Alleys are like the ugly stepsister, all cities have them, and most choose to ignore them, particularly in downtown areas. They are usually nasty, with garbage dumpsters that stink, utility boxes and power lines, and just plain dark and dingy. Not a place you would choose to hang out in, that is for sure. Fortunately, Fort Collins has managed to avoid the worst of this in the downtown alleys, but they still havn’t been very hospitable.
That is now changing with the charge of the Downtown Development Authority and the City of Fort Collins, primarily the DDA, they are transforming the alleys into pedestrian walkways that will eventually connect downtown with CSU. It started back in 2006 when the DDA did two pilot project alley ways, Trimble Court and Tenney Court. Trimble Court, long a pedestrian shortcut between Old Town Plaza and College Avenue is now a pleasant walkway with lighting, and overflowing with flower boxes in the summer. Tenney Court became a pedestrian shortcut to Mountain Avenue when the Civic Center Parking Garage was constructed. This was a true alley with odiferous trash dumpsters, drainage issues that became dangerously icy in the winter, and steep side slopes. The revamping addressed all this, consolidating trash dumpster, fixing the storm drainage, flattening the alley, adding lights, and planter boxes again. After it was complete, the Children’s Mercantile and the Opera Galleria both added new store fronts and entrances onto the new pedestrian ways. I previously blogged on these alleys at The Built Environment
. Check it out for the photos.
This past summer the DDA took on two additional alleyways, Montezuma Fuller Court between Mountain and Oak, and Firehouse Alley. Both were retrofitted with upgraded drainage, pavers, lighting, and planter boxes. The hope is that businesses will eventually add new entrances off of the alleys, restaurants will create outdoor patios, and these become lively places. Indeed, one brewpub has already built a beer garden on Montezuma Fuller Alley. These were just completed, so the full impact of all the planter boxes won’t be seen until next year.
I applaud the DDA for doing this. It helps to alleviate the congestion on College Avenue with the pedestrians, sidewalk patios, etc. Most of the alleys are heavily used by pedestrians anyway to get from the parking lots to the shops, so why not make them pedestrian friendly? When they are complete all the way to CSU, now that will be cool.