Durango Welcome Center
A collaboration of the Durango Business Improvement District, Durango Area Tourism Office, Fort Lewis College and the City of Durango
June 5, 2012
Located at the corner of Main Ave. and 8th St. (802 Main) in the heart of Historic Downtown Durango, the new Durango Welcome Center is a one-stop “information” shop for all that Durango and surrounding La Plata County offers to visitors and locals. Its realization is a result of a unique collaboration of four key entities: Durango Business Improvement District (BID), Durango Area Tourism Office (DATO), Fort Lewis College (FLC) and the City of Durango, plus key support from a broad cross-section of the community. The Center is a go-to location for tickets, updates on attractions and events,
plus comprehensive information about educational opportunities at Fort Lewis College, Durango’s in-town, four-year institution of higher learning.
While Downtown Durango has been consistently vital and vibrant, the BID noted a number of definite deficiencies:
- Insufficient presence of Fort Lewis College in Downtown;
- No centrally located, walk-in “service center” for visitors in the Downtown core;
- Low return on investment of the small Visitor’s Kiosk, with limited days and hours, and high cost;
- Lack of public restrooms on Main Ave.
When addressed by individual organizations, the aforementioned posed organizational, operating and financial challenges – facts reinforced as year after year the deficiencies remained problematic and unsolved. When the deficiencies were approached from a collective standpoint, they became solvable by drawing resources from multiple sources, leveraging partnership opportunities and creating a new community asset much greater than the sum of its parts.
For years the BID had been watching for a storefront in Downtown Durango to become available – one that would work as an expanded welcome center. Bob Kunkel, BID executive director as well as the City’s downtown business development director, decided in late fall 2011 to approach the effort proactively, identifying desirable locations, and questioning tenants of their future plans. The effort paid off, as Jim Rockelman of Durango Music had been considering downsizing, leaving the double storefront at Main and 8th potentially available for BID and its future partners.
The building at Main and 8th is owned by Bob Griffith, and he has retained ownership of the double storefront that had for decades housed Durango Music (now relocated to 2nd Ave.). The master leaseholder of the Center is the City of Durango, though the City intends to play no role in the day-to-day operations at the Center.
Three partners are the “tenants” of the Welcome Center, pay a monthly rent and divide all operational costs:
- Fort Lewis College – including, in addition to student recruitment, the Ticket Office for the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.
- Durango Area Tourism Office – the entity tasked with working beyond Durango’s borders to bring visitors to town. DATO staff will occupy the second floor of the Center.
- Durango Business Improvement District – BID will not be housed at the Center but will oversee management of the facility and act as a liaison with the City.
The redesign for the Center was done by Architect Rick Feeney, who was tasked to create a highly-functional, multi-use facility.
The total first floor contains 2,666 square feet including 1,795 square feet of Welcome Center “main” space and 110 square feet in three large window display areas. Back of the house includes a conference room and public restrooms occupying 857 square feet. DATO and Concert Hall offices on the second floor occupy 857 square feet.
Shawn Slater of Colarelli Construction served as General Contractor, supervising a team of all local sub-contractors.
Cost for the build-out was approximately $300,000 – $85,000 each paid by the BID, FLC and the City of Durango with the balance invested by Bob Griffith. (This figure does not include the funds invested by FLC or DATO for completion of their displays/offices.)
The interiors of the Welcome Center feature oversized dioramas designed by Kris Hickcox of Pool Creative and produced by FastSigns of Durango, which, at a glance inform visitors of the myriad of experiences available in Durango and La Plata County.
Large screen televisions as well as computer monitors are included throughout the facility, offering visitors access to information and enhanced video experiences of activities and attractions in and around the Durango area. Physical brochures and maps are also available, and the welcome desk will be staffed by DATO’s Visitor Information Specialists to assist guests in planning their stay in Durango.
The main area of the Center features a variety of decorated “vignettes” sponsored by different entities including the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Durango Mountain Resort and more. Fort Lewis College, in addition to its vignette, will offer van tours of the campus during the day.
The Center includes six public restrooms, a water station for bottle fill-up and a bank ATM.
Durango as a town takes pride in “doing the right thing” when it comes to sustainable practices, thus every effort was made to further this effort in the Welcome Center. “Reusing” an existing building is a sustainable practice (rather than demolishing and rebuilding), plus it helped retain some of Durango’s historic character.
As demolition of the interiors ensued, Beaudin Builders salvaged all usable building materials for recycled use in other projects. Phoenix Recycling collected the remaining trash and recycled it through their well-established local business.
Existing lighting fixtures (27) had recently been replaced with new ballasts, which reduced energy consumption by 2kW, or approximately $500 per year. These fixtures were retained.
To reduce water consumption, the Center includes dual flush toilets and a waterless urinal. Zero-VOC paint purchased through a local supplier was used throughout and the flooring of the main area is made from recycled rubber. A new, high efficiency HVAC system was also installed, and hope is to eventually fund and install a solar array on the roof to provide electricity for the building.
Main Welcome Center………………………………………… 970.247.3500
Durango Area Tourism Office………………………………... 866.631.7011
Community Concert Hall Ticket Office………………………970.247.7657
Fort Lewis College……………………………………………...970.247.7176
Durango Business Improvement District…………………….970.375.5067
Durango Area Tourism Office (DATO)
DATO is a not for profit organization operating with the mission to promote Durango and La Plata County’s multitude of tourism attractions. As a destination marketing organization, DATO provides strategic sales and marketing programs promoting our area for the benefit of visitors and local stakeholders. DATO is funded by a lodging tax collected on lodging rooms in Durango and La Plata County. Tourism staff reports to a 13-person Board of Directors; board members represent the depth of tourism in La Plata County and they fairly represent all entities within their specific sector of the industry.
Durango Business Improvement District (BID)
The Durango Business Improvement District was formed in 1997 with a goal and mission to support businesses within the District by assisting with special event marketing, providing research on topics of concern to the District (facilities, special events, best practices), planning and development of new facilities, and providing capital budget for equipment that enhances business in the District. Funding is generated by a 2 mill levy on property owners within the district, with additional marketing dollars contributed by the City of Durango and Durango Area Tourism Office. BID Board members are Bob Allen, presiding officer; Karen Barger, Rod Barker, John Wells and Tim Wheeler.
Fort Lewis College
Fort Lewis College is a selective public liberal arts college located on the mesa above downtown Durango. FLC offers baccalaureate degrees in 30 majors, with specially accredited programs in Accounting, Business Administration, Economics, and Marketing; Athletic Training; Chemistry; Engineering Physics; Music; and Teacher Education. Students enjoy individualized attention from faculty through an average class size of 22 and a low student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1, and broad opportunities for real-world learning experiences through internships, study abroad, service learning, and undergraduate research. With nearly 4,000 students on its uniquely scenic campus, Fort Lewis College and Durango together form an active, energetic, creative, and closeknit
The Community Concert Hall is a not-for-profit, multi-use performance venue located on the campus of Fort Lewis College. Its ability to bring a diverse spectrum of shows to Southwest Colorado is made possible through a partnership with the college, a statesupported, independent institution of higher education, and through financial and inkind contributions from generous members of the community.