by Michael Leccese
Out on the Eastern Plains, Greeley (pop. 100,000) is the latest small Colorado city to adopt ULI best practices, particularly for downtown revitalization. On January 30, ULI Colorado hosted its first program in Greeley highlighting efforts to add more than 800 apartments to downtown, leverage the arts and creativity, adapt historic buildings for new purposes, and create a more walkable, mixed-use business district.
The event was held at the new DoubleTree by Hilton Greeley right on downtown’s Lincoln Park. Designed by hotel vets JNS of Denver and financed with about 19 percent of the capital from the City and upfront investment from the Greeley Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the 147-room hotel exemplifies Greeley’s rebirth.
Highlighted projects included:
- Rehab of the historic Shaw, Kress and Patrick’s commercial buildings, presented by Bob Tointon, a longtime Greeley investor and philanthropist.
- DDA economic incentives including façade rehab grants and tax increment financing that spurred at least a half-dozen projects, including the award-winning Weldwerks Brewery, Luna’s Tacos & Tequila (which hosted the networking reception) and the large Maddie project that will link downtown to the University of Northern Colorado campus. Founded in 1998, the DDA also has added public art, streetscaping and programming, and recruits businesses to move downtown, explained executive director Bianca Fisher.
- Also aided by the DDA, the new DoubleTree by Hilton Greeley, which required 11 different partners and financing sources, explained Tyler Reagan, development manager for Greeley-based Hensel Phelps. Challenges included dealing with construction costs equivalent to central Denver although room rates are not.
- Becky Safarik, assistant city manager, summarized the City’s various programs to create vitality and new investment since 2011. Stemming from downtown development and open space plans of that time, Greeley’s efforts have included streamlining the development process, successfully applying for a Colorado Creative District around UNC, and underwriting predevelopment fees for approved projects in the redevelopment area. To date, the city has committed $3.4 million to incentivize projects that will create around 300 new apartments and 4,000 square feet of new retail.
- Finally, developer Tyler Richardson presented plans for Maddie, a mixed-use project stretching over 14 blocks to eventually add 950,000 square feet of new development. Connecting downtown to the UNC campus in a walkable corridor, the project will eventually add 806 apartments, 160,000 square feet of retail and 100,000 square feet of office. The first $54 million phase, called South Maddie, is under construction with 231 apartments with an average projected rent of $1,300/month. The project was designed by OZ Architecture and is being built by Brinkman Construction of Fort Collins.
After the panel, the entire audience of 65 walked to the Weldwerks Brewing Company for a tour and finally adjourned to Luna’s Taco & Tequila, a former storefront, recently redone as a two-story space with murals by famed local artist and gallerist Armando Silva. Next door, Luna partners Ely and Samantha Corliss previously revived the Moxi Theater as a local music venue.