North Main Avenue is about to get a whole lot of attention.
A group of consultants is coming to evaluate pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle mobility on north Main Avenue.
The Sonoran Institute, a nonprofit group based in Tucson, Arizona, recently selected Durango to receive help to redesign the road. The consulting work will focus on the corridor between 14th Street and Animas View Drive. The consultants will be paid by the Sonoran Institute.
At the same time, the City Council is about to take a hard look at north Main’s future. A study session is planned for March 24 to discuss parking and other issues on north Main. The city manager’s office and the Community Development Department will present on the topic.
North Main – roughly the 1400 block of Main Avenue on the south to Animas View Drive on the north end – long has played second fiddle to the more historic and, some argue, more attractive downtown section of Main Avenue.
John Wells, a board member of the Durango Business Improvement District, said north Main has some potential for commercial real estate development. Larger lots help, he said.
“When you have a larger canvas you can get a little more creative with mixed use, with density,” he said.
The Animas Valley and northeast Durango have grown in population, and so have services on north Main. More restaurants and shops are serving the area. Recent examples include the new homes of Tacos Nayarit and Homeslice Pizza.
Restaurants anchor much of the corridor.
“When you think about it, you don’t have much retail on north Main,” said Wells.
There are some north Main retail shops, such as Dunn Deal Resale Store at 3101 Main Ave., Animas Chocolate Co. at 2800 Main Ave. and The Boarding Haus at 2607 Main Ave.
One possibility for north Main is mixed-use developments similar to the Crossroads building at 1099 Main Ave. and The Lofts at 1201. Those would require big investments and plenty of land.
Observers expect north Main to be the site of redevelopment to come.
“Market participants are aware of potential redevelopment opportunity in the North Main corridor,” said Bob Allen, a Durango real-estate appraiser and analyst.
Greg Hoch, the city’s director of Planning and Community Development, said developers often contact his office seeking information about north Main.
“There’s a lot of potential redevelopment we have inquiries on,” he said.
North Main is seeing growing pains. Neighbors have complained of customer parking spilling over to residential streets near Zia Taqueria, Tacos Nayarit and Homeslice Pizza.
“Those are all successful businesses the city supports, but by the same token we do receive complaints from neighbors regarding parking problems,” said Hoch.
The proximity to schools and services on north Main could play a big role in attracting more redevelopment on north Main, said Wells. But, he added, more has to be done to boost north Main, particularly with growth expected in south Durango along Wilson Gulch Road.
“The success of north Main, I think, has to become proactive,” he said.