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 August 27, 1999

Publisher’s Notebook: Let’s make the hard choices

Saving downtown Greeley involves no easy answers

Go east, Greeley.
Forget the words of the town’s namesake, who encouraged young men to venture west more than 100 years ago. Today, Greeley should look east, to its downtown, to its heritage, to its future.
Such attention is vital, if downtown is to be saved. Already, downtown has lost valuable retailers such as Garretson’s Sporting Goods, prominent office users such as Century 21 The Parker Group, major operations of car dealerships, such as Garnsey & Wheeler. The list goes on.
What once would have been labeled the city’s downtown “core” has been relegated to the city’s periphery. There’s not much east of downtown, and growth has inexorably shifted west, at least as far as State Farm Insurance Co.’s new development, where the U.S. 34 bypass and business routes meet. That’s putting the city uncomfortably close to Loveland.
But while downtown no longer qualifies as Greeley’s core, it retains its importance as the city’s heart. Although major architectural gems have been lost to demolition teams, downtown retains more historic structures than many communities. The architecture by and large is pleasing, and of a scale that keeps pedestrians at ease.
Downtown Greeley boasts one of the state’s finest performing-arts centers, the Union Colony Civic Center. And it should boast a symbiotic relationship with the nearby University of Northern Colorado, although that proximity has not been exploited to the greatest extent possible.
Still, people need a reason to go downtown on dates other than concert dates. Recent years have seen the city’s residential growth shift away from downtown and to the west, where residents now have a wide range of retail options.
Residents of West Greeley will venture downtown if they have reason: lively entertainment, an interesting mix of retailers, a selection of office-oriented businesses. Downtown has a good start on the former but is sorely lacking in retail options, save for a couple of notable exceptions, such as the fabulous Antiques at Lincoln Park. And the number of office users isn’t what it used to be, as major users such as some county-government operations have moved to the city’s edges.
Greeley’s new Downtown Development Authority is seeking answers. It’s working with a team from the University of Colorado at Denver, which has devised several entertainment, retail and office scenarios for downtown’s revitalization. In reality, a true revival will include all of those options, along with greater links with UNC, improved streetscaping and better access to downtown.
Greeley residents should realize, however, that reviving downtown will be an arduous, slow, expensive task. It won’t happen overnight, and it will require millions of dollars in public and private improvements.
Additionally, as a UCD official noted, it’s not likely to happen until Greeley addresses issues of sprawl; as long as it’s so easy to eat up farmland, developers aren’t likely to consider any type of construction or remodeling in the city’s downtown.
Hard choices will have to be made for downtown to survive. They must be made.

Christopher Wood can be reached at (970) 221-5400, (970) 356-1683, (800) 440-3506 or via e-mail at cwood@ncbr.com. His fax number is (970) 221-5432.

Saving downtown Greeley involves no easy answers

Go east, Greeley.
Forget the words of the town’s namesake, who encouraged young men to venture west more than 100 years ago. Today, Greeley should look east, to its downtown, to its heritage, to its future.
Such attention is vital, if downtown is to be saved. Already, downtown has lost valuable retailers such as Garretson’s Sporting Goods, prominent office users such as Century 21 The Parker Group, major operations of car dealerships, such as Garnsey & Wheeler. The list goes on.
What once would have been labeled the city’s downtown “core” has been relegated…

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