Downtown still has a Heart

Downtown still has a Heart

Downtown still has a heart? What does THAT mean? We wanted to let you know that in spite of the major cool factor that has rolled over our once-small-town, there remains a strong core of compassionate Movers and Shakers. These people stay involved, put their money where their mouths are, and provide people who are NOT banking big bucks or inheriting from Mom and Dad, a safe place to live, work and thrive. I’m talking about downtown Fort Collins’ DMA Plaza.

Those of us who have been rattling around Fort Collins since the 70’s know that 11 story building that pops up on the edge of our neighborhoods, close to the library. This building was created to serve as a residence to our senior population on strictly limited incomes, and people with disabilities. Yes, I agree, we need 100 MORE of these!…anyway……this post exists to fill you in, as we like to do, on WHAT’S HAPPENING.

DMA Plaza Rooftop View
Look at that rooftop VIEW!

Important (if somewhat snooze-inducing) facts FIRST, then the good stuff: 

*DMA stands for Downtown Merchants Association.

*The project is funded through CHFA (Colorado Housing and Finance Authority…yeah, the State) and private funding (the smart, compassionate people).

*We’re talking Section 8 Housing as well.

The Good Stuff:

*Up for discussion/review/approval: a complete renovation of the building, INSIDE AND OUT. Quick! call Architecture Plus!!!!…..they did.

Here’s what we’re contemplating:

DMA Plaza circa 1970's
DMA Plaza circa 1970’s

*Total asbestos abatement. Yup, that HAS to be done. Through attrition, there will eventually be two full floors worth of empty units. We’ll move people back to those empty floors as we work our way through the building.

*New Everything!….we’re talking practically stripping-down-to-the-studs new.

-New high efficiency windows

-New high efficiency lighting. This will include the corridors, so that you’ll be able to see everything clearly, yet NOT have to deal with Surface-of-the-Sun glare. Just friendly, lovely light.

-New high efficiency washers and dryers….oh good. They need a few more.

*Yes, there will be 125 units with better accessibility throughout.  Several units on each floor will be designed specifically for wheelchair usability.

*Have I told you about the heating / cooling system? O-M-G……..listen: We’re using VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow). This means that when the sun beats down on one side of the building, it will initiate the Cooling system. If the other side needs to be warmed , IT WILL DO THAT. Simultaneously. I know, Shut UP. Even better? you can control the temperature of each unit individually, so that when Mrs. Smith is sweating bullets over her Thanksgiving turkey and hits the COOL option, Mr. Brown next door (who takes an aspirin a day and is always cold) can crank up his temp and remain a happy neighbor. How cool is THAT??!!!! (pun intended).

Okay, now you get the picture. TOTAL re-do. How about the outside?

DMA Plaza Entry Benches
DMA Plaza 2015

The entire exterior skin of the building will be redone and updated to reflect its fresh new interior. What does that mean? From the street it will look totally new. You’ll glance once, do a double take and ask: “…wow, where did THAT come from?!?!”.  We can’t wait.

One thing that I love about the building (our office is 2 blocks away) is that when I go by, there are lots of residents sitting outside on the benches. People in wheelchairs are out with their pups. It’s a real community. So…….More Benches!…how about a canopy overhang outside of the lobby so that when Colorado’s weird weather changes, everyone’s covered while waiting for their rides? Yes please.

You’ll see a TON of bikes out back, so maybe we’ll tend to the bike rack situation as well. Yea Bikes! We love to toss out lots of ideas to keep everyone inspired. There will be an improved community room where people can meet. They’ll host incoming educators. Mobile dentists can set up shop temporarily.

Okay, before I lose you I’ll just say, keep an eye on that building. Approval takes approximately a billion years, so look for work to start next year….ish.