Growing the downtown: DDA looks to next 10 years | MyWindsorNow.com

Growing the downtown: DDA looks to next 10 years

Emily Wenger
ewenger@mywindsornow.com

Although not yet in Windsor for 10 years, the Downtown Development Authority has accomplishments to celebrate and projects to look forward to.

Matt Ashby, director of the DDA, said the authority's board has been committed to bringing more people to Windsor's downtown since its inception.

Looking back

Since the DDA was established in 2011, the goal of the board has been to increase the overall tax base for the downtown. One project that stands out to Ashby has been the façade improvement program.

“The idea is really kind of looking to the future and saying what are the best uses for these properties and the best return on investment overall for the community.”Matt AshbyDirector of the DDA

Ashby said the project, which helps businesses renovate and beautify the fronts of their buildings, is a point of pride for the DDA.

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"I think that's probably one of the highlights of the DDA so far, is the money that's been invested in individual storefronts and buildings," he said.

Jason Shaeffer, owner of Chimney Park Restaurant and Bar and Hearth Restaurant and Pub, utilized the façade improvement program for Hearth, and was recently approved for improvements to Chimney Park.

Shaeffer said though the program helps individual businesses, it also can help other businesses in the area.

"It overall improves the look and feel not just for the business but for the entire town," he said.

Chimney Park will get some improvements to doors and windows, as well, which will help make the building more energy efficient.

Spokes bicycle shop also has taken advantage of the program.

Looking ahead

A section of Windsor's downtown might get an overhaul in the next 10 years.

The Boardwalk Backlot Development is one of the Windsor DDA's initiatives that could bring more retail and residential space to the downtown area.

The goal, according to a request for proposal on the DDA's website, is to develop the strip that runs along the train tracks in a diagonal line from Main Street to Colo. 257 near Birch Street, which Ashby says the DDA hopes will increase the overall tax base in Windsor and draw more people to the downtown.

"What we have is a continuous stretch of property that a developer could come in and say, 'One type of use would make sense here that wouldn't make sense elsewhere,' " Ashby said.

But the authority still has some hurdles to leap before development can start. The process has begun to find a developer, but Ashby said details of how much of the property will be developed and what will go in the area haven't yet been solidified.

"The idea is really kind of looking to the future and saying what are the best uses for these properties and the best return on investment overall for the community," he said.

Ashby said the addition of residential space in the area and other parts of downtown would also benefit the new development and rest of the downtown area.

"The idea being that if we can increase the amount of residential units in downtown, then that helps feed in shoppers. So bringing in a built-in customer base, of sorts," he said.

According to the request for proposal, "The vision is to create a mixed-use destination, blending an optimum fusion of residential, retail, hospitality, dining and entertainment options."

Ashby said the DDA hopes a clearer vision for development can be explored over the summer, but nothing is certain "until the shovels are moving dirt."

"The development environment in northern Colorado is always shifting with the economy," he said.

New businesses also have been moving into downtown, which Ashby said is an exciting prospect for the DDA.

Dan Stauss, president of the DDA board, said in addition to more growth, foot traffic and businesses in the downtown, he sees expansion of the downtown in the next 10 years — especially if the Clearview Library District is successful in building a new library just outside the downtown.

"There's a significant amount of opportunity there," he said.

The DDA also hopes the possible development of the backlot will connect downtown to the Windsor Lake, something Stauss said the downtown is fortunate to have.

"That's the gem that we have that no other downtown has, is that lake right behind Main Street," he said.

Moving forward, the challenge will be blending the future and the past, Ashby said.

"I think the challenge here in Windsor is how to accommodate the leaps and bounds that the community is capable of while still making sure that we're respecting the heritage and past of the businesses who've invested their livelihood in Windsor for the last 100 years," he said.

Editor's note: this story has been corrected to state Jason Shaeffer is the sole owner of Chimney Park Restaurant and Bar and Hearth Restaurant and Pub.

Windsor DDA

For more information about the Windsor Downtwon Development Authority, go to windsordda.com/rfps/.

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