The Durango Urban Renewal Authority is offering up to three $50,000 grants for business and nonprofit property owners to use for large-scale property developments.
The grant funds were generated by the Urban Renewal Authority, said Tommy Crosby, Durango economic opportunity coordinator. The grant is named the Peak Grant and the application is expected to become available by Jan. 21.
Property owners are eligible to apply for one of the three grants if they have property in the MidTown area, which stretches from west Ninth Street to just north of East 15th Street and from the Animas River to East Second Avenue.
“If you’re interested, we really want to work with you and your property owner at your business,” Crosby said at the monthly virtual Business Improvement District meeting held Friday.
Crosby said the URA is looking to fund “transformative projects” in MidTown Durango.
Nonprofits applying for the $50,000 grants might also be eligible for matching funds.
While grants are being offered by the Urban Renewal Authority for MidTown property development, grant funding for bump-outs are going away.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that financial assistance is completely disappearing, though.
Crosby said he is open to having discussions with downtown businesses that are interested in continuing their bump-outs but need financial help in doing so.
Other changes are coming to bump-outs, as well. Crosby said the city wants to pay more attention to the Americans with Disabilities Act around bump-outs.
ADA compliance is a piece under review in the approval process to make bump-outs a permanent fixture downtown.
Businesses have the go-ahead to begin implementing bump-outs on March 14, said Tim Walsworth, BID’s executive director, during Friday’s virtual BID meeting.
The business association is engaged in discussion through a program called Downtown’s Next Step, which involves talk about the future of bump-outs downtown.
“The point of that is to create some vision and values for downtown and really look at, can we incorporate a (permanent) downtown outdoor space for businesses?” Walsworth said.
He added that the devil is in the details about how bump-outs would be permanently integrated.
The Fourth of July, or Independence Day, falls on a Monday this year, and the Business Improvement District is already plotting where and when events and celebrations will occur.
July Fourth activities will be spread out on Sunday, July 3, and Monday, July 4, Walsworth said.
The annual pancake breakfast at Rotary Park, 5K Fun Run and veterans-based event at Buckley Park are planned to take place in addition to the usual parade, dance, concert and fireworks, he said.
But this year, the “fireworks” may be different.
“Fireworks are hard in the age of climate change,” Walsworth said.
Fireworks displays tend to be expensive, get canceled “all the time” and aren’t supported by the Durango Fire Protection District because the district won’t assume liability if something lights up and burns down, Walsworth said.
“Our fire departments aren’t comfortable assuming all that liability to shoot them anymore, so you’ve gotta bring in an outside company,” Walsworth said. “It costs more money.”
The concern about traditional fireworks is a burden where technology might be able to lend a hand.
“One thing we’re hoping to be able to pilot this year is a drone fireworks show,” Walsworth said. “So it’s not a firework, it’s a drone. But the drones, you can program them to be in any shape you want.”
Walsworth encouraged BID meeting attendees to look up past drone light shows for themselves. He said they are “super amazing and super cool, and a safe way to light up the sky.”
The BID is looking into whether a drone light show can be integrated into Independence Day activities this summer.
In other Independence Day news, Walsworth said a “big concert” is coming July Fourth to the La Plata County Fairgrounds, but he’s not allowed to announce who the main stage artist is quite yet.
That didn’t stop him from saying that the performer will be a “huge, giant draw.”