Montrose, CO — Two Montrose entities were recognized at the recent Downtown Colorado, Inc. conference by receiving the Governor’s Award for Downtown Excellence. The Montrose Urban Renewal Authority (MURA) Development was selected as the Best Urban Renewal Project and Storm King Distilling Co. was chosen for Best Adaptive Reuse or Rehabilitation.
The City of Montrose nominated Storm King Distilling Co. for the recognition. City staff attended the three-day conference that is designed to equip rural communities with strategies to overcome challenges and strengthen their downtown areas. On April 11, a ceremony was held to announce the Governor’s Awards for Downtown Excellence.
David Dragoo, President of Colorado Outdoors, nominated the Montrose Urban Renewal Authority (MURA) for Best Urban Renewal Project.
“We believe MURA to be one of the most important and compelling projects in Colorado,” Dragoo said in the nomination.
The Montrose Urban Renewal Authority was formally established in late 2016 to revitalize the northern end of Montrose. MURA encompasses approximately 164 acres of property along the Uncompahgre River, just northwest of downtown.
The development’s goal is to bring new skilled jobs, enhanced open space, and workforce housing to the community through MURA’s partnerships with private enterprise. With the addition of broadband internet to the community, the city has been marketing MURA’s potential to business leaders and developers all over the United States.
The nomination recognized the leadership and vision of the Montrose City Council, City Manager Bill Bell, and City Engineer Scott Murphy in transforming the property into one of the most coveted urban renewal projects in Colorado.
The nomination said, "through Bill Bell’s leadership, MURA was set up in record time, getting buy-in from over 11 taxing bodies in just a few short months for the tax increment financing (TIF) district that comprises boundaries of MURA."
In partnership with developer Colorado Outdoors, LLC, the land was privately purchased, and the company worked with the city to re-zone, re-map the river corridor and re-plat the entire project into a single, cohesive project.
During this time the city also completed an economic impact study, master plan design, river restoration design, and trail design. The central 40 acres of the property’s infrastructure was started and completed in 2018, which included new roads and new utilities such as fiber optic and three-phase power.
Mayfly Outdoors, a local manufacturing company employing nearly 50 people and the MURA’s first private users, designed, constructed, and is currently manufacturing within its new 41,000 square foot headquarters.
“Led by Bill Bell and Scott Murphy, as well as Ken Sherbenou, Executive Director of the Montrose Recreation District, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), awarded the city nearly $2 million for the river trail running through the MURA project,” the nomination reads. “It is the largest single grant the City of Montrose has ever received, and the trail is currently under construction with an expected completion date of October 2019.”
“We nominated the city, Bill Bell and Scott Murphy for their leadership and vision. It's clear they know what they want in Montrose, and it took some guts to get to where we are,” Dragoo said. “We can think of no other city in Colorado doing things like Montrose is doing, and it’s commendable.”
Storm King: Changing The Character Of Downtown
David and Greg Fishering purchased the former Montrose Potato Growers Cooperative Association site at 39 West Main Street in 2017. The Fisherings completed an extensive renovation on the metal warehouse on the property and opened Storm King Distilling Co., the first legal distillery in Montrose County, in June 2018.
The concrete slab, steel framing, and a dolly were the only existing features of the metal building salvageable for the rehabilitation. As the building was a single metal-framed building, there were no architecturally significant characteristics to be saved.
However, the transformation has been remarkable.
“This project not only stands as a testament to what can happen when you dare to think big and take the necessary risks but also to how important it is to have supportive partners in the local community; our local banks, contractors, city, and neighbors all deserve to be recognized in the receipt of this award,” the Fisherings said.
The nomination highlighted that the rehabilitation incorporated a combination of modern and historical features, including a large glass garage door on the south end of the building, corrugated rusty sheet metal siding, historic lighting, and a patio on the east side of the building that incorporates large wood beams. The property also boasts several artistic touches such as a fish-bone bike rack and antique tool tabletop inlays.
The interior tasting room provides a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere for the public to enjoy and features original artwork by many of the contractors involved in the rehabilitation of the building. The building complements nearby historical buildings, including the adjacent Montrose Potato Growers building, one of Montrose’s most iconic and historic structures.
The rehabilitated building is now seen as an anchor of downtown's west end and, along with other nearby businesses, is changing the character of the area.
“As a municipality, when you have a private investor interested in not only cleaning up blight on a prominent corner but also bringing a niche industry to your economic mix, you have to be a willing partner,” said Chelsea Rosty, Development and Revitalization Team (DART) manager and director of business innovation for the City of Montrose. “Investing in Storm King Distillery was an easy decision and one that has paid dividends to the Montrose community.”
For more city news visit CityOfMontrose.org.