Staff used a Redevelopment-Ready Guide created by the State of Michigan to rate Longmont’s current policies, practices and public investment toolbox that use limited public dollars and investment to attract private investment, grow jobs, provide new housing, and the build tax base. Overall, staff gave the City a B, saying Longmont is on the right path and has some of the tools in place and the framework and vision to address best redevelopment practices into the future. This is important because of the emphasis on redevelopment in Envision Longmont, the Comp Plan Update approved by Council last month. The guide was presented to the City Council at Tuesday’s study session for feedback.
Staff wrote, “Longmont is well on its way to being a redevelopment‐ready community. The City has the right tools in place to make Longmont an attractive community to invest in and redevelop. The community’s business climate is very competitive within the state, but particularly within Boulder County and the Denver Metro area.” While Longmont has many strengths, there are also challenges. “Due to the complexities of infill and redevelopment, the ability to execute a timely manner (from all sides ‐‐public and private sectors) is crucial to whether the project takes off or not. The ability to be flexible, creatively problem solve and find solutions (developer and community) to advance redevelopment projects that are looking to respond to market opportunities should not be overlooked. Nowhere is this more evident than in those infill and redevelopment areas that may be challenged by infrastructure that does not meet today’s needs, blighted buildings and sites, environmental contamination, lack of market demand or property owners unmotivated or unable to make further investment in their properties,” according to the guide.
David Starnes, Longmont’s Redevelopment Manager, says the City especially needs to improve its outreach the City Council. He explained, “Focusing on topics such as current market trends, redevelopment goals and innovative public/private partnerships will help community leaders better understand the benefits of redevelopment and its importance to community prosperity and to better understand the market and what is feasible.”
The other area staff identified for improvement is the development review process, which needs to be more predictable and transparent according to feedback from the development community. “Improved coordination with regards to prioritized redevelopment projects, in particular those that involve public investment as part of a public/private partnership, should remain a top priority,” staff wrote. The City will be updating the Land Development Code beginning in 2016 to better align with Envision Longmont. In addition, being able to creatively problem solve and find solutions (developer and community) to advance redevelopment projects that may have challenging site or market issues is an important collaborative effort between the public and private sector.