The town of Silverthorne is once again taking steps towards developing a walkable, pedestrian-friendly town center. Town council and consulting experts have been reviewing previous plans and studies and have scheduled an open house on Feb. 6 for interested parties to attend, view a presentation and ask questions.
The desire to create a downtown center is not a new one for
Silverthorne. The Silverthorne Urban Renewal Authority was created in 1996 with
the purpose of improving and revitalizing areas of the town that needed it
through economic development efforts. This point of focus included the idea of a
“Since then, we've gone through a lot of different
processes,” said Ryan Hyland, Silverthorne assistant town manager.
concept was revisited in the 2008 comprehensive plan, when changes were made to
allow taller buildings and on-street parking, among other things. The goal was
to create a new and improved blueprint for the town's commercial areas.
In 2011 the town brought in Downtown Colorado, Inc. and the Colorado
Department of Local Affairs to further discuss the plans, gather information and
make an assessment. A community survey showed that the public felt strongly
about concentrating on economic development and the development of a downtown
One of the changes made from the original 1996 urban renewal plan
is the size of the area concerned. The original plan included the entirety of
the commercial districts within the town, while the new plan shrunk the town
core boundaries. The town core now stretches from the north side of Interstate
70 to Sixth Street. It includes the Blue and Green villages of The Outlets at
Silverthorne, as well as the commercial property on the east bank of the Blue
River and along Adams Avenue.
Silverthorne Town Councilwoman Ann-Marie
Sandquist believes that one reason the downtown area has been so long in the
planning stage, without actually getting off the ground, is that the previous
size of the town core was too big.
“Too big a chunk got bitten off,” she
said. “We're trying to be focused; we're trying not to bite off more than we can
Another reason for delays was funding. Projects like the one
proposed cost money and the question was where that would come from. According
to Sandquist, the town had previously been waiting for private money to come in
and start the development, but that didn't happen.
“As we have talked
about this and gone through the process, we realize that it does have to be a
public/private partnership to do that,” Sandquist said.
One of the tools
the town is using is called tax increment financing (TIF). This is not a new tax
but rather a new source of tax revenue. A tax baseline is established, then an
analysis is done on what additional taxes may be generated when the improvement
project is completed. The urban renewal authority can then use that amount for a
portion of project costs and other publicly beneficial improvements.
blight assessment must be done in order to use the TIF. A blighted area is
property that is deteriorated, unhealthy or unsafe. The last blight assessment
was done in 1996 and needs to be performed again in order to update the new
The next step is the upcoming Feb. 6 meeting, where the public is
invited to watch a formal presentation and ask questions about the
Hyland said that the open house is for “anyone who's interested
in the potential future of a pedestrian-oriented downtown in Silverthorne;
anyone who is a resident, business owners, property owners, maybe even people
from outside Silverthorne who are interested in seeing another downtown area in
The new plan goes to the planning commission's Feb. 19
meeting. If it is approved there, it will come before the town council at its
Feb. 27 meeting. Both meetings are open to the public.
“I think it's
really an exciting piece, an evolution of trying to get all the pieces in place
to create that downtown,” Hyland said.
Sandquist is optimistic about the
“I feel like we have a pretty dynamic council right now
that's really on board with it and interested in making it work, and we've been
going through the process for a couple of years with our downtown core study and
things like that. I'm excited,” she said. “It's time to get that done. People
have been clamoring for this for a long time.”