DDA eyes spring streetscape work completion
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Restaurant row on Seventh Street could have outdoor dining by this summer, if City Council signs off on the plans and things go according to schedule for the Downtown Development Authority.
DDA officials earned the OK from Garfield County commissioners Monday to take part of the $800,000 in county funding awarded last year for streetscape improvements in downtown Glenwood Springs along Cooper Avenue and use it on Seventh Street.
Originally, the DDA had planned to include improvements at Eighth and Grand as part of the larger, approximately $1 million downtown streetscape project.
Instead, the special tax increment financing (TIF) funded commercial district will shift its focus to begin work on the south side of Seventh Street between the Grand Avenue wing street and Blake Avenue.
That portion of the project is to involve extending the sidewalks into what’s now the street parking area in front of several existing restaurants, including The Riviera Supper Club, Juicy Lucy’s, The Pullman and Peppo Nino’s existing outdoor patio.
Although some parking will be lost, two-way traffic and parking on the north side of the street would be maintained, DDA Executive Director Leslie Bethel and City Councilman Todd Leahy explained.
The idea is to make the additional sidewalk space usable for the restaurants to add outdoor dining areas with ornamental railings and canopies during the warmer months, they said.
“We appreciate the county’s money and help in getting this done,” said Leahy, who is council’s liaison with the DDA. “This is an exciting time for downtown Glenwood.”
The larger downtown improvements project is also to include streetscape work along Cooper Avenue between Eighth and 10th Streets, and on Eighth and Ninth streets between Cooper and Grand Avenue.
The public parking lot on Cooper next to the downtown fire station will also be reconfigured to include additional parking spaces as part of the project.
City Council is set to consider the design for the Seventh Street portion of the work, and will also discuss an outdoor restaurant seating policy, during its regular Thursday meeting this week.
Among the concerns from city engineering staff, however, are several design questions related to the down slope configuration of Seventh Street, which sits above the Colorado River.
“Hopefully, staff and the DDA and the design engineer will be able to meet to review the plans and develop a consensus for the design prior to the City Council meeting,” Public Works Director Robin Millyard indicated in a memo for this week’s meeting.
If not, that conversation will need to take place at the Thursday meeting and project approvals could be delayed, he said.
Also on the table for council to consider will be a policy for restaurants to use public sidewalk space for outdoor seating. One recommendation from staff is that fencing be temporary during an outdoor dining season that would extend from May to November.
“City staff proposes standards that prohibit outdoor furnishings, barriers and platforms from being permanently adhered to the public sidewalk,” according to a separate city staff memo.
One of the concerns is that permanent containment structures, such as fencing, could “essentially privatize public space,” the memo states. Such structures should also be removed during winter months to prevent ice build-up and other safety concerns, staff recommends.
“While staff encourages and supports businesses to use the widened Seventh Street sidewalk for outdoor seating, we strongly believe that the same can be accomplished by removable barriers and temporary platforms,” the staff memo suggests.
Council will also discuss what type of fees to charge business for use of public space.
Bethel said the DDA hopes to be able to put the streetscape project out to bid by the end of the week, pending council’s approval of the plans. Ideally, she said they would like to have the Seventh Street work done by the end of May, in time for the summer tourist season.
The DDA also intends to include the proposed alley improvements between Grand Avenue and Colorado Avenue, next to the 711 Grand building that is being renovated for two new downtown restaurants. That work is proposed to be paid for through a partnership between the DDA and the developer of the 711 Grand building, she said.
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UPDATE: Both westbound lanes and one eastbound lane of Interstate 70, according to a 12:20 a.m. update from Garfield County.