What’s in a name?

Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 10:31 PM

Even though the name of this column is “What’s Up Downtown,” today I am writing about north Main Avenue. Many people do not know that Durango Business Improvement District (BID) works for north Main business and property owners, as well as downtown.

How do you brand a commercial area that does not really have a brand? Why does an area need a brand? What is the correct brand for an up-and-coming commercial area? These are questions BID has been asked lately about north Main, and that we have been asking ourselves for the past 20 months.

As communities grow, there is a renewed interest on in-fill projects. Instead of growing outward, communities find places that can be redeveloped in the middle of everything. With the city of Durango’s nearly complete character district plan for north Main, we are going to see redevelopment occur on this corridor.

The focus on north Main started in 2016 with a grant the city received to do a mobility study. This got the ball rolling by recommending improvements to allow for better pedestrian and bike access to the area.

During the mobility study, the city also began obtaining input for the character district plans. In June 2016, the city held public-input meetings for business owners, property owners, residents in the adjacent neighborhoods and the general public. BID’s role was to run a branding station. We received great input from the attendees.

The city recently conducted an online survey, that at the time was the most responded-to survey they had ever done. The detailed results of this survey were shared with BID.

BID is now in the final stage of obtaining input to shape the brand for north Main. In early March, we will hold meetings with the north Main business community to show them potential brands for the area. We will ask them the pros and cons of the various brands, ask them how each would work when tied to their business, and how they all could work when giving directions to someone who is not from the area. BID also will consider how the brands pair with our existing brand for downtown.

North Main is changing and will continue to change.

Ultimately, BID hopes to see mixed-use projects with retail on the ground floor and residential on the top floor, and other housing options for the community on the corridor. We also hope to see more retail and restaurant businesses. A new brand for north Main will begin to change perceptions about the area, alongside changes happening right in front of our eyes.

BID plans to release the results of our work in late March. We probably won’t make everyone happy with our decision. Rarely do projects like this result in full consensus. What we hope everyone understands is that BID has put a lot of time and thoughtful effort into this project. We have done a good job of obtaining input from the general public, from business and property owners, and from residents who live in the neighborhoods next to north Main.

Watch for our announcement soon.

Tim Walsworth is the executive director of the Durango Business Improvement District. Contact him at