In a move to increase housing options and the number of people visiting the downtown area, the Longmont Downtown Development Authority has endorsed a plan to build a $20 million mixed-use development.

Now that the project has been approved by the city, it’s scheduled to break ground in October.

Roosevelt Park Apartments, a four-story building that will include 115 rental apartments, restaurants, a parking garage and artist studios, will fill a half-block area on Longs Peak Avenue between Main and Coffman streets.

Commercial space in the building tallies up to 10,900 square feet.

Burden Inc., a development company run by Cotton Burden and his son, Keith, is in charge of building the project.

“This will be a catalyst to the development that the downtown area is already experiencing,” said Keith Burden, vice president of Burden Inc.

Burden Inc. built the Roosevelt Place office building, across the street from the Roosevelt Park Apartment site, in 2002. Soon after, the company began purchasing the land slated for the new building and planning how to use it.

“In 2008 we planned to build for-sale townhomes and condos until that market ceased to exist with the economics of the time, so we tabled the project,” Keith Burden said. “Now we believe multi-family rentals make financial sense and will help us get the project up and going sooner.”

“Our goal for many years has been to bring more mixed-use developments and residential opportunities to downtown,” said Kimberly McKee, executive director of the Longmont Downtown Development Authority. “This project matches about 15 of the 29 goals we’ve set for development.

“It’s been a priority for this board for 15 years,” she added. “We feel that if there are 24/7 residents there, the downtown area will be more thriving and lively.”

She refers to the corner lot as “rather blighted” and the new project as a way of turning it into a vibrant gateway.

In addition to adding aesthetic appeal to downtown-area entrances, the building will connect to Roosevelt Park, which covers three city blocks and serves as a gateway to the downtown district on the northwest side. The park features activities and events that range from swimming to concerts.

“We want a better connection to the park to draw more people in,” McKee said.

Another benefit of the new building is the role it will fill in bringing more art to the community. About 1,400 square feet of Roosevelt Park Apartments is slated to be used as an arts incubator program. That program is growing out of another new project Longmont is developing.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation in 2011 that encourages formation of creative districts in communities, and Longmont was designated a prospective in the project.

In that role, the Longmont Arts and Entertainment District receives $8,000 and assistance for creating the community to enhance the likelihood that it will be certified as a creative district in the future.

“They’re looking at what kind of art opportunities we provide, how we are working with artists and are we developing a lot of events,” McKee said.

The resources will go toward creating an incubator program that helps the authority determine how it can help artists be successful as businesses. Development of working-artist studios and galleries in the downtown district is part of the plan.

Creative districts in communities are aimed at attracting creative entrepreneurs and artists to the area and infusing new energy and innovation into it. One of the intended results is that they will enhance economic and civic capital for the community and add appeal to the area as a place to live, visit and do business.

The program is administered by the Office of Economic Development and International Trade through the Colorado Creative Industries division.

“We have an agreement with the LDDA that they’ll lease those 1,400 square feet units from us and lease them back to local artists,” Keith Burden said. “The units will have overhead glass garage doors so artists can open up for street presence and interaction with the outside.

The authority is contributing $4.9 million to the Roosevelt Park Apartment project, and Burden Inc. is covering the rest of the $20 million total in the form of loans and equity, according to Keith Burden.

Demolition of current buildings on the site is scheduled for September, with groundbreaking expected to happen in mid- to late-October. Total construction time will be 12 to 13 months.

“We’re entertaining the idea of phasing the project,” Keith Burden said. “We could finish a portion of it on Main Street by July 2013 and do the phasing clockwise from there.”