Blight may give Avon a boost
Vail, CO Colorado
AVON ” There are cracked sidewalks, crumbling parking lots and even an abandoned refrigerator lurking in Avon. These unsavory things could actually lead to a lot of good for the town.
Avon is planning an expansive urban renewal in its east and west town centers to make itself more appealing to new businesses, housing developers and residents. To jump-start the process, the town commissioned a “blight study” to sniff out the deteriorated and disorganized parts of town.
Find enough blight, and the town can create an urban renewal authority much like Vail did three years ago, which is key in making large numbers of public improvements affordable for towns like Avon.
The results are back, and it looks like Avon has enough potholes and vacant buildings to make itself new.
Blight is basically anything that could slow town growth and scare away developers, whether it be crumbling structures, a lack of sidewalks, unclean trash cans or bad layouts. The surveyors found 390 instances of blight in the core of Avon.
The town must also meet four of 11 specific criteria to be considered “blighted,” and the town actually met nine of the criteria, said Ken Schroeppel with Matrix Design Group.
Here are a few examples explained in the report:
– Metcalf Road, Nottingham Road and West Beaver Creek Boulevard didn’t have much in the way of sidewalks, curbs or gutters. Disconnected sidewalks were found in the East Avon commercial areas where there’s a lot of pedestrians.
– There are no sidewalks at in some busy parts of town were people walk, Schroeppel said.
– Several residential areas were found with deteriorated windows, doors, siding and roof. A parking area in East Avon has a deteriorated ceiling.
– Some parking lots require drivers to perform complicated turning maneuvers to leave.
– Many pedestrians use unsafe shortcuts between bus stops and retail stores.
– Overgrown vegetation, a crumbling parking lot and an abandoned refrigerator were found at a vacant building on Metcalf Road.
– Cracked and broken asphalt was found everywhere. Some parking lot layouts didn’t make sense.
– Several buildings on Metcalf Road around Nottingham Lake don’t have direct access to fire or emergency vehicles. Several buildings in the area didn’t have sprinklers or fire alarms.
– Many vacant buildings and undeveloped areas were found.
Now that enough blight has been uncovered, the town can create an urban renewal authority, which will have the power to implement a unique funding mechanism called tax increment financing, which can pump money into redevelopment projects in east and west Avon.
The concept is based on anticipated growth in property tax revenues. It allows the urban renewal authority to issue bonds to pay for necessary public improvements, and as redevelopment occurs, the increase in property taxes generated due to increased assessed values are used to pay off the bonds.
The money can also be used to reimburse developers for parts of projects and acquire property.
Planners are looking to make west Avon a plaza full of shops, restaurants, a parking garage and easy access to Nottingham Park and the Westin Riverfront Village. A new “main street” would be the center of the new development.
The streets on the east side of town will be reorganized and given a neighborhood feel with more shops, more homes and an open plaza area, the town says.
The town will likely approve the creation of the authority at a June 26 town council meeting, which will also be a public hearing. The authority will likely be made up of the town council.
One discussion topic likely to pop up at the hearing is condemnation powers. The authority will likely have the power to condemn buildings, but the town’s redevelopment plans don’t indicate any place where a condemnation would be necessary, officials said.
Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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