SHERIDAN — Resuscitated by the city last year, the Sheridan Downtown Development Authority is back in action.
And for its first project, the board is turning its attention to a key building in Sheridan’s downtown: 103 North Gould St.
“A big part of our mission that I really believe in is trying to maintain some of the older buildings and keep some of that uniqueness and vitality in downtown,” DDA Board Vice-President Matt Westcott said. “The building on Gould Street isn’t as old as some, but it has a really nice mid-century look, and the masonry is really great, and it’s a really cool part of the downtown landscape.”
The Gould Street building was the original home of Cook Ford and was part of a bustling downtown “auto mall” in the mid-to-late 1900s, according to DDA Board President PJ Treide. After Ford moved to Coffeen Avenue, the building became the C&C Auto and Tire Shop. A few years ago, the building was acquired by the city of Sheridan from the Cook family.
The building is 10,000 square feet and also has a concrete basement for storage, Treide said. The property also includes a large parking lot that currently provides additional parking for the downtown district.
Last month, the DDA began soliciting public comments on potential uses for the Gould Street building. The goal, according to Treide, is to find the best possible use for a key piece of downtown real estate.
“The property, as it sits squarely in the Historic Downtown District, holds a lot of value to downtown business owners, property owners and for economic development purposes.” Treide said. “We are working to help unlock that value through public feedback and via interviews with other DDAs in the region that manage historic downtown districts. The property needs to fulfill a goal to have the greatest impact for the most people of Sheridan, while also having a positive impact for the downtown district.”
While they’re still collecting feedback, both Treide and Westcott have thoughts about ways to utilize the Gould Street property.
“Personally, I would like the building to house an entity or entities that would help to drive additional traffic to our downtown — both locals and tourists,” Treide said. “As a business owner who sees the effects of digital shopping migration, Sheridan needs to keep its eyes several years out to make sure we continue to future-proof… Sheridan’s downtown needs to continue on its path as a vibrant wild west destination, built on the sustainability as an ever-changing hub for commerce, for being social, for entertainment and for tourism.”
Westcott hopes the building can be used to bring in some money for future downtown development projects for the DDA. Other projects listed on the organization’s website include the planning and funding of façade projects for downtown businesses; advocating for business and property owners during WYDOT’s 2023 reconstruction of Main Street; and hiring professional muralists to give more artistic life to downtown.
“My hope is, however it’s used, it would generate some income that would fund either future projects in downtown or improvements to this specific property — whatever the public feels we have a need for,” Westcott said.
Whatever happens to the Gould Street property, the building’s roof will need to be repaired along with other renovations, Westcott said. The DDA board is currently in the process of collecting bids for improvements to the building.
The Gould Street project is the first major project of the recently revitalized Downtown Development Authority.Sheridan created its DDA in 2015 in response to a petition from downtown property owners, but turnover among city staff and a lack of funding stunted its growth. In October 2019, stakeholders rallied around the long defunct organization and claimed it could energize development projects in the city’s downtown. Sheridan City Council voted to reinstate the organization a month later.
Wyoming cities can establish DDAs through state statute as a way of earmarking revenues for downtown enhancements. In Sheridan’s case, the DDA can provide the Downtown Sheridan Association, which operates as a nonprofit organization, with a larger and more consistent budget, as the DDA is eligible to receive a more consistent revenue stream through the city through either property taxes or a portion of downtown sales taxes, and can apply for grant funding for specific projects through entities like the Wyoming Business Council.
Westcott said he was excited to help revitalize Downtown Sheridan, and noted stakeholder participation was a key part of the organization’s strategy going forward.
“We love as much input as possible,” Westcott said. “It is so important that everybody contributes ideas. We don’t believe that downtown needs to be a certain way. So, if you have ideas, please share them. Those community voices are so important.”
The DDA welcomes feedback on the Gould Street property submitted through its website oursheridan.com.