DDA looks to county for help on alleyway project
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Efforts to make the downtown Glenwood Springs area more pedestrian friendly may benefit from Garfield County government’s local assistance efforts.
A variety of projects in other municipalities, from Carbondale’s rodeo grounds improvements to a new Interstate 70 interchange in Parachute, have taken advantage of county funding recently.
Now, the Glenwood Springs Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is turning to the county to help with one of its top priorities – enhancing the downtown experience with more public walkways and pocket park areas.
Last year, the DDA sought proposals from contractors to create European-style pedestrian walkways through some of the downtown alleys.
The project was to begin with the alley that runs between the Grand Avenue pedestrian plaza near Seventh Street and Colorado Avenue, south of the Italian Underground restaurant.
The idea is to attract more pedestrian activity, create outdoor dining areas and provide the opportunity for businesses to enter off the alley, DDA Executive Director Leslie Bethel explained at a recent Garfield County commissioners meeting.
But the alley project didn’t come to fruition, partly because the DDA’s primary focus shifted to another major downtown redevelopment project.
Most of the DDA’s funding, which comes from a special tax increment financing (TIF) mechanism, is now tied up in a joint project with the city of Glenwood Springs to build a two-level parking structure at Ninth and Cooper.
About $3 million of the funding for the $4.5 million parking structure is coming from the DDA. The city is covering the remainder of the cost.
In conjunction with the companion project to build a new Glenwood Springs Library at Eighth and Cooper, the DDA is also funding alley and streetscape improvements, as well as a public plaza next to the new library.
“Downtown is about pedestrians and walkability,” Bethel said in outlining the DDA’s main goals, which date back to the city’s 2001 Downtown Plan.
“The alley redevelopment project has been talked about for the last couple of years, and we are still hoping to get that started soon,” she said. “With the cost of the parking structure, we are short on cash at this time.”
To do the alley project between Grand and Colorado, the DDA is seeking another $150,000. It would also like to develop a pair of small “pocket parks” near Seventh and Colorado, at an estimated cost of $75,000.
Glenwood Springs City Councilman Todd Leahy said it makes sense for the city, the DDA and the county to partner on some of the downtown projects.
“One of my main goals when I decided to run for council was to work on the relationship between the city and the county,” said Leahy, who is also city council’s liaison to the DDA board.
“The more we can work together to enhance that area the better,” he said.
County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky agreed.
“The face of the downtown is changing, and we have an interest in what goes on there,” Jankovsky said, noting that the county’s main government campus is also a major part of downtown Glenwood Springs.
The county is also increasing its stake in downtown. Earlier this week, it signed a $2.5 million contract to purchase a large portion of the 700 block of Colorado Avenue from local attorneys Stephen Worrell and Anthony Durrett. The deal, which is scheduled to close June 1, would include the law office building at the northeast corner of Eighth and Colorado, and a building that now houses an auto glass shop.
Though there are no immediate redevelopment plans, the county eventually may create more public parking and expand its government office facilities on the site.
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