Good news! North Fort Collins will soon be receiving more investment via the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) to help advance the development of the 525-acre area of town, essentially defined as a parcel of land between Vine Drive and Wilox Lane, and split by College Avenue (the “North College Plan Area”).
Bike Fort Collins recently participated in a multi-month series of workshops including various stakeholder groups designed to explore, identify and prioritize what the community desires north Fort Collins to look like, and a vision for the area, ultimately leading to priorities and recommendations for how to deploy the URA’s remaining tax increment financing (TIF) funds.
Bike Fort Collins has been heavily involved in north Fort Collins for a number of years, particularly through its Active Living program, focusing on active and alternative transportation inequity in north Fort Collins, specifically within mobile home park communities, which are predominantly Hispanic/Latinx. The goal has been to increase the number of people walking, biking, and using alternative transportation, with the ultimate objective of working with community members to develop long term programs in the neighborhood that increase access and opportunity to live healthier, more active lives.
Among many successes of the program has been Bike Fort Collins’ successful advocacy for the extension of the North College Avenue sidewalk and bicycle lane during the redevelopment and expansion of Highway 14 north of Fort Collins, as well as the installation of bilingual bicycle wayfinding signage along north Fort Collins bikeways and bike trails.
Hosted by The Family Center/La Familia (TFC/LF) and Colorado State University’s Institute for the Built Environment (IBE), the workshops consisted of two tracks of diverse stakeholder groups. TFC/LF held three community workshops—primarily from the Latinx community—that included members of Mi Voz (a civic engagement leadership program organized by TFC/LF), North College Latinx residents, business owners, advocates, and parents, while IBE held six workshops that included residents, City of Fort Collins and Larimer County staff, Fort Collins Police Department representatives, members of the North College Plan Area Citizen Advisory Group, North Fort Collins business owners, BFC and other non-profit and community organizations.
Workshop outcomes revealed that the current character of north Fort Collins stems from its diverse resources, and ethic and demographic makeup, which is very different from other areas of Fort Collins. The workshop participants highlighted opportunities for the North College Plan Area that included: hosting more small businesses, creating homes for new social venues, and educational and creative entities. We also all agreed that the area currently faces challenges, such as missing infrastructure (particularly on the west side of College) that makes for a less-than-safe experience for those walking or riding bikes along this section of the College Avenue corridor. Additionally, we identified that any subsequent development or redevelopment should be looked at through a lens of diversity focused on current resident and current tenant retention, so none are displaced due to any potentially resulting elevated rents—especially for those living in the mobile home parks.
While the two tracks came up with separate lists of priorities and recommendations for investment in the North College Plan Area, the following were the consistent themes from both lists:
- Ensure the development/redevelopment of a complete and vibrant neighborhood
- Create a Latinx Community Hub—as a resource for gathering, seniors, job training, family and health support services, hosting events (quinceaneras/other cultural celebrations), youth activities and other recreation
- The need to invest in infrastructure and stormwater improvements on the west side of College Ave to foster real estate development
- Improve the connections between parks and the plan area, as well as create additional outdoor recreation, sport and entertainment spaces.
Read the complete, detailed report and a summary of all the outcomes, as well as reference this recent article in The Coloradoan emphasizing the weight ultimately being put on the needed infrastructure improvements. Regardless of priority weights, this is all positive news for this area of our broader community that will help close the equity gap relative to bicycling facilities and infrastructure, and create safer streets. Bike Fort Collins will continue to monitor decisions and plans that are made in the spirit of helping to ensure the collective vision that these workshops elicited is executed.