Business Spotlight : The Fax Partnership
Colfax Avenue is the longest continuous street in the United States. It stretches 26 miles from Aurora, through Denver to Lakewood, Colorado. Colfax is said to be a "Gateway to the Rockies" as it can take you from the plains to the mountains.
For the last decade the three-mile corridor from Colorado to Yosemite has been undergoing a revitalization effort that hopes to make the small stretch with more than 400 businesses the heartbeat of this living organism that sees some of the highest pedestrian and auto traffic of any street in the state.
“It’s the city’s main street and there has always been political support to spark development,” said Hilarie Portell, executive director of The Fax Partnership. “In the last two years, there have been 45 new businesses and $20 million in new investments.”
The Fax Partnership is a 501 (c) (3) organization focused on economic development, business attraction and retention, district marketing and clean & safe initiatives. Funding comes from the Denver Office of Economic Development, grants, special events and business/community partners.
This particular stretch of East Colfax lies in one of the highest growth triangles in the area: Lowery, Stapleton and Fitzsimons. The demographic includes wealthy retirees, empty-nesters, and urban families. Businesses range from longtime family-owned businesses like Emicks Auto Service to newer expansions like Marczyk’s Fine Foods. See more businesses here.
Most recently, The Fax Partnership launched a new façade improvement project with the help of $10,000 grant from city. The seed money provided matching grants to seven businesses that made façade improvements including cleanup to a 13,000 square foot vacant warehouse that Portell says was the “white elephant”, and Weisco Motorcars stepped up to renovate the eye soar.
“The façade improvements created a lot of excitement and a little bit of momentum; the idea is that small things add up,” Portell said. “People got really into it.”
Moving forward, the partnership will be conducting a feasibility study of creating a Business Development District, a self-imposed tax for continued improvements to the area. “It’s really the only way to accomplish the large infrastructure changes we need.”
“Everybody would like to see significant streetscape improvements: trees, street lamps, mediums and public art,” Portell said. “These things naturally serve as traffic calmers and provide visual cues to slow down and take a look around.”
Portell was on the executive team of the Lowry Redevelopment Authority from 1996 to 2007 and owns Portell Works, a consulting firm advancing urban districts, downtowns, and development projects. She also lives in the area.
“It’s a thrill to apply what I know and love to my own neighborhood. Come on back to Colfax and see what’s going on. It is your main street and if you haven’t been here in a while you might be surprised. It’s moving forward.”