Formulating discussion |

Formulating discussion

Main Street to host discussion on store ordinance draft

Main Street recognized

Main Street Steamboat Springs recently received statewide recognition for its efforts to promote and vitalize downtown Steamboat.

Main Street Program Manager Tracy Barnett said Tuesday that in its annual review by the Colorado Community Revitalization Association, a statewide oversight body for cities that participate in National Trust Main Street Center programs, Steamboat's Old Town area received rave reviews.

"It truly has the feel of a real community," said Vince Martinez, executive director of the revitalization association.

Martinez also praised Main Street's historic preservation efforts and work plans, which he called "head and shoulders above what we're seeing in other communities."

But Martinez warned Steamboat's challenge will be to preserve "local flavor" while fostering new growth, such as the numerous development projects slated for downtown.

Martinez also said the statewide recognition gives Steamboat a chance at a national Main Street award.

— Some downtown business owners find themselves worrying about more than just the daily operation of their stores and restaurants, such as which retailers will occupy 88,000 square feet of new commercial space slated for construction in the downtown district.

“One concern is that all that space is going to be leased by national chain stores,” said Tracy Barnett, program manager for Main Street Steamboat Springs.

The possibility that Starbucks or a chain bookstore would rent commercial space across Seventh Street from Off the Beaten Path Bookstore certainly is cause for concern for small-business owners such as Dick and Leslie Ryan, who own and operate the local bookstore, coffeehouse and wine bar.

Not only could such a move hurt his business financially, Dick Ryan also said he fears an influx of “formula stores” could detract from the overall downtown atmosphere. Ryan is among some local business owners who support imposing restrictions on formula stores.

“I think it would be good for Steamboat,” he said about such restrictions.

A formula store ordinance is being drafted by the city, and Main Street Steamboat Springs is hosting a discussion on the topic at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Bank of the West, 555 Lincoln Ave. Main Street is soliciting feedback from the public before it makes suggestions to the City Council. Barnett asks anyone interested in the meeting to RSVP by calling 846-1800.

The formula store ordinance seeks to define what businesses would be considered formula stores, and it also outlines restrictions for them. Possible restrictions include limiting the location of formula stores and limiting store frontage.

City Council member Karen Post said it’s important to examine a formula store ordinance because it relates to other tough issues the city is facing.

“If we’re looking at economic and social impacts, we also have to look at formula stores,” Post said.

There are a lot of details that need to be worked out, such as whether the ordinance would be imposed citywide or just downtown.

Opinions on the ordinance vary. Some people are ardently against it or for it. Others are somewhere in the middle. Barnett said Main Street officials are working toward a compromise.

“We need to hear from the community to see if we are on the right track,” she said.

– To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

or e-mail

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