City of Fort Collins Unveils Midtown Plan

A plan that has been in the works for a year is ready for public comment. The Midtown Plan is a 150-page document that creates an urban design vision for the Midtown area, which encompasses the area around College Avenue from Prospect to ¼ mile south of Harmony.

City staffer Megan Bolin says the plan envisions a destination with its own urban character, with high-density development. It would be transit and pedestrian-oriented with a big promenade running parallel to the new MAX (Mason) corridor. New development would face inwards, toward the promenade. Even the existing frontage roads would be improved, and intersections would provide more visibility and predictability.

After reviewing the plan, one can’t help but be impressed. The renderings are beautiful and reminiscent of Europe. But can the City actually afford it?

Implementation of the plan would require effort from both the public and private sectors. The City would provide funding mechanisms through a business improvement district (which would increase property taxes for those within the district), tax increment financing, grants and capital improvement projects. The private sector would shoulder the responsibility for the development of new commercial and mixed-use buildings using design standards developed by the City.

So far the City has no timeline for the plan because so much of the plan is dependent on the private sector. If the City makes private sector involvement too costly with special design standards and extra regulation, but no incentives, the plan will not be realized. In addition, there is little vacant land along this corridor and redevelopment is expensive. The City has scheduled a public open house for June 27. The draft plan is available on the City’s website: www.fcgov.com/midtown.

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