Economic task force recommends core area development in S’thorne
SILVERTHORNE – Rather than sit on their hands and just wait for better sales tax revenues, Silverthorne officials are considering suggestions to plan additional pedestrian-friendly development in town.
Seventy-one percent of the town’s revenues come from sales tax. The town has no local property tax, and sales tax revenues from existing shops overall are declining.
With the new Target store, revenues are improving but not enough to keep up with town services, said town administrative director Donna Braun. In 2004 the town will have 75 employees, versus 85 employees at the beginning of 2003.
The new Silverthorne Economic Development Task Force Wednesday recommended town officials encourage development on Rainbow Drive and along the Blue River east of Blue River Parkway.
Task force chairwoman Heidi Majerik also recommended detailed marketing ideas revolving around projecting Silverthorne as the “Gateway to the Western Slope.”
Task force members said the Blue River is an asset the town should use to draw people to spend money at new retail, restaurants and offices.
On the west side of the river, just south of the Silverthorne Pavilion, the town wants to find a developer who would build 20,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space.
The town owns the undeveloped acreage surrounding the pavilion, located between Blue River Parkway and the Blue River.
Those existing town center plans also show another bridge just upstream from the existing bridge between the pavilion and the Silverthorne Recreation Center.
That new bridge would connect future town center developments to potential new development on the east side near Silverthorne Factory Stores.
On the east side of the river near the factory stores on Rainbow Drive, the task force recommended additional pedestrian-friendly development that would lure spenders.
Previously town officials and master plans had leaned toward guiding such development southwest toward Adams Street, which parallels Blue River Parkway on the west side. The latest master plan envisions Adams as someday being a “main street.”
The river would be even more attractive to visitors and residents alike, the task force said.
The task force also recommended the town encourage development around the U.S. Forest Service building. About two dozen interests own sections of about 10 acres on the east side of Blue River Parkway, south of the U.S. Forest Service building.
Majerik, who leads the task force, is a Silverthorne resident who has worked on the huge Stapleton redevelopment project in Denver. The former airport site was converted into a “new urbanist” pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use development of houses and businesses.
“As you review our recommendations and plot the future course for the town of Silverthorne, please keep in mind that any steps we take to diversify and strengthen our revenue base must always balance with the natural environment as it directly affects our quality of life,” Majerik said.
So far, residential development is not included in the mixture of uses recommended.
The task force spent the past several months reviewing the town’s economic picture, land-use plans and opportunities.
Recommendations included continuing to share projects with other government entities, such as facilities and advertising campaigns.
Later in the evening during a discussion of rates and fees, town council members said they need to make it easier to do business in town.
The Silverthorne Economic Development Task Force recommended the following six ways to improve the local economy and sales tax revenues in town:
1. Improve relationships and opportunities with the business community – the No. 1 recommendation to streamline new development, cooperate with existing businesses, market Silverthorne better and host council/business breakfasts/lunches.
2. Solve revenue stabilization issue by considering all methods or revenue diversification and all possible economic stabilizers. Look into property tax, use tax and sales tax increases, to make up for declines in existing sales tax revenues. Consider adding lodging, an educational complex, winter sports complex or “lighthouse” opportunity.
3. Develop a master plan for Rainbow Drive and Blue River corridor to create a town center. Create a development authority to attract investors who would build a pedestrian-oriented, riverfront mixed use district.
4. Develop a strategic marketing plan with a long-term vision to create a consistent message and market position for Silverthorne. Market Silverthorne as a “Gateway to the Western Slope” and regional commercial hub, targeting spenders and luring specific business owners with business development packages. Increase highway signs.
5. Continue cooperative efforts with adjoining communities. Continue recent joint marketing efforts. Consider cooperating with other government agencies to consolidate public service operations, such as the Summit County Housing Authority.
6. Identify target markets by conducting a market research/intercept study. Find out where spenders travel from, gather economic statistics to develop a marketing plan.
Christine McManus can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or
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