By Beth Dodd:
The Woodland DDA has big plans for the Woodland Park business community in 2014.
At a recent DDA retreat, Woodland Park business and civic leaders identified their goals for the future of the town. Their plans centered on bringing new construction and new businesses to downtown while supporting existing businesses and fostering a sense of community.
Continuing the build-out of Woodland Station was identified as one of the DDA’s top goals for 2014. The construction of Woodland Hardware, the first new building in the long-anticipated Woodland Station, with a tentative opening date of March 1, was seen as an important milestone.
Negotiations with developers are underway for several other parts of the project. If built as proposed, Woodland Station may include a new hotel, an events center, and a family fun center. It is expected to bring visitors to town all year.
Another new construction project, the 168 unit Trail Ridge Apartment complex, is taking shape uphill of Safeway. The first building is planned to be ready to occupy by late this summer. The new one, two, and three bedroom units are expected to draw Charis Bible College students, as well as other newcomers wanting to explore living in the area, but not yet ready to buy a home. Rental units are in short supply locally.
Other big projects planned for 2014 are the pursuit of Woodland Park Main Street USA and the Woodland Park Arts District. These two new programs are expected to work hand in hand with the development of Woodland Station to bring new businesses to town and revitalize the community for the benefit of both locals and visitors.
The Woodland Park City Council has already voted unanimously to support both a Creative Arts District and a Colorado Main Street Program. These are state-administered programs that could bring more recognition, grant money, and visitors to town. The city can now support both efforts with money, administrative support, and representation.
If Woodland Park succeeds in getting both Main Street and a Creative Arts District, the town will get extensive support for revitalization. Currently, Victor is the only Colorado Main Street Community in the Pikes Peak region, and Ridgway and Trinidad are the only towns in the state to have both Main Street and Creative Arts designations.
Local author, Rob Jewell, has taken the lead in drafting Woodland Park’s Letter of Interest to apply for creating an Arts District, which is due by March 3 and is the first step in the two year process. The Woodland Park Arts Alliance is managing the application process for the community and would manage the program if Woodland is selected. Colorado Creative Industries runs the program for the state.
“We will try to showcase our cultural and artistic organizations and events,” said the director of the Woodland Park Arts Alliance, Ralph Holloway.
Holloway was part of a group of Woodland Park representatives who visited the state capitol as part of Colorado Arts Advocacy Day in early February. They spoke with State Senator, Kevin Grantham, and State Representative, Polly Lawrence, and Colorado Creative Industries reps about the town’s desire to initiate a Creative Arts District.
The next step in the Woodland Park Main Street project is a community assessment planned for around April 1. The Main Street Program application is due by July 1. The program is administered for the state by DOLA, the Department of Local Affairs. If selected for the program, Woodland Park would have three years to complete the process. Thirteen towns in Colorado now have the designation.
While the Woodland Park DDA is excited about all of these new projects, the group acknowledged that it was equally important to support existing businesses by building a sense of community. Ideas for supporting existing business included the possibility of building a downtown bypass, an idea which has been debated for years but has never been brought to reality, like the Woodland Aquatic Center. Some DDA members think that a bypass to redirect Hwy 24 traffic out of downtown would allow the construction of new parking along the main street and encourage tourists to spend more time patronizing the local shops and restaurants.