Routinely, we speak of downtown Durango as the heart of the Durango community, but by what measure does this tiny bit of real estate earn such recognition?
Granted, it is the seat of government for both city and county, employs the largest concentration of workers, is the regional center for banking and real estate, and is a destination for great restaurants, shopping independent retailers, nightly entertainment and special events. OK, so far, so good, but what else?
The city of Durango’s GIS mapping shows that the central business district measures 195 acres compared to the city’s overall size of 8,865 acres. Therefore, for all that downtown represents and contributes, it occupies only 2.2 percent of the total land within the city.
In comparison, the weight of the human brain is 2 percent of an adult’s body weight, for me that is about 3 pounds. I think it’s fair to say that my 2 percent brain does more for me than the 3 pounds of spare tire around my waist. Human brains are highly complex and so are the daily machinations of running businesses, government, banking and education. Those 2.2 percent downtown acres of the city’s total size also contain our most brainy features such as iconic landmarks, distinctive architecture, public art and cultural amenities.
What about that “heart of the community” moniker? The average human heart weighs only 11 ounces, about one-half-of-one-percent of body weight. And you guessed it, Main Avenue (from 5th Street to Buckley Park) represents the same one-half-of-one-percent of all city land, (0.4 percent exactly). Holy cow, I may be on to something.
As that short stretch of Main Avenue goes, so goes much of our emotions, our fortunes and our future. Main Avenue and the surrounding blocks (just 2.2 percent of city land) account for one-third (33 percent) of the city sales tax.
Along that historic corridor, we collectively communicate to ourselves and to the visiting world our preferences, our values and our history. And like the human body, the downtown enjoys healthy times and suffers occasional illness as it grows both older and younger at the same time.
Is there a point? Downtown is not perfect and neither are humans. The moods and personality of the central business district can inspire and frustrate. It doesn’t please everybody all of the time. Like a body, we know we can always improve it but may not be willing to put in the time, money or effort to get the desired results. Yet, because of the investment of individuals and institutions, it keeps improving.
Our downtown is our community’s Golden Goose. No one owns it. No one can determine its future. But those 2.2 percent of all city acres deserve our respect for what it means and what it contributes to our fair city.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Bob Kunkel is the downtown business development manager for the city of Durango.