On October 16, 2023, Poudre Libraries, along with the City of Fort Collins and Poudre School District (PSD), announced a joint commitment to open a new community innovation center in southeast Fort Collins.
The innovation center, which was promised to the voters in 2015, will feature a state-of-the-art public library, multi-use spaces, as well as recreation and aquatics facilities. The center will be built on the 10 acres of land that PSD owns adjacent to Fossil Ridge High School.
The Library, City, and PSD are working on an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) that will guide the project timeline and phases moving forward. Construction on the project is anticipated to begin in 2025. Once the innovation center opens, the existing Council Tree Library (located less than a mile from the new site) will close and operations will move to the new facility.
We know you probably have questions about what to expect with this exciting project. Since we are in the very initial stages of this partnership and project, we only have a few specifics to share about the Library's role. As with any project of this scope, information may change. Please check back for updates.
Our current Master Plan identifies the southeast area as a priority for an expanded library due to ongoing population growth and increased demands for library services. Council Tree Library, which opened in 2009, was designed to accommodate a population of 47,000 people within a 3-mile radius. The current population, living within a 10-minute drive, is more than 63,500 people.
Council Tree Library is just under 17,000 sq. ft. To appropriately serve the larger population living in the vicinity - in addition to individuals who work, shop, and recreate along the Harmony corridor - calls for a full-service library upwards of 30,000 sq. ft. that includes expanded public spaces like study rooms, meeting and collaboration areas, and additional space for collections, programs, children and teens.
The new building site near Fossil Ridge High School is ideal for serving individuals and families. The location is within easy access of five K-12 schools, making it attractive to students for after-school use. The site is also convenient to lifestyle amenities, restaurants, and commercial businesses.
The Library District’s three facilities provide about 0.43 square feet of space per capita relative to the current District service area population. As the community continues to grow, that ratio of space to population will continue to decline to 0.3 square feet by 2040 – representing at least a 50% deficit of the space required to support modern library service.
Our Master Plan estimates that about 160,000 square feet of total space for public service will be needed to serve the District’s projected 2040 population – at least double the space provided in the Library District’s three current libraries. For the purposes of tracking facility capacity over time relative to the Library District’s service population, this target represents approximately 0.6 square feet of library space per capita. (It should be noted that this target does not include space for Library District administration and centralized services, which is based on anticipated organizational growth rather than population.)
The expansion of the public library footprint in the southeast area is one part of our overall, long-term vision to provide adequate public service space for our growing community.
The Library plans to use designated capital funds in addition to possible lease-purchase funding to pay for our portion of the project, estimated at $20 million. We do not anticipate seeking voter approval to raise funds for our portion of this project.
Because we are partnering with the City of Fort Collins and PSD on the facility's overall construction and operations, the Library is able to significantly reduce costs we would have paid for a facility that we pursued on our own. Each partner is looking beyond themselves to do what is most impactful for the community.
Once the final plans for the library are established, any identified funding gaps will be filled through private donations and public fundraising efforts. The Library plans to collaborate with the City on capital campaign fundraising to enhance portions of the project. Contact the Library’s Development Officer, Selena Paulsen, to discuss donor opportunities: firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-818-2964.
The intent is that Poudre Libraries and the City of Fort Collins will co-manage community spaces within the new innovation center while also separately managing individual areas of the facility specific to each organization’s specific services (e.g., library services vs. recreation/aquatic services). An IGA will govern management of the facility.
We are excited to co-create the new full-service library with input from the community and staff. That way we can ensure we are building a space that not only offers essential library services such as books, a storytime room, meeting and study rooms, public computing and technology, but also includes innovative features the community wants.
The new, considerably larger library will provide greater opportunities for the surrounding community to gather, learn, collaborate, and explore. Stay tuned for more information about how to participate in community input sessions.
We anticipate Council Tree Library will close prior to the opening of the new facility. We do not have any timelines for construction at this time so we are not able to provide any specifics.
The District owns Council Tree Library as a condominium space within Front Range Village Shopping Center. The Library Board of Trustees will look at options for Council Tree Library and make appropriate plans in the public’s interest as we move through the project.
We continue to use our Master Plan to guide our future planning as our service district continues to grow and change. This 20-year plan includes expanded options for library services in North Fort Collins and potential for a centralized Midtown location. We are actively working with developers and partners to identify opportunities to establish library services in these areas, assessing demographic needs, and looking at innovative service models, from full-service buildings to specialized hubs to grab-and-go storefronts. We do not have a timeframe for when these projects may happen.
We do not have a timeframe for when these projects may happen. Currently, our mobile library and Community Outreach team are serving some of these neighborhoods as we plan for future expansion.
The Library plans to engage the community throughout the library design process. As we work with the City to create a design plan, there will be opportunities to have your voice heard. You can also share your thoughts via our How’d We Do form or speak with the Board of Trustees during their monthly meetings - public comments are taken at the beginning of each meeting.
Public and private donor opportunities will also available. Contact the Library’s Development Officer, Selena Paulsen, to discuss these options: email@example.com or 970-818-2964.