Improvements Planned for Downtown Greeley
The Greeley Downtown Development Authority is planning a series of improvements to the downtown area, based upon the results of a study conducted earlier this year. KUNC’s Erin O’Toole talks with Northern Colorado Business Report publisher Jeff Nuttall about the changes that could be coming to downtown Greeley.
O’Toole: It seems the Greeley DDA is looking at making a lot of changes to the downtown area. What is the ultimate goal of the plan?
Nuttall: The downtown Greeley area has seen some hard times, and Greeley as a whole is weighed down by a negative stigma. The DDA wants to bring business and vitality back to the downtown area, attract residents from all around the city, the University of Northern Colorado, and throughout the Northern Colorado region. They plan on doing some extensive marketing to get the message out that Greeley is poised for change, and that residents and visitors alike are going to appreciate that change.
O’Toole: What are some of the specific steps the DDA will take to bring about all this change?
Nuttall: Well, first on the list is attracting more businesses to the area though a variety of financial support initiatives. Think of these as a public-private partnership. One of the ideas is to create a lease-relief program that would allow tenants to pay lower rents when they first begin their business, with a provision that they repay any forgiven or reduced rent later in their lease.
The DDA is also looking at putting together a revolving loan fund that could provide low-interest, flexible rate loans to new businesses, or to existing businesses that want to expand their offerings.
O’Toole: What kinds of businesses is the DDA trying to attract?
Nuttall: Mostly small, locally owned companies. They want business owners with a proven track record and a history of success. One strategy they’re using is finding owners of retail and restaurants in other cities and asking them if they’d be interested in opening a second location. The DDA is very interested in the independent business owner.
They have said, though, that chains and franchises aren’t out of the question. In fact, a major hotel chain is currently looking at the possibility of locating in downtown Greeley.
O’Toole: You mentioned the incorporation of UNC into the plan. What capacity will the university serve?
Nuttall: UNC has more than 12,000 students, and national research shows that the average college student spends up to $360 per month in discretionary income. Add that to the $100 million in payroll generated by UNC faculty and staff, and there is a huge potential market for downtown business owners because the UNC campus backs right up to the DDA boundary. According to Pam Bricker, who is the executive director at the DDA, the students want to embrace downtown, and downtown wants to embrace the students. It’s a two-way street, and the DDA wants to capitalize on that by offering downtown amenities that would interest college students, whether that is nightlife, dining, entertainment or retail.
O’Toole: Okay - so, dining, shopping and hotels are all being taken into consideration with this plan. What about a residential aspect?
Nuttall: The trend all over the Northern Colorado region is toward multi-family housing, and the DDA is taking this into consideration. They would love to include multi-family developments downtown, because residents who live nearby are going to be some of the most frequent shoppers to the downtown area. Part of the plan is to attract people from other parts of Northern Colorado, but according to Pam Bricker, it is vital that they offer attractive housing options in close proximity to downtown.