Looks are everything: New-look deal for Colfax strip mall


AURORA | Several storefronts along East Colfax Avenue will be getting a facelift in the coming months thanks to a recently approved project through the city’s commercial renovation program.

A plaza of five businesses on the 10100 block of East Colfax Avenue, sandwiched between Fulton Street to the west and North Galena Street to the east, was approved earlier this spring to receive city and federal aid for exterior improvements, according to Anita Burkhart, interim manager for the city’s Community Development Division.

“We did a mass mailer out to businesses in northwest Aurora saying that we have a program, and if you’re interested in fixing up the exterior of your business, we may be able to help you do that,” Burkhart said. “The purpose is to really bring up the area. We are motivating business owners to improve the area, which then brings them business, creates jobs and it’s just awesome.”

Ownership of the plaza is split among three separate individuals who have all agreed to participate in the program, according to Burkhart. The five firms in the plaza are connected by a red, white and green awning and include a Boost Mobile, an insurance agency, Carlotta’s Extended Footwear and My Bar pub. A former apparel store is now vacant.

Established in Aurora in 1983, the commercial renovation program offers discounted loans and grants to business owners in Northwest Aurora interested in overhauling their facades, augmenting landscaping and making other, limited improvements to the outside of their stores. It is spearheaded by both the city and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Only businesses within Original Aurora — delineated by Sixth Avenue to the south, Yosemite street to the west, East 25th Avenue to the north, and Peoria Street to the east — are eligible to participate.  Funding for the program is split between the city and the property owners. Half of the money comes from the city in the form of a 10-year, forgivable loan, and the remainder is financed by cash matches from the business owners and a 10-year, zero percent interest loan. Burkhart said that if the program is initiated for a single store front, the total renovations cannot exceed $200,000, but because the venture on the 10100 block includes five storefronts, the final sum could end up in the neighborhood of $300,000. The project passed through public hearing in March and, barring any snafus in the planning approval process, will likely be completed sometime next spring.

“This is just another example of the revitalization that is going on all over urban Aurora,” said City Councilwoman Sally Mounier, whose ward encompasses much of north Aurora. “There’s a lot going on and you can feel the changes when you’re down there.”

Mu Brewery received renovation program funds to outfit its facade at 9735 E. Colfax Ave. last summer. Nathan Flatland, president of Mu, said that participating in the program was a mostly smooth process, though there were a handful of unexpected hitches along the way. He pointed to a surprise payment of federally required wages as a hiccup.

“As long as you know the rules going into it, it’s not too bad, and the city was great with working with us to overcome those hurdles,” he said. “It’s good to hear that somebody else is kind of jumping in here. I’m super excited to see how that all comes out.”