Nestled against the Colorado Front Range, Fort Collins is consistently rated among the best places to do just about anything. It's a regular fixture in the top five of Money's "Best Places to Live" list, earning second place this year; it's No. 3 on Forbes' 2008 "Best Places for Business and Careers" list; and Outside regularly gives the city high marks for its quality of life and the wide range of outdoor activities it offers.
With all this praise, not to mention a growing university (Colorado State), it's no surprise people are flocking here. They have been for more than 100 years. The city experienced its first boom in 1872, when an agricultural colony and the state university were established.
"We know that more families and businesses will continue to want to come to Fort Collins to take advantage of the opportunities that the community and region have to offer," says city director of planning Joe Frank. But Fort Collins is quickly approaching its growth-management boundaries, and greenfields are becoming scarcer. "Our strategy and actions look inward to infill and redevelopment," says Frank.
As a result, there's a lot of new development happening in the city center, much of it adaptive reuse of existing structures as well as LEED-certified rehabilitation and new construction. And why not? An eclectic collection of early 20th century architecture, Fort Collins' downtown is picture-perfect. "One of Walt Disney's principal designers grew up in Fort Collins and modeled Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A., after this city and its buildings," notes Randy Shortridge, an architect and urban designer for local firm RB+B Architects, adding, "but at three-quarters scale!"
131,200 in 2007; projected to be 168,227 by 2011.
Overall office vacancy at midyear 2008 was 14.16 percent. Class A space ranged from $18/s.f. to $23/s.f.
Median home sale price in July 2008: $207,739.
- Colorado State University (CSU)
- Wealth of green spaces and outdoor activity options
- Decisive local government officials and active citizenry
- Suburban sprawl
- Affordable housing inventory
- Lack of parking could hamper urban development
Sustaining the city's character in the future will require "perseverance, patience, passion, stubbornness, and longevity," says Fort Collins director of planning Joe Frank. "Maintaining political support for and awareness of the importance of the downtown area is also a factor."