The city of Durango has approved an urban renewal authority to stimulate economic growth in struggling parts of town.
Urban renewal authorities, public redevelopment districts allowed under state law, help communities reinvigorate neglected areas through public-private development partnerships. City staff and local organizations said a URA could also help economic recovery during the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday during a Durango City Council meeting.
“It’s been a process, and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be mayor tonight to see this project potentially approved,” said Mayor Dean Brookie, before council members voted on the URA. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Moments later, the five council members voted unanimously to approve the URA.
Urban renewal authorities are widely used entities on the Front Range and other parts of the Western Slope, like Montrose, to create growth in poorer, blighted parts of towns where it is difficult to attract private investment.
In Durango, the URA, called the Durango Renewal Partnership, would help address affordable housing, job creation, mobility and transit goals, quality-of-life improvements and other development projects.
The city has considered north Main Avenue and Camino del Rio as potential areas that could benefit from an urban renewal authority.
“We view the URA as critical to our economic recovery. We’re obviously in one of the deepest recessions we’ve had since the Great Depression,” said Alex Rugoff, Durango business development coordinator. “It’s going to take a lot of public-private partnership and collaboration to bring private dollars and investment to our community.”
Public support is key to a URA’s success, and Durango’s URA has been successful in its community-driven approach, Rugoff said.
Leaders from the Durango Chamber of Commerce, Durango Business Improvement District, La Plata Economic Alliance and Region 9 Economic Development District submitted letters in support of the URA during the virtual public hearing.
They said the URA will help support economic recovery and create cohesive projects that maintain Durango’s character.
City Council unanimously approved a resolution that said city councilors will serve as commissioners of the URA. The resolution appointed other commissioners to represent La Plata County, Durango School District 9-R, the Durango BID and taxing bodies levying mill levies within the URA boundaries.
“We feel very confident that this is the right tool for our community, especially now as we think about economic recovery and really supporting the community through appropriate investment,” said Scott Shine, Durango planning manager.