Craig City Manager Jim Ferree, second from right, and Craig Parks and Recreation Director Dave Pike, far right, lead a group of representatives from Downtown Colorado, Inc. on a tour of downtown Craig on Monday. The tour is part of a two-day downtown revitalization assessment that will conclude at 6 p.m. Tuesday with a community presentation.

Photo by Joe Moylan

Craig City Manager Jim Ferree, second from right, and Craig Parks and Recreation Director Dave Pike, far right, lead a group of representatives from Downtown Colorado, Inc. on a tour of downtown Craig on Monday. The tour is part of a two-day downtown revitalization assessment that will conclude at 6 p.m. Tuesday with a community presentation.

Downtown revitalization assessment yields opportunities

Downtown Colorado, Inc. to present recommendations Tuesday

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— It was a marathon Monday for representatives of Downtown Colorado, Inc., which completed the first of a two-day revitalization assessment of downtown Craig.

With a walking tour and four focus group meetings officially in the books, DCI representatives are confident in their ability to outline a plan to breathe new economic life into Craig’s historic downtown district.

“There’s so many opportunities for downtown Craig because the resources here, both natural and service-based, are plentiful,” said Genevieve Zeman, preservation and design specialist for DCI. “Even with the big-box stores there is an opportunity for small businesses. From what I could tell during our previous focus group meeting (with local business and property owners), there have been some referrals between downtown businesses and the bigger box stores.”

Zeman has been with DCI for three and a half years and said she is participating in her 15th downtown assessment. Assessments are designed to identify issues and provide ideas to boost economic development in a city’s downtown core.

Though DCI will not present its observations and recommendations until 6 p.m. Tuesday during a community presentation at Craig City Council chambers, 300 W. Fourth St., Zeman said she was encouraged by the cooperation from focus group participants.

“Being on the same page is one of the most positive things we got out of the focus groups,” she said. “People really want to see a vibrant downtown that is safe and accessible for everyone.

“They want to see vacant businesses activated. They don’t want to see the missing teeth, so to speak, they want to see the whole smile.”

Members of DCI’s downtown assessment team are in the process of debriefing and comparing notes to identify themes raised during Monday’s focus group meetings with local elected officials, service providers, business owners and members of the community.

The team will spend most of Tuesday compiling that information into a PowerPoint presentation in preparation for the community meeting.

In about six weeks DCI also will deliver a narrative of its findings and recommendations, as well as an action matrix that will provide step-by-step instructions in accordance with the National Main Street four-point revitalization approach that focuses on organization, economic restructuring, promotions and design.

The motivation behind this week’s DCI visit began several months ago during a workshop between the Craig City Council and Downtown Business Association members.

Though DCI values the visit at more than $19,000, it keeps costs down through a collaboration of private and public sector volunteers from throughout the state.

The actual cost of the visit is estimated at $9,000, and the fee is being shared by the City of Craig, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Office.

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com.

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