Artist's sketch of an expanded Riverwalk. (Pueblo Urban Renewal)

Reporter’s Notebook: Where the RTA, Riverwalk expansion story goes next

Despite getting yet another green light from the state economic development office this week, Pueblo’s Riverwalk expansion project is still up in the air on several fronts and leaves more questions of the tourism project.
The Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority was hoping to secure financing for the first phase of the project, which now includes the Professional Bull Riding University as part of the Pueblo Convention Center expansion, by now. But Jerry Pacheco, director of PURA, says the group is aiming to secure an $18 million bond within 30 days.
Per the state, PURA, operating as the facilitator for the project, has 90 days to complete financing for the first phase of the project — which was to break ground by September. Now, Pacheco said, the only timeline certainty is that the building will be completed by the end of 2018.
$14.4 million from the city’s half-cent sales tax has been approved by Pueblo City Council. Pacheco said PURA plans to use $12.2 million from the fund.

Now that the state has questioned and affirmed Pueblo’s RTA project is ‘unique and extraordinary,’ the questions of the project will revolve around the scope and fluidity of the project.
How will the final version of the project compare to the original vision?
No final building plans are available to the public, Pacheco said. But he’d like to deliver finalized plans to the community when they become something more concrete than drafts, as they are now.
How will phases two and three evolve to keep up with the complete rework of phase one?
Originally, the PBR University was supposed to be a stand alone building and part of phase two. Now, because of state concern, the staple RTA project has been reworked to be completed in phase one. That means it’s gone from being its own building to being a lease deal with PBR in the expanded convention center.
And most importantly, what will be the impact to Pueblo tourism, given that the project has evolved and will continue to do so?
Pacheco said all other aspects of RTA have been put on the back burner until financing is complete.

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