Exciting Projects and Ideas for LongmontKyle Snyder
Well, I’m still behind on getting these posts posted, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll be caught up by the end of next week and then you can start seeing some the photos I’ve taken from around town where business is happening. I know, I’ve promised this before, but this time I really promise.
I hope you all have a good weekend and this snow doesn’t cause too much damage to our beautiful trees.
There are a handful of new projects already happening in Longmont that will change the face of business in the years to come. Two are the Village at Twin Peaks and the South Main Station redevelopment project at 1st and Main. They follow on the heels of a couple large projects completed in the past couple years at Ironhorse and Roosevelt Park Apartments. All of these projects exist because the developers and their bankers determined there is low risk due to the health and vibrancy of the Longmont economy.
Believe it or not, there is another sign of a healthy local business and but this one can be a real annoyance. When is the last time you went downtown and had trouble finding a parking spot? My work takes me downtown quite frequently and I experience it often. I just park a little further away and smile at the fact that when the parking is full there are people who have money to spend and the businesses are benefiting. Even if spaces are used by employees, it means the businesses are busy enough to need more people. It wasn’t like this as little as a few years ago. What do we do when even more people start flooding into downtown? Where will they park? Or will they just turn around and spend their money elsewhere?
An idea being pursued recently by Longmont Downtown Development Authority (LDDA) is a parking structure along Coffman between 5th and 6th. Three quarters of that block is surface parking and, by any measure, ununderutilized. The plan is to have a developer partner with them, the City and the County to get this built. LDDA is promoting an aesthetically-pleasing structure, by the way. This is to be a mixed use project that has some amount of retail, residential or commercial facing Coffman to engage the street. A parking structure like this would be good for business.
Currently LDDA sells parking permits to the business so employees can park in the
lots along Kimbark and Coffman. In fact they sell 60 percent of the available spaces. At capacity, it’s possible only 40 percent of those spaces would be available for people who want to come downtown to shop or eat. A parking garage would alleviate congestion in these lots if those permits were moved to the garage. The revenue could help pay for some cost of construction and maintenance of the garage. Additionally, with more parking spaces for more people to access business in downtown, spending should increase and City tax revenues would follow. Who doesn’t win in this plan?
A particularly intriguing aspect related to this project is the recent approval, in a 7-0 vote, by City Council to move forward with a parking garage at the southwest corner of 1st and Main. RTD is giving us $17 million for the project and Council understands this isn’t enough to construct something large enough to be useful in this area and for the purposes intended. This garage would be too far south to impact the 5th to 8th Avenue locations, but bookending downtown would give us the capacity we need to serve the market we are already attracting and prepare us for the future. A realistic outcome would be the creation of side-street businesses, restaurants and activity.
Don’t think this is an easy thing to get done. Permit revenue isn’t enough. Grants will have to obtained, tax revenues spent or bonds issued, a willing developer must be found and it must pass public scrutiny. If you, like me, want a vibrant and growing downtown business district, you can support what’s good for business by supporting this idea to properly utilize our assets. If you want to weigh in on this or any other great ideas for our community, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.