Downtown’s up year: Who’da thunk it? |

Downtown’s up year: Who’da thunk it?

That downtown death knell is ringing a bit hollow, judging by recent city of Glenwood Springs sales tax reports.

It reveals that while 2003 wasn’t generally a good one for sales tax-producing businesses in town, one part of the city defied that trend.

Incredibly enough, it was downtown ” more specifically, north Glenwood and 7th to 11 streets, the two areas that make up the Downtown Development Authority.

While the rest of the city saw a drop in sales tax revenue, revenues went up a healthy 5.76 percent downtown.

Who’da thunk it? For years a big policy concern for the city has been the state of downtown. How will it handle increasing competition from big boxes, including those to come with construction of Glenwood Meadows? How will it cope with continuing work on Grand Avenue? What about the shortage of parking?

Yes, downtown is cute, but is it also too antiquated, and not up to the challenges of today’s competitive retail marketplace?

Apparently not. Even as downtown suffered last year with water line construction on Grand, it managed to post overall 2003 gains when merchants elsewhere in the city were suffering.

The DDA’s efforts at cooperative marketing and promotion must be reaping some rewards.

Those downtown merchants still having a tough go should take heart in the fact that many of their neighbors are finding means to not only survive but thrive. Perhaps these success stories carry lessons that can help them in their own business ventures.

As DDA volunteer Bob Zanella notes, last year’s sales tax report is a reminder of downtown’s strength as a tourism hub and location of key restaurants and retail establishments. These assets should serve to lift business in general in that part of the city, just as anchor stores in a mall boost traffic in smaller stores.

For that matter, here’s hoping downtown’s rising tide can help lift all ships citywide. Glenwood is far too dependent on sales tax revenues to endure many slow years such as 2003.

As for downtown, it still has challenges ahead, including the imminent Grand Avenue paving work. It could still do more to advance its own cause, as proponents of keeping shops open later in the day will be the first to attest.

But for a day, anyway, downtown merchants could be forgiven if they closed their doors early and headed to one of their favorite downtown eating and drinking establishments to celebrate last year’s success.

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