Like spring flowers, bump-outs are sprouting along Main Avenue, and a fresh crop of the outdoor retail pods are expected to blossom every two weeks.
On March 15, the city of Durango began allowing bump-outs – outdoor patio areas where restaurants can seat diners or retail shops can sell their wares. Every two weeks, a new group of city-approved bump-outs is expected to go up along downtown’s main drag.
Alex Rugoff, the city’s business development and redevelopment specialist, said a half dozen or so bump-out plans have been approved to go up in the first round, and many will be up for the weekend.
About 20 applications have been received so far, ensuring a growing crop of the outdoor business patios will be coming through spring.
Concrete planters will be coming to Main Avenue to provide a more substantial barrier to protect bump-outs from oncoming traffic. A few planters have already been placed.
“Through a survey, 85% of businesses expressed their support for bump-outs,” he said. “We’re doing our best to work with the community and make these successful this year so we have a strong spring and summer, to keep our downtown vibrant. We see this as a critical economic development tool.”
More shops and art galleries are expressing interest in bump-outs this year, Rugoff said. Last year, the outdoor commercial pods were predominantly used by restaurants.
Dan Gearig, co-owner of Switchback taco bar, said he had a couple of design ideas in mind, but decided focusing on speed more than perfect blueprint was the smart course.
“I just wanted to get it built and up as soon as we could. People are excited to get out, so let’s just get some butts in seats,” he said. “Perfection is the death of any good project. We’ll adjust it as we go along.”
Switchback’s bump-out will be about 120-square-feet bigger than last year’s, thanks to extending a bit of it onto the sidewalk and to Sotheby’s International Realty, Switchback’s neighbor, allowing the taco bar to extend its patio to the parking spaces in front of the realty’s office.
Total size of the bump-out will be about 640 square feet, and it will add between 30 to 40 seats to Switchback’s total seating , including 15 seats along a Main Avenue-facing bar.
The bump-out will about double the seating capacity of Switchback, which like other restaurants in Durango is down to 50% indoor capacity under COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
“It’s an incredible help,” Gearig said of the bump-out’s economic boost to the restaurant.
All told, Gearig, plans to sink $8,000 into the bump-out; $3,000 of that comes from a grant from the city of Durango.
The city has a fund of $60,000 it has devoted to provide matching grants of up to $3,000 to businesses that build bump-outs. Information about bump-out design guidelines, bump-out applications and licensing agreements, a grant packet, outdoor liquor service application and a required tax form are all available on the city’s website.
Rugoff said money from the $60,000 purse devoted to bump-out grants is still available, but is going fast. The money will be disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis.