Downtown revitalization push focuses on outdoors | PostIndependent.com

Downtown revitalization push focuses on outdoors

Kelley Cox Post Independent
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – An effort being shepherded by the Downtown Development Authority to revitalize the city’s downtown core is looking to the outdoor recreation and design industry to anchor the project.

Last year, the DDA contracted with a team of architects and urban planners operating as Canyon Springs Development to look at redevelopment options for a two-block area of downtown Glenwood Springs.

Some of the partners in that group will now conduct a market feasibility study focusing on creating and managing an outdoor recreation incubator for the downtown area.

“This would be the only business incubator in Colorado exclusively focused on the outdoor industry,” DDA executive director Leslie Bethel explained at a recent Glenwood Springs City Council meeting.

That sector could include outdoor clothing and gear design, light manufacturing, as well as retail businesses.

The $45,000 market feasibility study will take six to eight weeks to complete. It is an extension of the ongoing design and redevelopment work being done by Canyon Springs with its “Vitae (pronounced vi-tee) – Lifestyle Glenwood Springs” project, Bethel said.

The study aims to determine what kind of market there is for potential start-up companies, probable income and expenses based on the local market, operating costs, and potential resources for grants and other funding, she explained.

A business incubator helps entrepreneurs with start-up costs and business planning.

“They support a community’s overall economic growth by launching sustainable emerging companies in a five-year, multi-stage incubation program that intends to ‘graduate’ them into the community,” Bethel said.

After a period of time, these businesses become self-sustaining and no longer need the assistance of the incubator, she added.

The Vitae Glenwood incubator would provide assistance for three to five outdoor start-up ventures selected though an application process to locate in available downtown commercial spaces of 5,000 to 7,500 square feet.

“Those companies will contract with Vitae to meet specific milestones during the year,” in return for business support, Bethel said.

After the initial start-up period, the companies would move into what’s called a “second-stage support system,” such as that provided by the Roaring Fork Business Resource Center.

In fact, Bethel said the incubator concept falls in line with a separate project by Business Center director Randi Lowenthal to better promote “creative industries,” focusing on existing arts and creative design businesses in the area.

A local board of advisors is being formed to help guide the incubator project, Bethel said.

Meanwhile, the larger redevelopment project will continue to analyze options for a new Glenwood Springs library location, new CMC facilities, and a downtown public parking structure.

The city of Glenwood Springs recently placed the parking lot at the southwest corner of Eighth and Cooper under contract to potentially serve as the site for a new library and parking structure. CMC is negotiating to buy the adjacent U.S. Bank building at the corner of Grand Avenue and Eighth.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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