Midtown Fort Collins group pushes South College Avenue makeover plan

Efforts that will eventually lead to a renovation of South College Avenue in Fort Collins took a big step forward this week with a pledge of $ 200,000 from the Midtown Business Improvement District.

The 4-year-old district, which receives a portion of property taxes from district business owners, will use the funds to begin drafting building documents for improvements along South College between Drake Road and Boardwalk Drive.

The neighborhood has big plans to make Midtown as distinct a destination as Old Town. It starts with improvements to South College Avenue, also known as US Highway 287.

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Preliminary ideas, identified in the city’s earlier plans for Midtown in Motion and Midtown Corridor, include:

  • Converting frontage roads along South College to one-way where possible;
  • Widening of sidewalks and pathways on both sides of the street for pedestrians and cyclists;
  • Modernization and landscaping of medians, improvement of the intersections of Thunderbird Drive, Harvard Street, Swallow Road, Foothills Parkway, Monroe, Bockman Drive and Boardwalk;
  • Improvement of the underpass of the path connecting the two sides of South College;
  • Improve Place Creation Zones, including Midtown branding and branding, create urban parks and plazas, add public art, plantings, lighting, streetscapes and street furniture .

“For the BID, this is a monumental moment,” said Jamie Giellis, executive director of the Midtown Business Improvement District.

With annual revenues of around $ 150,000, the improvement district does not have the funds to do much on its own, but partnership with the city and possible funding from outside sources, including grants. federal COVID-19, could help.

The $ 200,000 committed this week takes the Preferred Corridor design and turns it into preliminary construction documents, which is the next step towards a formal request for additional funding from the city, Giellis said.

A group of city departments are partnering with the BID to advance the preliminary design of the corridor improvements, said Brad Buckman, director of the city’s engineering department.

The group is seeking federal and state grants to complete the preliminary design process and identify a list of projects and costs for the corridor, he said.

The list would be part of the city’s overall 10-year capital improvement plan and would compete for construction funding through the city’s earnings budgeting process as well as other grant opportunities going forward. , did he declare.

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The Midtown BID “was created to serve as a catalyst to make important projects like this a reality,” Midtown BID Chairman of the Board, Luke McFetridge, said in a press release. “The goal of our investment is that our contribution will be multiplied, mobilizing the resources needed to complete construction documents and eventually generating millions of dollars in capital to truly transform this important corridor. ”

Over the next two months, the district will begin a public process to get ideas for the hallway and “get into street design,” Giellis said.

If all goes well and the district is able to secure funding from municipal, state and federal sources, Giellis expects construction to begin in two to three years.

When the South Fort Collins Business Association (now known as Midtown Fort Collins Business Association) decided in 2014 that the area should have a Business Improvement District, it needed signatures from owners of 51% of the value. of the assessed property and 51% of the area. in the affected district as well as the support of the city council to create the BID and an election to assess the fees.

The median near the intersection of East Foothills Parkway and South College Avenue is covered in woodchips in Fort Collins, Colorado on Friday, June 11, 2021.

The BID was promulgated by the City Council in December 2017 and an election was held in November 2018, generating the first invoices in January 2019.

McWhinney, the new owner of Foothills Mall, has reached out to the Business Improvement District as he begins the mall redesign.

“They see an opportunity to work on this project to make sure everything is integrated together,” said Giellis.

BID boundaries include all commercial properties fronting College Avenue, from Drake to Boardwalk.

The corridor includes approximately 170 businesses, 73 individual plots and 49 landowners with approximately 16,000 linear feet of commercial frontage on College Avenue. It includes Foothills Mall and The Square, chain restaurants, car dealerships, big box stores, and many small family businesses.

District businesses pay an additional $ 10 per linear foot of frontage to the BID each year for 10 years. After a decade, the city council could expand or dissolve the neighborhood. The assessment, which generates $ 160,000, could potentially increase by 3% per year.

The average business pays around $ 940 a year, but large real estate owners such as Foothills Mall, Dellenbach Motors, Markley Motors, and NewMark Merrill Mountain States-owned Safeway Place pay significantly more.

Pat Ferrier is a senior journalist who covers business, health care and growth issues in northern Colorado. Contact her at [email protected]. Please support his work and that of other Colorado journalists by purchasing a subscription today.