DDA’s downtown digs doomed
The new headquarters of the Glenwood Springs Downtown Development Authority doesn’t even have an address yet, but already it might be forced to move.
Last Thursday, in response to the city’s slumping economy, members of the City Council discussed ways they could save money. One of those ideas was to eliminate the stand-alone DDA headquarters, which is located in a storefront office that shares its entrance with Club Cyrano on Seventh Street.
The DDA moved into the one-room office in late April. It is paying $500 per month, including electricity, and the office is being rented month-to-month, so it could be vacated with just 30-days notice.
Council members reasoned that because the DDA is a city-run organization, its headquarters should be relocated to the new City Hall when it opens later this summer rather than spending extra money on leasing a separate office.
While they don’t argue with the logic of saving taxpayer dollars, some DDA Board members argue that having a separate office downtown makes it easier for business owners and residents of the downtown district to drop by.
“Some people are intimidated with going into City Hall, but they’re not intimidated by going into an office with one person,” said DDA Board member and City Councilwoman Jean Martensen.
The building itself is listed as 701 Cooper Ave., but the recently remodeled office hasn’t been assigned an address yet. Martensen said she would prefer a Seventh Street address, but that is up to the city. If it is given a Seventh Street address, it would be No. 734, she said.
“For some reason, the building has its old, original address of Cooper Street. We would rather have Seventh Street,” Martensen said.
DDA Board member Thane Lincicome also said it would be preferable to stay at the Seventh Street location.
“I like the idea of having a presence downtown, but I harbor no opposition to moving to City Hall if it’s necessary,” he said.
Bill Evans, director of the DDA director until his resignation last Friday, said he thinks either location would work.
“There are good reasons to have it here on the street independent from the city. Several board members feel strongly that a physical independence from the city is important, but I feel either way is fine,” Evans said.
“I think there’s some real benefits to being in City Hall. I think the biggest benefit to being (on Seventh Street) is being on the street. In addition, merchants downtown want an independent voice of advocacy and see the DDA as fulfilling that role. I think they would prefer to have a storefront office.
“That being said, I’m sympathetic to the city’s budget problems. We want to be a help, not a hindrance – it serves no purpose to be competitors.”
Evans said he realizes there is a delicate balance between cooperating with the city and retaining an air of independence.
Regardless of where the DDA office winds up, Martensen is appealing to the local citizenry for old-time pictures of downtown Glenwood Springs.
“I think that would be interesting for people who drop in,” she said.
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