• 06/25/2019 1:35 PM | Morgan Pierce (Administrator)

    Engage & Activate: A DCI Downtown Institute

    Part 1

    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

    • Old Methods
    • Apathy
    • Unresponsive community
    • Hearing but not listening

    Strategies to Increase Engagement:

    • Be Aware of Changing Trends: Set up an inclusive community that invites and welcomes residents to public meetings. Set this tone through a variety of strategies: Inclusive marketing. Prioritize local-based communications over exclusively social media. Focus on person-to-person interactions. Really try to understand residents. Residents need to feel included at community events.
    • Liven Up Public Meetings: Provide multi-sensory experiences at public meetings. People can get more engaged with games. It increases the feedback. People are more open and share more. Provide areas of entertainment to occupy children (ie coloring books and crayons) accurate information when in a person to person small conversation. Increase communication methods.
    • Open Mic Opportunities: Less programmed Feedback and more open mic. Let the content be determined by priority of the audience. Consider ways to group similar interests together. Make it inclusive regardless of differences.
    • Increased methods of communication: Strategically use social media. Be adaptive and mix styles. Be consistent. Be inclusive and allow all voices to be equal.
    • Guided Exploration: Help wrangle answers to stay in parameters of discussion… Use the Stepping Stones for guiding discussion – A tool to guide community conversations with no set path. Allows you to set topic and then consider the questions on the following levels:
      • Community-wide
      • Corridor specific
      • Parcel specific
      • Stepping Stones: This tool can be used in guided exploration. Have community members begin at the top and move through the cart to the bottom. There are no wrong answers here!

    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:

    • Existing Conditions: Seeing what your community has will help you see where you need to go. Assess:
      • Building conditions
      • Building Utilization
      • “Communityness”
      • Infrastructure Conditions
      • Business or amenities
    • Community Identity Assessment: What makes your community feel like home?
      • What are three words to define the community?
      • What do people in your community have in common?
      • What are the traditions that link people in the community? 
      • Does your community support a common vision?
    • Building Standards Review: Uphold the building expectations you want to see if your community. Ask more of people and they will usually live up to the challenge. If you lower expectations, you will have less results. Building standards are a collective set of decisions that are agreed upon regarding the look, feel, and behavior.
    • Connectedness: Facilitate the feeling of a sense of place for your community members by providing experiences that bring them together. For people to experience place, people must meet face-to-face!
      • Personal relationships are the foundation of a community.
      • Find reasons to get together or get together just because. Experiencing place happens when people get together.
      • Focus on inclusion of all demographics with content and timing!
    • Ownership Observations: Do you have vested citizens? Do citizens take ownership of their community?
      • Residents serve the community and vice versa
      • Individual actions mount to a large community benefit
      • Apathy is a true community killer
    • External Appearance: What is your town’s image? How is it perceived by visitors or prospective residents?
      • Appearances of travelers shape the perception of travelers
      • Blight affects the feelings of residents
      • Appearances affects opinion

    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:

    • Destination Discovery: This step ensures the important background pieces have been put in place before making a project public.
      • Ensuring critical conversations are undertaken
      • Creating a steering committee
      • Creating a unified front for public inquisition
      • Providing transparency for the project
    • Downtown Assessment: This assessment provides a starting place for your community by reviewing current downtown conditions such as:
      • Architectural/Façade
      • Civic spaces
      • Economic health
      • Community character
      • Legislative or regulatory reviews
      • Infrastructure systems
    • Public Input: This step ensures that the municipality or consultant understands the community and knows their opinions.
      • Stakeholder input meetings
      • Community input meeting
      • Community charrettes
      • Blunt conversations
      • Creation of a shared vision
    • Making the Map: Although detours are to be expected, having a set of guidelines as a map will help reach your goal and stay on track. Downtown Redevelopment Services recommends to:
      • Real Estate Investment Strategies
      • Community Capacity
      • Placemaking or asset personification
      • Built environment assessment
      • Prototypical block and streetscape guidelines

    Stay tuned for Part II, featuring presentations from Ben Levenger and Brian Corrigan on activating vacant buildings!

  • 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.

  • 05/30/2019 9:35 AM | Morgan Pierce (Administrator)

    Aaron Schultz has served at the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce in an Americorps VISTA capacity building position over the past year. He is finishing up his final month there and has shared what the past year in the Americorps program has meant to him: 

    Despite having visited a number of small mountain towns, I never thought I would end up living in one - at least not so soon. Still, I came across an opportunity in Manitou Springs, CO that seemed to tick all the boxes: experience in strategic planning and municipal governance through AmeriCorps VISTA. I interviewed for the position over the phone and had the fortune of visiting as DCI was giving a presentation to the local community. After a warm invitation, I took the plunge and accepted the offer.

    I spent much of my time in the first couple of weeks just trying to remember all of the new faces I’d met. I was surprised then when a near complete stranger invited me to have Thanksgiving with her family if I would be alone for the holiday. We shared a lot of conversations over a meal, and leftover food from a meeting or event would often be boxed and sent home with me. It was around that time that I started getting roped into community events, like volunteering for the community potluck or supporting the local heritage center fundraiser. Whether or not I had noticed, I was becoming a part of Manitou Springs.

    Spending a year in AmeriCorps in a small town comes with unique benefits and challenges that I am only beginning to understand at the end of my service. I got to see up close how cities work and play a role in shaping its future. The local volunteer parks group and a city council member asked me to help submit a grant to rebuild a flood-damaged park, and we ended up getting $293,000 to build out the first phase. I was tasked with piloting a new marketing campaign and with the help of some paint and power tools, I designed and built a selfie-station for a special event called the Fruitcake Toss. Each day has been an adventure, but I learned that Manitou Springs is full of people are willing to think creatively to solve their problems and I got to be along for the ride.

    Manitou isn’t the only Colorado community testing creative solutions. At quarterly trainings for AmeriCorps VISTAs, DCI gave us the chance to share projects in our host community. It was helpful to meet peers and build a support system for navigating AmeriCorps. Moreover, DCI provided opportunities to meet leaders from around the state. Not only was this valuable for building my professional network, it also showed me how they are tackling the issues facing their communities and the lessons other cities can learn from their experiences.

    I was skeptical moving to a small town, but as my service comes to a close the hardest part is knowing that I might have to leave. Over the course of a year, I have met incredible people who have put me to work. They helped me to grow personally and professionally every day. More than that, they opened up their homes, made sure I had enough to eat, and made me to feel truly welcome in an adopted home. I am so grateful for the experiences I have gained as an AmeriCorps VISTA and only hope that I have given as much with my service as Manitou Springs has given me.

  • 05/13/2019 12:40 PM | Morgan Pierce (Administrator)

    In recent years, DCI has been lucky enough to work with Derek Berardi, a Colorado based graphic designer. He created our regional IN THE GAME map for us and has worked with various clients to help construct and share their story. He focuses on creating and sharing community identities through illustration, story-telling, and graphic design. As a guest on our blog, he's sharing a few benefits of infographics and visual storytelling:

    In the community planning world, we are often busy comparing ourselves to places or people that are doing it better. We limit ourselves with thoughts like, “Well, we just aren’t big enough.”, or “They have a fancy welcome sign...we need a fancy welcome sign, too.” We get lost in generic expectations and preconceived notions of what we think we should be to the point that we all end up with same goals and messaging. Say it with me, “…a downtown to live/work/play”. While vitality is not to be discounted, it’s the story that makes the place. Are you telling the story in a way that really captures your place?

    My name is Derek Berardi and I’ve worked with Downtown Colorado Inc. for the past several years during their annual conference. You may have seen the Colorado map that breaks down each of the member regions. In my work, I help “places” (municipal stakeholders) to extract and leverage their unique story through strategic graphic design. Whether that’s through infographics, data visualization or illustration, the idea is to step away from generic expressions and to highlight the authentic story of your place. Thoughtfully distilling the message down to the most interesting or surprising points adds value beyond traditional marketing approaches.

    So what gives infographics and data storytelling a leg up? This is a no-brainer. The way we consume information has changed. We live in an era of shortened attention spans. Gone are the days of producing or reading 130-page reports. Websites have simplified, articles have become more concise, and the consumer wants to cut through all the static to get to the juiciest bits. And then there are some things that don’t change. Since you were 5 years old until now, you’re probably still more engaged with the books that have pictures. There’s a reason for that. Infographics provide the following benefits:

    • Communicates to the viewer through two avenues, instead of one - Written and visual.
    • Tells the story in a way that engages people ages 9 to 90 - Reducing intellectual exclusivity and broadening the audience reach.
    • Trimming the fat - Focusing on the most important information means the viewer doesn’t have to work to find the takeaway.
    • Builds perspective - Presenting data is only helpful when you’ve supplied the context. This is where infographics shine.
    • Whimsy and wonder – Offer information in a way that leaves a lasting impression and is fun to consume.

    This design approach is especially effective in delivering another dimension to marketing within the planning realm. Sense of place is carried through visually and paired with quantitative and qualitative data. Instead of asking people to learn more about your locale through black text on white paper, you can capture their imagination and deliver high-quality information in a way that they’ll be excited to consume.

    If you’d like to learn more about infographics and how they might better capture the authentic story of your place, reach out or visit my website.



  • 03/06/2019 11:15 AM | Deleted user

    In the beginning of 2018, the Old Colorado City Special Improvement and Maintenance District (OCC SIMD) began discussions with Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) and the other Old Colorado City (OCC) partners to consider a District Assessment to help plan for the future of OCC. We held the visit from September 17 through 19, 2018 to work with all OCC stakeholder groups to outline a direction and some phased improvements to consider. The assessment also discussed what short, mid, and long term improvements the SIMD can work on partially as test projects to engage stakeholders in a dialogue about what they want to see in both the SIMD three block area, and throughout OCC’s three mile corridor.

    Prior to this visit, DCI collaborated with the OCC SIMD staff to identify key stakeholders for focus groups and explore the history of OCC SIMD’s downtown revitalization efforts and obstacles maintaining and improving the district. DCI worked with SIMD and the City of Colorado Springs to conduct individual interviews with local community organizations and stakeholders.

    DCI organized an assessment team with combined experience in various backgrounds in signage and wayfinding design, landscape architecture, local government, community development, organizational development, and financing mechanisms. Upon arrival in the community team members were given an introduction by City of Colorado Springs planning staff of their current projects and vision for the future of transportation planning in the City and how Old Colorado City fits into the Comprehensive plan update called Plan CoS. Then, representatives from the SIMD Board informed the team of the formation, responsibilities, financing mechanisms, and obstacles to providing services to the district. The team was then taken on a tour of the three block SIMD district to familiarize them with the areas for improvement and opportunities.

    That afternoon, the DCI team met directly with stakeholders including City of Colorado Springs staff, the Old Colorado City Association and Foundation, the Organization of Westside Neighbors, and residents and heard multiple perspectives about the issues facing the downtown. These meetings provided a chance for team members to ask the stakeholders about the perceptions, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities related to Old Colorado City.

    DCI team members gathered data and feedback from the focus group participants and discussed their observations and formulated recommendations the next day. The team worked diligently to compile a public presentation and formulate this report, and the following night, presented their findings in the form of a presentation followed by a question-and-answer session open to the community at-large.

    We were honored to have been a part of Old Colorado City’s corridor assessment and want to give a special thanks to the SIMD Board, the City of Colorado Springs, community members who attended our public meetings to give their input, and all the stakeholders who we met with including local businesses and community organizations! We couldn’t have done it without you!

  • 02/22/2019 2:42 PM | Morgan Pierce (Administrator)

    The DCI District Committee lunch was held in Greeley Downtown on February 19, 2019. We had broad attendance from DCI Members from Castle Rock Downtown Alliance, Castle Rock Economic Development Council, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, City of Wheat Ridge, Downtown Boulder Partnership, Weld County Government, Havana BID, Tax Credit Connection, Longmont Downtown Development Authority, and the City of Greeley. Event sponsors included Greeley Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant and our event partner included the Greeley Downtown Development Authority.

    The event consisted of a Downtown Greeley tour, Downtown Development Authorities (DDAs) and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) updates, a lunch discussion of relevant downtown development topics, and a presentation on Demonstrating the Value of Downtown to Community Members.

    Demonstrating the Value of Downtown to Community Members Presentation by Cole Judge of Progressive Urban  Management Associates (P.U.M.A.)

    The presentation focused on how to codify and define place management as a profession to ensure that planning, tracking, and reporting are diving into the real purpose of what we do. The presentation considered a process completed by DCI’s partner, International Downtown Association (IDA) to help members identify five areas that together create a well-rounded approach to Place Management. The five components outlined included:

    • Economy: Understanding the financial impacts of downtown in creating a strong region. Generally, downtowns are a small portion of the geography, with a huge return on investment.

    • Inclusion: Considering access and equity in opportunities and essential services is an important part of Place Management.

    • Vibrancy: Monitoring the balance business mix, density, mixed-use,  walkability, and considering how uses and users interact in the place establishes vitality.

    • Identity: The image and messaging of a place is established through social media presence, “hashtags”, celebrating unique characteristics, and a strong brand.

    • Resilience: The ability to adapt and thrive is evidenced through response and planning for social and environmental change.

    Fun Stats to Share

    Typically, downtowns only take up 3% of land area, but bring in a much larger percentage of money for the area:

    • 16% property tax

    • 42% hotel tax revenue

    • 28% of citywide jobs are in downtown

    Discussion Topics

    Planning vs Promoting Events: How do Place Managers treat business and property owners equitable when some are more involved in events and active in the community?

    • Have outside writers create top 10 lists for specific groups (Top 10 for college students, Top 10 date night ideas, Top 10 spots for moms, etc) and then share content

    • Have businesses create itineraries for how to spend time in the community.

    • Share social media and business’ posts instead of creating posts about the businesses. That way you’re just supporting an already active social media presence

    • Use pre-existing local/colorado bloggers to feature your town or do a things-to-do post

    • Use cinemark commercials

    • Use hotel key cards to gather data

    • Follow and share people/bloggers who are already writing and sharing about downtowns

    Tips for Promoting Partner Events

    • Many DDAs do not host their own events and only support and/or promote community or citizen-led events, as developing and hosting own events is labor-intensive

    • Use a tiered sponsorship program with specific fees and requirements for each tier. This also helps to avoid favoritism. Tiered requirement examples: event must be partnering with 3-5 local businesses in order to co-sponsor, must be working on a current project or program together, etc.

    How to Ensure Event Quality?

    • Engage all the businesses in the district, At a minimum, receive approval from each business. Create situations where local business are reaping the benefits (ex: selling local beer at events).

    • Good marketing strategies: Plan around free resources on social media and facebook (using “boost” as well). Town scavenger hunts (letsroam.com) is a good resource to show off your community. n

    • Parking language should consider parking opportunities vs parking problems. The real problem would be lots of unused and open parking spots.

    Managing Murals: Graffiti vs Art

    • Use temporary mounts to gauge feedback and community response

    • Get a member of the HOA on the jury selection committee

    • Place art bios next to each piece, which helps it appear similar to a gallery, provides artist credibility

    • Remind community members that all pieces will be approved by the art commission.

    Following the discussion, we went on a tour of downtown Greeley, hosted by the Greeley DDA, of the art alley downtown. The art alley project was used to create a welcoming outdoor space in downtown that featured different artistic interpretations of the theme “music”. The DDA contracts with the city to ensure the alley is is kept relatively clean, lights were installed above, and historic brick is able to remain preserved by hanging art on the wall on the grout. The community response has been positive and the alley continues to offer activities for community members and visitors to explore without cost or needing a guide. The alley is located between 8th and 9th streets and avenues. Be sure to check it next time you’re in Greeley!

  • 02/11/2019 11:20 AM | Deleted user

    DCI was honored to present our DCI Downtown Capacity Builders VISTA program at the Colorado Preservation, Inc. (CPI) conference this week. CPI requested DCI’s input in sharing how our Capacity Building VISTA program can assist in strengthening preservation organizations and partners throughout Colorado. DCI was pleased to highlight the work of our VISTA members including Hunter Hovenga, Destinee Lukianoff, and Andrew Wallace in Buena Vista, Leadville, and Trinidad, respectively.


    Katy Welter, Founding Chair of Historic Preservation Commission. Worked with VISTA member Hunter Hovenga from August of 2016 to August of 2018 in conjunction with the Town of Buena Vista and the Buena Vista Main Street Program. 

    The presentations showcased preservation accomplishments including a resulting increase in staffing, funding, and new partnerships developed from our VISTA members’ work in their communities. Some of those other program accomplishments include:

    • Linking preservation to economic development,
    • Better planning for and creation of historic preservation commissions, recruiting board
      members and commissioners,
    • Historic structure assessments,
    • Architectural guidelines,
    • Historic architectural survey,
    • Creating programs for adaptive reuse and façade revitalization,
    • Linking to DCI’s statewide network,
    • Participation in the DCI Colorado Challenge Program, held at the DCI IN THE GAME annual conference.

    Destinee Lukianoff, Leadville Main Street Revitalization Specialist during her VISTA term from May 2016 to April 2018. Currently, Destinee is the Administrative Assistant/Leadville Main Street Program Manager for the City of Leadville.


    Andrew Wallace, Downtown Development Coordinator VISTA member for the City of Trinidad from September 2017 to September 2018. 

    Preservation resources highlighted:

    • DCI Colorado Challenge Program: A team building accelerator to turn your challenges into opportunities and give you a plan of action.

      Destinee Lukianoff in particular used the Challenge Program last year at our 2018 Conference to come up with solutions regarding the fact that many of their projects are smaller in size (8-13 units) and the state and federal funding typically favor bigger developments. Through the Challenge Studio, Destinee was able to identify more resources that help Leadville preserve its heritage and strengthen the community (see examples below).
    • Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE): C-PACE enables owners of eligible commercial and industrial buildings to finance up to 100% of energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation eligible improvements. Financing is provided by private capital providers at competitive rates with repayment terms up to 25 years.
    • Colorado Housing and Financing Authority (CHFA): Colorado’s authority for tax credits, affordable housing, and partnerships around housing.
    • DCI’s Urban Renewal Training and Education: these 101 and 201 sessions educate individuals on the basics of urban renewal and also take the conversation further for more advanced urban renewal practice.
    • Colorado Opportunity Zones: The Federal Opportunity Zone (OZ) program provides a federal tax incentive for investors to invest in low-income urban and rural communities through favorable treatment of reinvested capital gains and forgiveness of tax on new capital gains.
    • SHF Support for Deferred Maintenance Emergency Fund: Emergency Grants are awarded to provide assistance to significant resources that are in imminent danger of being lost, demolished, or seriously damaged, and when the threat is sudden and unexpected, such as a fire, flood, hail storm, or other act of nature.
    • Partners in Preservation National Main Street Competition: Main Streets campaign invites the public to #VoteYourMainStreet to decide which historic sites along 20 of America’s favorite Main Streets should receive $2 million in preservation funding from American Express. The campaign runs from September 24th to October 26th.

    More Information

    For more information on how DCI can help you access a DCI Downtown Capacity Buildiers AmeriCorps VISTA, contact VISTA Leader Andrew Curtis at vista2@downtowncoloradoinc.org. For other DCI resources including access to our IN THE GAME event and Colorado Challenge Program, please contact Will Cundiff marketing@downtowncoloradoinc.org.

    We can’t wait to participate at next year’s CPI Saving Places Conference where our VISTA members can offer and learn more about historic preservation!

  • 01/22/2019 2:31 PM | Morgan Pierce (Administrator)

    In 2018, DCI was awarded a USDA Rural Business Development Grant focused on Digital Marketing and Planning for Creative Entrepreneurs. Our project focused on providing digital marketing technical assistance to creative entrepreneurs throughout rural Colorado communities with two phases, the first working on regional coordination to establish action plans for cohesive efforts and the second working with specific entrepreneurs in need of digital marketing support.

    Phase I: Planning for Regional Attraction

    To identify our grant recipients, DCI member communities submitted letters of interest to be included in our grant. DCI decided to focus on three rural regions, the San Luis Valley, Southeast Colorado, and the Western Slope, with partners in Gunnison, Eads, Limon, Center, Saguache, and Paonia. To determine digital presence and marketing needs for each community DCI completed surveys, planning meetings, and held a stakeholder meeting in each community in fall of 2018.

    With a deeper understanding of each community’s unique attributes and individual needs shared through meetings with community members, business owners, and entrepreneurs, DCI is excited to share our findings and some suggested the actions for each community through our partnership. While we are still in the process of sharing action plans with communities, we wanted to share a short introduction for you to meet our recipients:

    Eads: Eads highlights the recreational assets centrally located near several reservoirs and the Eastern plains, making it a great destination for water birding, and hiking enthusiasts.

    Center: Center is near the Great Sand Dunes, the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge, and the recently reworked mountain biking and hiking trail system at the Penitente Canyon Special Recreation Area.

    Gunnison: Gunnison celebrates its Western roots with the annual Cattlemen’s Days Rodeo. This event brings the community together and has shaped Gunnison’s heritage for over 100 years.

    Limon: Known as the “Hub City”, Limon also boasts a trail system in the wetlands for biking and hiking, local history museums, and community spaces for gathering and entertainment.

    Paonia: Paonia has carved out an identity for itself through the combination of agriculture and arts. It is also home to a Certified Creative District and is a part of the North Fork Valley Creative Coalition.

    Saguache: Rich in local history, Saguache is home to three hotels, two historical museums, and two theaters. Popular ski areas and the Great Sand Dunes are also nearby Saguache.

    Each of these towns is supported by community leader, stakeholders, and entrepreneurs who want to see it continue to grow and develop. As we move forward, we hope to highlight the ways that these communities move forward with recommendations to increase the impacts of digital marketing.

    Phase II: Digital Marketing for Creative Entrepreneurs

    The second phase of our grant allows us to do just that by partnering with these community stakeholders. DCI will select a handful of businesses to develop an individualized strategic digital marketing plan. We are in the process of selecting our partner businesses right now, based on criteria such as potential job creation, ability to attract local or tourist traffic, current and potential impact on the town, and other considerations.

    We are so excited to continue with Phase II of our grant and to work one-on-one with creative local entrepreneurs. Stay tuned for our business selection as we continue moving forward with this project.

  • 12/13/2018 12:36 PM | Morgan Pierce (Administrator)

    The holidays can be busy, stressful, and exhausting. These simple tips and suggestions can help create a more smooth and calm December for small business owners by streamlining expectations, product knowledge, and customer service. How can you create a positive holiday shopping experience for your customers? Easy! 

    Start with...

    1. Being Social: Your social media should be engaging, relevant, relate to your customer and sell when appropriate. You want to humanize your social media content more than you want to monetize it.  Your social media platforms are not just display ads, but a face-to-face conversation with your customers.
    2. Building Your Database:  Use email marketing besides social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.  Keep your brand in front of your customers at all times.
    3. Expect Prepared Salespeople: Have all salespeople read company ads, catalogs, literature, Facebook, Twitter and Blogs before customers come in with questions and inquiries. An uninformed salesperson is bad for business.  Also check out everything about the competition including the services offered.
    4. Establishing and Enforcing Dress Codes: Set expectations for employees and enforce them. If there is a uniform, it should be clean, neat, etc. Employees are the representatives of the business and should project the image the business wants to convey.
    5. Greeting Everyone Who Walks Through the Door:  Coming up with different greetings -- so customers don't hear the same greeting over and over when shopping in the store.  Make it personal and inviting.
    6. Making it Comfortable for Customers to Shop:  Adjusting the thermostat because customers may be wearing coats and the staff can wear a sweater. Perhaps a rack for customer's coats and a place to check their packages.  Offering the customer a basket or shopping tote makes it easy for them to buy more.
    7. Having Employees Identify Themselves When Answering the Phone: This adds a professional touch and provides the caller with a person to identify with on the other end of the line. 
    8. Cleaning Up the Cash-wrap Area as-you-go: Expect that employees are cleaning up and putting everything in its place throughout the day. Customers are concerned about transaction accuracy and your services (i.e. shipping) if this area is a mess with clutter, drinks, and food.
    9. Listening. Really Listening to Customers: If you don't really listen and show customers the wrong merchandise -- they will assume you don't have what they are looking for and leave.
    10. Having All Cash Registers Open When the Store is Busy: An extra staff member can mingle with the customers in line -- making additional suggestions.
    11. Getting everyone on board:  Ensuring that everyone in the organization understands what the winning advantage is and what their role is in supporting it.
    12. Knowing what other merchandise and services are offered around town: Keep customers shopping in your community by knowing what all is available.  The customers will be thrilled, always come to you first and will let the other businesses know you sent them.
    13. Stocking and Cleaning Only When the Store is Closed:  Doing these chores when the store is open is inconsiderate to shoppers and doesn't convey a professional image. Instead, have the staff mingle with the customers and help with suggestions.

    Deciding to adopt these small changes will help you build a more successful business environment. Making change is always easier said than done, and sometimes we have old habits that inhibit our ability to follow-through with change. We challenge you to let go of these common, but not-so-helpful habits:


    1. Trying to get a Head Start on Store Closing Times: Vacuuming while the store is still open is rude and should be done after the business closes.
    2. Helping Phone Inquiries While In-Store Customers Wait for Help: The customer in the store should take precedence.  Have someone besides the cashier answer the phone.
    3. Running Out of Advertised Specials Early on the First Day of the Promotion: A product or sale item should not be advertised unless there is sufficient stock. 
    4. Using the Store Phone or Cell for Personal Calls on the Selling Floor: Have employees step away from customers to take any personal calls instead. 

    Thanks to Barbara Wold of Barbara Wold International for these tips. She has years of experience in the customer experience, customer-relationship management, marketing strategy, human resources, consumer buying patterns, image, sales and service quality, public relations, redevelopment, and tourism industries. She is an excellent resource and we thank her for sharing her knowledge with us!

  • 11/16/2018 11:24 AM | Deleted user

    Can you believe that 2018 is almost over? We have been incredibly busy traveling around the state this year and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We want to thank all of our members, partners, and sponsors that helped make this year incredible and possible. This year we focused on growing our membership, increasing resources on our website, and expanding programs like our Urban Renewal trainings and Emerging Leader events. We are excited to continue all of this work in 2019 and some of our plans include developing Urban Renewal Case Studies, growing our VISTA program to encapsulate more of our membership base, and expanding on our Challenge Studio Program.

    We were lucky to have some great partner events this year including: two events with Happy City in Idaho Springs in January considering development impacts and best practices, a DDAs in Action Mobile tour with CML in Fort Collins and Windsor in August, and Community Building Colorado-Style Conference with many partners in Boulder in October. You can read the Happy City report here and the recap of the DDA tour here. We are always inspired by what communities and our partners are doing for community development. We also expanded our Emerging Leaders program this summer with a few events that featured speakers that are emerging leaders in their own right including topics on Millennial Transportation Habits and the revitalization of Colfax. Here are a few Testimonials from these events:

    We have loved working with DCI to help us engage the community, sharing ideas from other communities and providing resources that we can use to further our efforts in Downtown.” -Madeline VanDenHoek, Town of Monument

    “The tools/ideas presented in the workshop to bring together city/county government officials, local business owners, and local residents help open the dialogue when discussing redevelopment within a community. When each party can provide a different approach to an issue within a community, a more solid & positive solution can be found.” - Idaho Springs Happy City Workshop Participant

    As mentioned above, our Urban Renewal Program was enhanced this year to better provide for our Urban Renewal Partners and members. We brought board training to Northern Colorado in Fort Collins and Central Colorado in Lakewood culminating in our Southern Colorado Urban Renewal Summit in Pueblo. We also developed a resource page to house all of the training and educational materials specifically for URA’s and Districts. Through the Summit we were proud to present the idea of the Entrepreneurial URA especially for rural URAs. See what our URA members have to say:

    The session helped me to get a "big picture" view of URAs as they relate to communities, municipalities, developers and special districts”

    “[My biggest takeaway from the event was] Understanding this new environment for URA creation and the cooperation and timeline necessary.

    2018 IN THE GAME was such an inspirational, educational, and fun event. The event was full of changemakers, big thinkers, and downtown champions. This year, we showed off one of the most vibrant downtowns in the state, Boulder, through our speakers, lunches, and tours. We continued to defy the traditional "talking heads" conference with our discussions of Tourism and Entrepreneurship through different lenses, our lightning ideas from brilliant Colorado thinkers, and of course our Challenge Studio Workshops. 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 Aspen in 2019! Registration is now open here! Here what attendees had to say:

    “This conference was refreshingly energetic. Most conferences I go to consist of people talking about things they've already done, but here you can be inspired by people who are doing things now - who are in the midst of a challenge.”

    I love how interactive the DCI In The Game Conference is. It's a whirlwind week of learning and strategic planning but also celebrates community, art and culture of the host city. I will definitely go again.”

    This year was an exciting year of progress as we developed our Challenge Studio program to increase the amount of support the Challenge Studio communities get before and after the conference. We started a partnership with the CU Denver School of Public Affairs to have a class of Master’s in Public Affairs students take on a Challenge Studio Community as their main project focus for the semester. We got the opportunity to visit the communities before the conference and establish background and create a report for these communities. You can read the reports here. We have also been following up with our CS Communities throughout the year with workshops relating to their challenge area including Monument and Longmont. We had an inspiring event tackling tactical urbanism in Monument in July as a follow-up to Monument’s challenge around Civic Pride. Through the CS process, DCI realized the next steps for Monument were in Tactical Urbanism to engage people, reshape space for the use of people over cars, and to just have fun telling the Monument story! You can read the recap blog here.

    We are so excited for 2019 and for many more informative, innovative, and fun events. We continue to strive to serve our Colorado communities with everything we do and we hope you will be a part of the future of vibrant downtowns in Colorado. We are able to accomplish all this work through our members, partners and sponsors but we are NOT a nationally funded organization. We work FOR Colorado and to make the whole state more connected and vibrant. Which why we hope you will be able to support us on Colorado Gives Day. The day is on December 4th. You can schedule your donation now at https://coloradogives.org/downtowncoloradoinc/overview

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