2022: Time to Take Off
With millions in investment, the Gig City of Montrose is poised to lead the Western Slope
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth and final part in a five-part, weekly series in December looking back at the accomplishments of the City of Montrose in 2021 and looking at what is on the horizon in 2022.
Part 5: 2022
By William Woody
City of Montrose
MONTROSE — In June 2021 the City of Montrose earned the official designation as a “Gig City.” This achievement is the culmination of five years of planning and investment along with over 1,100 miles of broadband fiber installation within the Montrose city limits. With millions of dollars in new commercial and residential construction underway, accompanied by millions in public investment in new capital construction, the Western Slope’s largest Gig City is poised to lead the region in innovation and public services.
With a combination of hope, hard work, and a little bit of luck, the Montrose community will begin to heal from the COVID pandemic and leave this tumultuous two-year period in the rear-view mirror. What lies ahead for the Montrose community is a post-pandemic future bursting with public and private investment and opportunity.
The housing market continues to rise in the Uncompahgre Valley as home values and sales continue their double-digit growth trends. City planners have, with the approval of the Montrose City Council, revised portions of the city’s Municipal Code to accommodate developers looking to add new single-family units in freshly paved subdivisions on the outskirts of downtown, along with the addition of smaller urban units in locations throughout the downtown district itself.
The Redevelopment Overlay District or “REDO District” is an area of the city, mostly encompassing neighborhoods in the downtown area, that allows homeowners to maximize the use of their land and create more affordable housing in Montrose.
This program, created in 2008, allows homeowners within the REDO District to build Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, that are separate homes located on the same lot as the primary dwelling unit.
In November the city held a public open house, both online and in-person, to gather feedback about the REDO program, as well as work with new homeowners who are looking to add dwellings to their property. This well-attended meeting gave city planners the feedback they needed to make the program better in the coming months and years.
More about this program can be found here.
These code revisions have been driven by public engagement and input as an innovative and modern approach to helping solve the local housing crisis.
Another area of interest has been the number of available hotel rooms during peak travel months as the lodging demand has increased in recent years.
As summer tourism numbers continue to rise, the growing inventory of local hotel rooms is another prime area for growth in the Montrose economy. In 2022 on-site construction of the Fairfield by Marriott hotel, located in the Colorado Outdoors development, is expected to begin.
According to City Engineer Scott Murphy, the company tasked with building the hotel has completed its site development permitting and has started off-site production of modular hotel units that will be assembled at the hotel site. When completed, this addition to the community will also create jobs, something the executives at Colorado Outdoors see as a promising enhancement to the local economy.
“In 2022, you will continue to see major construction. The projects we began in 2021 will continue through to completion, specifically, the Colorado Yurt facility, Marriott hotel, and the Basecamp Apartments,” said David Dragoo, president of Colorado Outdoors.
Several new commercial spaces were built in Colorado Outdoors in 2021 with outdoor equipment manufacturers looking to open in 2022.
“We also have several new projects currently in the pipeline that are expected to begin construction in 2022. These projects consist of several thousand square feet of new construction and range from new retail to manufacturing,” Dragoo said. “We'll also continue to work alongside local economic development partners to recruit businesses to the project and area in our shared mission to make Montrose a compelling place for business.”
Through a mixture of state grant funding and federal dollars, portions of the city left unchanged for decades will begin to see transformative upgrades that will improve how residents access and navigate them, and ultimately serve as a foundation for future growth.
Thanks to a recent $2 million grant award by the Colorado Department of Transportation, CDOT, the city will be implementing a “complete streets” project for West Main Street that will transform the corridor by improving safety and access for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists along this vital connection between the city’s downtown business district, recreational amenities along the Uncompahgre River, and growing residential neighborhoods on the west side of Montrose. The transformation will also create a welcoming environment that will spur further economic revitalization efforts in downtown Montrose.
The scope of the “complete streets” project is closely aligned with the 2012 Montrose Downtown Plan, which described the corridor as a “priority for revitalization,” and the city’s “Envision 2040” Comprehensive Plan that underscored the need to prioritize multimodal improvements along the corridor. Final design and construction plans for the project will be developed in coordination with CDOT through a public process and with the aid of traffic studies and data.
The grant calls for a financial match of 20%, or $400,000, from the city to complete the improvements. Specific elements of the project will include ADA-compliant sidewalks and new bike lanes in both directions for the full length of the project area, in addition to other measures to improve traffic safety. Design of the project is currently underway with construction expected to start in the summer of 2023.
“Major investments in capital construction over the past five years have given us a solid foundation heading into this period of rapid growth in Montrose,” said Scott Murphy, city engineer for the City of Montrose. “That being said, the growth and overall interest in Montrose is turning out to be larger than most expected. As a result, we will continue to maintain an aggressive capital construction program to try and stay ahead of the curve.”
2022 Capital Projects
Woodgate Road Realignment: This project is waiting on third-party utility companies to relocate communications equipment out of the footprint of the new roadway. Assuming this work is completed in the next several months, the realignment project will be finished in early spring when asphalt plants open for the season.
Birch Street Bridge Replacement: Contractors are currently working to replace the aged bridge over the Loutsenhizer Canal on Birch Street. This work is scheduled to be completed in early spring.
Townsend Water and Sewer Replacements: This project will replace aged water lines within Townsend Avenue between South 5th Street and Montrose Drive. The project will also reset all manholes within Townsend Avenue flush with the pavement. The project is expected to last into April 2022. CDOT will then start an overlay project of Townsend Avenue that will last the entire summer.
Hill Street Extension: This project will extend Hill Street to Sunnyside Road from where it currently ends north of Niagara Road. Construction is scheduled to be complete by June of 2022.
Southeast Water Transmission Main: This project will construct a 24-inch dedicated water transmission main from the intersection of 6800 and Sunnyside Roads down Hill Street, Niagara Road, and through Fox Park to the intersection of 6700 and East Oak Grove Roads. The line is needed to keep up with increasing water demands. Construction is expected to extend into the spring of 2023. Construction within Fox Park will be scheduled to avoid the summer months when park use is higher.
Contracted Street Maintenance: The city has budgeted $3.26 million for routine street maintenance in 2022, the highest amount ever allocated to that task. This work will include slurry seal surface treatments, mill and overlays, and some street rebuilds. Detailed maps of work locations will be posted to the MoveMo.co website as they are finalized. Work is scheduled to take place throughout the summer.
South Townsend Missing Link Sidewalk: This project will construct a missing-link sidewalk on the western side of Townsend Avenue between Odelle and Ogden Roads. More information, including a schedule of work, will be provided once it becomes available.
Uncompahgre Riverway Trail Restroom: The city will be adding a public restroom facility at the northern end of the recently-expanded Uncompahgre Riverway trail. The restroom is expected to be complete by June of 2022.
Chipeta/US550 Signalization: Montrose County and the City of Montrose are partnering on a project to construct a signal at the intersection of Chipeta and US-550 south of the city. Design of the project is currently underway and construction is expected to start in the fall of 2022.
Niagara/Hillcrest Roundabout Design: This project will work on the design and any property purchases needed for the construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Hillcrest and Niagara. A construction date for this project has not been set.
6700 Road Extension Design: This project will work on the design and property purchase for the extension of 6700 Road between Sunnyside and Miami Roads. A construction date for this project has not been set.
Townsend Intersection Capacity Evaluations and Conceptual Designs: The city will be studying the intersections at Townsend/South 5th, Townsend/East Oak Grove, and Townsend/Ogden to determine what improvements are needed at these intersections to stay ahead of traffic growth. Construction of improvements is not scheduled at this time.
Water Resource Study: The city will be hiring a consultant to perform a detailed water resource inventory, demand projection, policy review, and risk assessment study. Thanks to generations past, the City of Montrose is set up well and has adequate water resources for the foreseeable future; however, due to continued growth pressures and ongoing drought challenges, the city will be diving deeper into its water resources planning to ensure we remain good stewards and plan appropriately for this valuable natural resource.
The city’s Parks Department has also planned several upgrades to irrigation systems in Buckley and Lions parks. These parks are some of the oldest in Montrose.
These projects slated for 2022, including millions in investment in city streets, will not only improve the condition of Montrose’s major arterial roadways and pedestrian safety but will improve the city’s overall public infrastructure.
Since the Delta-Montrose Electric Association started Elevate Broadband and signed a memorandum of understanding with the City of Montrose in 2017, every resident in the city limits now has access to gigabit broadband internet for commercial and residential uses.
City leaders envisioned gig internet service as a critical utility for the community as it grows in education, healthcare, remote workforce, and economic and business efficiencies. Now that this transformative service is a reality, the city’s Office of Business and Tourism uses gig internet as a selling point for companies looking to relocate.
As the Gig City of Montrose enters 2022, it seems not even a pandemic can stop its march towards a brighter future.