AP NEWS

City plans for Vision 2020 projects

February 3, 2019

Frontier Communications’ “America’s Best Communities” competition came to a close almost two years ago, and Lake Havasu City’s plans for its $2 million prize have evolved.

Lake Havasu City was named among America’s “best communities” in 2017 after submitting a long-range plan for community and economic development for review by a panel of judges in Denver. The plan, Vision 2020, highlighted three potential long-term projects for Havasu’s future.

The projects include the city’s Downtown Catalyst Project, an Environmental Learning Center at the Havasu Riviera and the construction of a large CoWork space in Havasu.

According to Lake Havasu City Manager Jess Knudson, the competition’s $2 million second-place prize was awarded to the Lake Havasu City Partnership for Economic Development, whose leadership was given the responsibility of furthering those projects and transferring necessary funds to the city to maintain them.

“The city’s role is to support our partners and provide ancillary funds to ensure a positive outcome for the Vision 2020 projects,” Knudson said. “The city has funds in the (Capital Improvement Projects budget) to support the Downtown Catalyst Project and the Environmental Learning Center. In addition, the city purchased the property at McCulloch Boulevard and Querio Drive to contribute toward the successful completion of the Downtown Catalyst Project.”

The PED has dedicated $1 million in funding for the city’s Downtown Catalyst Project, and according to PED President James Gray, the organization has invested money of its own in the project’s initial planning. The Catalyst Project was initially planned as a dense space for public and private use, Gray said, but those plans had to be scaled back when they were deemed too ambitious.

“After spending a year meeting with private investors to drive retail and entertainment, civic leaders are working on the public opportunities within the space,” Gray said. “Reviewing parking needs and utility limitations, it was determined that a scaled-down version was more desirable.”

The Downtown Catalyst Project has been redesigned as a people-driven “flex-space” for community events, according to Gray. The space is expected to drive residents and visitors into the downtown area and create a catalyst for growth. According to the PED’s latest designs, the Catalyst Project would include 18,000 square feet of restaurant, retail and community space. The venue would include a 375-square-foot television screen that would be used to display sports, and movies. The community space would also allow for public ceremonies and outdoor recreation. The total estimated cost of the Downtown Catalyst Project could be as much as $8 million, according to Gray.

Although $1 million was apportioned to the Downtown Catalyst Project thus far, further funding sources will be decided at a later date.

The PED has already allocated $500,000 for the planning of an Environmental Learning Center at what was once known as the Havasu 280 – now known as the Havasu Riviera Project. The Environmental Learning Center is in itself an ambitious project. Comprising about 500,000 square feet of outdoor space, and 9,000 square feet of business space, the facility will include learning and educational spaces, water quality labs and other amenities that could prove invaluable to researchers on the Colorado River.

The first phase of the facility will cost Havasu an estimated $8.5 million, and program coordinators expect the Environmental Learning Center to become one of the most important hubs of scientific research on the Colorado River.

The third major project planned under Vision 2020 has already begun in the form of a CoWork Space. Last year, the PED invested in the creation of a smaller CoWork space at 1100 London Bridge Road. A hub to six local businesses, the single building allows multiple companies to collaborate on mutual projects. This CoWork space, F106, is a pilot for a larger such CoWork space, for which the PED has already allocated $400,000 in award money from the “America’s Best Communities” competition. The organization has also matched that amount with $400,000 of the PED’s own money toward the creation of its larger planned CoWork space.

The total cost of the PED’s larger CoWork space is estimated to cost more than $2 million. Planning for the space is expected to be complete in June, and according to Gray, the facility should open in early 2020.