MONTROSE, Colo. (KKCO) -- The City of Montrose says for more than a decade, the downtown area has needed improvements that it does not have the funds to get done. With the downtown in the economy, officials say Main Street needs a boost more than ever -- and now they and several businesses are taking the first steps to make that happen.
Bob Brown is the owner of the Around the Corner Art Gallery in Downtown Montrose. He says between business activity moving to the newly developed south end of the city and downtown stores succumbing to the tough economic times, Downtown Montrose has lost a little of its spark.
"I think we have not capitalized fully on the potential [of Downtown Montrose]," says Brown.
Something he and others are trying to do by creating a Downtown Development Authority -- a group that could fund improvement projects, would work to attract new business to the area, and promote the downtown area and events to make it a local and regional draw.
"Really what we're out to do is create a good environment for both business and people down here," says Brown, who is also a member of the DDA steering committee. "If we don't have both, then we won't be successful."
City officials say that kind of environment has been missing from the downtown area for a long time.
"Because Main Street has been a state highway, we've had narrow sidewalks and an environment that is not as conducive to foot traffic downtown," says Scott Sellers, assistant city manager for Montrose.
With the recent announcement that Highway 50 will be diverted away from Main Street, they're hopeful that will change and make downtown more attractive to shoppers.
"Foot traffic ultimately turns into sales and of course that means revenue for the city," says Sellers.
But they say real change and real revitalization will only come when a group exists that can give all of its attention and resources to the downtown area.
"We have a great opportunity to construct improvements downtown, which before we haven't had the opportunity to do," says Sellers.
Brown says the changes will get the downtown's economic engine running a full speed.
"That bigger goal calls for maybe a hotel downtown, a civic center, meeting places, lots of businesses, lots of café dining," says Brown.
City officials say roughly 800 voters in the downtown area will vote on the creation of a DDA in April 2010, and that the measure will likely include a tax increase for those voters to pay for start-up costs.
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