Economic development to be part of Glenwood Springs’ redevelopment planning
Glenwood Springs will use the same consultants who are working on a downtown area-wide redevelopment plan to prepare an economic development strategy for the city as a whole.
City Council on Thursday unanimously agreed to a $29,000 contract with Development Research Partners to develop the economic plan in conjunction with working on a plan to link four key redevelopment areas straddling the Colorado River between Sixth and Seventh streets and the river confluence area.
The economic strategy will focus on several key areas, including building Glenwood Springs as a regional trade and service center, tourism development, downtown development, public enhancements and jobs creation and growth.
The economic strategy will also serve as an update to the city’s comprehensive plan and will look at a range of short- and long-term goals, said Jenn Ooton, community and economic development director for the city, at the Thursday council meeting.
Already, the city has been working with economist Jesse Silverstein of Development Research Partners to prepare a market and gap analysis as part of the Area Wide Plan.
That plan, funded by an EPA Brownfields grant, is looking at ways to better tie together the post-Grand Avenue Bridge redevelopment along Seventh Street, the Confluence Redevelopment Plan west of downtown along the Roaring Fork River, the Sixth Street Corridor Master Plan, and improvements being planned in the Two Rivers Park area. Three properties within that broader area are considered to be “brownfield” sites, including the city’s former sewer plant property, the Colorado Department of Transportation yard and headquarters, and the former Holly Quarry site, which is owned by the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
The economic development strategy portion of the study will have a broader, city-wide focus. According to the proposal presented to City Council on Thursday night, it looks to:
• Maintain Glenwood Springs as the major retail trade center for the central Colorado Mountain region, including the Roaring Fork and lower Colorado River valleys.
• Support the continued growth of Glenwood Springs as a regional service center.
• Maintain, strengthen, and diversify Glenwood Springs as a year-round Colorado tourism destination.
• Support the development of downtown Glenwood Springs as a multifunctional business district containing a diverse mix of specialty retail, civic, business, cultural and residential uses.
• Complement and balance economic development activities with a commensurate level of attention to improving and expanding community facilities and infrastructure.
• Attract new companies and industries to Glenwood Springs and support actions that will result in job diversification within.
Quoting Silverstein, Ooton said that data compiled as part of the Area-Wide Plan “indicates how the region is using the city of Glenwood Springs as a regional shopping destination and what types of products and services may be underserved.”
City Council members wanted assurances that the economic development strategy will focus on all of Glenwood’s retail centers, not just downtown. That includes taking a close look at ways to enhance the area in and around the Roaring Fork Marketplace, the commercial plaza surrounding City Market, Glenwood Meadows, and the Glenwood Springs Mall in West Glenwood, City Councilor Shelley Kaup said.
Councilor Rick Voorhees wanted to ensure that the plan has a particular focus on job growth.
“It would be nice to see a strategy where we are reaching out a little bit further, and doing projections on the labor market … and what works besides tax rebates,” he said.
“I don’t want to see us nibble around the edges without addressing the core issue,” Voorhees added.
Ooton said the city could also work more closely with Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado to publicize enterprise zone tax credits and how those can help established businesses, not just new ones.
“We also need to continue the conversation with area partners … about bringing services to ensure new businesses have access to training and help accessing capital,” she said.
Mayor Michael Gamba suggested that the economic analysis could also take a look at the economic impacts of vacation rentals in Glenwood Springs, as a means of tourism development but also how that impacts the town’s long-term housing situation.