Montrose's Downtown Development Authority recently released its draft Plan of Development, and if approved by Montrose City Council and the DDA board, it will become a guiding document to financing, development and the future of Montrose's downtown area.
The DDA was created by voters within the authority in 2011 with a specific goal of revitalizing Montrose's downtown. Now those objectives are in writing and include solutions that can help drive a successful DDA and downtown forward.
At 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 20, the DDA will present its plan to downtown business and property owners, as well as the public, during an open house from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 11 S. Park Ave.
The DDA has built its plan based on a successful structural approach created by the National Main Street Center, DDA Director Scott Shine said.
That four-point approach for the authority is:
• Support the growth and development of downtown business and assist local entrepreneurs;
• Establish downtown as the social and cultural center of the Uncompahgre Valley;
• Create great community spaces, facilities and infrastructure and maintain a safe, inviting atmosphere for downtown visitors; and
• Build an effective, responsive and sustainable organization that will coordinate downtown development efforts and advocate for the needs of downtown stakeholders.
The plan goes on to detail each approach, including the goals of the effort, the challenges that exist, possible solutions and ways to measure the success of meeting those goals.
To help evaluate and prioritize these goals, the DDA will put together committees to address each approach, Shine said.
Business and property owner support and participation in the plan is important and the committees are another avenue to get them involved, he said. Shine anticipates that each committee will be led by a boardmember who will solicit and accept participation on their committees.
"We'll use the DDA board to engage others," he said. "And they will look at sections of the plan and prioritize."
Another aspect of the plan is the financing opportunities available to the DDA, which include its mill levy and tax-increment financing, both approved by voters during the conception of the DDA, as well as a recently developed revolving loan fund that was approved by Montrose City Council in earlier February.
The DDA can use tax increment financing – both property and sales – to help fund projects and other aspects of its goals, as outlined in the Plan of Development.
This avenue of financing allows taxpayers to know that a portion of the dollars they spend in that area, either in sales or property taxes, goes directly back to improve downtown, Shine said.
The City Council and the DDA board must approve the plan before the source of funding is used. At that time, the city will set a baseline; tax collections within the authority's boundaries that are above this baseline will go back to the DDA based on specific formulas. TIFs are not an additional tax.
The process is outlined in more detail within the Plan, which states that collections in this manner from property tax will go toward physical improvement, while sales tax collections will go toward economic development. The mill levy collections are to be used for the DDA's operations.
Another helpful avenue for the DDA is its recently approved revolving loan fund.
The DDA contributed $12,000 to that fund and the City of Montrose added $63,000, according to DDA Board Chairman Bob Brown. He is hopeful that the DDA will get a United State Department of Agriculture Rural Development matching grant so that the authority can award capital improvement projects in the $10,000-to-$30,000 range.
"We are having discussions with Region 10 and the city, putting together documents and guidelines on how that (fund) will operate," Brown said.
The City Council could vote on the approval of the Plan of Development as soon as its Feb. 22 regular board meeting, Shine said.
"The first step is to get the plan out to the community and get it adopted by the DDA board and City Council," he said. "Once that's in place, we have those financial incentives at our disposal. We'll get the word out on the TIF and generate some projects. This is a clear road map."