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The Golden Urban Renewal Authority (GURA) will meet tonight at 6:30 in City Council Chambers (911 10th Street).

For those unfamiliar with GURA’s work, here’s a quick summary.  They were formed in 1990, at a time when downtown was rapidly losing its retail base (35% vacancy) and was becoming increasingly seedy.  In the past 23 years, they’ve done a lot to improve the look of downtown, and to attract new retail and restaurants. Their first big project was streetscaping, which gave us the planter boxes and new trees.  They’ve also added parking to downtown, installed bike racks, and added the directory signs.  They pay for power washing of the sidewalks twice a year, for the banners hanging from the lightposts, and for the spectacular display of holiday lights along Washington Avenue.  GURA also provides grants to the downtown businesses to improve building facades and energy efficiency and have funded websites for many of the downtown businesses.

GURA’s downtown effort will sunset in 2015.  A group has now formed to explore the possibility of establishing a Downtown Development Authority, which would be able to maintain the work that GURA has done.