A new report outlines the potential costs of downtown revitalization efforts in Steamboat Springs.

Photo by Scott Franz

A new report outlines the potential costs of downtown revitalization efforts in Steamboat Springs.

New report outlines potential costs of downtown revitalization efforts in Steamboat Springs

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— Business owners in downtown Steamboat Springs now have a better idea of how much it will cost to embark on all the revitalization projects they’ve been discussing in recent weeks.

The city of Steamboat Springs has synthesized into one action plan several hours' worth of discussions the business owners had this summer about how to improve the downtown corridor and attract more customers.

The 20-page plan lays out the estimated costs and potential funding sources for several types of improvements ranging from more sidewalks on Oak Street to a new paid parking system.

Adding sidewalks to the entirety of Oak Street, for example, is estimated to cost as much as $397,000, while a new part-time downtown event coordinator could be brought on for $17,000.

Casey Earp, the city’s economic development intern, points out that none of the possible improvements in the plan will prevent all businesses from struggling or failing.

That’s unavoidable, he said.

But he said a more vibrant downtown always will be a tourism driver and make Steamboat more competitive with other mountain resorts as the economy slowly rebounds.

“Doing nothing may well be the easiest and cheapest default approach to these issues, but it does little to help the competitiveness of downtown Steamboat Springs,” Earp wrote in the report. “If the business community can jump-start redevelopment within this corridor the rise out of recession will happen with a dynamic new face able to succeed in the competitive resort town environment.”

The city and Mainstreet Steamboat Springs will host a meeting to discuss the plan at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Chief Theater.

Earp put together the plan after city staff and a group of downtown stakeholders met five times during the summer to discuss how they could attract more people downtown.

Saying they were struggling to stay in business and facing fierce competition online, some business owners spoke at the meetings with a sense of urgency about revitalizing Lincoln Avenue, Oak Street and Yampa Street.

New sandwich boards downtown was the first thing to become a reality as a result of the brainstorming sessions.

The action plan addresses items that are much costlier and likely will take years to implement.

At a glance: Highlights from the report

Paid parking

• A paid (parking) option would provide visitors with the opportunity to stay parked longer and access parking within closer distances to their desired destination. Initial pushback will include the notion that this will dissuade customers from coming to downtown, but there are several examples pointing in the opposite direction. Examples in Aspen, Vail and Breckenridge all point to successful implementation of paid parking that changed local habits and offered extended access to valuable parking for customers.

Aesthetics

• Lincoln Avenue currently has an average of five trees per block frontage. The city estimates 50 trees are needed to create a similar pattern downtown, with each tree costing $100 to $350.

• To maintain a similar light pattern throughout downtown, roughly 100 lights would need to be purchased and installed. ... If the pattern is similar to what is currently in place, cost estimation would be $2,500 annually per block in maintenance costs and roughly $1,000 annually per block for electricity.

Marketing

• Mainstreet currently spends about $25,000 a year on advertising and marketing for downtown as a whole to both guests and locals using newspaper, TV, magazines, radio, brochures and maps. Through partnering with the Steamboat Spring Chamber Resort Association, a coordinated effort to promote downtown businesses could go further than what is currently taking place.

Read the full report below:

Downtown revitalization report

Downtown Revitalization Plan

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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