NewsCovering Colorado


Momentum: Canon City's downtown investment

Posted at 8:05 PM, Oct 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-06 22:05:58-04

CANON CITY — Canon City’s old downtown is experiencing renewed vitality with retail, restaurants, and places to stay.

It is from an investment by entrepreneurs and also city leaders.

“I started researching it, fell in love, and said, I think we might be able to pull this off,” said Steve Parks.

Parks and his wife were visiting Colorado from Florida and started looking into the possibility of buying and renovating one of the old downtown buildings with retail space at the street level and apartments in the space above.

The difficulty with old buildings is the expense of updating them to meet current safety codes.

Parks could afford the building and the remodel but the upgrades put the deal in question.

Thanks to a grant program from the city specifically to help with life-safety upgrades parks is now a Canon City resident.

“Super fortunate enough to get the grant, we closed the following day,” said Parks, “Because I've run numbers upside down on this thing, and you just can't do it without the grant and some other help that we're getting.”

When city leaders were formulating a plan to capitalize on the historic appeal of the old downtown, they recognized that things like ADA compliance and putting in fire-suppressing sprinkler systems could be cost-prohibitive.

The city created two grants.

One for doing façade restoration for historic downtown buildings, and the other for life safety upgrades.

“We offer this as a way to hedge that investment a little bit,” said Rick Harrmann who leads the city’s Economic Development Department.

City Leaders see the grants helping individual businesses as a larger investment in the community as a whole.


“It's a major asset for our downtown. So we're putting a little ownership in it as well and supplementing their investment in the community by putting some money into the building,” said Harrmann.

City leaders see momentum happening from the investment.

“It makes the quality of life so much more exciting and charming. But at the end of the day, it also creates a tax revenue coming into Canon City and that tax money that we invested comes back in many folds,” said Canon City Mayor, Ashley Smith

Mayor Smith offers evidence of the success by pointing to parking spaces on the city’s main street that commonly fill through the day.

“I won't say parking problems, I think it's awesome, that it is full,” said Smith, “There's always people down there day or evenings.”

Smith sees the revitalization also expanding a broader sense of community.


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