Eagle businesses get a break
EAGLE – The new street lamps are in place, and the renovation of Broadway is halfway done.Now, town leaders are turning their attention to another strategy for encouraging downtown development: money. The town is working on a package of financial incentives, such grants of up to $5,000 for architectural services and waiving frees for building permits and other services. To qualify for the incentives, development projects must have a shop or restaurant on the ground floor.”That’s huge – it’s very much appreciated,” said downtown property owner Wendy Sachs, who plans to redevelop the corner where the Brush Creek Saloon is now located. “This just shows that the town board and staff are very much committed to revitalizing the downtown area.”Fred Butler, a local Realtor who has owned the big, black building on the southwest corner of Second and Broadway for over 20 years, said the incentives are needed.In past decades, his building has, at times, housed a bar and restaurant businesses, but the ground floor of the more than 100-year-old building has been vacant for at least the past five years.Butler says that more incentives are needed. He wants to see a relaxing of the parking space requirements and some specific architectural guidelines for buildings between Second and Third Streets.
When a property owner commits to new shops or a restaurant on the ground floor, the town will waive all building permit fees, water tap fees and sewer tap fees. For offices on the upper floors of the same building, the building permit fee would be waived, along with 50 percent of the tap fees. Additionally, the incentive package will include a grant to the project developer of up to $5,000 for use on conceptual architectural plans. The savings can be significant. For example, Sachs would be entitled to about a $122,000 fee rebate for the new retail building she plans to construct at 241 Broadway. Sachs plans to demolish the existing building, and replace it with a 14,835-square-foot brick building, with retail and restaurant tenants on the ground level.Butler said the combination of incentives is what will encourage redevelopment.”Really, it’s not worth building that Broadway streetscape unless the owners can get the incentive to rebuild,” Butler said.Mayor Jon Stavney said the town has worked hard to get past criticism from some downtown property owners who have protested for years that the town wasn’t doing enough for them.”If those same property owners don’t find the streetscape enhancement, and this incentive package, motivational enough, their bluff has been called, and it is time to sell to someone who understands what a fantastic opportunity awaits those who are ready for Broadway’s renaissance,” Stavney said.
Town Planner Bill Gray said the town’s overall strategy for revitalizing Broadway has three components.
The first, and most visibly obvious, are the $3-million “streetscape” improvements. Last summer, the town completed sidewalk, landscaping and utility improvements on upper Broadway. Streetscape improvements to the rest of the street will follow next spring.The financial incentive package is the second prong in the strategy. The town board will vote on the incentive package at their Nov. 14 meeting.The third component is changes in zoning and design rules for new or remodeled buildings. The town is considering increasing density, and revising parking and design standards. At the same time, the staff is looking at stronger architectural guidelines for the historic downtown area. “It is not so much about tax dollars, as it is about community vitality in the heart of historic town,” Mayor Jon Stavney said. This story appeared first in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado