New development code aimed at keeping downtown Glenwood Springs retail vibrant up for public engagement soon

A row of commercial properties on Cooper Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets.
Post Independent/Cassandra Ballard

The city of Glenwood Springs is considering development code changes to keep the main downtown area vibrant and lively. 

This concept is still on the drawing board, and at City Council this week staff will be asking for direction to begin public engagement to discuss amending the Downtown Design Standard Overlay.

“How can we maintain a vibrant downtown core, specifically on that first floor area where folks are walking around shopping, dining, etc., and how do we then tie that into the code?” Bryana Starbuck, the city’s public information officer, said of the intent of the code amendment. 

The proposal is to create a Downtown Commercial Overlay District with which new developments in the downtown core would be required to have 75% of the first floor be used to generate sales tax revenue, including lodging. It would only apply to newly constructed buildings, or buildings that are completely demolished and rebuilt.

“This overlay district would apply to when you have a new building that is a non-residential use,” said Emery Ellingson, community development planner for Glenwood. “So a very specific type of development.”

This area would be proposed to cover the area on Grand Avenue from Seventh Street to 10th Street, Cooper Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets, and a little section where Seventh Street meets Blake Avenue, where the Hotel Denver, Glenwood Canyon Brewpub and the Amtrak train station are located. It also includes the section of business spaces on Sixth Street between the pedestrian bridge and the Grand Avenue Bridge.

The amendment is aimed to help bring more pedestrian-oriented downtown business, and specifies that this zoning code would only apply to new development on an open lot, or demolition of an existing property with new development. 

“I think that in the public input process, we will get business owners that may have ideas for their future and maybe see how this would apply to them,” Ellingson said.

The overlay amendment also proposes that 100% of the off-street, surface-level parking be behind the building being built. Parking structures proposed within the overlay zone are exempt from these standards and shall be processed according to the Special Use Permit process, the packet information states.

“During public outreach, we’ll take the input and then it will go back to City Council for consideration of an actual ordinance,” Ellingson said.

Since the city has pinpointed ideas that it thinks will work, staff is hoping to gauge council’s availability to begin the public engagement process. 

“That’s also something that we’ll be asking pretty directly at Thursday’s meeting, is what is council’s availability?” Danielle Campbell, the economic development specialist for the city said. “We want to make sure this is a conversation between council and the public.”

Post Independent reporter Cassandra Ballard can be reached at or 970-384-9131.

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