Frisco set to open Main Street Promenade on Friday with varying views from business owners
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that bonus gift cards available through the Love Frisco, Shop Frisco program expire Sept. 15.
FRISCO — Frisco is set to open up its Main Street Promenade on Friday, a move that will block off traffic along the roadway and open the area to pedestrians and cyclists.
The promenade will shut down Main Street from Second to Fifth avenues and will allow businesses to expand their operations into public areas, which is meant to serve as an economic driver for businesses by increasing occupancy and provide space for shoppers and diners to physically distance while patronizing local shops and restaurants.
The idea comes as part of Frisco’s multipronged approach to helping residents and businesses recover financially as a result of the pandemic. In April, Frisco approved a pair of grant programs that set aside $750,000 for businesses and residents along with approval of $100,000 for the “Love Frisco, Shop Frisco” program last month.
“Frisco Town Council made a decision from the start of this crisis to be squarely focused on how to help small businesses and residents survive and recover, and to act swiftly and with the community’s constant feedback,” council member Jessica Burley said. “… Because of the tremendous participation and support from the community, the town of Frisco has committed over $900,000 to our COVID-19 response, which is very significant for a town of our size.
“We have also committed to saying ‘yes’ to new ideas and concepts from our business community whenever we can. We have taken risks with new ideas because our community and businesses have shown the courage and innovation to do the same, and they deserve a partner in this endeavor who is willing to be just as innovative, flexible and nimble. We know not every idea will work but are sure they will never work if we don’t try them, and we have shown ourselves to be adaptable enough to pivot quickly.”
Frisco joins a number of other Colorado communities trying out the concept, including Aspen, Boulder, Arvada and Breckenridge, which is set to open its pedestrian Main Street concept Friday, as well.
The Frisco Public Works Department will begin shutting down Main Street beginning at 6 a.m. Thursday, though traffic still will be allowed to pass through Main Street via intersecting avenues throughout the day. Businesses will be allowed to set up in their designated areas Friday. The town also will be creating pedestrian and bike lanes along with providing more overhead “bistro lighting” and flowers to add to the atmosphere.
Frisco is planning to open a pedestrian promenade on Main Street on Friday.
Todd Powell / town of Frisco
The promenade will be continually monitored by town staff members, who also will be seeking feedback from businesses to determine what is working with the concept and what isn’t. No end date has been set, and the town will maintain the program as long as it’s successful.
But some are already asking the town to reconsider the idea. Rob Phillipe, a longtime developer in Frisco who owns a number of properties on Main Street, penned a letter to the editor in the Summit Daily News last week and has been putting together a letter to the Frisco Town Council over recent days asking them to kill the idea.
“What I’ve found is the vast majority of business owners I’ve spoken to don’t want to close Main Street,” Phillipe said. “What I’m asking the town to do is represent the majority of business owners.”
Phillipe said closing Main Street would cause a number of unanticipated hardships for visitors and business owners, including additional parking concerns, weather disruptions and potential losses to businesses from motorists who otherwise might have stopped in town.
“Main Street is a hit-and-run economy,” Phillipe said. “Out-of-town cars slowly creep up Main Street looking, and all of a sudden, they spot something interesting and pull into a parking space. They’re totally eliminating that business.”
Opinions among business owners on the promenade seem to differ from enthusiastic, to cautiously optimistic to outright concerned.
Mary Elaine Moore, the owner of Stork & Bear Co. and Around the World Toys, said she’s worried the spaces in front of her shop will become a parking lot for pedestrians making their way down to the promenade and that it will dissuade some shoppers from making their way to the area.
“We know that we not only have locals that support our businesses but also visitors,” Moore said. “It’s important for them to have the ability to drive down Main Street and get a sense of what our town is about, and what shops and restaurants might pique their interest. … They want to get in and out. When you thwart that, it creates one more thing they have to navigate.”
Ruth Bremer, owner of Frisco Fun and Formal Wear, said she’s in favor of giving the idea a try, but that she wasn’t sure how helpful it would be for retail spaces given that shoppers are already making their way back to town.
Kelly Foote, who owns the Foote’s Rest Sweet Shoppe, shared a similar sentiment in that he’s open to the idea but believes Frisco needs to be flexible in making sure things are working well.
“I like that the town is taking initiative to help promote business on Main Street,” Foote said. “And we look forward to having a parking problem, because that means businesses are getting customers. But at the same time, it needs to be a fluid process where the town can help provide necessary access for both visitors and employees.”
Others like Eko Wiono, the manager at Butterhorn Bakery, and Lisa Holenko, owner of Next Page Books & Nosh, said they were looking forward to the opportunity.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” Holenko said. “It’s a great opportunity for customers to stay outside, and for stores and restaurants to expand what they’re doing and make things more friendly and social.”