FOCUSING ON THE PROCESS IN SMALL CITIES AND TOWNS
y, Susan M. Sherry
FOCUSING ON THE PROCESS IN
SMALL CITIES AND TOWNS.
An Urban Design Thesis presented to the College of Design and Planning, University of Colorado at Denver in partial full-fillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Architecture, Urban Design.
Susan Morris Sherry Summer Semester, 1934-
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT DENVER
College of Design and Planning
Dr. Bernip/Jones-Committee Chairman (Prof essafr^iUni varsity of Colorado, Community Development)
Dr/Bernie Jonei-Principle Advisor
yle-Advisor Colorado State Maip Street Coordinator)
Dan Guimori'd-Advisor (Economic and Development Consultant )
I extend a special thanks to Dr. Bernie Jones, the author's thesis committee chairman and main advisor, for the counsel and guidance given during the research and writing of this thesis. Appreciation is also extended to Mr. Dan Guimond, Mr. Pat Coyle, and Mr. John Prosser for serving as members of this thesis committee.
Thanks and gratitude are extended to Ms. Susan Johnson for her patience and support in the typing of this thesis, and to the many people who cooperated with this research by giving their time and sharing their experiences.
Finally, I wish to thank Gregg for his support, understanding and encouragement throughout this endeavor.
Downtown revitalization* like other urban design issues* involves a complex interaction of many different people and strategies. It requires knowledge of many professional disciplines including: behavioral sciences, design, planning, economics, natural sciences, public administration, and law. Because of this complexity, downtown revitalization does not always accomplish its purpose, which, in most cases, is to create a more economically viable and/or identifiable downtown area. This paper addresses how to encourage this to happen by suggesting a framework or process a community can follow that will help them involve the right people and develop the right strategies to revitalize their downtown area.
This framework or process is based on two analyses. First, an investigation of five national models, most of which provided information on various revitalization strategies, and second, an analysis of six local revitalization programs. These local programs provided more specific information on the process to initiate, develop, and implement a downtown revitalization program.
The process recommended in this paper is divided into three phases and includes the following steps:
A. Initiation Phase
1. Identify the problem or need.
2. Inform others of the need, create a task force.
3. Collectively identify goals through public participation.
4. Communicate these goals throughout the community.
5. Obtain support from city officials.
B. Development Phase
6. Analyze the constraints and potentials of the downtown area.
7. Develop revitalization strategies to meet goals.
8. Prioritize strategies at a public participation meeting.
9. Develop a revitalization program based on the strategies selected.
C. Implementation Phase
10. Set up a management organization.
11. Develop the financial support necessary to implement strategies.
12. Develop the human support necessary to implement strategies.
13. Implement strategies through the sharing of responsibility.
14. Evaluate and review the program to monitor and change the program to reflect a dynamic changing community system.
These fourteen steps are recommended to help a community incorporate a revitalization program into the existing fabric of the community.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SECTION I. THB REVITALIZATION MOVEMBNT..........................3
SECTION II. NATIONAL COMMERCIAL REVITALIZATION PROGRAMS........12
National Council for Urban Economic Development....13
National Development Council........................17
Urban Land Institute................................25
Department of Housing ana Urban Development.........29
National Trust for Historic Preservation...........34-
SECTION III.LOCAL DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATION PROGRAMS..............43
Old Colorado City..................................4-6
Boulder. ......................................... 53
SECTION IV. ANALYSIS..............................................
Local Programs................................ 93
SECTION V, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS....................109
Community Participation Information................117
Downtown Revitalization Strategies and Design
Ideas from Local Programs........................121
FIGURE 1. National Main Street Project Summary Sheet.........4-0
FIGURE 2. Summary of National Approaches (Chart).............4-2
FIGURE 3. Summary of Local Programs...........................89
Many downtown revitalization programs have taken place in the last twenty years. These programs have produced a variety of results, ranging from uplifting the community both economically and spiritually to contributing to further decline, decay, and pessimism about the future. Most of the successful revitalization programs have Involved a diverse group of participants: city personnel, property owners, merchants, consumers, bankers, and many strategies: promotion, advertising, revolving loans, organization, market studies, streetscape design and development facade renovation, and design guidelines (Jones, 1984).
Voluminous information on the revitalization strategies and personnel is readily available in the published literature. What is not available, however, is information on the process to follow in order to bring together the people and the strategies necessary for revitalization to occur. Knowledge of the personnel and the strategies Involved In a revitalization program is useless without an understanding of the relationship among them and how they fit together. This paper examines that relationship and recommends a process for Initiating, developing and implementing a revitalization program, or, in other words, how to bring together the people, determine the appropriate strategies, and implement the recommended program.
Before this process is presented, however, Section I of this paper reviews what revitalization Is and how It can benefit a community. This section begins to focus in on downtown revitalization as It applies to the "main street" of smaller cities (under 100,000 people) and towns (under 15,000 people).
Section II and III examine the revitalization programs recommended by five national organizations and six local smaller cities and towns. The review of the national programs, Section II, contains general information on commercial revitalization that has been compiled by each organization based on a variety of programs with which they have been Involved. The review of the local programs, Section III, focuses on the process that has been followed by five Colorado communities and one Wyoming community to revitalize their downtown areas.
Section IV is the analytical section of this paper. It first compares and contrasts the national revitalization programs. It then compares and contrasts the local programs. After each, conclusions are presented regarding what the programs reveal about the revitalization process.
Section V uses these conclusions about the revitalization process and applies them to smaller cities and towns. A process is then recommended for a smaller city or town to follow In order to Initiate, develop, and implement a downtown revitalization program.
THE REVITALIZATION MOVEMENT
Section I. THE REVITALIZATION MOVEMENT
"The late 70's witnessed a resurgence of private investment and government programs directed towards the redevelopment of commercial districts and the renovation of neighborhoods In cities throughout North America" (Holcomb and Beauregard, 1981).
The word revitalization Is being applied to both the physical and economic redevelopment taking place In large city central business districts, neighborhoods, small cities and towns. Though revitalization has been a part of city renewal policies for nearly fifty years, it began to receive more attention In the mid-seventy's (Holcomb and Beauregard, 1981). According to Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, revitalize means "to give new life or vigor to", thus revitalization in the context of this paper on downtown revitalization means to give new life or vigor to the downtown area. The word revitalization Is supposed to produce an image of renewal by replacing decline and disinvestment with health, expansion, and vitality (Holcomb and Beauregard, 1981).
Central Business District and Neighborhoods
Revitalization projects are occurring on all scales, ranging from large city central business districts (CBD's) so small neighborhood commercial areas. For the most part, revitalization projects in large city central business districts have focused on creating a place to attract people, "a center for leisure and entertainment, underpinned by
the service and financial industries as a surrogate for the original manufacturing base" (Marshall, 1983). To create an environment for social and cultural interaction, many CBD projects have included:
Restructur i ng combining new and refurbished older elements and tying retail together with anchors such as hotels, convention centers, or civic centers.
Festival Retai I ing recreational shopping in a new offbeat location.
Reta iI Expans ion development of a large retail center Including anchors and mall shops.
Renovating. Rehabilitating. Remerchandizing formation of a management entity for promotion, facade improvements, and merchant concerns (Black, 1983).
Frequently these CBD projects are tied to neighborhood commercial revitalization efforts. It Is felt that if community restoration and neighborhood rebuilding occurs, more people will want to live in and remain near the city, which will reinforce a central business district revitalization project (Urban Action Group, 1978). The idea Is to provide localized services to make the neighborhoods a more pleasant place to live (Holcomb and Beauregard, 1981).
Most neighborhood commercial revitalization efforts include the renovation of facades, remodeling of interiors, construction of public Improvements and additional parking, and the design of other amenities to make the area a better place to shop and browse (Holcomb and Beauregard, 1981).
"The neighborhood store, once a part of American life, will
reappear, and neighborhood parks will more closely reflect the
character and specialized needs of the residents they serve.
The assertion of cultural and ethnic identity will help renew
neighborhoods and community spirit" (Marshall, 1983).
Central city and neighborhood revitalization projects have been fueled by national economic trends. Penelope Lemov, business editor of Bu iIder Magazine, states:
"Downtowns are the new frontier. As land and fuel grow scarce, some cities, because they are changing the economic base from Industrial to high tech, are freeing up for adaptive use land and facilities formerly used by industry. The preservation movement, with its armies of old building defenders, Is preventing cities from tearing downtown important facilities that may become focal points for redevelopment" (Lemov, 1984).
In addition to economic trends, swift communication networks are transforming many cities into processors of Information (Joyce, 1983 and Neisbett, 1983). "Proponents of revitalization recognize the transition of cities from manufacturing to service centers, focusing on enhancing commercial cultural, and other recreational activities (Ley, 1980, 1981). Many revitalization projects in central business districts, as well as those In neighborhoods are hoping to initiate or expand the "back to the city movement." current trends, however, have shown that the "back to the city movement" is relatively small in comparison to the continued movement of people to smaller cities and towns (Holcomb and Beauregard, 1981 and Neisbett, 1983).
"The future belongs to the suburbs and, increasingly, to the areas beyond them the small towns and non-urban i zed areas. Already people living outside metropolitan areas, for the first time, have a shorter average commute than those Inside. They also have available many specialized services and facilities previously confined to large urban areas (Joyce, 1983).
SmaI I Cities and Towns
Small towns are becoming an integral part of an urbanized culture. Society is comprised of rural, urban, metropolitan and non-metropolitan components which are all Interdependent, this interdependence being possible through improved communications, transportation, and computer networks (Macaluso, 1976).
Additional growth has made many smaller cities (population under 100,000) and towns (population under 15,000) vulnerable to the problems that large cities have experienced for the last fifty years. "There Is a growing recognition of the chronic nature of distress. A common view of the 60's was that urban problems were limited to only a few cities today, there Is a recognition that the problems are widespread ." (Burchell, 1981). One of these problems which is focused on in this paper, Is the decline and disinvestment of the central commercial district of the small city or town, generally referred to as "Main Street."
Many Main Street commercial districts are experiencing the problems of declining large CBD's:
retail sales decline
store owner disinvestment
jobs leaving the area
crime (Holcomb and Beauregard, 1981).
They are also experiencing the problems of declining commercial neighborhood districts:
reduction of local income
lack of code enforcement
marginal business increases
lack of parking
scarcity of reinvestment funds
lack of a concentration of goods (Holcomb and Beauregard,
1981; Coyle, 1984).
These compounded problems have resulted from or have been reinforced by several additional factors. These factors Include:
1. Commercial districts of small cities and towns are vulnerable to competition from additional commercial centers, particularly suburban shopping centers, In the market area (Black, 1983).
2. Many small cities and towns have limited funds and resources for the planning and development strategies needed to improve their overall physical and economic conditions. In most cases, they lack the technical expertise to successfully compete for grants-in-aid. Smaller cities and towns are not entitlement cities and have to rely on private Investment (Macaluso, 1976). Entitlement cities are allocated federal grants for community development on a yearly basis.
3. Past growth and development policies of small cities and towns have, in many cases. Insured the ultimate "death of Main Street. Craycroft expresses in his paper, "Small Town Policy; Strategies for Revitalization":
"Downtown Is decaying, the buildings are in disrepair, important functions have relocated and the sense of place no longer exists Town policy, circumstances and lack of knowledge never allowed main street to successfully compete, thus leaving it as a little more than a 'nostalgic memory' In most small towns" (Craycroft, 1981).
The problem of Main Street decline and the factors reinforcing this decline are being acknowledged by community leaders and residents. Leaders in small cities and towns have begun to realize (like their counterparts in city central business districts and neighborhoods) that in order to salvage the investment, activity and energy once a part of the downtown commercial area, a revitalization strategy Is needed.
In order for a revitalization effort to occur In a small city or town, there must be a wide range of support from the residents, business people, and government officials. Fortunately, there are both psychological and economic rationales for supporting downtown revitalization in a smaller city or town.
The Historic Preservation Movement. Americans' interest in the past, perhaps stimulated by the bicentennial, has made nostalgia a growth Industry (Holcomb and Beauregard, 1981). Main Street was the beginning of most small cities and towns, where the town developed and created its Identity (RIfkind, 1979). The age and culture of modern and new have been replaced by an appreciation of the "antiqued patches of urban fabric (Holcomb and Beauregard, 1981). "A country without a past has the emptiness of a barren continent, and a city without buildings Is like a man without a memory" (Uhlman, 1976).
Quality of Life Issues. John Neisbett acknowledges in Megatrends that the movement from large cities to smaller cities and non-metropolitan areas Is not caused by people trying to return to the agricultural life but by "people tryin gto experience a life of clean air, safe streets, more time for families", and "in short, a simpler, slower way of life" (Neisbett, 1 983). According to James Barker In Order and Images of the Amer i can SmaII Town. "Americans are moving to small towns in an Increasing number, a return to community." He adds, "Few Images are stronger than the ones which the small town evokes people matter as people" (Barker, 1981). The sense of place that many people are seeking when they move to a small town is exemplified by the downtown. Main Street has traditionally been the place of activity and life for the small town. If it is left to decline, the town's center will be lost and so will much of the town's identity and sense of place.
"If the small town or city is left with no center it loses Its sense of place the downtown is the focus of the energy and activity of the small town the downtown carries with it a true 'sense of place' born of the town's history, it is the business, social, governmental, and symbolic center of the of the small town" (Craycroft, 1981).
Retaining this "quality of life" is increasingly difficult as small cities and towns continue to grow. The "people scale" and sense of place" inherent in most small city and town main streets can only be sustained through programs and policies developed to reinforce them. Lessons must be learned from the mistakes of the large cities. Policies in small cities and towns must "deal with energy Issues, reward compact development, structure growth through planning, and retain the downtown as the center for services" (Barker, 1981).
These psychologic rationales are powerful forces supporting a small city or town's commercial revitalization effort. Topophilia, attachment to place, can be a powerful force (Ford, 1974). Goldberger writes in the New York Times in 1981 that "Psychology is a large part of the battle to keep cities alive" (Goldberger, 1981). Studies have also shown that places with symbolic significance to different groups of the community can be preserved and renovated even when economic logic does not support the effort (FIrey, 1964). Fortunately for Main Street, these psychological rationales are reinforced by many economic ones.
Ecppgm.1 C-R.a.t.i oaa I e.
Business Development. A downtown revitalization program presents an opportunity to attract more businesses and services to the downtown area, as well as generate additional community support for the downtown (Nixon, et al, 1978). In addition, a revitalization program usually involves working with existing businesses to help them expand and change which increases local action and self-reliance two important components of successful economic development strategies (Phillips and Vidal, 1983; Harrison, 1978).
Once revitalization begins to occur, it can be a catalyst for attracting other more basic types of businesses to the area (Nixon, et al, 1978). Revitalization will also effectively use existing resources; infrastructure, buildings, roads, walks, and the past development components (Urban Action Group, 1978).
Job Opportun i t i es. A downtown revitalization program involves working with smaller businesses, helping them to expand and helping new ones to begin. According to John Neisbett in Megatrends. small business accounts for most new jobs that are created. "Recent studies have convinced governments and business observers that small business, not big corporations, are responsible for most of the new jobs created and most of the nation's economic strength" (Neisbett, 1983).
Furthermore, a revitalization program generally Involves the creation of a technical assistance program through a downtown development authority or local development corporation. Technical assistance is felt to be a primary tool for helping untap growth potential of small businesses (Birch, 1979; Kieschnick, 1979).
City Revenues. In order to provide essential services to community residents, the City's fiscal budget must be adequate. In many smaller cities, a majority of their revenue Is obtained from property and sales tax. When revitalization of the downtown occurs, the city's property tax base may increase from physical improvements adding value to property and new business development adding more tax payers (Nixon et al, 1978). The city's sales tax base may also Increase from increased patronage by local residents, additional businesses generating revenue, and more tourist or visitors spending time and money in the area (Nixon, et al, 1978; Black, 1983). Studies have also indicated that when retail services decline, a
cycle of disinvestment occurs In both commercial and residential sectors (Nixon, et al, 1978). A revitalization program may be able to stop and/or reverse this cycle.
Once the need for a main street' revitalization program is acknowledged, a dilemma arises as to how the program should begin, what the program should entail and how the program should be implemented; In other words, what process to follow. The remainder of this paper presents information on several different revitalization programs and then recommends a process that a smaller city or town can follow to initiate, develop and Implement a downtown revitalization program.
Section II. NATIONAL COMMERCIAL REVITALIZATION PROGRAMS
This section presents approaches to commercial revitalization recommended by national organizations. These organizations include:
The National Council for Urban Economic Development
The National Development Council
Urban Land Institute
Department of Housing and Urban Development
The National Trust for Historic Preservation
The approaches recommended by these organizations are based on case study analyses, pilot programs, and/or extensive research. An attempt has been made to focus specifically on the recommended process. In most cases, however, this was not clearly defined by the organization. For this reason, the Information presented for each organization Is based on several sources and Includes: the context, overall strategy, and general approach for commercial revitalization. A brief discussion summarizing these approaches is presented at the end of this section. A more thorough analysis is presented In Section IV. ANALYSIS.
The National Council for Urban Economic Development
"The National Council for Urban Economic Development is a nonprofit, non-partisan, tax-exempt organization, which links public and private efforts in local assistance, communications, pragmatic research, and professional Interchange" (NCUED, 1979).
This organization was founded in 1966 and has approximately 1,500 members of diverse backgrounds. It is funded by membership fees and dues, as well as grants and contracts from the Economic Development Administration and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The organization is divided Into several committees, each of which focuses on different aspects of economic development. These aspects Include: federal programs, neighborhoods, private sector, and state, regional, and city-wide development Issues.
The National Council's approach to commercial revitalization is presented below. The approach presented Is almost entirely based on the first reference listed, the Information Service. The other reference was used to clarify information obtained from the first source.
1. National Council for Urban Economic Development. Information Service. "Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization." Number 17. Washington, D.C.: National Council for Urban Economic Development, 1979.
2. National Council for Urban Economic Development. Coordinated Urban Economic Development. Chapters 3, 4, 7, and 8. Washington, D.C.: National Council for Urban Economic Development, 1978.
This approach is for the revitalization of neighborhood commercial districts within the structure of a larger city.
A Team Approach: A network comprised of neighborhood, civic and business organizations, local government, merchants, bankers, quasipublic organizations and often consultants who act as the central manager and coordinator of the development process.
The effort must Include:
1. Market Analysis
2. Business Development Plan
3. Physical Improvements Plan
A. Establish a strong organizational base (10-15 people) whose cornerstone Is a neighborhood based group.
1. Proceed only when a committed and organized group Is in pI ace.
2. Include City representatives In the revitalization effort. They should be encouraged to provide assistance, financing, services, supplies and staff.
3. Encourage the City government or a quasi-public organization to play a role in helping the group organize for the revitalization effort.
4. Represent the entire neighborhood, especially the business component, and organize a task force.
5. Identify the role of the organization which includes:
a. central coordination liaison to other groups and coordinator of project,
b. support "seller of the revitalization concept to the rest of community,
c. representation spokesperson for the neighborhood to city officials and developers.
B. Develop a market study which will be the basis for Identifying business development opportunities and making realistic plans. This should include:
1. Shoppers survey identifying demand, shopping patterns, market area, identity problems and image.
2. Physical Inventory square footage of space of the current supply of businesses, parking capacity, store front conditions, public improvements needed walks, lights, street repair, trees.
3. Merchants survey their opinions on revitalization effort, opportunities to participate, problems and potentials.
4. Development opportunities through contacting bankers, realtors, developers.
5. An analysis of survey Information:
a. a plot of the market area made from addresses from the survey,
b. an estimation of consumer buying power by analyzing potentials, opportunities, leakage.
C. Prepare a business development plan that Is based on an objective examination of the area's problems. Determine the best way to generate more traffic through the commercial area. Strategies of this plan could Include:
1. Expansion if the market analysis indicates that the market is not saturated and not capturing a lot of its potential.
2. Adaptation If the shoppers indicate a dissatisfaction with goods and services requiring inventory, management, and merchandising changes.
3. Attraction If the market analysis indicates a demand for goods and services not already offered. In this case, the following ideas are recommended:
a. look for anchors; this will require a well organized promotional effort,
b. promote the area to new business by identifying:
- area's market
- transportation access
- parking availability
- commitment to revitalization plans
- rent information
- crime rates
c. promote the area through local realtors and bankers,
d. analyze the character of the area.
D. Develop a Physical Design Plan for the heart of the commercial project. This can alter the image, appearance and utility of the area. It should Include:
1. Building Improvements developed as part of a coordinated plan with design standards that may be adopted and required.
2. Public Improvements developed by the city with the participation of the organization.
3. Land use changes which may include the removal of tenants, additional parking or property purchase.
E. Identify financing opportunities for the revitalization activities.
1. Organizational planning and technical expertise Is financed with:
a. Indirect resources Community Development Block Grants, Economic Development Administration, City staff, economic development corporation, land transactions, loan repayments,
b. direct resources Small Business Association loans, Community Services Administration, foundations, churches.
2. Business development plan Is dependent upon:
a. the merchants being convinced that a coordinated plan will Increase sales,
b. the availability of inexpensive financing for building improvements,
c. the banks being convinced that the project is a serious effort to turn around downtown; the organization should offer to help with paperwork and assisting merchants with loans,
d. applications to funding sources mentioned above.
4. Develop a strategy for the promotion and marketing necessary to inform potential customers of new developments. This should utilize media, events and sales.
The National Development Council
The National Development Council is a private nonprofit corporation focusing on economic development related issues. It is staffed by approximately 35 professionals with backgrounds in banking, real estate brokerage, financing, and economic development. The National Development Council is supported by individual contracts with various units of government for services rendered in the field of economic development, real estate, financing, and small business development. Financial support is also received from training programs given to both the public and private sectors across the country. (Grisock, 1984) The National Development Council is currently emphasizing small business financing systems for use by cities and states. This is a program that helps cities and states set up small business development financing to generate more businesses and jobs. (Grisock, 1984)
The Councils approach to commercial revitalization was developed under the Carter Administrations Neighborhood Business Revitalization Program and was initiated in sixty-five cities across the nation. The approach presented below is taken directly from the following references:
1. The National Development Council, Successful Commercial Revitalization Using Shopping Center Technology. Washington, D.C.: National Development Council, 1979.
2. The National Development Council. "Commercial Revitalization." New York, N.Y.: National Development Council,
The approach developed by the National Development Council applies to older business districts encompassing cities of all sizes.
This approach recommends commercial revitalization through shopping center technology with the following key elements:
- Public improvements according to an overall development and funding plan.
- Design standards with a legal mechanism to obtain 100 percent involvement.
- Business financing and technical assistance which include project management.
- Special Assessment District formation for financing and managing the program.
In addition, the area should be economically viable, compact, and have leadership potential.
The approach includes: 1) an implementation process to develop a revitalization program, and 2) processes to develop the key elements of the program indicated above.
I. PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT
A. Obtain general political support.
1. Explain the publ ic/private partnership and the negotiating
process to elected officials and key administrators.
2. Seek a commitment to support: t
a. public improvement fund allocations,
b. ordinances establishing design standards,
c. facade loan funds, loan packaging assistance and a project manager,
d. ordinances to provide a reliable source of funding for shopping center type management (advertising, promotions, etc.).
B. Obtain community support.
1. Explain the program to key individuals such as merchants, neighborhood leaders, bankers, and major property owners.
2. Seek a commitment to support the program actively.
C. Obtain legal support.
1. Work with sympathetic local attorneys to identify a legal basis for:
a. design standards (i.e., urban renewal, general powers, etc.),
b. funding mechanism for shopping center type management (i.e., special assessment, special license fee, etc.).
2. Outline all the steps required to obtain legal authority (i.e., state laws, local ordinances).
D. Assemble a team of professionals.
1. Designate a project manager with the authority and capability to take charge.
2. Provide the project manager with access to planners, architects, Inspectors, loan packagers and others on a less than full time basis.
E. Arrange an initial public meeting.
1. Emphasize publ1c/private partnership cooperation.
2. Outline public improvements, staff and financing which the City is prepared to contribute if private investment is forthcomi ng.
F. Develop early visible results by quick actions that demonstrate that the City is focusing on the area (i.e., paint a public building, make a mini-park out of a garbage-strewn lot or finance a rehabilitation project).
G. Generate a series of committee meetings and public meetings.
meetings should discuss:
1. Public improvements* including:
a. a determination of the elements of an overall revitalization plan,
b. proposed solutions to neighborhood problems which can be delivered quickly,
c. a plan for public improvements like parking, special lighting, landscaping, etc.
2. Rehabilitation, including:
a. review of facade treatments in successful projects,
b. discussion of possible standards for facades and signs,
c. costs of rehabilitation for a few typical buildings,
d. mechanisms for obtaining 100 percent merchant/owner participation.
3. Financing, including:
a. a description of the available assistance through public programs such as long-term financing, low interest loans, interest subsidies and loan packaging assistance, etc.,
b. the involvement of local bankers to obtain their commitment to participate in pub 1 ic/pr1vate financing and long-term financing.
4. Management, including:
a. discussion of the need for advertising, promotions, business recruitment, increased security, sanitation and maintenance,
b. a consensus that voluntary contributions will not work,
c. introduction of the idea of an ordinance which requires contribution by all businesses or owners to a management fund*
d. explanation of how decisions on the program activities would be made by a board or commission of local merchants and/or property owners,
e. consideration of a "sunset provision which terminates the ordinance after five years unless it is renewed,
f. discussion of funding formula options, i.e., flat fee, front footage, square footage, gross sales, assessed value, etc.,
g. development of a general program, budget, funding formula and ordinance with broad support of active merchants and property owners.
H. Obtain a commitment to support the total package which includes:
1. An overall development plan and public improvements plan.
2. Overall design standards and one hundred percent merchant participation.
3. Business financing, neighborhood liaison, technical assistance, and public/private partnerships.
4. A management program for the shopping area.
I. Officially adopt the comprehensive program that includes,
ordinances, agreements and funding commitments, full support of the
neighborhood, the City and the appropriate federal officials.
II. PROCESSES TO ESTABLISH KEY ELEMENTS OF THE PROGRAM
A. Establishing a design ordinance.
1. Establish the investment the City is willing to make regarding public improvements downtown.
2. Establish a program of financial assistance to property owners. The program of assistance should cover minimum design standards.
3. Obtain financial assistance for larger projects; financing for acquisition, recruiting, replacing inactive property owners.
4. Focus on design potential of buildings: negotiate minimum standards with property owners, merchants, etc.; involve relatively inexpensive improvements the intent is to eliminate 'eyesores." Emphasize compatibility, not conformity. Highlight architectural features and establish a design review process to interpret standards.
5. Discuss with merchants and property owners the need for and problems with one hundred percent compliance.
6. Propose an ordinance in conjunction with an attorney to establish deadlines and penalties.
7. Work with leading merchants to sell design ordinance to others.
8. Give support talks with information on public improvements, financing and standards.
9. Mail ordinance to all merchants and property owners and plan a meeting to head off all opposition before a city council vote.
10. Get majority support before proceeding to council.
11. Impose fines for noncompliance.
B. Developing new businesses.
1. Approach the business community to develop a leasing brochure documenting advantages of locating downtown.
2. Inventory all available space.
3. Develop a reach out program. Send mailings to realtors, national chains, appraisers, city government, contractors, architects, merchants associations, lenders, prospective merchants.
4. Find people in noncompeting areas to open a second outlet.
5. Demonstrate the community activity and progress.
6. Obtain funding that is fair, efficient and reliable. Some sources include:
a. creating a special assessment district to finance improvements in district,
b. levying an annual license or franchise fee directly on merchants who receive benefit,
c. "challenge grants," i.e., the City, Chamber or other agency will match first year funds if a special assessment is established by ordinance,
d. active marketing of properties.
C. Implementing a Special Assessment District.
1. Obtain political support by getting property owners endorsement.
2. Obtain community support by explaining program to community leaders, obtaining support of merchants, leaders, property owners, bankers.
3. Answer legal questions by involving a local attorney.
4. Develop a program and budget options. Include:
a. a list of programs and cost of services,
b. a range of budgets and costs to businesses or property owners,
c. funding or contributions from City, Chamber, or others for initial year.
5. Hold public meetings/committee meetings to:
a. obtain consensus that more than a voluntary program is needed,
b. explain decisions on program activities would be made by board or commission,
c. determine activities most desired,
e. discuss funding options,
f. develop program budget.
6. Adopt the submitted draft ordinance when a liaison exists between elected officials and community.
7. Implement the ordinance, this will involve:
a. board members,
b. assessed businesses,
c. management activities.
Urban Land Institute
"The Urban Land Institute is an independent, nonprofit educational and research organization incorporated in 1936 to improve the quality and standards of land use and development. The institute is committed to conducting practical research in the various fields of real estate knowledge; identifying and interpreting land use trends in relation to the changing economic, social, and civic needs of the people; and disseminating pertinent information leading to the orderly and more efficient use and development of land." (Rumbaugh, 1983)
This organization is supported by membership dues, sales of publications, contributions for research, and panel services. There are nine Urban Land Institute Councils which conduct studies on commercial and office development, industrial development, recreation development, residential development, and urban redevelopment.
Their approach to commercial revitalization presented below was taken directly from the Development Handbook. The other references were used to clarify and support the first source. The references include:
1. Urban Land Institute. Downtown Development Handbook. Washington, D.C.: Urban Land Institute, 1980.
2. Urban Land Institute. UDAG Partnerships: Nine Case Studies. Washington, D.C.: Urban Land Institute, 1980.
3. Urban Land Institute. Downtown Retail Development: Conditions for Success and Project Profiles. Washington,
D.C.: Urban Land Institute, 1983.
The approach presented is recommended for a large downtown, central business district. The overall goal is "the revitalization and
conservation of the core of our nation's cities." (ULI, 1980) The information presented is a summary of a complex and lengthy process.
This approach to downtown revitalization is based on the formation of one or more development projects. The key to its success is the involvement of the public sector in the real estate development process. This process is comprised of the following stages:
A. Predevelopment -- project initiation, conception, analysis, packaging.
B. Development project implementation, financing, leasing, design, constructi on.
C. Post development project management, maintenance.
The public sector is usually involved through tax abatements, land leases, parking developments, subsidies, and direct loans.
A. Predevelopment Stage encompasses the general concept to the specific.
1. Phase I. Project Initiation and Conception
a. initiators of a project:
- downtown property interests
- space users
- planning departments, redevelopment authorities
- public/private ad hoc groups
- business people and for profit organizations
- nonprofit corporations,
b. conception includes examining and formulating a development strategy including:
- potential uses
- site potential market demand, acquisition costs
- constraints opposition, funding, politics
- economic analysis tenant identification, crude pro formas
- public contributions front-end costs leveraging controls, zoning, leases
- private contributions local investors, leveragi ng
- alternative concepts
- presentation of findings to public body.
2. Phase II Project Analysis.
a. develop information for alternatives:
- regulatory, legal considerations
- environmental considerations
- timing and sequencing
- political support
- market analysis
- planning and design
- financing/cost estimate, pro forma, financial analysis, identification of funds,
b. identify a preferred design and development program, i nclude:
- final preliminary design
- development schedules
- operating plan to incorporate public facilities
- cost estimates
- financial pro forma
- cost/benefit analysis
- public/private negotiations.
3. Phase III Site Acquisition and Construction.
a. formalize agreements,
b. secure commitments for:
- land acquisition and relocation acquiring land through equity,
- participation, purchasing, land disposition,
- leasing securing lease agreements with tenants,
- public development and funding agreements with public,
- entities to participate with funding and development,
- public/private agreements
- operating agreement between public/private entities define responsibilities for operation and maintenance of public, private, and common space.
B. Development Stage implementation of the project.
1. Secure financing for:
a. predevelopment loans,
b. long-term financing,
d. construction, short term loans (bonds, private).
2. Obtain leasing commitments.
3. Design specific plans and details.
4. Prepare for construction activity including contracts, bids, contractors, scheduling.
C. Post Development Stage involves contract negotiation for proper management and maintenance of project.
1. Contract for services to tenants.
2. Insure good tenant relations and accounting.
3. Market and promote project.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a department of the United States government that specializes in programs involving urban revelopment and renewal. Some of their early activities were the Urban Renewal and Model Cities Programs. The existing programs addressing downtown revitalization are the Community Development Block Grant and Urban Development Action Grant programs. Their literature on and approach to commercial revitalization has been developed from case study analyses of projects financed with HUD grants.
Their approach to revitalization presented in this paper is taken almost entirely from a draft of a new publication they are preparing on commercial revitalization entitled, "Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization". It is a thorough investigation of all the elements involved in a neighborhood commercial revitalization effort. Since it is quite detailed, the process presented below is the result of sifting through the information and utilizing the other references listed to reinforce any deductions that were made. The following is the list of references:
1. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization." Draft, 1983.
2. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development "Commercial Revitalization Neighborhood Focus." Washington, D.C.: Department of Housing and Urban Development 562-NVACP,
3. Southeast Development Incorporated. "Greater Highland Business Area Revitalization Program." HUD Technical Assistant Contract No: H-433-66. Baltimore, Maryland: Southeast Development Incorporated, 1977.
4. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Recent East Neighborhood Revitalization, Toledo, Ohio." HUD, 1979.
This approach is for commercial revitalization of older commercial neighborhoods within the city.
Qy.er.al 1. Strategy
Successful revitalization efforts incorporate three elements:
- Joint Advertising and Management
- Business Development
- Physical Improvements
Programs should be based on a partnership with the city, lenders, residents, and merchants. Shopping mall principles should be implemented:
- Attractive environment
- Anchor stores
- Business development
- Credit from lenders
- Joint advertising
"Successful commercial revitalization programs are built on a partnership of interests and are supported by a network of local resources -- public, private and financial and technical" (HUD, 1983).
A. Getting started:
1. Major participants should include:
a. merchants the key to a successful effort*
b. residents -- both as consumers and skill contributors*
c. property owners identify and solicit involvement,
d. neighborhood organizations allies, good energy and work,
f. local government -- information, technical assistance, funding, public improvements. Can also help with lenders,
g. schools and universities interns and students,
h. larger businesses -- financial and technical assistance,
i. media publicity and help with networking.
2. Networking is needed to get people involved:
a. start with the merchants and focus on immediate problems,
b. conduct an informal survey and plan a meeting to discuss problems and ideas,
c. speak to additional groups and individuals; personal contact is needed to plan an agenda that emphasizes all the different people and their resources they can offer to create a feasible strategy,
d. show slides or films of other revitalization efforts at the meeting. Show slides of problems and opportunities of the business district.
3. Stimulate and maintain participation:
a. respond to community groups and organizations,
b. develop positive working relationships.
4. Form a task force of interested participants, involve a cross section of people. This group should:
a. begin to formulate goals and strategies for the revitalization program,
b. remember to address the three main areas:
- Physical improvements
- Business development
- Joint management and promotion.
B. Design the program and projects.
1. Make certain of the commercial area's needs by developing the following:
a. merchants survey,
b. market analysis and consumer survey,
c. local government survey,
d. building conditions and land use,
e. traffic and access survey,
f. parking inventory,
g. pedestrian accommodations.
2. A task force should participate in the design and review of the surveys.
3. Choose projects based on the following:
a. needs of the commercial area,
b. initial strategy,
c. capacity of the present organization.
C. Design a development strategy.
Include these essential ingredients:
a. partnership and commitment*
b. centralized management,
c. flexible financing,
d. comprehensive development strategy which includes goals, objectives and action activities.
Set up committees for the following:
a. physical planning,
b. store front improvements,
c. business development,
d. joint promotion,
f. executive coordination.
D. Implement the program.
1. The organization or task force should develop into some type of corporation, i.e., local development corporation.
2. Financing involves contacting funding sources for:
a. start up efforts,
b. in kind contributions (staff time, office supplies, materials),
3. Encourage a committed group to be involved on a project.
4. Hire a full time street manager for duties involved with coordinating a formal working organization.
Ihe National Trust for Historic Preservation
The National Trust is a national private organization chartered by the U.S. Congress to facilitate public participation in the preservation of buildings, sites and objects of American history and culture. The organization was founded in 1949 and has approximately 131,000 members. It is supported by membership dues, workshops and publications.
One of its newest approaches to the preservation of older buildings has been through the National Trust's Main Street Program. This program was developed by the National Trust under the premise that historic preservation is in many cases the best approach to the problems of main street.
The National Trust developed its commercial revitalization approach from three demonstration projects in Galesburg, Illinois; Madison, Indiana; and Hot Spring, South Dakota. It has subsequently broadened the program to include six states and 30 communities and 1s currently in the process of expanding to other states. The second year progress of the programs is summarized in Figure I, following this approach.
The approach to commercial revitalization presented below is formulated from the following references:
1. National Trust for Historic Preservation. "Conserve Neighborhoods, Special Issue on Commercial Revitalization." Washington, D.C.: National Trust Newsletter, No. 7, 1979.
2. National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Main Street Center. "Main Street Means Business," Washington,
D.C.: National Trust, 1981.
3. Urban Investment and Development Company. "Economic Monitoring for the Main Street Program." Washington, D.C.: National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1981.
4. National Trust for Historic Preservation. "Main Street Project: Economic Findings and Recommendations." Chicago, Illinois: National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1978.
A human resource and technical reference program to stimulate economic development in the context of historic preservation, the National Main Street Center was established by the National Trust in 1980 to increase the availability of the "Main Street Approach" (to which the program is often referred). The center provides information on and technical assistance for revitalization efforts. The focus of the program has been on small towns across the country. (National Main Street Center Annual Report, 1982)
The approach is based on four elements: 1) organization; 2) promotion; 3) design; and 4) economic restructuring. The basic belief is that historic preservation can be a catalyst to achieve these four elements by uniting members of the community and providing an image for the main street.
A. Program Development.
1. Conduct an inventory to analyze conditions. Include surveys of:
d. real estate
e. economic conditions
f. merchandising techniques
g. merchants and residents ideas and opinions.
2. Develop recommendations for a revitalization program based on the inventory.
3. Hire a project manager who will be responsible for:
a. encouraging individual merchants to undertake store front renovations and sign designs,
b. advising about financing,
c. advising about construction,
d. working with merchants, city, and community groups to develop economic strategies that encourage local residents and downtown workers to shop in downtown. (Strategies include: better merchandising, marketing, promotion, filling vacancies the four point program presented below),
e. working together on public improvements to further enhance district.
B. Four Point Program.
1. Organi zation: This involves bringing together merchants, business people, city officials, and residents to implement the recommendations developed form the inventory information. It also involves developing local leadership and, like a shopping center, organizing the merchants into an association. Developing a merchants association involves:
a. forming a steering committee, concentrating on a few simple worthwhile projects; e.g., sale days, small beautification projects, planting trees, building a bus shelter, social events,
b. establishing good will and interest, then creating a formal association to develop letterhead, logo, bank account, board of directors, office, some joint services, e.g., medical insurance, trash removal, snow removal,
c. establishing committees to work on projects, developing specific tasks to keep interest alive,
d. hiring a paid staff person to coordinate committees and volunteers and keep momentum up and help the association develop,
e. remaining active by timing projects throughout the year, developing a newsletter or flyer to keep merchants up to date and keeping nonmembers informed and welcome,
f. including nonretail business downtown,
g. encouraging merchants to share their ideas and concerns and to exert peer pressure on businesses not fixing up their store fronts,
h. bringing in outside experts to speak on window displays, advertising, renovation, etc.
i. attracting new businesses by forming a tenant recruitment committee,
j. cultivating public contacts with government leaders and soliciting general support,
k. formulating major public improvements when an association is in place; the association must be organized to solicit private and public support.
2. Promotion: This involves marketing the area as a district
and creating an image for the main street. An image can be
established and developed in various ways. These include:
a. exploiting distinctive structures,
b. presenting the place to shoppers in a consistent way,
c. building on characteristic aspects; i.e., historic preservation,
d. improving identifiable qualities and communicating these to consumers,
e. becoming consistent in selling various goods; i.e., having what customer wants treating customers as friends* making sales, follow-up services,
f. promoting to increase public awareness of special features in downtown.
3. Design: Design will include public improvements, parking, facade renovation, altered circulation patterns, signage and other elements to produce a unified and "revitalized" effect. Some design considerations include:
a. developing main street as an inviting place to walk, browse, eat, shop, etc.,
b. remembering that outward appearance is the most significant contact between the merchant and customer,
c. unifying elements in the downtown to avoid excessive competition and confusion,
d. maintaining the buildings and public spaces,
e. providing marginal protection from the elements with awnings and tree cover.
4. Economic Restructuring: This involves recruiting new business and creating a mix of goods and services. This is meant to upgrade existing business, develop the main street as the hub of activity. In order to attract new business and stimulate change, financing is needed for the following:
a. landscape and parking lot improvements financed by tax revenue bonds, state and federal assistance,
b. improvements along main street financed by the public sector and by a special tax levy on property owners.
c. building rehabilitation financed with loans at reduced interest rates or special preservation grants; the local banks need to be encouraged to form a jointly-funded special loan program for building rehabilitation,
d. initial projects financed by conventional methods; these projects include awnings, advertising copy, and improved maintenance.
Michael Ainslie, National Trust president, states in Historic Preservation, "Older downtowns can be successfully revived through a low-cost incremental approach that combines public and private support and capitalizes on a town's existing assets, namely its historic buildings" (Walter, 1981). Figure 1 is a summary of 30 revitalization programs that were initiated through the National Main Street Center in 1980.
Figure 1. NATIONAL MAIN STREET CENTER STATE DEMONSTRATION: SECOND YEAR PROGRESS IN 30 TOWNS
STATES COLORADO GEORGIA MASSACHUSETTS NORTH CAROLINA PENNSYLVANIA TEXAS
c o l/> CJ)
ABOUT THE TOWNS Delta Durango o c _p "O c to <5 a. if) a o c to 5 Sterling Athens Thomasville LaGrange Swainsboro (O ) O O >* CO 3 s 4> E < | Northamptor O) o> g x5 sz 3 <8 Taunton Edgartown New Bern Salisbury Shelby Tarboro Washington Easton Jim Thorpe Uniontown Williamsport Georgetown Hillsboro (0 o to Z Seguin Plainview TOTALS
Population (1000s) 4 114 28 5 13 44 15 25 7 20 14 29 16.5 42 28 16 26 17 10 9 28 5 15 34 10 7 3 6 18 23
Project Budget ($1000s) 34 85 157 25 60 56 50 20 2 40 70 15 52 62 5 55 45 98 30 68 25 25 50 27 18 22 19 23 5 21.5 $1,260,000
Full Time 2 2 3 1 2 2 1 1 0 1 4 1 2 0 0 2 1 1 1 0 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 37
Staff Part Time 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 20
New Downtown Organizations (in 2 years) 18
Reorganized existing group (in 2 years) 25
Workshops (design, tax, etc) 26
Free design assistance available 27
Facade changes 2 13 7 5 6 11 7 6 2 3 7 6 5 2 4 13 7 5 4 4 3 6 8 16 11 18 5 6 169
Number of rehab proiects 6 21 11 10 9 14 12 8 7 8 11 25 9 0 3 12 17 7 7 11 s 3 6 10 12 11 19 16 10 300
Number of new construction projects 2 4 2 1 1 5 1 1 1 3 1 1 1 3 27
Major event promotions (number) 11 14 14 13 12 12 3 5 0 1 3 7 4 6 2 5 3 1 2 4 12 2 8 5 6 3 5 4 5 172
New promotional literature
Low interest loan pool or subsidy program 24
Business and developer recruit-programs 19
Starts 24 47 15 9 8 19 17 9 5 9 10 20 0 0 4 20 18 6 4 14 9 3 12 18 10 13 10 13 11 355
Business Failures 13 26 9 5 1 4 14 6 4 4 7 0 0 2 1 5 9 3 0 7 2 1 7 2 4 10 7 9 5 176
$ Cost of rehab projects (1000s) 64 585 270 176 515 1,234 121 1,417 18 224 386 5,222 1,863 0 116 1,510 3,361 691 169 148 100 600 167 1,944 621 259 797 225 86 $22,898,000
$ Cost of new construction projects (1000s) 187 2,400 25 700 42 4,273 400 0 150 380 19,995 4.000 2,000 0 350 223 $36,125,000
Total $s Reinvested Downtown (1000s) 251 585 2,670 176 540 1,934 163 5,690 18 224 786 5.222 1,863 266 1,510 3,741 691 20,164 148 100 600 167 5,944 621 2,259 797 575 309 $59,023,000
This chart is taken from the National Main Street Center annual report.
Most of the national approaches to commercial revitalization focus on specific strategies a community can use to revitalize their declining commercial district. In addition, the two neighborhood-oriented approaches, NCUED and HUD, focus on developing an organizational base and identifying community needs and objectives. These objectives become the basis for establishing the strategies and support needed to revitalize the commercial district.
The models recommended by the national organizations provide good reference material on different strategies that may help revitalize a commercial area. Community residents have to remember, however, that this information is only a frame of reference and should be adjusted to meet their specific goals and objectives. In most of the models, the revitalization process identifies how to develop the recommended strategies. A community should use this information once they have decided that the recommended strategies will meet their goals. Figure 2 summarizes the national approaches.
SUMMARY OF THE NATIONAL APPROACHES TO COMMERCIAL REVITALIZATION
NCUED mÂ£ liLL HUD MAHLJBUSI
Context Ne1ghborhoods Older Business Central Bus1- Ne1ghborhoods Small Towns
D1stricts ness Districts
Overall Teamwork by: Shopping Center Real Estate A partnership Historic Preser-
Strategy residents, mer- Technology Development among city vation as a
chants, govern- officials, catalyst for
ment lenders, residents, merchants change
Emphasis Establishing a Developing the Constructi ng Networking and Developing the
committed or- shopping center downtown devel- responding to four point pro-
ganizational technology pro- opment projects neighborhoods' gram
base to develop program gram needs
Key Task Force Team of Pro- Developer Task Force Survey and
Elements Market Anal- fessionals Site Analysis Surveys Analysis
ysi s Analysis Development Identity needs Program Directoi
Business Public Im- Alternatives Busi ness 4-point program
Development provements Publ1c Support Development 1. Organization
Plan Design Stan- Publ1c/Private Strategy (merchants'
Physical Im- dards (en- Agreements Joint Promo- association)
provement forcable) Design tion/Adver- 2. Promotion,
Plan Business Financing t1si ng marketi ng
Promotions F1nancing Management Physical Im- 3. Design
Neighborhood Special As- Mai ntenance provements 4. Economic Re-
Committees sessment Local Develop- structuring
Local Devel- District ment Corp. (busi ness
opment Corp. Neighborhood development)
Section III. LOCAL DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATION PROGRAMS
This section will focus on six specific downtown revitalization programs in small cities and towns. Five Colorado revitalization programs will be presented as well as one in Wyoming. A description of the process will be presented including the initiation of the process, development of the process, results, current conditions and future plans, and key elements of the process. The projects are currently in different stages of revitalization and involve small cities (15,000 100,000 people), towns (under 15,000 people) ,or areas which have similar characteristics of small cities and towns. The revitalization programs presented Include:
Old Colorado City, Colorado Springs, Colorado
The location of these communities are shown on Map 1.
Old Colorado City is the only program that involves a neighborhood commercial district in a large city. The reasons for analyzing the process used in that program are: 1) prior to revitalization, Old Colorado City suffered from many of the same problems currently
afflicting many small cities and towns, 2) the area began as a small town and has retained a lot of its small town character even though it is now part of Colorado Springs, and 3) the success of this early revitalization effort has been a stimulus to many other communities in Colorado.
The older programs will be presented first; these include Old Colorado City, Boulder, and Arvada. These programs began in the 1970's. The other three programs are newer programs being initiated in the early 1980's.
Old Colorado City
Old Colorado City was founded in the mid-1800's as a service town for miners. In the early 1900s, it was annexed to Colorado Springs and is now considered a neighborhood of Colorado Springs with approximately 12,000 people. Old Colorado City has its own 'main street' which today gives it a unique identity. This, however, was not always the case. When the commercial revitalization began in 1976, Colorado City's main street commercial core had many vacant decaying buildings, marginal businesses and low property values. The area was in a state of disrepair and had a bad image in the community. It was also a fiscal liability to the City of Colorado Springs in that it was costing the City much more than it was producing in revenues.
This negative condition was the result of a combination of events that afflicted the area over the years:
Larger shopping centers developed outside the area.
A new highway bypassed Colorado City and enabled the residents easy access out of the area.
C-5 or strip zoning along 'main street' enabled chain stores and auto-related uses to locate near the retail core taking away business and creating visual blight.
Some property owners neglected their properties. Other were reluctant to improve their buildings because it was not possible to get a return on the investment. In addition to this, many banks would not lend money to people in this area because of its bad image and financial troubles, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of decline.
The factors causing Old Colorado City's decline are common to many small cities and towns. In the book, Small Towns and Small Towners.
Swanson states four reasons for small town decline. The fourth reason is applicable to Old Colorado City's decline.
"The fourth is economic base in reverse This theory suggests that decline is related to improvements in agricultural technology, and improvements in highway and transportation technology (increasing the possible area of shopping and jobs, thus opening up more competition to local businesses and employees)" (Swanson, et al., 1979).
The Revitalization Process
In 1976, the City of Colorado Springs decided to target the Old Colorado City area for redevelopment. To do this, they set up an Urban Renewal Authority which developed a market study and looked at different alternatives for the commercial core, including razing the old buildings. Since this project was initiated close to the bicentennial, residents and merchants gathered forces to save the heritage of the area and preserve the buildings. In order to accomplish this, a local development corporation was established for the area. The corporation created a loan program with SBA loans for financing. The corporation received two grants from the City, one to match SBA loan requirements, the other to hire personnel to administer the program. The person hired to direct the local development corporation was an ex-banker who knew about loans and financing. This knowledge turned out to be invaluable for setting up this kind of program.
A bicentennial celebration committee was formed by the City. The chairman of the bicentennial effort focused on Old Colorado City. He used his bicentennial position to influence city council, residents,
merchants* and property owners to preserve the heritage of Old Colorado City. People became unified around a common theme: the area's heritage. The Bicentennial chariman also revived and chaired the Old Colorado City merchants association (The Commercial Club) increasing merchant unification and organization. The chairman became a liaison to the city council, representing the merchants association.
The west side (the Old Colorado City area) was a designated redevelopment area, and thus eligible for federal funding, particularly CDBG funds. In addition, the SBA loan officer in Denver wanted to set up a program in Colorado Springs. This was advantageous because it made the loan program easier to use. One of the first projects undertaken in the Old Colorado City area was a bicentennial project renovating the oldest house in the city and relocating it on vacant land near the Colorado City commercial core. The vacant land was developed into a park which attracted more people to the area. Other projects resulted as the Local Development Corporation (LDC) arranged loans for merchants to buy their buildings or expand their businesses, as well as finance new businesses in the area. A stipulation was placed on the loan money the borrower had to borrow enough money to renovate the building facade in addition to the other improvements planned. The building facade had to be done according to architectural drawings and approved by the LDC prior to obtaining a loan.
Personal contacts were made with many property owners to encourage them to improve their buildings. In order to improve their buildings without a raise in property taxes, the bicentennial chairman, together with merchants and property owners, appealed to the state legislature to enable a city to use tax abatement for improvement incentives. This legislation was soon passed.
During this time the urban renewal authority had a consultant develop an overall public improvement plan for the commercial core. In late 1977, the Urban Renewal Authority was stripped of its authority in the Colorado City area. This occurred because of their repeated conflicts with residents, city council members and property owners.
In 1978, the City set up a community development office in the central commercial core of Old Colorado City. The office housed: the Community Development director, the Local Development Corporation, the Commercial Club (merchants association), and the Bicentennial Committee. After this occurred, the new community development director had another plan developed for streetscaping and public improvements. Many felt the first plan was not feasible given the limited budget and the nature of the area. The new business loans were made to many local people. Prior to financing their business, however, the LDC did a thorough analysis of their chance for success. In addition to the loan program, an advertisement and promotional campaign was developed to Identify the area. The merchants raised $13,000 to match a grant given them by the City.
As many of the buildings were being improved, the City decided to put in the public improvements that had been designed. The property owners agreed to set up a taxing district to raise $50,000 annually for maintenance of the improvements. The public improvements consisted of trees, new walkways with brick, widened intersections, benches, lights, signage, alley walkways, and parking lots behind the buildings.
The revitalization process kept its momentum through a spirit of camaraderie and a deep rooted pride in the area. In addition to these, a computer was used to track sales, employment, and investment in the area.
These results showed the City and others that their investment was being returned which helped encourage support.
The number of businesses increased from 62 in 1976 to 110 in 1981.
In 1981, new investment in the area totaled $5.5 million -$3.2 million of SBA loan guarantees, $2.3 million of private 1nvestment.
From 1976 to 1981 employment increased 100 percent.
Gross sales volume increased from $2.5 million in 1976 to $10.8 million in 1981, a 125 percent real increase, after inflation.
Rents per square foot increased from $1.00-$2.00 in 1976 to $7.00-$8.00 in 1981 and $10.00 in 1983.
Building vacancy rates were 55 percent in 1976 and 8 percent in 1983.
Sixty-eight building ownership changes occurred from 1976 to 1981.
By 1981, 58 facades had been renovated and 36 buildings were substantially rehabilitated.
Over a four year period, property values increased by 124 percent.
Building values increased from $10.00/square foot in 1976 to $35.00/square foot in 1981.
The City of Colorado Springs has begun to encourage infill housing development on the west side of 1-25 in the Old Colorado City area.
Art galleries, studios, benefit drives and festivals are gravitating to Colorado City.
Neighborhood groups have become stronger organizations.
Many people throughout the region now know of Old Colorado City and have a positive image of the area. In addition, it has become a unique tourist attraction.
Enrollment in the elementary schools has increased, indicating an influx of younger families.
Second-story uses of buildings in the commercial district are up to 50 percent from virtually nothing in 1976.
From 1976 to 1981, there was less than a five percent business failure.
Residential property owners have also been improving their properties.
Current Conditions and Future Plans
Old Colorado City is now a registered Historic District. The city is still supporting a staff person and an office in the area. The support has expanded beyond the Colorado City commercial core and the loan program has expanded to include additional businesses along the main street but outside the Old Colorado City core. In addition, a merchant's association has formed and reformed. Unfortunately, there has been little leadership, business development and social interaction among the merchants. Unified promotions have also decreased. Some people feel the merchants lack the entrepreneurial spirit to survive, and some of the most successful business owners have relocated to one of the city's malls.
The organizational strength of the Colorado City area is of concern because a redevelopment effort in downtown Colorado Springs will be direct competition to Old Colorado City commercial district. In addition, the strip zoned residential areas adjacent to Old Colorado City
are slowly becoming commercial. This will have a negative impact on Colorado City if they are not developed with the same scale and character of Old Colorado City. Unfortunately, there has been no organized effort to control this redevelopment and the tearing down of some of the older bui1 dings.
Kev Elements of Process
After interviewing some of the people involved with the Old Colorado City redevelopment, the following key elements were identified:
1. Favorable financing that attracted sound, small businesses to the area and made it possible for tenants to buy their buildings. (Community development block grants and City general funds were essential to the SBA financing strategy.)
2. City council support both financially and emotionally. A large part of this stemmed from a strong community-wide support for the Old Colorado City area.
3. Bicentennial events which created a unifying theme and support for the building restorations.
4. Not treating Old Colorado City as a welfare project, instead, supporting the project because of its historic and architectural contributions to the Colorado Springs region and monitoring the effort showing that the program was working to produce a more viable area.
5. Involving the community and making personal contact with property owners and business people in the area to support the project.
Boulder is located 36 miles northwest of Denver and has a population of 85,000 people with a growth area surrounding it totaling approximately
120.000 people. When the concept for the downtown Boulder mall was first conceived in 1967, Boulder was a smaller city, with a population close to
60.000 people. The Boulder revitalization program is a good example of how a smaller city adjusted to and directed its future growth. Among other things, the people of Boulder had to decide if they wanted to retain their downtown core and if they did, how they could accomplish this with the tremendous development pressure happening around the city's perimeter.
In the early sixties, downtown Boulder was a four-lane 'main street' commercial district for the City of Boulder. Downtown and "The Hill" (next to the college) were the two activity and commercial centers in Boulder. In 1962, however, Crossroads mall was developed just east of the City's boundaries, in Boulder County. This had a negative impact on downtown as some of its anchor stores relocated to the mall and many of the shoppers also went to the mall. In comparison to the mall, according to the Boulder paper, "downtown Boulder looked like an old time main street," described as "sleepy" (Bilby, 1983).
By the mid- to late-sixties, additional businesses had left the area and were being replaced with businesses that typically do not locate along a downtown main street because they are service oriented or small destination type businesses. Rent rates and property values were below what they should have been and sales tax revenues were also declining. Citizens, the city government, and downtown business owners became concerned and decided they must do something:
"The goal was to do something before downtown Boulder went the way of other cities* plagued by urban sprawl, suburban shopping centers and shopettes, which totally drain the downtown areas of retail business and tax revenues. The trend leads to vacant buildings, marginal or transient businesses, and declining property values" (Daily Camera, 1977).
The Revitalization Process
In 1967, a citizens group formed ECAP (Exploration of Core Area Potentials). They persuaded the City council to hire Victor Gruen to study the downtown and prepare a plan for future growth. The plan became known as Boulder Tomorrow. It was a grand scheme for the total downtown area, and included a pedestrian mall for the central retail core.
This pedestrian mall concept encouraged the people of Boulder to support state legislation in 1970 that enabled a city to close a street for a pedestrian mall. This concept also influenced the city to form a parking district for future parking lot developments that would be required for a mall. A bond issue was voted on in 1970 for a seven million dollar downtown redevelopment including: the mall, a civic center, parking, and other plans. The bond was defeated, but the pedestrian mall was not the concept reemerged three years later.
In the early seventies old and new business people in the core area met to pick up where Boulder Tomorrow left off. An older merchants group, the Downtown Businessmen's Association, became active once again as new business people came to the area. It was also renamed Downtown Boulder Association (DBA). A small group from this association began to meet
informally with a downtown architect to determine what should be done in the downtown. At this time, the DBA began to actively solicit membership and support.
In 1974, they went to the City for help with the downtown but were asked to come up with some ideas of their own. To accomplish this, the DBA members raised $10,000 and hired an architect to help organize their ideas for downtown. The architect helped the DBA members to:
Develop a plan and concept for downtown.
Sell the plan to downtown business people to obtain the needed support for a special assessment district.
Involve the public, city planners and property owners in the pians for the mall.
The DBA presented its ideas to the city council which in turn initiated the one hundred and eighty day study period required by the mall act legislation to study the ideas. At this time, the city hired a new planning di rector and gave him an overriding priority -- to revitalize the downtown. The new planning director put out a proposal for the final design and planning of the downtown mall. The design team selected was comprised of:
A local architectural firm,
A landscape architectural and planning firm with a lot of experience in downtown revitalization (out of state)
A local graphics firm.
The planning effort and improvements were financed by a Special Assessment District. A Community Development Block Grant of $650,000 dollars was used as part of the up-front money to begin the process. In
addition, City general funds paid for utilities, transportation and sewer redevelopment, as well as the eventual maintenance of the area.
The design process was participatory. Most people involved in the planning process felt a sense of ownership for the project when it was completed. The process involved: 1/
Forming a mall review committee with DBA members, a City planner, and property owners.
Holding open public meetings for reviewing the plans.
Surveying public opinions for ideas and direction
Presenting plans to city council and planning board members.
After the mall was approved, construction began in 1975 and the grand opening was held in 1977.
Private development guidelines were also a part of the mall design to insure that private building renovations and remodeling would be compatible with the mall's design. An incentive for private redevelopment consisted of a 10' frontage zone available to each merchant for expansion if the merchant also renovated his building facade. Unlike other facade redesign programs, low interest facade loans were not part of the private investment incentives; however, many property owners renovated their buildings as activity in downtown increased. To regulate private redevelopment a mall review commission was set up by the city council. The review commission consisted of two DBA members, one DBA board member, one landmarks board member, and one planning staff person.
1/ Components of the mall design strategy are included in the Appendix.
By 1983> over 90 percent of the businesses have improved their properties interior, exterior or both.
Marginal and transient businesses were displaced; a 70 percent business turnover has occurred.
Sales taxes have increased. The tax revenue generated from the four block mall area went from $255,967 in 1975 to $426,134 in 1977 and $1,567,682 in 1981.
A new image and vitality has been added to the downtown.
A unification of many interest groups occurred as everyone began to support the mall.
Redevelopment and renewal of adjacent streets has occurred and is continuing.
Many upper stories and basements are being developed into office and retail space.
The Boulder Mall project was presented a HUD National Honor Award in 1980 for urban environmental design.
Current Conditions and Future Plans
After almost seven years as a mall, the retail area is still doing well, attracting new retail businesses and many office uses. However, in 1983, the Crossroads Mall expanded and enjoyed unprecedented support its first months of operation and there is talk of a major business park being developed close to the mall which would create even more activity in the mall area. Many people in the downtown area feel that the expanded mall has taken some of the vitality and business away from the downtown. This has resulted in some people taking a new look at the downtown area. The DBA members have formed a new steering committee comprised of downtown business people and property owners. They have begun to plan for the future of the downtown area, looking at height and circulation issues, hotel/convention uses, and cultural activities for the downtown.
The city has also begun to re-examine the downtown area. In the fall of 1983, the city held a downtown redevelopment meeting for all those interested in downtown. Nearly 200 people attended and expressed concern about the future of downtown. The city then arranged for a series of workshops to be held in the fall of 1983 > anybody wanting to participate could attend. The workshops investigated downtown issues and ideas. After these, a downtown task force was appointed by City council in January 1984 to plan the future direction of downtown. This also involved a market study to initially investigate the type of new businesses needed in the downtown. The overall goal of the downtown mall is to complement the Crossroads mall, not compete.
The DBA has become more of an events and promotion arm for the downtown area. They print a newsletter to keep members informed of activities and plans, but it is not an association like a shopping mall. There are many independent business people which will not conform to one idea. A lot of the new businesses have not joined the DBA and have "free-loaded" on the mall promotions and image building done by the DBA.
There is also some sentiment from people who worked on the mall that the downtown revitalization effort did not go far enough. They feel it is at a standstill and that downtown needs more anchor uses to complement the retail sector. Originally, the mall was supposed to be the first phase of downtown redevelopment, but no later phases have been initiated.
Key Elements of Process
The following were expressed as key elements by some of the people interviewed:
1. Philosophical support for the downtown from the City indicated by:
policies and incentives to encourage infill,
the limitation of major retail development until downtown became viable and economically sound,
financial aid and staff support for downtown,
controlled growth policies,
a new City Hall downtown.
2. Public participation and motivation for the redevelopment project. This was important in order to establish a sense of ownership for the area.
3. Bank support of the downtown area. Many banks strengthened their positions downtown and supported redevelopment efforts. This support made it easier for downtown business people to obtain loans.
4. Publ ic/private partnership in managing, designing, and financing the project.
5. Reinforcement and definition of the area's function plus close attention to circulation and parking requirements. -
6. Peer pressure exerted by business people for everyone to do their share.
Arvada is part of the Denver metropolitan area and currently has a population exceeding 80,000 people. It is no longer a physically distinct city, as it is surrounded by Lakewood to the south, Westminster to the north and Thornton to the east. Arvada hasn't always been part of a big metropolitan area; in 1850 it was a small gold rush settlement and by 1870, it had become a small town, physically distinct with its own identity.
In the early days, Arvada was connected to Denver by rail. The town's main street formed along the tracks near the depot. Soon an 11-block area emerged as downtown Arvada. This was the commercial center for the town until suburban growth in the area prompted the development of outlying shopping centers. In 1961, as these centers developed, the Arvada merchants formed an association to promote downtown Arvada. But, downtown decline increased in the mid-seventies and nothing seemed able to stop it. An article in the Denver Post described Old Town Arvada as follows:
"There's a tragic scenario about small towns that grow big.
The center of town, where it all began, eventually becomes old and blighted, finally becoming a slum. Then, developers move in and tear down the old buildings and put up new ones, thus snuffing the last vestige of what the town was all about" (Denver Post, 1983).
Fearing for the future of downtown Arvada, the City Council, supported by the merchants' association, took action.
The Revitalization Process
By the mid-1970's, Arvada had grown to a population of 50,000 and was well integrated into the larger Denver metropolitan area. At this time, the Arvada City council targeted the old commercial district for redevelopment with the goal of reversing its decline. The area had been forgotten, and was becoming an increasing liability to the City.
In response to the City council's actions, the City planning department initiated a Downtown Turn Around study for the area. The study was prepared by an economic development consultant and a design consultant. It was financed initially by City general funds and was adopted by City council in 1976.
A local development corporation was formed with a seven-member board including: established business people, a banker, the Chamber director. This group helped focus the efforts of the merchants association. The first project that was done in the area was the development of a mini-park and a downtown parking area. These were financed with CDBG funds. The Local Development Corporation also worked with the merchants association to set up a building facade loan program to encourage private redevelopment and reinvestment. This was a matching loan by the city, set up with CDBG money and SBA (502) loans.
In 1979, another project was initiated by the LDC and the city. This was a capital improvement or streetscaping plan for main street. It was to be paid for by the property owners through a taxing district. To
organize this project* the city planning staff hired a downtown development director for the LDC with CDBG funds. The directors responsibilities were to:
carry out the streetscape plans
promote the downtown
become a liaison between the merchants and the city
administer CDBG funds, as Arvada is an entitlement city.
The public improvement design process involved:
public meetings with interested merchants, property owners, and residents to decide on what the improvements should include
working with a design firm to arrive at a concept
developing engineering drawings to construct the improvements
setting up a Municipal Special Improvements District. The property owners were assessed $115.00 per linear foot of building frontage that was to be paid back over a 15 year period at an interest rate of eight percent.
The improvements included: extended concrete walks bordered with brick, walk expansions at intersections to define parallel parking, honey locust trees, fencing along the tracks, lights, and shrubs. The merchants association paid for wooden benches, information and directional signs, and trash receptacles. The City became responsible for maintaining the streets and repairing the walks, and the merchants for keeping the area clean.
Downtown promotion also took place. An old water tank was painted yellow and lettered with the words, "01 de Town Arvada." It is a large physical landmark identifying the area and is used as a logo and placed on all promotional information. The merchants association also hired a director in 1981 to be responsible for promotions, fundraising events, press releases, new business development, monthly meeting organization, and a monthly newsletter. The director is paid by membership dues and established yearly fund raisers, including a highly successful auction.
From 1981 to 1983 the local development corporation expanded its role in the area. The director is still supported by CDBG funds but is now working throughout the whole neighborhood area.
Area decline has stopped; most of the buildings have been occupied since early 1980.
A steady increase in sales tax (20 percent) was realized in 1979 and 1980. Revenues have slowed since then but other factors may be influencing this such as the closing of a large furniture store because the owner retired.
Buildings are now listing at market value; increasing from $1.00 per square foot in 1975 to $8.00 per square foot in 1983.
Two new buildings have been built and approximately twenty buildings have been renovated.
The merchants association has been strengthened and has become quite active and well organized.
In 1983, the City received a certificate of merit from HUD for the Turn Around Plan.
Current Conditions and Future Plans
The local development corporation is still processing loans for building improvements, but it has expanded its efforts to include the total community. In addition, the city has created an Urban Renewal Authority to redevelop vacant land south of 01de Town.
There is a lot of sentiment that the 01de Town needs to improve its business mix if it is to become more viable in the future. The area is slowly becoming a place for antique stores and boutiques. One prohibiting factor for bringing in new night life and increased recreational opportunities is a liquor license law which prohibits liquor sales along main street because it is within 500 feet of a school. This discourages restaurants from locating downtown. The director of the merchants association has just begun a business development and recruitment effort.
The Olde Town currently holds an annual Harvest Festival that attracts over 30,000 people, as well as an annual auction that raises funding for its fiscal budget. It is located near two interstates, and may have the potential of attracting more shoppers from nearby communities.
Kev Elements of the Process
After interviewing several people involved in the redevelopment effort, I identified some key elements:
1. Support from the City council and the City planning office.
2. Available funding through CDBG funds.
3. Local support for the area and a merchants association who wanted to preserve the area.
4. Merchant input on the local development corporation board; (originally it was mostly property owners who had a hard time empathizing with the merchants group).
5. Program organization and community involvement, helping the downtown business people to formulate goals and move in the same direction.
6. The development of a strong symbol and identity for the 01de Town.
Frisco is located in the mountains of Colorado in the heart of "ski country". It has only 1,200 full-time residents but is surrounded by large seasonal population densities. Until 1980, the town of Frisco had no coordinated effort guiding its future growth. City personnel included a mayor, a clerk, two secretaries, two public works people, and four police.
Community residents wanted to improve the town and initiated a main street plan in 1977, but nothing happened because no one could agree on what they wanted. Frisco continued to grow, having no real identity. An election of a new town board in 1980 resulted in a concerted effort to develop a town plan.
The revitalization process presented below is a good example of how a small town can discover its own identity while being surrounded by rapid growth, change and development pressures. The revitalization of main street was part of an overall planning strategy developed by the community.
The Revitalization Process
The main street revitalization effort was part of a comprehensive development strategy initiated by a new town planner and a planning consultant in 1980. The effort that emerged has become known as a "Citizens of Frisco Planning Frisco," and is a workshop approach to planning. 2/
ZJ Components of the workshop approach are included in the Appendix.
"This process was started in 1980 with a series of community meetings designed to establish a consensus for future actions and directions of the town approximately 120 individuals participated in three meetings. The outcome of those meetings was a priority list of five areas on which the town needed to concentrate. They were:
1. Development of a Parks and Recreation Plan
2. Formation of a Master Plan
3. Redevelopment of Frisco's Main Street
5. Historic Preservation"
Task forces of volunteers were formed to work on specific issues identified at the planning workshops. The top priority project was the development of a parks and recreation plan. By the spring of 1981, with task force involvement, 3-1/2 miles of bike trails, as well as tennis courts and a park were developed. The next project was the town master plan. The new town board was kept informed of all ideas and decisions so they unanimously passed it when a vote was taken at the end of the planning process.
In 1981, the task force involved in main street revitalization began to hold weekly meetings to develop goals, guidelines, and direction for the main street. This task force was made up of business people and citizens interested in improving the main street. Its function was to advise the town board as to what improvements should be developed for the main street. During the meetings, movies about the potential of main street were shown to educate the people and give them ideas.
The task force developed all the parameters of the design for main street. In order to establish a group consensus* a lot of personal contacts were made with property owners as well as merchants. In order to have a vote on a particular issue, i.e., parking trees, lights, etc., the citizens had to be present at the meeting at which that issue was discussed. Announcements were made as to what was going to be decided at each of the weekly meetings.
The town planner and planning consultant worked with the task force dividing their responsibilities as follows:
Town Planner: administrate and coordinate program community liaison talking with individuals budget for the program informing public officials
Consultant: design work
meeting facilitator, organizer provide graphic Illustrations obtain technical backup information provide advertising
involve community and define work program
When the design parameters were established a design competition was held. Each design firm selected for the competition was given $2,500 to design a plan to meet the design parameters established by the community. Three design firms competed and they all presented their ideas to the community. The design scheme selected was felt to be the most practical and easiest to visualize for the downtown area.
The financing for the town planner's position, the consultant's salary and some of the projects was available through City general
revenue surpluses. Over the years, Frisco had accumulated over one million dollars and was capable of borrowing an additional four to five million because they had no debt.
The City borrowed money to implement the streetscape plan. Later a 3.7 million dollar, long-term bond issue wrapped the main street improvements with a new city hall. The new city hall was developed along main street during the same period that the street improvements were being planned. The City also developed new parking areas.
Improvements for main street encompassed an eight-block area and included: lights, curbs, extended walks with brick edging, and signage; costing $890,000. No special ordinance was needed for new private development. Performance standards for main street were developed and written into the new zoning regulations and master plan and have a broad base of support.
During the construction phase and the design development or working drawings phase, the task force remained active in decision-making. In addition, the public was kept Informed as to what was planned and when the improvements were going to occur. Construction began in June of 1982 and ended in September 1982.
For ten years prior to the revitalization effort, no new development had occurred on the main street, even with a population growth of 29 percent. During the revitalization process new development began to occur.
The pent up demand for development along main street began to materialize; 75,000 square feet of new commercial space was developed in 1982.
Seven to eight thousand square feet of commercial space was remodeled.
A lot of property along the main street "changed hands" and in 1983 development proposals were presented to the City government at a rate higher than ever before.
Over sixty people participated in the main street task force meeti ngs.
In a relatively short time frame, the streetscaping and signage was designed and constructed.
In 1983, the main street revitalization effort won the Community Improvement Award given by the State Department of Commerce and Development.
Current Conditions and Future Plans
The Frisco Chamber of Commerce became the Summit County Chamber in 1983, therefore, a Frisco merchants association formed for their annual
July fourth promotion. The association, however, is not well organized and has no real leadership. At first they held monthly meetings but now even these have even stopped. The businesses along main street are busy; many merchants do not have time to volunteer for the association.
Currently, the town has a more identifiable downtown and vacant land along main street is beginning to fill in. However, the main street project seems to have been just that a project. The development process for the improvements worked, but the process seems to have stopped. A strong cohesive main street organization for business development and future growth was never developed. Perhaps the market is
so conducive to future development and growth that an organization for the main street is not needed. It is interesting to think how much more vibrant the main street could become if someone were organizing the merchants, recruiting for a good business mix, and encouraging new community input and ideas for the main street development.
Key Elements of the Process
I have identified some of the key elements involved in beginning the Frisco main street effort:
1. Community involvement and input into the decision-making process.
2. Undertaking main street as part of a comprehensive development effort, this enabled main street to develop when the people were ready for it to happen.
3. Financial and staff (technical) support from the City.
4. Community support from the town board. The town board responded and used the decisions made by the task forces.
5. Good personal communication between property owners, merchants, citizens, and town board in many cases the town planner developed the by acting as a liaison.
6. Public actions that supported the main street:
Board of Trustees' decision to construct the town hall along main street.
Parks and Recreation's desire to build an ice rink along main street.
The land uses task force's desire to allow higher densities north and south of main street to increase the population activity in the area.
Zoning regulations that were redeveloped to allow new development to occur along main street that would reinforce the street and the intention of the new design scheme.
Golden 1s a small city of approximately 15,000 people located about 15 miles west of Denver and is situated against the foothills. Unlike many of the cities in the Denver metropolitan area, Golden is physically separated from the others. The city dates back to the 1800's when it originally took form as a mining town.
Many of the people in Golden are second and third generation Golden residents. This phenomena is similar to other smaller cities and towns. This is partially explained by Robert Lane who is referenced in Smal 1 Towns and Small Towners: he states that many small town people demonstrate 1) a loyalty to place, 2) an immobility, 3) an increased attachment to conventional approaches, 4) a narrow moral code of behavior, 5) a personalization of issues and events, 6) a generation of myths and heros. and 7) a solidarity among the citizenry (Swanson et al., 1979). Over the years the residents of Golden have formed many value systems and beliefs about their community and its relationship to the rest of the metropolitan area. The commercial revitalization effort in Golden is a good example of how values, opinions and viewpoints must be understood in order to produce change effectively. "Each community will modulate its agenda of change through filters of values, culture norms, opinions and attitudes held by individuals, groups and the community" (Swanson et al., 1979).
In the late fifties/early sixties the merchants of Golden initiated a revitalization program which developed a western theme for the town center. Unfortunately, this did not produce the renewal the business people had hoped for and the central commercial district of Golden continued to slowly decline.
In 1980, a development study for Golden was prepared by a consultant for the City of Golden Planning Commission. One of the items it presented was that the 1980 sales tax revenue was the largest source of city income totaling 1.3 million dollars or 46 percent of the total. This report demonstrated the importance of commercial development, particularly retail development and sales tax collection, to meet the revenue needs of the city. For this reason, commercial development was one of the goals set forth in the report.
To accomplish this goal a downtown revitalization effort was proposed. In order to initiate community support for a downtown effort, the consultant held a few meetings with merchants and property owners. At these meetings, the potentials of a downtown commercial area were demonstrated through a film and information on revitalization concepts.
The Revitalization Process
After the growth and development study was prepared, a downtown business development committee formed out of the Chamber of Commerce. This committee began to look at vacancy rates and ways to improve the downtown. They also met with the mayor and voiced their concerns for downtown. The mayor felt that the downtown improvement idea was a good one. Consequently, in 1981, he appointed a commission to look at downtown issues. The group represented many divergent interests and viewpoints which helped the commission to investigate a variety of ideas. The commission included merchants, bankers, city council representative,
Coors representative, and consumer. The commission looked at other revitalization projects (Old Colorado City and South Broadway in Denver) to get an idea of what to do. Eventually, they decided they needed to hire a consultant to help them organize their efforts. They were awarded a $5,000 grant from the Civic foundation to pay a consultant for six months.
At the end of the six months, the consultant had helped the commission define objectives for the downtown. The consultant also investigated the sales leakages and the extent of the business decline in the downtown area. This information was used to persuade the city to allocate funds for the downtown improvement effort. The goals developed for downtown included:
- fixing up existing businesses
- promoting downtown to office workers
- attracting new businesses to downtown
- promoting downtown to Denver metropolitan residents
A Local Development Corporation (LDC) was established to utilize SBA loans as well as to organize the downtown effort. The LDC set up an office next to the Chamber. Together they supported the downtown, each having a different role. The Local Development Corporations role was to:
- set up a downtown strategy
- obtain funding
- become a liaison between merchants, city, property owners, business people
- coordinate downtown redevelopment
- improve retail mix downtown
- help merchants become better business people through better pricing, inventory changes, better merchandising and improved appearance of their business.
The Chamber continued its promotional efforts for downtown.
The consultant became the director of the Local Development Corporation and many of the people on the mayor's commission became part of the board. The Local Development Corporation director talked with merchants and personally contacted people involved with downtown property owners, city officials, bankers, and civic organizations. The director also used the Chamber's influence and expertise to open doors for contacting local business people.
The LDC was financed by several sources. These included: the City giving them $2.00 for every $1.00 raised privately, dues paid by members of the corporation, and other grants they could find. The director applied for many federal and state grants but did not get any of them. Business redevelopment was financed by a revolving loan fund. The Civic foundation loaned the development corporation $100,000 at a six percent interest rate, the development corporation in turn loaned this money to business people at a 6.5 percent interest rate. The money was used to set up new businesses, expand inventory, remodel old businesses, and finance new development. Facade changes were not required but the LDC tried to make information concerning good design ideas available to property owners and merchants.
A local resident volunteered to assist the LDC director. She helped talk with existing business people about redeveloping their businesses. The LDC tried to change attitudes and make suggestions as to how the
merchants could improve their businesses. The LDC decided it was important to start from the inside out in helping the existing businesses. Graphs of yearly sales were made to show merchants that their businesses were declining. The LDC also talked to new people or property owners to get them to start a new business in some of the vacant downtown space.
After approximately two years of working with existing businesses, the Local Development Corporation realized that they needed to bring in outside private investment. In order to do this, they needed to buy land and/or buildings downtown to create investment opportunities that would be profitable for a developer. They decided to establish a Downtown Development Authority (DDA). In order to do this, they needed to acquire a majority vote of property owners.
In order to get the votes needed to form a DDA, the LDC director made personal contact with every property owner who would vote. Some people were contacted as many as four times, through letters, meetings, and personal contacts. The DDA was sold as a means to induce more developments. The LDC sighted specific projects that 1t felt could be accomplished with bond revenues. These included: public improvements, some land redevelopments, parking areas and a new building downtown. They tried to appeal to different interests. In February 1983, the DDA passed with an 82 percent vote and a new board was appointed by City Council. It contained three people from the LDC board, one council person and several other downtown business people. The LDC was disbanned and its remaining budget of $30,000 was returned to the City in hopes that it would be reallocated to the DDA.
The LDC was disbanned because its members felt they had done all they could to redevelop the area through existing businesses. Some ideas materialized and some didnt. They felt that the organization would merely become a maintenance organization, as promotion was occurring through the chamber. The new thrust of the DDA would be to develop new space and new business.
Results to Date
Retail sales increased steadily in 1982 and 1983, after a steady decline since 1976.
A new building is being built on main street with a mix of office and retail space.
Many businesses put up new signs and painted or renovated their upper facades.
An atmosphere for change developed. Property owners, business people and citizens came to the conclusion that additional capital investment was needed in order to revitalize the downtown property. They have become aware of the need for change and new development 1n the downtown area, Including bringing a Coors visitor center and outside developers downtown.
More merchants have become involved in the promotion, advertising and general events in downtown.
Twenty-eight new businesses were started up and twenty-two business improvements were made.
Current Conditions and Future Plans
The new DDA has had one meeting and is trying to interest a developer in a 10.5 acre site adjacent to the commercial core. The DDA hopes to assemble the land and write down the cost for a developer to develop retail, office and a Coors visitor center on the site. In addition, the DDA has applied for CDBG funds and additional city funds
for redevelopment projects. Public improvements are also being considered for future downtown development.
Some ideas have developed for a downtown merchants association but there is no one willing to lead the effort. The Chamber is going to try to do the promotions and advertising for the downtown merchants.
Kev Elements of the Process
Some of the key elements I have identified in the Golden downtown effort to date are:
1. Dedicated people willing to work towards a better downtown.
2. Someone able to direct the program and give many ideas a common focus.
3. Emphasis on economics: the goal was to increase sales, which required new inventory, good displays and good business practices. The belief that if merchants became more prosperous they would be more inclined to spend money on physical improvements.
4. City support: psychological, financial and big capital improvements such as parking.
5. Appealing to the City's interest by identifying the amount of revenue generated for the City by sales tax.
6. Chamber cooperation and support and utilization of their business contacts.
7. Leadership from business community, including banks and property owners.
8. Personal contact with all those involved and interested in downtown developing a favorable psychological attitude for redevelopment.
9. The citizens, merchants, property owners, and city officials were given the time needed to develop trust in the revitalization effort. They werent asked to vote on it before they knew or realized what the program could offer.
The revitalization effort in the downtown core of Rawlins is just beginning its implementation phase. The program initiation as well as the plans and studies have been accomplished. According to the consultants working on the revitalization effort* "Rawlins has great potential" and "it is up to the community to make it work" (Daily Times, 1984).
This revitalization effort is a good example of how and why a small town might want to initiate a revitalization program in the midst of economic decline and high unemployment rates that characterize the tail-end of the energy "boom-bust" cycle.
Rawlins is a small town in southern Wyoming, 100 miles east of Rock Springs and 100 miles west of Laramie. The current population is almost 11,000 people, down from 12,000 in 1981. Rawlins' economy and population fluctuates with the national energy economy. In the late 1970's, the town began to grow and suburbanize with discount department stores locating at the edge of town, along with relocated and expanded grocery stores. In addition to this, the edge of Rawlins was being investigated as a site for a small mall development. This development was opposed by many downtown merchants. A coalition was formed to defeat a bond issue for the mall development. Before the mall could develop, however, the energy 'bust' cycle impacted Rawlins, in 1981. Economic decline was felt by many of the downtown merchants.
"During the national recession which began in 1981, the demand for western energy materials diminished. The local coal and uranium projects closed down and the unemployment rate soared. Housing prices declined as energy-related workers left the community driving up the supply of housing. The resultant drop in demand for goods and services disproportionately impacted
the businesses in the downtown area. A number of stores went out of business, increasing vacancies in the downtown area.
The reduced demand for space has kept rents low and precluded building and space improvements by property owners (Hammer, Siler, George Associates, 1984).
In 1981, the city planner showed the National Trust's movie, "Main Street," at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. This sparked the idea of revitalizing the downtown area. To increase this interest, the city planner met with an ad hoc merchants group (many of whom were involved in the effort to defeat the mall) about downtown redevelopment. The planner also surveyed consumers about downtown and used this Information to inform merchants that they weren't meeting consumer demands.
The Revitalization Process
Every fall, the City Council of Rawlins decides what its priorities and goals will be for the upcoming year. In 1982, after the ad hoc merchants group had been meeting and the consumer survey was completed, a task force formed to present the revitalization of downtown Rawlins as a number one goal for 1983 to City Council.
Before going to council, the group, consisting mostly of merchants as well as the city planner, defined their goals and talked to people involved with downtown other merchants, property owners, city council people, the Chamber of Commerce director, and bankers in the area. They tried to get the other people to see the advantages and value of having a strong downtown center. The group obtained more support when the city condemned one of the buildings downtown. Property owners began to realize that something must be done to turn the area around.
In November of 1982> the City Council designated the area's redevelopment as a number one goal. The presentation of the project was well thought out and the project had a lot of support. A number one goal designation meant the city planner and staff were given a budget to work on the revitalization process. To begin the process of studying downtown the mayor appointed a commission of community residents. This commission became known as the C.A.R.E. Commission (Core Area Revitalization Effort). The commission was composed of merchants, bankers, property owners, and consumers. The members of the commission had to commit to monthly meetings to discuss and plan for downtown. The C.A.R.E. Commission developed a public information slide show on downtown and presented it to other community groups to get more support for the effort.
At its early meetings, the commission presented topics relevant to main street revitalization: financing, economics, marketing and design ideas. It also looked at other communities and got additional ideas for the downtown. Eventually, the commission realized it needed an outside consultant to help them. The city council decided they would give the commission $30,000 if they found matching private funds. This money could then be used to finance a study and plan for the downtown. They initiated a fundraising drive. Before they approached businesses, organizations, corporations, etc. for money, they formulated a clear idea of what they wanted to do and good reasons why people should contribute to the effort.
At the beginning of 1983, the commission hired a consultant who had been working in a nearby community to help them define what they wanted, come up with ideas, and write an RFP for the downtown study. The
consultant was hired with money given to the C.A.R.E. Commission by the Carbon County Development Corporation. In late spring, the RFP was written, and close to $50,000 dollars had been raised (including the city contribution of $30,000) to hire a consultant. The RFP was written to emphasize economic planning, implementation and community involvement. The commission did not want a study that would "sit on a shelf." The consultants were hired in July 1983 and began their work in August. The prime consultant was an economic and development firm; subconsultants were a design firm and an engineering firm.
The consultants were hired and directed by the C.A.R.E. Commission. Initially they analyzed the town with: economic and physical analyses; a space inventory of buildings, parking lots, and businesses; a merchants survey of business funds, customer flow, and downtown ideas; interview data from property owners and city personnel. The market study presented a realistic view of what trading areas downtown Rawlins had more potential to capture and the amount of sales leakage the downtown was experiencing.
The first public presentation was made in October 1983. At this meeting the economic analysis of downtown was presented. The community also had the opportunity to help "design" downtown. A workshop approach was used to involve the community in deciding what the goals of downtown should be, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and what ideas could meet these goals. The meeting was attended by almost one hundred residents.
The results of the workshop were distributed back through the community about three weeks later. After synthesizing the residents ideas and goals for downtown, the consultants developed possible projects
that the downtown revitalization effort should include. These projects were then prioritized according to:
2. ease of implementation
3. necessity for later efforts
5. emphasis on private development
A second meeting was held in December. The consultants presented all the projects and how they were prioritized. The ten projects with the highest priority were presented more thoroughly for public comment. The ten projects selected include:
1. Promote and Advertise Downtown As a Unified Shopping Di strict
2. Attract New Retail Business
3. Historic District Designation
4. Rehabilitation of Buildings
5. Building Facade Design and Renovation
6. Development of a Mini-Mall
7. Retain Anchor Stores in Downtown
8. Public Signage
9. Reuse of the Old Post Office for Office Space
10. Streetscaping/Public Improvements
The consultants went back to work, developing the means to accomplish each project. For every project the following information was presented:
As the consultants were developing the projects, members of the C.A.R.E. Commission began to pursue some of the projects that had been presented. Different members Initiated talks with a developer as well as with the Historical Society for National Historic District status. The city planner investigated CDBG requirements and talked to property owners. The groundwork was being laid for future development.
The final plan and projects were presented at another public meeting in February of 1984. The projects were already common knowledge to most people. The consultants met with smaller groups to discuss some issues in more details such as: how to set up a local development corporation, what a special improvement district can accomplish, and how to start a merchants association.
The main result, thus far in the process, is the development of an awareness about the potentials of downtown Rawlins. More people, residents and merchants are beginning to realize that the downtown is already there and should be developed as a community resource.
Plans and studies have been completed enabling the community to use them for future efforts. A consensus has been established about goals and projects for the downtown.
Talk of a mall on the edge of town has quieted down; some of the chief advocates for the mall have begun to participate in some of the revitalization efforts and meetings.
Future results will depend on how well organized the effort becomes and whether the city can obtain CDBG funding or whether the commission can obtain additional financing.
Current Condition and Future Plans
With the help of a new Chamber director, a few of the downtown merchants have begun to plan a merchants association. They are reviewing other associations and are currently developing bylaws and a program for their first year. In addition, a Local Development Corporation is being established and the C.A.R.E. Commission will be disbanned.
The community obtained a grant of $3 ,500 to implement a study on establishing an historic district. The district has been approved by the state Historic Preservation office. In addition, the banks of Rawlins have agreed to contribute financing to a revolving loan fund that merchants or property owners can borrow from to improve their businesses and buildings. With the aid of potential CDBG money, the interest rates will be as low as six percent. In order to obtain CBDB funds, the city planner has submitted an application to the state office in Cheyenne. This grant should also be used to pay the salary of a person to work part-time as the Local Development Corporation director and the merchants' association director, and to pay for a new parking area downtown.
The city has agreed to provide some of the funding needed for the public improvements. The commission hopes to start engineering and design drawings for downtown in 1984. The downtown improvements will probably be paid for through a special improvement district. This will require property owner support of the plans and there doesn't appear to by any open opposition.
A developer from Denver has investigated a few of the buildings downtown for a possible mini-mall development and the major anchor store downtown is being asked to commit to a new expanded downtown location. They are considering the proposal.
Key Elements of the Process to Date
As part of the consultant team and from interviewing members of the C.A.R.E. Commission, I've identified the key elements to be:
1. The desire and enthusiasm of some of the business people in the community for a downtown revitalization to occur.
2. City support, including:
- leadership of the ad hoc group,
- organization to commission,
- financing for a study,
- city planning office support in the form of personnel
and office supply resources,
- direction and encouragement of the grassroots process
and development of leadership in the C.A.R.E. Commission.
3. Personal contact with property owners, business people, bankers, and city council people to support the effort.
4. A workshop approach to the planning process. This enabled the community to know what was happening and it generated more support for the projects.
The local programs, because they are more specific, provide more information on the revitalization process than the national models. The local programs developed strategies that met the needs identified during an initiation period. Most of the local programs utilized various ideas and strategies recommended from several national models to form their own program.
Although the revitalization strategies were developed specifically for each community, the process followed had many common elements. Some of these common elements included: city and community support, public participation in goal setting, individual contact, public and private financing, a sharing of responsibility, and an organizational body. These similarities and others, as well as a comparison of the local programs are presented in Section IV. Analysis. Characteristics of the local programs are summarized in Figure 3.
Figure 3. SUMMARY OF LOCAL REVITALIZATION PROGRAM CHARACTERISTICS
Population when Initiated
Revitalization Strategies Utilized
Major Participants# Organizational Base
Old Colorado City Boulder Arvada Frisco Golden Rawl1ns
11*000 (neighborhood of Colorado Springs) 65.000 70,000 1.200 15.000 11.000
City of Colorado Springs# Urban Renewal Area; 1976 Downtown Boulder Assoc.# Residents of Boulder; 1967# 1972 City Council Target Area for Redevelopment; M1d-I970's Town Board# Mayor# Community Residents; 1980 Downtown Business People# Planning Commission; 1980-1981 Downtown Business People; 1981-1982
Business Redevelopment New Business Development e Loans to Buy Buildings Streetscaplng Building Facade Redesign Architectural Assist. Parking Redevelopment Bicentennial Heritage e Logo# Signage# Image Advertising Pedestrian Mall Streetscaplng Parking Redevelopment e Design Guidelines e Logo# Signage e Events# Promotions Infill Policies Some Business Development Loan Fund for Business Redevelopment Streetscaplng Facade Redesign Architectural Assist. Parking Redevelopment Logo# Image Promotions# Events Downtown Newsletter Master Planning Effort Streetscaplng e Parking Redevelopment e Design Competition e New City Hall New Zoning Ordinance to Aid Development e Design Performance Standards e Business Redevelopment e New Merchandising# Inventory# Interiors e New Business Financing Loans e Parking Redevelopment e Promotions# Events e (Now) Downtown Development Including land assembly# bringing 1n developers (Proposed) Existing Business Redevelopment e New Business Promotion e Building Redevelopment Loans e Facade Design Guidelines e Streetscaplng e Parking Redevelopment e Entryway# Logo e Promotions# Events Marketing New Investment Old Building Re-Use
City General Funds CDBG Funds SBA Loan Guarantees Assessment District Merchants' Association City General Funds CDBG Funds Downtown Association Dues Special Assess. District City General Funds SBA Loan Guarantees CDBG Funds Merchants' Assoc. Dues Municipal Improvement District City General Funds Bond Issue Civic Foundation Grant L.D.C. Membership Dues City Matching Fundstwo to one Chamber Office Use Tax Increment Financing Private Contribution Matching Public Contrlb. CDBG Grant Money (pending) City Technical Support Chamber Support
Local Development Corp. Merchants Association City Community Development Department Bicentennial Committee Design Consultants Downtown Boulder Assoc. City of Boulder Design Consultants Mall Review Commission Local Development Corp. Merchants Association City Planning Staff Town Planner Planning Consultants Frisco Residents Design Consultants Task Force Local Development Corp. (Now) D.D.A. Planning Consultant Chamber of Commerce Citizen Task Force Planning Staff Plannlng/Economlc Consultant Merchants Association Local Development Corp. (future)
Favorable financing to enable tenants to buy buildings City Council support Public support for heritagebicentennial events e Monitoring of efforts to encourage motivation Involvement of community# personal contact City support for downtown# both financially and philosophically Public participation PubUc/prlvate partnership In managing# designing and financing Local bank support Peer pressure Support from City Councll/Plannlng staff CDBG funds Merchants'Association support Local residents# property owners support Strong symbol to Identify area Community Involvement Support from City staff and City funds e Personal communication New zoning regulations Main Street related to town's goals e Direction and focus for Ideas e People committed to downtown e Local support# leadership e City support e Chamber support Personal contact e Incremental approach to change e Enthusiasm and motivation for downtown e Leadership e City support Planning staff leadership Community participation Personal contact with business people# property owners