Castle Pines business district now `commons'

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Castle Pines' business district is now being called the Castle Pines “business commons,” which is less sterile and more business-friendly, said Sam Bishop, Castle Pines community development director, at the Aug. 13 city council meeting.

That change is included in a committee's months-long effort to create a vision statement, a first step in creating a unique downtown that will draw people for business and social purposes.

Bishop shared with the city council the vision statement chosen by a committee that included representation from the business community, city government, metro district, parks, libraries, chamber of commerce and others.

“When you dream of Colorado, wake up in Castle Pines — the city with a unique business commons. A vibrant, people-friendly gathering place with a blend of public spaces, special events and retail servicing the daily needs of the local and regional community,” Bishop read.

The vision-statement effort began after the city, wanting help in developing a pleasing downtown, retained the nonprofit Downtown Colorado Inc. for a maximum fee of $11,000, to analyze and make recommendations about the city's business district.

In Downtown Colorado's 2012 report, there was a list of complaints by businesses surveyed — ranging from there being no community “hub” or gathering place for community events or to celebrate holidays; to traffic circulation problems; to the expense of owning property or businesses.

“We heard a lot about what wasn't working but still haven't gotten to the heart of what is specifically wanted,” according to the report.

Downtown Colorado, among its recommendations, suggested starting with creating a vision statement.

“Obviously it's hard to know where to go when you don't have a vision in mind,” Bishop said.

Now, a vision statement is in place.

“You've done a wonderful job getting these people together and getting a unified response from them …,” said Castle Pines Councilmember James Einolf.

Bishop said collaboration can now begin with other city groups, and then he hoped the city could start implementing recommendations in the report.

Mayor Jeffrey Huff said the ball is back in the city's court, and he thanked Bishop for doing a wonderful job, again.

Bishop said he would start prioritizing, find some cost-effective things that could be done now, and then for items that cost money, “look for alternative funding sources.”

Downtown Colorado's recommendations, listed in a very chronological way, suggested that after creating the vision statement, things should be explored such as creating a “community development corporation,” which would be a nonprofit tool eligible for grants to assist in land acquisition and development of community projects.