Tag Archives: downtown revitalization

Why Downtown Matters

25 Jul

forloveofcitiesGuest author Peter Kageyama (For the Love of Cities) will be speaking at DCI’s annual conference, Vibrant Colorado Downtowns, September 10-13, 2013.

For the past several years I have been lucky enough to travel all over the US and the world and I can tell you that the “9 to 5” downtown is seen all over the world. A generation ago as people and businesses fled to the suburbs, leaving their once thriving downtowns as the proverbial ghost towns. Today we are seeing renewed interest in downtowns, especially amongst young people who love the walkability of these areas, the authenticity of them and even the grittiness of them. And businesses are keen to go where they know they can recruit talent, especially this young talent. Remember, downtowns are the psychic centers of our communities.

If downtown is moribund, lifeless after dark and unlovable, it becomes much, much harder to improve our suburbs because our core is not healthy. I often hear from city leaders how they get heat from their suburban constituents who say that too much attention is being paid to downtowns. They ask me my opinion and I tell them: not enough attention is paid to our downtowns. That may be politically difficult for some to embrace, but the numbers do not lie. Downtown urban areas are the economic engines for regions. Invest a dollar in downtown and you get a significant multiplier on that dollar. Less so with our outlying areas with much more diffused populations, diffused businesses and spread out infrastructure. In a time of limited resources, you want to make investments with the best returns and an investment in downtown is a high yield investment.

Independent Retailers Create Unique Downtowns

Despite this renewed interest in downtowns, retail in the heart of our cities has proven to be problematic. Retail behaviors have changed along with the attendant technologies that make downtown retail a challenge but one that is worth taking on. We may like the convenience, selection or pricing of the big box retail outlets, but they are not distinctive. They are the same from place to place, country to country.

Downtown retail, also know as “High Street” throughout the commonwealth countries, cannot directly compete with Home Depot, Best Buy or Walmart. When did you last see a hardware store downtown?  But these shops can provide unique and authentic retail experiences that you would not be able to get elsewhere. If you look at the retail that works in your downtown you will find that it is not based on better prices or greater selection. It will often be local, custom, quirky and unreplicable by those big box retailers. If the offer is good enough and interesting enough, people will come.

Free Parking at a Price

Inevitably conversations about downtowns also become conversations about parking. Some see parking fees as an impediment to more people downtown. They say that the big box retailers have plenty of free parking so we should not disincentivize folks from coming downtown by having high parking fees, or even any parking fees.

Donald Schoub argues compellingly in his book, The High Cost of Free Parking, that free parking has an externalized cost–paid for by the people who will use downtown. While it seems logical that more cars downtown would mean more people, I do not believe that is the case. More cars downtown actually has an alienating effect on those of us who are on foot, on bikes, and engaged with our downtowns. Simply put: cars are not people. I can hear the outcry – but cars are driven by people. True, but once you get behind the wheel of your car, you cease to be a person and I can prove it to you.

Think about those driving behaviors we all (occasionally) exhibit: we honk our horns, we cut in and out of lanes, we speed, we yell obscenities and even flip people the bird. When was the last time you ever did any of those types of behaviors when you were walking or standing line somewhere?  Hopefully never. You don’t because you see the other person, you look them in the eye and as a result you behave better—more like someone who lives in a civilized community.

When you drive, you cannot see the other person. Wrapped in two tons of metal and plastic, they are not human but rather an impediment to you as you seek to get home, to work or to school.  More cars on the road encourage more of this uncivilized behavior. We need to find ways to get people out of their cars and interacting with each other and their environment. When this happens, lots of good things accrue in our cities, not the least of which is a healthier and ultimately happier citizen.

So if you are looking for a place to start, begin with the simple premise of increasing people’s ability to see other people and you will be well on your way toward a better, more vital downtown. We are social creatures, endlessly fascinated by each other, and if you can increase the people-watching opportunities, you start to improve downtown. This can be downtown seating, a dog park, more outdoor cafés or events. Bigger infrastructure and projects can follow but start with this simple notion.

PKageyamaPeter Kageyama is a community and economic development consultant based in St. Petersburg, FL.  Peter will provide the keynote address at the 2013 Governor’s Awards Gala and the closing address at the DCI conference. He is the former President of Creative Tampa Bay, a grassroots community change organization. He has spoken all over the world about bottom up community development and the amazing people that are making change happen. His book, For the Love of Cities, was recognized by Planetizen as a Top 10 Book for 2012 in urban planning, design and development. All full DCI conference registrants will receive a complimentary copy. Register now for DCI’s 2013 Conference, Vibrant Colorado Downtowns, to be held September 10-13, 2013 in Grand Junction!

Beat the Post-Holiday Downtown Blues

10 Jan

Winter months following the holiday season can be a difficult time for downtowns and small businesses. Unless your community is fortunate to have a thriving winter sports and tourism economy, retail and downtown businesses can find themselves slowing significantly. Businesses can use this slow time as an opportunity to plan marketing strategies and increase involvement with downtown revitalization and planning committees. Downtown leaders should use this time to get input on potential programs or events, and possibly grow your volunteer base. If your community is at a tourism peak, consider these suggestions for your shoulder seasons.

Take advantage of the slow times. Use this time to experiment with marketing techniques and plan on what works best for your community and downtown businesses. This may be a great time for businesses and attractions to incorporate group-saving coupons (see Constant Contact, Groupon, Living Social and Save Local). Encourage business owners to offer special discounts for customers who write Yelp reviews, check in on Facebook or Foursquare, or upload a microbrew on UnTappd to see if they can further capitalize on those social media markets.

Liven up your committees. In most small towns and Main Street communities, volunteers are the heart and soul of creating a thriving business district. Are there a few business owners who have expressed interest in being involved in committees, but are simply too busy to make it to your meetings? If now is their slow season, make sure they know about your committee meetings and personally invite them to attend. Be sure to send a calendar of all committee meetings and downtown events for the year as soon as possible.

Evaluate your commercial district’s past year. Plan for the first committee meetings of the year (if you have not already had one) to be focused on evaluating the past year, and setting goals for the next year. For example, event committees should evaluate both positive and negative attributes of each event, and determine if they should be changed or removed from your calendar of community events.

Don’t be afraid to remove an event that has not been successful and does not receive a good response from the community and business owners. With a fresh look and (hopefully) new, excited volunteers on your committee, there may be some great new opportunities to engage the community.

Consider new events to bring residents and tourists during the shoulder seasons. Think of holidays and events that happen during this slow period and see how you can incorporate that with a twist to make it uniquely yours. If your community wants to have a downtown event at this time in 2014, start planning now! A few possibilities for January and February include:

  • Family-friendly Mardi Gras and Carnival, and incorporate some unique, local flavor. Ask your local thrift stores, vintage and costume shops to sponsor by offering deals to customers for costumed Mardi Gras events.
  • Work with restaurants, salons, chocolate shops, florists, lodging, local wineries and breweries to plan a Valentine’s Day dream-date package to market to residents and potential visitors. Include in the package a list of other entertainment, dining, and shopping options so they have plenty of places to check out while in your town.
  • Consider the lesser celebrated (Groundhog Day, Feb 2; Chinese New Year, Feb 10) or off-the-wall holidays (National Pie Day, Jan 23) that you might be able to have some fun with.

Hitting the Redevelopment Sweet Spot

7 Oct

Guest Author Jesse Silverstein, Colorado Brownfields Foundation, discusses how redeveloping sugar beet factories impacts Colorado communities. 

Sugar beets were cultivated in Colorado as early as 1869.  The first sugar beet processing factory in Colorado was built in Grand Junction in 1899. By 1906, sugar beet factories had been constructed in Rocky Ford, Loveland, Greeley, Eaton, Fort Collins, Longmont, Windsor, Sterling, Fort Morgan and Brush. By the mid 1930s, Colorado was the state with the largest number of beet sugar factories and at one time or another, a total of 22 factories were located throughout Colorado from the western slope to the eastern plains.

During the 1970s, competition from cane sugar and corn syrup, both less expensive to produce, as well as from artificial sweeteners such as saccharine and aspartame, led to a decline in beet sugar prices. By the early 1980s, many of these factories were shuttered. Today only one Colorado factory remains in operation, located in Fort Morgan.  The sugar beet industry, once the nucleus of company towns, has left these towns with large acreages of land ready for business redevelopment, but for notable amounts of waste left on these sites.

In 2010 and with funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Colorado Brownfields Foundation (CBF) assembled a stakeholder group to identify opportunities and challenges associated with the redevelopment of Sugar Beet Factories throughout Colorado.  Participants included local government representatives from communities along with site owners, regulatory agencies (state and federal), environmental consultants, representatives from industries interested in lime reuse, and materials recycling technical experts.

Common threats identified by stakeholder communities include: large vacant, abandoned, and blighting property; trespassing, vagrancy and vandalism; environmental threats from asbestos and illegal dumping; potential ecosystem impacts from lime waste; nuisance conditions from blowing lime waste; noxious weed growth on piles.

Additionally, these closed factories present lost community opportunities including: lost opportunities for in-fill redevelopment; loss of riparian lands thereby hindering open space preservation; loss of riverfront development opportunities; loss of potential intermodal trail/transit connections (bicycle, pedestrian, vehicular); and loss of community connections, particularly between river fronts, downtowns, and residential districts. Geotechnical constraints limit the ability to construct buildings on lime waste and potential asbestos remediation costs present a high barrier to entry in the redevelopment process. One of the most obvious challenges faced by redevelopment at a sugar beet factory is the sheer volume of lime waste; estimated at up to 1,000,000 cubic yards spread over as much as 40 acres.

Despite challenges, a number of opportunities exist to position these sites as redevelopment opportunities:

• Many locations have existing heavy rail service and are in close proximity to major highways, an industrial opportunity for redevelopment that can be an advantage;

• Given the former industrial usage of the sites, there is likely three-phase electric service to these sites, capable of both deliver energy to the site and moving (renewable) energy from the sites;

• The proximity of these sites to commercial cores, as well as the large size and industrial zoning of these sites, present primary jobs economic development opportunities close to work force housing and with the ability to increase downtown daytime populations

Cleanup and redevelopment of some of these sites are proceeding on the heels of much effort:  the Town of Eaton has acquired title to its factory through the purchase of tax liens and is negotiating for intermodal transit reuse of the buildings.  The City of Greeley has formed a public-private partnership and is assisting Leprino Foods in locating a major manufacturing facility to its former sugar beet site.  Other lime piles are slowly being drawn down for use as in treating acid mine drainage.  However, the cost of transporting lime waste to end uses is still a major burden and CBF, the CO Department of Local Affairs, and various pilot communities are seeking to create a market opportunity to bring value-added production to lime waste a as raw material.  Next steps in this effort are to apply for USEPA Brownfields Assessment Grant funding (please contact CBF or DOLA for more information) to continue to research the opportunities to recycle lime waste and recycle the underlying real estate for infill redevelopment.

 Jesse Silverstein is the executive director of Colorado Brownfields Founation, a nonprofit organization that provides technical assistance with financing, redeveloping, and reusing brownfields sites.

Partnerships and Place Management

8 Sep

Guest Author Jamie Licko, Centro, Inc., Blogs on Importance of Public-Private Partnerships

It’s a complex challenge for our cities – governments are facing escalating budget deficits and financial challenges, while our downtowns and urban areas are becoming more dense and populated. Resources to provide services are waning, just as the need for well-managed ‘place’ in our cities is increasing. What’s the solution? In the U.S. and increasingly around the world, public-private partnerships are offering an effective and economical approach.

Every day we open the newspaper to stories of another financial crisis unraveling somewhere in the world. Globally, governments are facing significant economic challenges  finding the dollars to provide basic services, much less enhancements, is difficult. Meanwhile, our cities and urban areas are become denser and busier (nearly 50% of the world’s population lives in cities today), and the demand for clean, safe and comfortable public spaces is increasing.

Place management isn’t a new concept, but it’s one that’s increasingly gaining attention around the globe as a tool to keep cities vibrant and economically competitive, even as there are seemingly fewer resources to focus on such things. If you Wikipedia the term, it says ‘place management is the process of making places better.’ Simple enough, but who does the work and how does it get done?

The concept of business district partnerships and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) is a relatively established one here in North America. Canada and the U.S. have been utilizing informal and formal organizational tools for some 40 years to fund and manage improvements to a revitalizing area. But increasingly, these partnerships are becoming more complex and more sophisticated. And today, the increasing pressure to provide a competitive ‘place’ while slashing government budgets and serving increasing populations means local governments the world over are beginning to see the need for, as well as the tremendous benefits of, decentralizing services and control and empowering private-sector led place management organizations.

A Growing Need in North America

Private-sector led place management isn’t an entirely new story in the United States and Canada, but increasingly these organizations have seen a greater level of independence and influence. BIDs are now fairly pervasive throughout the US but changes in the economic landscape are making them increasingly important tools.

In Chicago, where private-sector led place management has historically failed to take hold because of former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s strong involvement (and public sector investment) in downtown’s evolution, the winds of change are blowing and reality is sinking in. With new mayor Rahm Emanuel in office and the city facing a $600 million budget deficit, the city is bracing for significant service cuts and a ‘new era’ that downtown stakeholders understand likely means a larger private-sector financial commitment to ‘place.’ The upside? With this investment comes some greater control over how services are delivered and how downtown Chicago is managed. Stakeholders in Chicago’s Loop are exploring the possible creation of a large BID to generate resources to ensure the district remains competitive through what are sure to be some challenging times, but they are also seeing some interesting opportunities to better partner with the city to decrease costs, increase levels of service, and be more responsive to the overall economic development needs of the stakeholders.

It’s a bold move for Chicago –- a city that has always relied heavily on public sector dollars to take care of both the big stuff (e.g. Millennium Park) and the details (the gorgeous flower baskets that line the Loop’s streets).

Other cities across North America are also making the move towards stronger partnerships – Boston just launched it’s first BID, for example – while established organizations in places like Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York and many others across the states continue to increase their influence in building and managing place for a new generation. In California, interestingly, partnerships are likely to become increasingly important as the state’s community leaders struggle with the loss of redevelopment dollars historically used quite abundantly to reinvigorate and invest in cities and downtowns.

Here in North America, public/private partnerships to manage place have established themselves and are recognized as important tools – and becoming increasingly so. The success of strategies here is carrying over to the rest of the world, where similar shifts are occurring.

Changes Abroad

Second only to North America in the success of place management is the UK, where more than 100 BIDs have been set up since the national BID legislation was established in 2004. The success of BIDs follow on the heels of a long-history of public sector funded ‘town centre management’. For some 25 years there has been significant and widespread interest in different approaches to place management, and the focus has progressively broadened to the point where BIDs have taken hold and spread like wildfire across the country in places large and small. As the UK along with much of Europe faces tougher austerity measures, BIDs are picking up steam as a tool to ensure competitiveness in not just commercial and town centres, but industrial estates as well. Additionally, the recently passed (December 2010) Localism Bill in the UK which aims to shift power from central governments back into the hands of individuals, communities and town councils is aiding in the development of not just BIDs but generally in the development of stronger and more complex public/private partnerships to manage place.

The UK’s success in establishing effective place management efforts is beginning to take hold elsewhere in Europe as well, including in Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy where countries are strengthening government-led place management initiatives while developing their own national legislations to allow for formal BID-like tools to encourage private-sector participation and management. Beyond Europe’s borders, South Africa continues to utilize their BID tools to strengthen both residential communities and business districts.

A Willingness to Explore New Approaches in Asia

Asia has historically not been considered fertile ground for establishing formal public/private partnerships to improve place. Strong authoritarian government structures have never really allowed partnerships to develop or flourish. Today, shifting economies and a vastly urbanizing population is changing even that. China, Japan, even Malaysia and India are exploring new approaches to managing place… but none is so far advanced as Singapore.

The city-state of Singapore today is undertaking significant steps to explore how to improve partnerships between the public and private sectors, and to develop and implement formal place management partnerships throughout the country, including exploration of a legislative BID-type model similar to those used in the US, UK and elsewhere.

The work is raising some interesting cultural challenges that are requiring both the public and private sectors to rethink their relationship. The private sector – heavily reliant on the public sector to make unilateral decisions about how a place is developed – is timidly engaging in opportunities to have more control over how problems are resolved, solutions are developed, and the implementation of new approaches are managed. Meanwhile, the public sector is slowly getting comfortable with releasing responsibility for the management of place to a non-government agency. There are growing pains, to be sure. But the seeds of success are slowly starting to bear some fruit.

The impetus for this recent push to explore place management and public/private partnerships in Singapore hasn’t been made precisely clear by the Singaporean government – they are guiding the partnership development effort – though there are some likely reasons; the Singaporean government is relatively young, but has grown quickly by planning, building, implementing and managing development with very little private sector influence. Managing quickly changing (and aging) urban precincts in a place that has developed at warp speed is becoming increasingly cost-prohibitive and human-resource intense. Long-term, the Singaporean government is beginning to see benefits as demonstrated by places like the US and UK in putting the burden more squarely between the public and private sectors and generating revenue streams that alleviate their ongoing management costs.

Expecting More Changes Ahead

We’re experiencing a rapidly changing global economy and cities that are growing denser – managing this growth and the urbanization of places, and funding the improvements necessary to keep our aging cities clean, safe and welcoming will require more than just public sector support. Place management models that bring together the public and private sectors to work together to both fund and manage improvements to place make economic sense, and arguably offer more effective solutions to creating healthier and better functioning places.

Jamie Licko is the president and founder of Centro Inc., which has been involved in the exploration of a new place management model for the Chicago Loop and is currently working in partnership with UK-based The Mosaic Partnership in the development of a new place management model for Singapore. Jamie will be speaking on Extending Your Downtown Organization’s Reach: Creating Partnerships and Leveraging Relationships at DCI’s Annual Conference on Wed, Sept 21, 4:30pm.

DCI Features Historic Preservation Article to Celebrate Historic Preservation Month

23 May

Upstairs Opera Houses in Colorado
By Cathleen Norman

In this second article in a series celebrating May as National Historic Preservation Month, DCI invited guest author Cathleen Norman from The Donning Company Publishers to share stories of opera houses in Colorado communities.

Salida Opera House

At the turn of the last century, every self-respecting community – from small towns to large cities – aspired to have an “opera house.”  Often located above a storefront in a two-story building in the heart of the business district, the opera house proudly took its civic place on Main Street. It became a venue for respectable entertainment and thrived as a social focal point. More than 100 opera houses sprang up in Colorado from the 1870s into the 1910s.  The Central City Opera House and Denver’s Tabor Grande Opera House were celebrated as the state’s largest and most elaborate opera venues, but most Colorado opera houses were located upstairs from another business.

Some opera halls actually hosted operatic performances. In the late 1800s, opera flourished as esteemed entertainment for the cultured classes, but often offered contemporary themes of the time.  La Traviata, by Guiseppi Verde, one of the most influential composers of the nineteenth century, told the story of a fallen woman.  La Boheme, composed by Giocommo Puccini, depicted the lifestyle of young “bohemian” artists living in the Latin Quarter of Paris.  Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West romanticized the America’s western frontier.

However, most opera houses hosted everything but opera. Various events and entertainment unfolded in the upstairs spaces ─ gala balls and dancing parties, Shakespearean plays and vaudeville acts, high school graduations and lodge meetings.   Men crowded in for boxing matches and patriotic citizens sweated through bands playing marches for Fourth of July celebrations.

By the 1930s, film had eclipsed live performance.  Some opera houses became movie theaters, others slipped into decline and many were demolished.  Fortunately several old upstairs opera houses have been revived, some embracing new uses.  These are just a few…

Dickens Opera House, Longmont.  Town father William Dickens erected an impressive redbrick building at the town’s premier intersection to contain his Farmers National Bank, with opera hall above.  The gracious upstairs space opened in 1881 and hosted college classes, minstrel shows and traveling musicians, as well as town meetings, national guard training, spelling bees, political rallies and firemen’s fundraising balls.  Favorite theatrical performances included “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “Ten Nights in a Bar-Room.” Local groups meeting in the upstairs space, included the ladies of the Longmont Christian Temperance Union and farmers from the local grange.

The Dickens Opera House served as the city’s cultural and social center through the 1920s, before falling into disuse.  Today, the dusty, cobwebbed opera hall has been revived as a venue for nationally touring music acts such as Tab Benoit, Tony Furtado, Trombone Shorty, The Infamous Stringdusters, and Reverend Horton Heat.

Lake City Armory-Opera Hall.  This red brick building opened with a Thanksgiving Eve Ball in 1883, pronounced by The Lake City Silver World newspaper as “the most brilliant assemblage that ever gathered in this city.”  A rather rare one-story opera house, it offered dramatic productions on a large stage in the hall’s west end, while the “Pitkin Guards” used the east end for their National Guard meetings and drills.  Three years after its completion, the roof had to be rebuilt after collapsing under heavy snows.  The Lake City Armory saw activity during an early 1890s labor incident in which striking miners broke into the armory and stole the weapons therein.  The Lake City Greens slapped the basketball up and down the wooden floor in the 1910s and 1920s, and the annual Washington’s Birthday Masquerade raised funds for the fire department.  Today, the public venue contains the Teen Center and practice space for the Lake City Hoofers clogging classes, as well as community events likes the annual October Hunters’ Ball.

Wright Opera House, Ouray. H. E. Wright arrived on skis from Silverton during Ouray’s first settlement.  He and his brother erected an elaborate building using profits from their Wheel of Fortune Mine.  Finished in 1888, the expansive structure with a double storefront had a wedding cake façade, a confection of cast iron manufactured by the Mesker Brothers of St. Louis and prized for its fire-proof qualities.  San Juan Hardware Company and the City Drugstore operated on the ground floor.  Upstairs, the performance hall seated a crowd of 500 with a stage stunningly embellished with a William H. Jackson photograph of Mount Sneffels. Townsfolk hiked up the narrow, steep staircase to watch performances by local thespians, music recitals, concerts by the Ouray Magnolia Band, elocution contests, school basketball games and birthday parties.  The Victorian beauty was acquired this year by the Friends of the Wright Opera House after their three-year capital fund campaign.

Salida Opera House.  When it opened with a New Year’s Eve ball in 1889, the Salida Opera House was praised as “in every way superior to any in Colorado except the Tabor Grande.”  Its first theatrical production was “Alone in London” for a standing-room-only audience on January 16.  It replaced the original 1881 Salida Opera House, one of 30 structures destroyed in a downtown fire. The statuesque opera building with its bracketed cornice and centered pediment hosted performances of touring troupes on The Silver Circuit served by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.  Its classic brick façade of was unmasked recently by the removal of stucco that had been hiding it for 50 years.  However, structural damage has landed the Salida Opera House on Colorado’s 2011 Most Endangered Places List.

Butte Opera House, Cripple Creek.  The Butte Concert and Beer Hall opened its doors in 1896 on the west end of Bennett Avenue. The second story became the Butte Dancing Academy, an armory and then a skating rink.  As the mining district withered, the Butte became one of many empty buildings on Bennett Avenue.  Once almost in shambles, the Butte since acquired and restored by the City of Cripple Creek, is now home to the Thin Air Theater Company that performs melodrama, like “Calamity Jane” and “Vampire or Cripple Creek.”

This is just a round-up of historic opera houses that survive around Colorado. Other upstairs opera houses languish in Canon City, Golden, Idaho Springs, Windsor, Brush and Loveland.  Meanwhile, the 1882 Smith Opera House in Gunnison, 1881 Opera House in Aspen, and 1913 Sheridan Opera House in Telluride have been restored to their original glory.

Cathleen Norman writes about history and preservation for several Colorado publications.  A preservation consultant from 1991 through 2008, she now works for Donning Company, a heritage publishing firm. This article has been reprinted with permission from the author.

Click here to view more articles from Cathleen Norman.

DCI Features Historic Preservation Project to Celebrate Historic Preservation Month

13 May

Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) is celebrating 2011 National Historic Preservation Month with Celebrating Excellence in Historic Preservation Architecture. Throughout May, DCI will highlight projects and historic preservation best practices that contribute to downtown revitalization across the state. The first project that DCI will feature is the Avery Block rehabilitation project.

Historic photo of the Avery Block

The Avery Block is located on the northeast corner of North College Avenue and East Mountain Avenue in Fort Collins, Colorado and is part of Fort Collins’ Old Town. Designed by the town’s first architect, Montezuma W. Fuller in 1897, the building originally housed Franklin Avery’s First National Bank. The Avery Block is a two-story brick and sandstone building and is made up of three distinct irregular structures. The Avery Block is in the existing Old Town historic district. In late 2009, SLATERPAULL Architects completed several conceptual 3-D designs for the Avery Block storefront rehabilitation. In trying to be respectful of the historic nature of Old Town, several options were considered based on historic photos, rehabilitated precedents in the area as well as modern themes which still maintained the horizontal lines and other design guidelines. Palmer Properties, the Fort Collins Downtown Business Association and the City of Fort Collins partnered together and with funding provided in part by History Colorado, State Historical Fund, design for the storefront restoration and building rehabilitation continued.

Avery Block conceptual rendering

SLATERPAULL Architects is currently completing construction documents with construction anticipated to start in summer of 2011. The project includes stone and brick rehabilitation, door and window rehabilitation, pressed tin cornice rehabilitation, and the reconstruction of stone finials and the storefront cornice based on historic photographs. With the reconstruction of the storefront cornice, the original configuration of transom windows will be re-introduced. Awnings will be replaced by Palmer Properties independent of this project, but sympathetic to the historic character of the building, and with consultation from SLATERPAULL Architects.

SLATERPAULL Architects is a third-generation architecture practice established by founding partners Seymour (Sim) M. Slater and James (Jim) F. Paull in 1972. The firm’s roots trace back to Raymond Harry Ervin (1900-1969), one of Denver’s prominent architects. Ervin was renowned for his work on the Shangri-la, Denver Club Building, J.C. Penny Building, George Washington High School, and the First National Bank Building at 631 17th Street, which stood as Denver’s tallest building at the time. Today, SLATERPAULL Architects is led by this team of five principals with approximately 40 dedicated employees.