LONGMONT — The past year has been an eventful one for the Longmont Downtown Development Authority.
Several dynamic new changes have come to the core of the district, the stretch of Main Street from Third Avenue up to Longs Peak Avenue.
Two of the more prominent buildings in the area — on the southeast and northeast corners of Fourth Avenue and Main Street — are about to get new tenants, including a coffee shop and a nightclub.
A long-desired pocket park will be installed at so-called St. Stephen’s Plaza, adjacent to the old St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Main Street.
Add a couple of locally owned restaurants, a successful game room and a pottery studio — now joined next door by a glass-blowing studio, which moved from a less-visible location in the area — and a lot of people are talking about downtown, which is one of the LDDA’s goals.
But the organization also suffered publicly when its former board chairman was booted from his position by the city council for rude behavior at an LDDA board meeting.
Last month, the LDDA board welcomed two new members and elected a new board chairman, one who prefers to look ahead rather than back at the turmoil of earlier this year.
Dr. Bruce Sessions, who bought the building at 541 Main St. a couple of years ago and moved his dental practice there, said he understands the needs of other downtown business owners.
“We renovated the existing space (when we moved in), and this year we added another 2,000 square feet to that,” said Sessions, the newly elected chairman of the LDDA board. “The main thing I’d like to see us do is set reasonable goals and meet them.”
Sessions added that the pocket park, helping businesses obtain Development Improvement Project funding from the LDDA, and discussion of a downtown parking structure are among his top priorities.
Sessions is joined on the LDDA’s executive committee by Vice Chairman Bill Sawyers, an architect whose business also is downtown; and Scott Moore of Jesters Dinner Theatre and School for the Performing Arts.
Two new board members join the LDDA this year: Tom Charles, a Realtor with Keller Williams and one of the owners of the Pumphouse Brewery; and Alex Sammoury, executive director of CTEK-Longmont and a downtown building owner.
“It’s not a huge commitment (of time),” Charles said. “But because we have this business down here, their decisions can really help drive the business down here.”
Dennis Coombs, another Pumphouse owner, served on the LDDA board for several years, Charles noted.
Other LDDA board members for the coming year are Dan Grant of First MainStreet Bank and Greg Winger, a Longmont City Council member. Ex-officio members of the board are Jim Golden, the city’s finance director; and Merrill Bohaning, a member of the St. Vrain Valley Board of Education.
The LDDA staff consists of only three people, two of whom are part-timers. Mary Murphy-Bessler, executive director, is the only paid, full-time staff member.
The staff had to endure construction activity this year inside the building they share with the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce and the Longmont Area Economic Council, as the LDDA and LAEC essentially swapped spaces.