives, vision, and how to get it done. The training opened with a URA and TIF introduction and an Urban Renewal Case Study. The goal was to determine priorities and vision for the Florence URA. Main discussion topics included Catalyst and Priority Properties, Incentives/Regulations for property owners and developers, what is TIF, and determining the appropriate TIF Area and considering your funding toolbox.
Dealmaking with Urban Renewal Part II
Day two included a public session with a deeper dive into case studies and all special districts options and financing tools. Presentations focused on visioning for downtown and other special district options such as a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and Business Improvement Districts (BID), as well as the benefits of downtown management programming.
Using the Ivywild School as a case study from Colorado Springs’ Urban Renewal Authority, participants gained a broader understanding of why some projects are more costly and the ways that the public sector can encourage redevelopment of challenging priority sites. Next, an overview of the Florence Unbridled Campus opened discussion around current investment happening in Florence and the opportunities that are within grasp if the community partners with the private sector.
Afternoon discussions focused on filling the gap on challenging priority sites with presentations from Colorado Housing & Financing Authority, Colorado Springs URA, and City of Loveland. Participants were able to build awareness and ask questions about tools to bring in housing and how to make historic and previously used sites pencil out. Finally, the presenters discussed how we measure impacts and tell the story including the importance of reporting and showing your impact.
Results from Dealmaking with Urban Renewal in Florence?
In less than two weeks, the City of Florence has voted to create to urban renewal plan areas in the town. The developers, town leaders, and business owners have a greater alignment and are ready to work for a more vibrant downtown!
Glossary of Terms for Colorado URA
Structuring the Agreement
The process for structuring an agreement is individual to each URA. The staff is responsible for working on this and should be the face of the URA in working with partners. The board should be aware of the process that they use.
Types of Financing
Traditional TIF: Use the return on investment to repay/pay for improvements. contributing the difference between the base year tax revenue and the increased tax revenue generated by the project, year over year. This is the least risky type of financing.
URAs are just as transparent as any other public entity. Best practice is to adopt bylaws, though not required by law. Can also adopt policy or other form documents. This is often used to encourage how the URA would like to govern its work including grant guidelines, local hiring, etc.
Conflict of Interest: There are differences from the other Boards and Commissions for the URA Board. URA Board members cannot own property in the area and cannot invest in the property area.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
How do you incentivize investment for property owners who are happy how it is?
There are many ways that special districts like Urban Renewal Authorities (URA), Business Improvement Districts (BID), and Downtown Development Authorities (DDA). Using financing from TIF and mill levies the town could offer facade grants and building improvement grants. They can also establish disinvestment or dilapidation fees or design overlays that require changes. If there was a BID or DDA established then the property owners would most likely be paying into the district’s improvements.
Is there a certain size of project where Urban Renewal doesn’t make sense?
Think about taxable value of the property currently. For example a publicly owned building like a school would = 0. The act of buying it and making it privately owned starts the increase on the taxable value immediately. It’s all about the function of deal structure in terms of it would be a good project for Urban Renewal. Be best friends with your assessor: they differ on the manuals they use and how to calculate the assessed value i.e. from previously when it was a school or unused lot or from when it was bought to be privately developed and managed.
Each plan is different. What tools are best to use?
Each development plan and priorities are different in each undertaking. Some want more residential, or to work with the growth of a university or other entity, sometimes it is more about what you’re getting rid of. If the goal is to draw people in that is great but property owners will want more for their properties. If you’re waiting for a developer, don’t take a project on just to do it. There has to be a gap to fill and community support. Have good people on your team with experience to back you up i.e. good financial, good legal, etc. The Unbridled project at the school is a good growth model to keep some talent and bring more capital in the community as a catalyst. It is proven that because of projects like Ivywild other things are possible. For example, the school district is more open to negotiating better deals.
Do you have to negotiate with taxing entities to get increment?
Again, for a URA to be successful there has to be a gap (but, for….) and community support. There is an option if their mill levy contribution is important enough, after 120 days you have go through mediation. It all depends on the relationship and what the districts impacts are. URA’s work hard to create win-win scenarios. City, library, county have shares. It is important to remember that you are not taking money away from school district because they have back-fill from the state.
If you take out a bond, and someone walks away what happens?
The URA is a separate legal entity and they take out the bond on the promise of increment. Then the situation depends on redevelopment agreement. There generally is a certification process for contractors. Usually there is a construction loan where the company has to prove they built it to get bond.
What if URA doubts the ability of an entity to bring a project to fruition?
URA will often share revenue NOT risk. Create the agreements around revenue created by building the project that increases valuation and results in TIF. Then in the developer doesn’t deliver, other than choosing a bad partner, the URA isn’t out.
Are there ways to fill smaller gaps?
Community banks can be very helpful because they know the community and are probably interested in investing. Sometimes they may not have the expertise to navigate urban renewal financing but you could bring them in and have a consultant advise on the financials. The URA has the ability to take out the loan.
What are the options for financing?
What are eligible improvements?
This is a public policy decision for the board to make. Most often public improvements, but sometimes private. There should also be a way to verify what improvements have been put in place. In Denver, that requires social policies, well-paying jobs, public art, etc. In Colorado Springs, they usually help with infrastructure improvements. E.g. 1) County might add in additional affordable housing and then that changes the IGAs with taxing entities FIRST, and then with developers. 2) if a community wants more commercial kitchens, they can shape the policy to encourage those types of private improvements.
How to decide how much TIF to dedicate to any project?
How to prove the “But for”? There is no way to prove except to do nothing, but in some places, looking at the history (20 years without investment) as a possible future. If communities are trying to make something happen, the do nothing approach is probably not working.
How much is an appropriate amount for a Developer to make? Look at proforma without the TIF and then what it would be if there was a TIF. Then the URA board and determine what profit is acceptable.
How does TIF clock impact a plan area? When you adopt a plan, and authorize TIF in an area of the plan, that authorization to collect TIF is for 25 years. Once TIF area starts in one Plan Area there are 25 years and that money must be used in that area.
If development is happening, how does the URA justify projects in the area using the “but for” test?
The “But for” test is a policy decision imposed by the bodies using URA, not in the statute. The reason it is important is because it demonstrates that URAs are not just giving money to developers. However, even if development is happening, it isn’t always the quality or standard that the community needs. If the market currently only supports a three story walk up with surface parking, but the community wants affordable, accessible housing with a parking structure, this tool allows the community to help the private sector meet the community vision even if the market doesn’t currently support that level or quality of development.
Do Developers like working with TIF or is it brain damage?
Some developers specialize in this. They understand how to work with communities and how the give and take works. This is a small pool and they do very well. However, this requires a higher level of transparency and close scrutiny of proforma and profits. It costs more, takes more, and requires a significant review. Most developers don’t do this unless it is necessary to have a public private partnership.
What effect does working with TIF have on the developer beyond transparency?
Developers want to leave a legacy they can be proud of and public private partnerships result in greater quality, from finishes to sustainability, connectivity, etc. But you do need to agree with the public sector about how much profit you will make. The public sector can’t burden the developer, but they can ask for improvements if the TIF can support the additional cost.
Why choose a plan area with a new TIF clock, rather than taking a plan area and adding a new TIF area in the area?
The statutes says to plan the Area as narrowly as possible to address the blight. It is also disadvantageous to start a TIF clock if there is not interested in investing as there could then not be enough time/money to have a real impact on development.
On Thursday, August 1st, DCI and the Colorado Municipal League (CML) hosted the 2nd annual Downtown Mobile Tour and DCI Districts Committee lunch in Colorado Springs. We had DCI and CML members join us from around the state including representation from Colorado Springs, Denver, Lakewood, Manitou Springs, Wellington, Florence, Centennial, Woodland Park, Brush, Longmont, Monument, Central City, Frederick, Golden, and Littleton.
The event included a stop in Castle Rock for a presentation from the Castle Rock Town Hall and Downtown Alliance, a tour of the Colorado Springs Ivywild School, lunch at Phantom Canyon in downtown Colorado Springs with a panel of Colorado Springs leaders including Susan Edmondson, Jill Gaebler, Jeff Greene, Jonathan Neely, Carl Schueler, Jariah Walker, Peter Wysocki. The day ended with a tour of Downtown Colorado Springs.
DOWNTOWN CASTLE ROCK
Our first stop on the mobile tour was in downtown Castle Rock. Kevin Tilson, president of the Castle Rock Downtown Alliance joined the bus ride to provide a driving tour of downtown projects. The tour group enjoyed coffee and pastries at the new river park and pavilion that is a Downtown Development Authority project, where Dave Corliss, Castle Rock Town Manager, discussed upcoming projects and the processes, partnerships, and funding necessary to get them off the ground. Kevin provided the group with a map of the downtown development projects as well as a short summary on the proposed Encore development project.
COLORADO SPRINGS IVYWILD SCHOOL
The Ivywild School is an exciting urban renewal project in Colorado Springs. The Ivywild Elementary School in Colorado Springs opened in 1916 and was one of seven elementary schools closed in 2009 because of declining enrollment. With the help of visionary developers, Joseph Coleman and Mike Bristol, working with the Colorado Springs’ urban renewal, the 20K sq. ft. building was transformed with over $5M in investments so the bustling development is once again a vibrant heart of the neighborhood. The school hosts a variety of businesses and public spaces within the different rooms of the school: Bristol Brewing Company in the former cafeteria, a bar in the principal’s office, community gathering space in the gym, along with many other merchants throughout the building. The Ivywild presentation was led by Jariah Walker of the Colorado Springs URA and Joseph Coleman, a developer on the project. Read a short description and background of the Ivywild project here.
COLORADO SPRINGS LEADERSHIP LUNCH
Colorado Springs’ Leaders joined the mobile tour participants at Downtown Colorado Springs’ Phantom Canyon restaurant. Mayor John Suthers welcomed the audience and gave an inspirational talk about the vision and work that has been done to further downtown and commercial districts in the city. The group then heard from featured panelists:
The panel discussed various collaborations between the downtown partnership, the URA, and the city. The discussion focused on private-public partnerships and the vision of downtown Colorado Springs within the next 10 years.
Following lunch, Susan Edmondson led us on a tour of downtown Colorado Springs with a focus on recent development and projects. She pointed out businesses who have repaired and increased the value of downtown historic buildings, a public mural art program, a new sports field near downtown, the potential development of a small entertainment district at the south end of downtown, among other exciting projects in the area.
With a blossoming “new south end” of downtown at Tejon and Moreno, separated from the city center by a block of parking garage, Susan explained that it is a struggle to connect the two. The parking garages cause many tourists and pedestrians to stop walking before completing the full downtown strip. The city is using strategic public art to draw pedestrians past the parking garages towards the south end.
Downtown Colorado, Inc. is honored to have partners and supporters like Colorado Municipal League, Town of Casle Rock, the City of Colorado Springs, Downtown Colorado Springs Partnership, and Colorado Springs Urban Renewal. Special thanks to Susan Edmondson, Kevin Tilson, and Jariah Walker for helping to coordinate and plan this event.
Last week Downtown Colorado, Inc. partnered with Congress for the New Urbanism - CO Chapter, Denver Housing Authority, and Youth on Record to host Mariposa: Urbanism Reimagined in the heart of the Mariposa District. The event featured a panel discussion with a Q&A session, a walking tour of completed and upcoming housing projects throughout the district, and a project-board open house of the Mariposa redevelopment.
The Q&A session opened with a performance by a student of Youth on Record’s FEMpowerment program. The young artist, Edwina, performed a short set that included both covers and original tunes. You can check out links to her performance below:
Go Tell Yesterday
Joni Mitchell Cover
The panel showcased perspectives from multiple parts of the project including residents, Youth on Record – a nonprofit located in the neighborhood, architects & designers, Denver Housing Authority, and public artists.
Each of these panelists were involved in the creation or activation of the Mariposa neighborhood. Youth on Record is located in the bottom space of an apartment complex which provides music lessons and studio experience for youth interested in music. Denver Housing Authority executed interviews, community meetings, and home visits to gain feedback and an understanding of resident needs for the upcoming project. Shaina and her DHA colleagues spent facilitated these meetings and put hours of time into building relationships with residents in order to create the most effective plan for redevelopment. Rita, who currently resides in Mariposa and lived there prior to redevelopment, offered her thoughts on the entire process, from gaining community insights and opinions to project execution, she only had positive things to say about the redevelopment. David Griggs, a public artist with works all over the United States, is on the neighborhood board and talked about the value of art reflecting the community it represents. Brandy LeMae of Workshop8, an architecture and design firm, was hired to work on phase six of the project. She discussed how valuable resident’s input was in creating effective building plans.
DHA approached this project with the intention to meet the needs of the pre-existing community. They hosted multiple community meetings and used various strategies to collect as many voices as possible. All residents were provided temporary housing during throughout the project and over 50% of residents chose to move back once their updated homes were completed, which is well above the national average. The development offers market-rate, public, and affordable housing. All types are integrated and provide the same amenities for residents, no matter income. DHA’s goal with the redevelopment was to create a space in which all residents feel valued and heard. We are proud to partner with organizations who are so committed to equity and ensuring that the needs of all community members are equally valued.
A Big Thank You to Our Event Sponsors!
Engage & Activate: A DCI Downtown Institute
This presentation and discussion, led by Brian Corrigan of Futures United Network (FUN), demonstrated the value of incorporating creatives and creative entrepreneurship into the problem solving process within urban planning and community development. He works at the intersection of the creative economy, technology, and community development and shared strategies on how to activate vacant buildings through various avenues, including pop-ups, incubators, and public art.
Creative Placemaking: Intentional integration of art, artists, and creativity into the community planning and development.
Creatives, Entrepreneurship, Creative Businesses
After the presentation, Brian led a brainstorming session asking participants to think of the possibilities that could be done with a vacant space – we used our example space across the street as inspiration. Post-It Note ideas included:
Barriers + Barrier Solutions
June 11, 2019 | Lamar, CO
Downtown Colorado, Inc. hosted Engage & Activate: A Downtown Institute in Lamar, CO on June 11, 2019. We had representation from multiple communities from the southeast Colorado area including the City of Lamar, community members and business owners in Lamar, the City of Florence, Kiowa County, City of Central City, and Prowers County.
The event consisted of multiple presentations by Ben Levenger of Downtown Redevelopment Services and Brian Corrigan of Futures United Network. Below we've summarized key points from the Community Engagement Toolbox presentation on how to increase community engagement at public meetings.
Community Engagement Toolbox
This presentation, shared by Ben Levenger of Downtown Redevelopment Services, focused on strategies to engage all members of a community while adapting to a changing and digital world. He shared several examples of how to modernize your typical approaches to increase community participation in public meetings. Ben shared three helpful tactics to increase revitalization efforts: 1) Effective Public Engagement, 2) Vibrant Community Assessment, and 3) the Revitalization Roadmap.
Effective Public Engagement & Input: How to Effectively Gather Input in the Digital Age
Roadblocks to Engagement
Strategies to Increase Engagement:
Vibrant Community Assessment: The VCA is used to help gain a deeper understanding of your community. This type of assessment is vital because it is the first step in creating an achievable and implementable redevelopment plan.
Components of a VCA:
Revitalization Roadmap: This tool can help guide you create change by utilizing available resources and helps municipalities “set a course to a strong community”.
Elements to the Roadmap include:
Stay tuned for Part II, featuring presentations from Ben Levenger and Brian Corrigan on activating vacant buildings!
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
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:
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
Findings: Equitable 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.
Stakeholders: The 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 Implementation: Next 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
Findings: Shocks 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.
Stakeholders: The 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 Implementation: The 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
Findings: The 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.
Stakeholders: Stakeholder include property owners, developers, local government, planning department, community-at-large, downtown organizations,
Tools for Implementation: The 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.