Rifle to get share of funds for downtown planning

The city of Rifle will share in a $1.28 million federal grant designed to help revitalize downtown business districts.

The state Department of Local Affairs obtained the grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Transportation. It will support the Sustainable Main Streets Initiative launched by Gov. Bill Ritter in April.

Rifle, Monte Vista, Fowler and Denver’s Five Points neighborhood were identified then as pilot communities in the initiative. It is designed to target state resources to help them achieve downtown prosperity while incorporating measures to promote sustainability and energy efficiency.

Mike Braaten, Rifle’s government affairs coordinator, said how much of the federal grant will go to Rifle has yet to be determined. He said the funding is a planning grant intended to look at transit-oriented development sites and improvements in downtown cores.

Braaten said some of the city’s downtown initiatives include renovating a historic theater, redeveloping the old Valley Lumber site for uses including a community health and wellness center, and undertaking general economic development efforts.

He said most of the federal grant funds went to large metropolitan areas, which made it exciting for Colorado to receive some of the funding.

“It was a highly competitive application process. We were one of the few rural areas to receive any money throughout the United States,” he said.

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