Having a vision, putting in years of hard work, and lots of listening and consensus-building is paying off for business leaders in two Denver commercial corridors now that the Denver City Council has approved the creation of Business Improvement Districts on Santa Fe Drive and along East Colfax in the Mayfair neighborhood. The districts were approved following public hearings at last night’s Council meeting.
Both districts must successfully pass a November vote by their respective commercial property owners in order to receive taxing authority. Given that the process to submit a BID proposal requires a great deal of outreach and community engagement prior to Council approval, the elections are expected to be successful.
“We’re pleased to check off both of these achievements as major components of our JumpStart economic development strategy,” said Paul Washington, executive director of the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED), which initiated and supported the BID initiatives as effective ways to promote economic activity and spur job creation. “Both Fax-Mayfair and Santa Fe present significant potential for improvement and commercial growth, but even more exciting in both cases is seeing diverse groups of property owners come together toward a common goal.”
The OED provided application funding to both groups in order to support the taxing district formation.
On Santa Fe Drive between 6th and 13th Avenues, an area that comprises more than 800,000 sq ft of commercial area, the new BID replaces two existing maintenance districts. With an expected annual budget of $100,000, proponents of the new BID hope that it will provide a framework for physical public improvements, more pedestrian-friendly features, increased safety, enhanced maintenance, improved water drainage and all forms of strategic economic development.
“The time has finally come for this original, historic part of Denver,” said neighborhood champion Veronica Barela, president/CEO of NEWSED, the nonprofit development corporation long involved in the area’s evolution. Barela says that a growing spirit of collaboration between the Santa Fe Arts District, area businesses, residents and stakeholders has made this milestone effort possible and will ultimately upgrade the corridor to an improved and beautiful key entry to downtown.
Along East Colfax, the Fax-Mayfair BID has been promoted by a committed group of business owners with assistance from The Fax Partnership, a nonprofit economic development organization whose purview extends to the Denver-Aurora border at Yosemite St. “We’re going to hit the ground running to support current businesses and attract new neighborhood services and amenities,” said Hilarie Portell, executive director. “We look forward to working in partnership with OED and the other four Colfax districts to revitalize Denver’s historic main street.”
The Fax-Mayfair BID’s new seven-member board will oversee an anticipated annual budget of about $118,000 during the district’s initial 10-year term. The group will focus on economic development, public improvements, public safety and advocacy to improve the economic vitality of property located along both sides of Colfax from Elm Street to Monaco Parkway, and includes the area known as the Mayfair Town Center area between Kearney and Leyden from Colfax Avenue south to 14th Avenue.
With this latest addition of two BIDs, Denver now has 11. Several other neighborhood business groups and property owners are working to prepare their own proposals for consideration in 2015 and beyond, according to Washington.
“We have targeted a number of emerging neighborhoods for support that we believe would be excellent candidates for forming a BID in the future. It’s been proven repeatedly that this kind of formal and self-funded approach to local business recruitment and retention, as well as infrastructure, is a winning idea for Denver,” he said.
Denver OED has most recently supported BID formations in the Bluebird area of Colfax and along Federal Boulevard in the Jefferson Park neighborhood, among others.