Reprinted from Montrose Daily Press
October 26, 2016
By Matt Lindberg – Managing Editor
Mayfly Outdoors President David Dragoo said his company is ready to grow and forever change Montrose for the better.
Dragoo was calm but excited Thursday at Ross Reels in Montrose as he announced in front of Montrose Daily Press reporters and several city officials his company acquired multiple new properties (about 125 acres) along the Uncompahgre River.
The newly acquired land, which is north of Ninth Street and across from the Montrose County Justice Center, will be home to Colorado Outdoors Recreation/Business Park. The project will be what Dragoo called a “world-renowned business park” aiming to attract outdoor-focused industries to relocate to Montrose and include river restoration and high-end commercial, residential and industrial development.
“One of our goals has always been to own our own property,” said Dragoo about Mayfly, a Colorado-based outdoor industry investment company known for its brand names including Abel Reels and Ross Reels. “The vision was to build our own factory, build it on the river and build it in Montrose, because we have a great relationship with the city. But we expanded on it, we asked ourselves what we could do to help the local community and bring jobs here?”
Dragoo cited his love for Montrose, noting he doesn�t want people to view it as only a stop on their way to Telluride.
“Part of our vision is to connect Riverbottom Park and expand down the river through Main Street,” he said. “This is an exciting project because it means building a future for Montrose that will attract great businesses and fly-fishing enthusiasts from all over the world while helping sustain one of our greatest assets: The Uncompahgre River.”
Dragoo noted the project will sustain and protect fish and wildlife areas along the river for approximately 1.5 miles near Grand Avenue.
The project’s reveal ends months of speculation. The proposed development plans had not previously been released to the community, sparking much concern and debate among residents during recent Montrose City Council meetings, as previously reported by the Daily Press. During those meetings, residents questioned realtor John Renfrow, who was representing the property owners, about the project’s transparency.
Dragoo said he understand people’s concerns, but stressed there were reasons why his company couldn’t come out with the plans until now.
“We’ve been wanting to do it for months, but we didn’t because it wasn’t the right time, and we had contracts that required non-disclosure, “he said of the recently acquired land.” But we have nothing to hide.
“Call us especially people in our area. They need to know.”
The City of Montrose is collaborating with the company to help bring the Colorado Outdoors project to fruition. City Manager Bill Bell said the City Council will hear a proposal in the next few months for an Urban Renewal Authority to oversee a mixed-use commercial area along the Uncompahgre River, noting he envisions it as “very similar” to the Montrose Downtown Development Authority. That nonprofit entity may purchase and redevelop property, enact capital improvements, and administrate other programs for economic development.
Bell said if the City Council establishes a URA, its operations would be directed under state statute. The city manager noted all other taxing entities, such as the county, the recreation, school and fire districts, would be represented on the URA.
“We would create a tax increment financing district within the URA boundaries and the (URA) would use that money to finance the infrastructure,” Bell said. “The private companies would finance their own buildings, but public infrastructure, lighting, utilities, streets that kind of stuff would come through the URA.”
Renfrow said the City of Montrose has been instrumental in making the project come to life.
“The city has been absolutely great,” he said. “This project wouldn�t have happened without the city there hasn’t been a department we haven’t (worked with).” Bell said Mayfly’s approach to the project was refreshing.
“It’s exciting to have a company who comes forward and wants to be part of a project and not ask taxpayers to pay for everything,” he said, noting the city often gets calls about projects in which companies want to put the burden on taxpayers. “It’s nice to have a partner that is willing to take a lot of the risk themselves.”
Dragoo and Renfrow said the company commissioned an independent economist (Mike Anderson of Anderson Analytics) to study the project, and positive results were brought back. According to the preliminary study, over a 10-year development period, estimates show an additional 1,266 ongoing jobs would be created within the project. In addition, 593 indirect and induced jobs in the local economy would result, bringing the total ongoing annual economic impact to 1,859 jobs. The total annual payroll impact is estimated at $81 million and total annual ongoing economic impact (output) is $297 million, according to Anderson’s preliminary study.
What Happens Next?
Dragoo estimated the entire project will take 10 to 15 years of development, and Renfrow indicated several other outdoor companies he couldn’t divulge yet
have already expressed interest in coming to Montrose.
In August, Mayfly moved operations for its California-based Abel Reels brand to the Ross Reels facility in town, 11 Ponderosa Court. Dragoo led MDP staffers and city officials on a tour Thursday of the facility, showing the added equipment and process for how the company’s products are created.
“We are a precision manufacturing facility, and our products are distributed worldwide,” Dragoo explained. “We’re 100 percent made in the USA. We start with the raw materials and they are turned into what you see in your local sporting goods shop.”
The bold project will start with Mayfly constructing a new, state of the art 35,000-squarefoot building for Abel and Ross on the acquired land.
“Let’s do that right and get the project going,” Dragoo said, noting he expected to break ground on the new site in 2017. “We plan to move our entire production facility into this new building. The facility will be eye-catching, but built around operational performance. It will help us continue to be a leader in our industry.”
The company president said the goal is for that move to begin occurring sometime in 2018.
“Phase two will be expanding,” he said.
Phase two will be the strategic expansion of infrastructure within the development, including upgrading roads and expanding fiber optic while recruiting additional outdoor businesses.
Phase three includes a retail development with a riverwalk area featuring restaurants, coffee shops and other local enterprises.
“This will take time,” Dragoo said.
Montrose Mayor Rex Swanson said he is excited about what the project means for the area.
“I think from the city’s perspective, it exceeds our master plan for the river corridor,” Swanson said after Dragoo finished his presentation.
Bell said he thinks it will be good for Montrose, too.
“The city won’t pay for all of it,” he assured. “This is going to be a partnership. The county’s involvement is very important.”
Dragoo said he’s happy to see government and private businesses working together to make the project work, citing the City of Montrose, Montrose County, the state of Colorado, and the Montrose Economic Development Corporation.
“All parties are actively collaborating, and it�s good to see,” he said.
Dragoo reiterated he welcomed phone calls with questions about the project.
“We’re excited to tell them,” Dragoo said.