2018 Challenge Studio Communities // Workshops based on a challenge facing a participant or a participant’s community that are designed to transform a community’s difficult challenges and problems into promising opportunities. Participants worked side-by-side with leading industry experts and local peer networks to craft problem-solving plans that result in improved futures for all. In the process, the participating communities are connected into supporting networks and resources; helping them to get the job done.

In 2018, there will 9 Challenge Studio Communities: Idaho Springs, La Junta, Lamar, Leadville, Longmont, Lyons, Monument, Parachute and Red Cliff. Download all the reports together or click on the titles of the individual challenges below:

  1. Idaho Springs // Brownfields & Financing Redevelopment- Timeline & Strategy for TIF
With the anticipated closure of the Henderson Mine, officials are positioning Clear Creek County for economic success in other cluster industries. The City of Idaho Springs has several underutilized sites and parcels that are in need of remediation, including a superfund site. The City has done an amazing amount of work to update comprehensive plans, outline priority sites, and participate in county-wide and site-specific initiatives to improve communication and expectations between the public sector and potential developers. The last piece will be to outline incentives and financing mechanisms help our public sector focus private investment to achieve the community vision. The City of Idaho Springs would like to consider urban renewal and tax increment financing as a way to better influence private investment to meet the housing, parking, and workforce needs in our community. Our challenge will be to consider the process for engaging all partners, shaping the boundaries of a project area, and how to best incentivize the development we need.

  2. La Junta // Historic Preservation- Accessing Upper Floors for Housing
With the creation of the City of La Junta 2017 Comprehensive Plan, The Crossroad is at a crossroad: we need to revitalize our downtown to build on the momentum of the planning process. We are targeting La Junta’s commercial, historic second stories with a goal of turning them into living spaces.

  3. Lamar // Branding & Social Media- Citizen Engagement in a Digital Environment

A challenge in Lamar has been a lack of civic pride and community engagement. The City has experienced negative impacts of a series of major economic shocks, a 12% decline in population from the 2000 to the 2010 Census, and an aging population of business owners posing a threat of economic succession. A common sense of negativity among residents is that "Lamar is not what it used to be". What was once an economically prosperous downtown is now overran with vacant, neglected buildings and storefronts. Outreach within the community has been a challenge with a lack of participation within our volunteer groups, government, coalitions and civic organizations.

  4. Leadville // Financing Downtown Improvements- Leveraging History for Housing
The Leadville Main Street program is working with property owners in our historic downtown to complete historic structure assessments on four buildings by the end of this summer. I would like to continue working with identified property owners through the rehabilitation phases and use the preservation of these buildings as an opportunity to open the conversation about affordable housing. The problem we face is that they are smaller projects, potentially 8-13 new units, and the state and federal funding typically favor bigger developments. This doesn't seem realistic to help our small community grow and with already-existing infrastructure to take advantage of we would be accomplishing two really big problems of preserving our community and affordability.

5. Longmont // Design- Transforming Public Plazas
Downtown Longmont is missing a central hub to inform, connect and inspire the community. Downtown’s two public plazas require design, maintenance, and upgrades to be more flexible for accommodating a wide variety of uses, enhancing visibility and function, and to activate the spaces.

  6. Lyons // Housing & Mobility- Sustainable Living & Tourism in a Flood Prone Corridor
Lyons is a small town with a $2 million dollar budget and nearly $65 million( to date) in flood recovery. As such, we did not have the financial capacity or staff expertise to take on the many needs of from the disaster, from budget reserves, to disaster reimbursement process, documentation and technical skills. Regarding housing, we had concerns about the availability of affordable housing prior to the flood, which was only made worse with the permanent loss of two mobile home parks and other affordable units.

  7. Monument // Civic Pride- Supporting Small Business in a Historic Downtown on I-25
Downtown is not the central business district of the community and many residents have said they are not aware that Monument has a “downtown” area, let alone a historic downtown they can be proud of. There are not many reasons for most residents to come to downtown and many businesses are not open past 5:00 pm. We'd like to build awareness of Historic Downtown Monument, support our existing and some new small business, and encourage a vibrant downtown that has nightlife. Monument is a growing along the I-25 Corridor, but much of the development is occurring along the highway or green fields, rather than in the historic downtown area. Our historic downtown does not have a contiguous and main street with consistent buildings, storefronts, and sites as we have several vacant properties and vacant buildings that are located between activity nodes in the downtown. We need to figure out ways link the activities together to build a stronger presence and eventually attract infill development and new businesses to the downtown.

  8. Parachute // Incentives- Revitalizing a Divided Downtown
The town has been in the boom and bust cycle of the natural resource industry. This has left our downtown underdeveloped and in decay. Property investors purchased much of the lands hoping to turn a profit from mineral harvest but with new technology this has happened off site leaving the property value less than expected when purchased. Due to the high investment when purchased property owners are holding out for high paying developers. This leaves much of the downtown business properties undeveloped at this time. At this time the Town of Parachute has a memorandum of understanding for three acres with one key property owner group and is seeking help with how to best activate this land as it sits adjacent to a very active rest area in a prime commercial district.


9. Red Cliff // Design- Leveraging Improvements for Upgrades to Street Design
Red Cliff was developed in the early 1900's which did not look at traffic, storm water challenges, sidewalks, lighting or space for parking vehicles 

Leggitt Studio

Thank you to our 2018 Challenge Studio Sponsors & Partners:

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