Tag Archives: economic development

Historic Preservation Month Feature: Kress Cinema & Lounge in Greeley

13 May

Go Digital or Be Left Behind!
(Kickstarter Project Motto)

City: Greeley, CO
Population: 96,962
Historic Structure: Originally the Kress Department Store:
Year Built: 1920. Renovated in 2007 for theater.
Privately Owned

KressThe Kress Cinema & Lounge is a privately owned theater in historic downtown Greeley located within the historically renovated Kress Building that recently faced challenges imposed by Hollywood’s digital requirements.  The highly decorated, art deco department store was originally built in 1920 and with the historic preservation passion of the Thompsons, was renovated into a theater in 2007.  As a contributing structure to the Historic Downtown Greeley, the Thompsons saved everything they could, including the ceilings, floors and columns.

Shortly after the opening in 2008 the theater was faced with the challenges from Hollywood and digital movie production.  Unfortunately, at the start of the renovation work the standards set by digital movies were not clear and the theater did not conform to the new changes.  The theater needed to convert fully to digital technology by 2013, which is when Hollywood will no longer be producing 35mm film movies.   The Thompsons turned to the community and the Kickstarter program for help, as they feared they would be closing the theater in 2013.


In 2012 the theater launched a Kickstarter program after seeing the success from the Lyric Cinema Café in Fort Collins.  The Kickstarter program brought the community involvement to the forefront of the theater’s survival.  As the only independent movie theater in Greeley and a valued business, it was important to the community to work together to raise the money.  A goal of the Kickstarter was to not only upgrade to the digital technology but to show that this was an investment in the community.

Through varying incentives and donor memberships, the theater exceeded their goal of $80,000.  Partnerships with the Chamber of Commerce, DD Authorities, local newspapers, and social media also played a role in the fundraising success.  The Kress Cinema has successfully converted to digital technology and meets the standards set by Hollywood.  The theater recognizes the importance of the community and is available for parties, weddings, receptions, business meetings, live comedy, community forums, fundraisers and weekly local music.  With a restaurant and bar within the theater there are more events available and the ability for several events to be held simultaneously.

Check out the Kickstarter Website:  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kresscinema/keep-the-kress


The Kress Cinema intends to support and work with the community and partner with nearby businesses to integrate events and activities within Greeley.  Additional money raised will be used to purchase spare parts, repair furniture and to upgrade the kitchen equipment.  The theater offers a memorable experience for their guests with a full-service restaurant and bar, intimate Art Deco lounges and a newly converted digital theater.

For more information visit: http://www.kresscinema.com


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.

What Is Culinary Tourism?

18 Aug
Erik Wolf, International Culinary Tourism Association, will provide a plenary address at DCI’s 2011 Annual Conference in Durango this fall. Culinary Tourism for Towns of All Sizes will be held on Friday, September 23 at 11:15am.
Food is the , sexy new topic of conversation everywhere in the world, and Colorado is no exception. Did you know that there is an entire industry that exists to help businesses to promote their food products as attractions to visitors and locals alike? 
Culinary tourism is the pursuit of unique and memorable culinary experiences, often while travelling, but one need not go far from home can be a culinary tourist — trekking across town to try out a new restaurant is also considered culinary tourism. If that’s too lofty, then think of it this way:  if an area has unique food and drink, these are part of the area’s cultural assets and they need to be preserved and promoted.
Culinary tourism encompasses culinary experiences of all kinds; restaurants, cafes, wineries and breweries – of course – but also cooking schools and classes, culinary tours, cookbook and kitchen gadget stores, culinary events, culinary attractions, farmers markets, culinary lodging, food and drink clubs, culinary media, and food manufacturers.
More than ever now there are food and cooking shows on televisions throughout the world. There also more well-known celebrity chefs than ever, and also a large increase in the popularity of local farmers markets. Consumers are becoming more educated; now aware and concerned about things like food miles — the distance ingredients have traveled, to land on the plate in front of you. This illustrates the increasing importance of food knowledge everywhere.
Other trends include the demand for highlighting local food on menus, and consumers desire to learn everything they can about the ingredients in a dish.  Do your wait staff know everything about each dish you serve, such as where the ingredients come from, and if they are not local, then why are these ingredients sourced from outside the region?  You might expect locals to understand the beef on your menu is from the Colorado farmer down the road, but how will a visitor to your area know? 
Consumers and travelers alike seek unique and memorable experiences – something they can tell their friends about.  If you present them with a story about their dish, they are more likely to call it an experience than a meal, which makes it memorable.   Think about your own favorite meal experience – what was memorable about it?  The décor?  The presentation?  The food?  Service?  Price?
Culinary tourism is a market that continues to grow every year.  Visitors know of Colorado’s natural beauty, but the state’s food and drink businesses need to boast more the state’s unique and memorable culinary products.  When an average 25% of every visitor’s spending is on food and drink, how can we ignore the potential for growth in this industry?  If we understand the motivation of a culinary traveler and what they are looking for, we can leverage our businesses and send visitors home to tell their friends about the amazing experience they had -– what better, more cost-effective marketing can you get than word of mouth?
Erik Wolf serves as the President of both the International Culinary Tourism Association and FoodTrekker Publishing.  www.culinarytourism.org  and www.foodtrekker.com.

Spotlight on…Westcliffe and Silver Cliff

12 May

A Tale of Two Towns with One Common Goal

In May 2010, DCI conducted a joint technical assistance visit for the neighboring communities of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff. The communities have done a dynamic job of working together to implement the action steps to work toward downtown revitalization. We asked them to share their experiences

Walking out of an economic development conference in Pueblo in the fall of 2009, Westcliffe mayor Christy Veltrie knew she had found just what the small community she called home, and its neighboring sister community of Silver Cliff needed.

The downtown is the heart of the community and a healthy downtown helps the whole community grow, said Veltrie to all who would listen. The trustees, business leaders and other stakeholders in the two towns, did listen and decided to invite the Downtown Colorado Inc. team to complete a technical assistance assessment.

Before the team of 10 experts could arrive, the communities needed to do their homework, which included ensuring that representatives from various local organizations, residents, and businesses were willing to sit down with the DCI team for focus groups.

This was not an easy feat, but dedicated volunteers stepped up to the plate and went door-to-door to reach out to the community. 
Nestled side by side in Custer County’s Wet Mountain Valley, Westcliffe and Silver Cliff had a history of rivalry. Many could not believe the two towns were willing to work together, but the trustees and mayors were committed to the project.

In May 2010, scores gathered at various focus group meetings with the DCI experts over a two-day period to share their thoughts.
On day three, the DCI team combined all they had heard into an assessment of the communities and action steps to create a vibrant commercial district that would be beneficial for both communities.
The fact that the DCI team could present the findings and plan so quickly was impressive. Many long-time residents commented the community had been involved in a number of assessments over the years; however, this one seemed to be better than most because of the quick turn-around.

Once the detailed, hard copy of the report was received, a workshop to discuss the details was held in September 2010 with attendees agreeing it was imperative to follow the report recommendations.

Committees were formed, and a vision and mission statement was written. We are now known as CART (‘Cliffs Action Revitalization Team) also known as ‘Cliffs Commercial District.

In October 2010, a  ribbon-tying ceremony was held on Highway 96 where the two towns intersect to show solidarity, followed by an inauguration ceremony where  resolutions in support of CCD were signed by the Board of Trustees for the Town of Silver Cliff and Westcliffe, the Board of Custer County Commissioners, Custer County C-1 School District, Wet Mountain Fire Protection District, Custer County Medical Clinic, Custer County Tourism Board, Custer County Merchants and Chamber of Commerce and the Custer County Library. The Round Mountain Water and Sanitation District signed a letter of support, and many community stakeholders signed a board of support.

Organization, Economic Restructuring and Promotions committees are in place, and the Design committee is progress of gathering committee members. 

A wide range of people serve on the CART board– Mayor of Westcliffe, Trustee from Silver Cliff,  local newspaper reporter, Westcliffe Town Clerk, Custer County Commissioner; a Custer County Tourism Board member, Custer County Merchants and Chamber of Commerce member, Wet Mountain Fire District member, Custer County Medical Clinic personnel, and several retail business people and contractors.

In March 2011, ‘Cliffs Commercial District partnered with the local tourism board and chamber of commerce to host a booth at the 54th annual Colorado RV, Sports & Travel Show in Denver.

And, we are just getting started. CCD is partnering with a local business to provide rewards cards to encourage locals and tourists to shop locally. Other shop local campaigns are also in the works. By the end of May, a map of the ‘Cliffs Commercial District will be printed and distributed.

CCD is also holding its first fundraiser, a hoosegow. We are working on attaining 501© 3 status. Additionally, CCD is listed as a goal on the local economic development plan as part of the governor’s “bottom up” economic plan.

The town of Silver Cliff is also taking the lead to develop a park at the entrance to  the town, and they are working on a sidewalk to connect the two towns.

Someone recently asked, “How are you getting all of this done?” Our response is, “Just like you eat an elephant, one bite at a time.” Remember, it’s an ongoing process, but it’s definitely worth the effort. That’s the best advice we can give to all small towns in Colorado.

Interested in DCI’s technical assistance program? Visit www.downtowncoloradoinc.org for details or contact us at 303.282.0625.

New Creative Districts Legislation Passed: What Does It Mean?

13 Apr

Guest author Hilarie Portell of Portell Works explains the recently passed Creative Districts legislation and what it means for Colorado.

Creative enterprises are the fifth largest industry cluster in Colorado, and now local communities have a tool to help attract and retain them.

In late March, Governor Hickenlooper signed new legislation creating a statewide designation for creative districts. Communities that meet specific criteria will apply for the designation through the Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) division. Certified districts become eligible for technical support, limited state incentives and federal funding if it becomes available. An  application process should be in place by July 2012.

The creative district designation does not have any state fiscal implications or property requirements, such as tax credits or design guidelines. However, it could provide communities with a new economic development tool to build local support and targeted strategies for a creative district.

House Bill 11-1031 defines a creative district as a “well-recognized, designated mixed-use area of a community in which a high concentration of cultural facilities, creative businesses, or arts-related businesses serve as the anchor of attraction.” Creative districts may have multiple vacant properties in close proximity that would be suitable for redevelopment and may be home to both nonprofit and for-profit creative industries and organizations.

The legislation builds on a 2008 report by the Colorado Council on the Arts (now Colorado Creative Industries) on the state’s “creative economy.” It found that 186,251 jobs in Colorado are associated with creative enterprises and talent, with 2007 earnings totaling $5 billion. Importantly, creative enterprises are defined as “any company for which the primary value of its products or services is rooted in its emotional and aesthetic appeal to the customer.” This includes 69 industries in five categories: design, film/media, heritage, literary/publishing, and visual arts/craft. The categories comprise traditional arts as well as industrial and green design, interactive media, architecture, home furnishings, recreational products, local brewing operations and more. The full report is available at www.coloarts.state.co.us/programs/economic/co_creativeconomy/index.htm

Learn more about this legislation and its implications for your community at the May 11 DCI Development and Improvement Districts Forum. The DIDs forum is open to DCI members and will held from 2-4 p.m. at the Colorado Municipal League (1144 Sherman Street, Denver). Visit website for details and registration information.

Hilarie Portell helped draft and advocate for the creative district legislation. She is principal of Portell Works, a community and economic development consulting firm in Denver.

Spotlight on…Silverthorne

13 Apr

Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) recently led a technical assistance assessment in the Town of Silverthorne on March 21-22. Below is a snaphshot of the two-day visit and the challenges and opportunities that DCI’s team of downtown revitalization professionals discovered.

The Town of Silverthorne, determined to continue to enhance the community, enlisted Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) to plan and coordinate a downtown assessment to identify a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to review all the previous work done and provide some practical and implementable guidance for how best to move forward in the short, medium, and long-term time frames. DCI enlisted specialists focusing on landscape architecture, signage and way finding, economic development, financing mechanisms, marketing and promotions, and more. The team met with numerous stakeholders and groups working in Silverthorne to identify the priorities that this community must work on. The community made it clear that community development and finding a sense of place was a primary goal.

The Silverthorne Downtown Assessment represents the first of its kind because there is no traditional or clearly defined downtown commercial core in this community. The town identified a commercial core area in which to focus efforts that encompassed a very long stretch of Highway 9. Though this area is a key corridor in the community, it does not connect  the areas of activity that residents use the most. Rather, the usage patterns highlighted the need for greater attention to east-to-west connections that intersect the key arteries of  the Blue River, and State Highway 9.

The apparently lacking sense of unified community appears rooted in both physical layout and a conceptual disconnect between ideas and implementation. Despite the clear role of Silverthorne as the home base of Summit County, “where people come to get things done,” there isn’t one readily identifiable gathering place that draws locals and tourist to a community destination. The community has done studies, acquired property, requested designs, and revised zoning; yet all of this planning and preparation for development has not resulted in the town feeling content with moving forward without first inviting more private sector initiative.

Silverthorne has a wealth of beauty and natural assets. The community and the local government identified the Blue River as a community asset that should be accentuated in community and economic development initiatives. However, despite a lovely and useful trail and bridge system constructed to provide access to the river, this fabulous natural asset is not especially highlighted by most community centers. Some ideas are provided to assist in translating the planning efforts into the larger community vision.

The team worked to narrow the physical boundaries of the downtown core to identify the activity nodes that are most utilized and would serve as the heart of the community – or the physical sense of place. The team identified projects that can be done with little to no funding, as well as longer term organizational structure and capital projects to enhance the relationships and physical connections in the commercial core. The team highlighted what to do and how to do it through creation of a step-by-step action matrix to clarify how, when, and who might be the best community stakeholder to get the job done.

Silverthorne is a dedicated and inspiring community of folks ready to roll up their sleeves and build the community together. Good luck to Silverthorne! DCI and our member volunteers look forward to continuing to work with this town as they move forward with the Heart of Silverthorne Initiative.

Interested in DCI’s technical assistance program? Visit www.downtowncoloradoinc.org for details or contact us at 303.282.0625.