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Seven questions with Nathan Bishop

Executive Director of the Olde Town Arvada Business Improvement District


Tell us about yourself.

I am the new executive director for the Olde Town Business Improvement District (BID). I lived in Denver five years ago and got my master’s degree at the University of Colorado Denver in urban and regional planning. I worked for the Colorado Center for Community Development for a little bit. From there I went to work for Washington University in St. Louis as a community development manager. My job was to help revitalize and stabilize the neighborhoods that surrounded the city campus. From there I went to work for the State of Illinois at the Department of Transportation in an economic development role. Then after that I worked for a similar organization as this called Downtown Springfield Inc. as a program director focusing on place making and transportation. So, coming back to Colorado after five years was an opportunity. I was somewhat familiar with Olde Town, but the Front Range was not what it is now, nor was Olde Town. Given my background in historic commercial district revitalization, being able to help in that way and all the different programming efforts that we do was a great opportunity.

You’re the first executive director of the Business Improvement District. Tell me how that feels.

It’s great. It provides a lot of opportunity to really shape a vision of how the BID can help and support the merchants and the neighborhood. That’s what we’re working on now — meeting with the merchants, learning their values, what Olde Town is, and what is can be. It’s creating a vision of where we’re headed. I’m very privileged to have this opportunity. Being the first, it’s really just a number, but it’s an opportunity to help craft that vision of where we can go. And fortunately or unfortunately, that’s a long term game. Hopefully we can set a great foundation.

What does the executive director of the BID do?

I oversee not only the organizational side but also the district side — the day-to-day activities of the organization, working alongside our board of merchants, and also creating, along with our board and our merchants, that vision. We are also looking at other commercial districts. You have so many choices in the Front Range and at the end of the day our goal is to be in that conversation or the head of that conversation. So people think of Olde Town when they think of going to shop, or to dinner or entertainment. But we also have district pride so the people in Arvada or the people have fallen in love with the district - there’s a lot of pride in what we’re putting forth. Olde Town is the heart and face of the city. We have this amazing treasure, and it’s looking at how do we put our best foot forward and showcase and highlight all the business and things we’re doing. So as executive director, that’s my role.

What is your vision for Olde Town?

I’m currently in that phase. I’m not here to rubber stamp stuff. It’s about working alongside our merchants. I’ve been reaching out and will continue to reach out. It’s really learning from them where Old Town’s been, why they’re here and where it’s going. What value can the BID provide? From a professional expertise, there’s a lot of opportunities to capitalize on marketing and branding, transportation, connectivity, place making, maybe even events — really creating a focus. With that vision, the best cities in the world are those who are historic and have learned to modernize. So, how do we do that? We have this amazing canvas of historic buildings and small town feel, but how do we modernize that? Is that as simple as putting a mural on a building? Art may be a piece, but it all needs to fit together like a puzzle. How do we partner with other organizations and really capitalize, showcase and highlight what we have? In the commercial districts you see a lot of trends, but we’re not new infill. We’re historic that has a little infill. So, how do we take it to the next level of modernizing and making it market driven?

Favorite place in Olde Town to go for lunch or coffee?

All of them. We have so many great choices. We really do. You will see me in meetings in all of them. I have not found something I dislike yet. It makes it very easy to put the best food forward and showcase all of them. We also have so many retail shops that are doing good things. We have a great pet food store in town. We have a woman’s retail shop, that’s all American made, that makes it easy to buy for your wife or your kids. We have so many great options. It makes my job easy to showcase all the great places. We have great patios too. If you have a patio in Olde Town, you’ll probably see me on it.

Outside of work, what are your hobbies and passions?

It’s nice to be back in Colorado and the outdoors. I have a wife, two daughters and a dog, so they keep me busy. I love going hiking and camping. We love cheering on our favorite sports teams that may or may not be in the Denver area. We love exploring throughout the Front Range whether that’s in an outdoor capacity or an urban capacity … places like Olde Town. You’ll find us here sometimes, being tourists in our own city.

Favorite Front Range places to explore?

One thing that we did before kids was we would go to a different park and a different coffee shop every Saturday. So that way we would see what there was instead of settling on one. That’s a way we were tourists in our own city. Now with kids we try to do things like that… new restaurants, old restaurants. We love going to parks. We have so much great outdoor space in the Front Range so it’s a lot of fun to explore.


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