Economic Development Newsletter
The Financing Tool Driving Development in Wheat Ridge
“This is a perfect example of reinvesting in a neighborhood to improve it,” said Renewal Wheat Ridge Board Chair Tim Rogers. “I am excited about the future of this type of reinvestment increasing for the city as we start to generate revenue from other projects.”
Wheat Ridge City Council has approved urban renewal plans for five areas in the city: The Wadsworth Boulevard Corridor, which extends from 35th Avenue to 44thAvenue; the West End of 38th, which consist of four parcels at 38th Avenue and Upham Street; the 38th Avenue Corridor, between Sheridan and Wadsworth Boulevards; West 44th Avenue and Ward Road and the Interstate 70/Kipling Corridor, which encompasses nearly 1,200 acres of land stretching north from I-70 at 32nd Avenue to 26th Avenue.
Rogers says TIF funds have played a critical role in revitalizing those areas and will become even more crucial in the years to come as the City focuses on attracting development that will serve as job engines for the local economy.
“We need more employment opportunities within the City of Wheat Ridge that can support a family and that means something above service-level jobs,” said Rogers. “The City is working hard and rolling up its sleeves and competing as best it can to attract those businesses.”
To that end, City visionaries are marketing Wheat Ridge · Ward Road (where residents will eventually be able to take the RTD G Line light directly to Union Station) as a potential hub for outdoor recreation companies. Wheat Ridge voters approved a sales tax increase last November that would provide $12 million for infrastructure improvements at the site.
For more information about TIF funding or any of the projects currently under development in Wheat Ridge, contact Steve Art at 303-235-2806 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Q&A: Localworks Director Britta Fisher
Q. How does Localworks advance economic development?
A. We were created to be an economic and community development, non-profit hybrid that works with businesses, residents and the City as a liaison for revitalization. We do that by deploying programs, investments and events. For example, we have a low-interest rate loan program for commercial properties. The rate is 0% the first year and 4% thereafter, with very affordable payments on a long amortization schedule. The loan program is available for any commercial property in the City. We also offer a low-interest rate loan program for homes located between Sheridan and Wadsworth Boulevards. In addition, we partner with the Wheat Ridge Business District to provide matching grants for commercial property improvements. These could be for new signs, façade improvements, landscaping, etc. Since we started, eight properties have been revitalized through our programs, resulting in $1.4 million worth of improvements.
Q. You’re planning on hosting 100 community events this year. Why are those gatherings important for economic development?
A. In order to have a vibrant community, you need vibrant places and gatherings of people. People make a place more than buildings and dirt. We started with a handful of events to show people that there were places to be in Wheat Ridge. The number of events has grown to the point that it’s pretty clear that Wheat Ridge is a vibrant community. There are people on the streets and on the patios, and of course, the ultimate goal for economic development is to bring in dollars and encourage people to spend time and money in your community. There has to be customer base, and we are helping to build the customer base for businesses. Last year, our Ridge at 38 events attracted 19,000 people to the community.
Q. What has your experience been like working with the City?
A. Our organization was created after the City took a hard look at itself and decided what needed to happen for Wheat Ridge in order to move ahead and become a vibrant place. I feel like they are continuing to make strides towards those goals. City officials are very engaged and very accessible. You just call up and you can get the Director of Community Development on the phone. I can’t do that in Denver. I think officials in Wheat Ridge understand the constraints, but work hard to see how things can change, so we can accomplish the vision of a more vibrant community.
Q. Is Wheat Ridge still ripe for development?
A. There is untapped potential here. We have sites that with a bit of work, can produce a lot more. We have existing businesses that can grow, and we have people that want to connect in this community. Those opportunities are there and that potential is there. The opportunities to invest are still affordable compared to the total Denver market. For the right people who can connect the dots, I believe those investments will pay off. We also have more tools in the toolbox than we did 15 years ago and we have more strategic direction as a city.