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Please Help Me Support Denver’s Architectural Heritage on Colorado Gives Day!

Dear friends,

I serve on the board of the Denver Architectural Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to inspiring people to explore our dynamic city, experience the importance of design to our quality of life, and envision an exceptional future for Denver.

The DAF is very important to me and I am asking you for your support on Colorado Gives Day, December 8, 2015. Each contribution to the Denver Architectural Foundation—no matter the amount—is critical in reaching our $10,000 fundraising goal to help us reach thousands of people from all walks of life through public education and events, cultural programming, and school partnerships.

Why support the DAF? Some of our programs include the Cleworth Architectural Legacy Project, which gives hundreds of Denver Public Schools children a chance to learn about architectural design from a volunteer team of architects and engineers, and our Hard Hat Tours, which offer up-close contact with Denver’s changing urban landscape and the architects behind many of Denver’s new buildings.

However, our biggest annual program and what I personally work hard to help organize is Doors Open Denver—the only public event that celebrates the richness and history of Denver’s built environment! During this two-day event each spring, we host tens of thousands of community members at over 50 locations throughout Denver, bringing together people from all walks of life to discover and explore the Mile High City’s urban environment. From historic landmarks to new infill developments and everything in between, we open the doors to our city to share with the public the purpose and value of the physical city that surrounds us. Doors Open Denver 2016 will be held April 23 and 24.


Over the past few years I have personally given over 100 DenverInfill walking tours for the general public because I believe passionately in sharing the story of how Denver’s urban landscape came to be and what is planned for its future. Similarly, Doors Open Denver allows tens of thousands of people and to learn about Denver’s architectural heritage and the importance of planning and design during this time of great growth and change in our city.

Also, Box City will once again be a part of Doors Open Denver!! If you are unfamiliar with Box City, check out my blog post from 2007.


If you appreciate events like Doors Open Denver and Box City and encouraging people to learn more about Denver’s past, present, and future, then please make a donation to the DAF on Colorado Gives Day. To further encourage you to make a donation, I will match all donations made through my personal fundraising page to the Denver Architectural Foundation up to $1,000!

To schedule your tax-deductible donation to the Denver Architectural Foundation on Colorado Gives Day, December 8, please visit my personal fundraising page:

Thank you for your support!

New Adaptive Reuse Project: Steam on the Platte

Tucked away in the industrial stretch along the South Platte River below Mile High Stadium is a new adaptive reuse project, Steam on the Platte, which will bring urban energy to a part of Denver near downtown that hasn’t seen a lot of private-sector investment in the past century. Steam on the Platte is being developed by Urban Ventures and White Construction Group.

Located at West 14th Avenue and Zuni Street, Steam on the Platte is technically in the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood. However, because it lies in a narrow zone of land east of the river but west of Interstate 25, the location feels less La Alma/Lincoln Park and more Sun Valley, the neighborhood located on the west side of the river. The 3.2-acre site lies approximately half way between RTD’s Decatur-Federal and Auraria West Campus light rail stations and, just to the south, is Xcel Energy’s Zuni plant, which is planned for decommissioning in the near future.


In Phase 1, Steam on the Platte includes the restoration and reuse of four buildings, the largest of which is a 65,000 square foot brick-and-timber warehouse at 1401 Zuni constructed in 1928. Here’s a site plan, courtesy of Urban Ventures:


The new uses will include work space for tech and creative companies and a café. Here’s a before-and-after shot (courtesy of Urban Ventures) of the historic warehouse:


Below are a few renderings of what the inside of the historic warehouse will look like after the project is finished. These images are courtesy of tres birds workshop, the architect for the 1401 Zuni building renovation:



One of the other existing buildings that’s located right next to the river will be converted into a signature restaurant space. Several landscaped plazas and gardens will tie the entire complex together and link the development to the river. This rendering, courtesy of Wenk Associates, the project’s landscape architect, shows the proposed plaza space adjacent to the historic warehouse:


Phase 2 of the project envisions adding several new buildings for more office space and to bring multi-family residential uses to the development. This final rendering shows the vision for Steam on the Platte after Phase 2, as viewed from across the river. Click to embiggen!


Phase 1 should be complete by Fall 2016.

Rethinking the Broadway-Lincoln Corridor

by Jenny Niemann

At last week’s Denver Moves Broadway public workshop, the City presented a range of options for transforming the Broadway/Lincoln corridor into a safer, more livable place, while improving mobility for all modes. This corridor has been the focus of many City plans. Most recently, the Golden Triangle Neighborhood Plan envisioned Broadway as a “Grand Boulevard.” This workshop sought feedback on alternatives for implementing that neighborhood vision through a redesign of the travel lanes on both roads and placemaking throughout the corridor.


One of three proposed design alternatives presented by the City. Image courtesy of Denver Public Works.

The City offered three different roadway design alternatives that would provide a protected bike facility on the corridor by removing a lane of traffic on either Broadway or Lincoln. Based on current traffic counts and speeds, City planners assert that Broadway could handle losing a travel lane without much increase in congestion. Providing more space for bikes creates the sort of multi-modal environment that is good for pedestrians, too: removing a lane of traffic and narrowing travel lanes will slow down travel speeds and reduce the distance pedestrians must go to cross the street.

Detail of proposed placemaking elements. Image courtesy of Denver Public Works.

Detail of proposed placemaking elements. Image courtesy of Denver Public Works.

The most interesting part of the workshop was the presentation of placemaking concepts for every block of the corridor. Despite the great mix of shops, restaurants and bars along the corridor, the speeding cars and huge space devoted to them don’t contribute to a welcoming place to walk. Proposed placemaking strategies would provide many more amenities for pedestrians and anyone who wants to enjoy the corridor. Enhancements included curb extensions, or bulb-outs, to reduce crossing distances, parklets, landscaping, enhanced crosswalks, and traffic calming. Pedestrians were clearly the focus here: planners envision pedestrian gathering spaces, activation of surface parking lots fronting the road, and a pedestrian-oriented alley.

Example of a curb extensions that shortens crossing distance. Image courtesy of Denver Public Works.

Example of a curb extensions that shortens crossing distance. Image courtesy of Denver Public Works.

I was encouraged to see the workshop recorded videos of residents talking about their experiences in the corridor, and what they hoped to see in the future. The videos will be compiled to communicate the community’s goals for the corridor. We can hope that residents’ videos will end up providing additional support for making Broadway and Lincoln streets that work for everyone.

If you missed the meeting, you can still learn about the project and provide feedback through a website the city created for the project. Go here to learn more about the project’s background and goals, see the information presented at the workshop, and provide feedback. Submit comments about the design alternatives by November 30, 2015.


Jenny Niemann is a WalkDenver Policy Committee member and a MURP/MPH graduate student at the University of Colorado Denver

FasTracks Progress: Commuter Rail – Full Speed Ahead!

Starting back in April, the commuter trains along the ‘A-Line’, now known as the ‘University of Colorado A-Line‘, started to run unassisted from Denver Union Station to Denver International Airport. Now, the trains are full speed ahead with 79 mph testing underway.

DenverUrbanism got a sneak peek of the testing at Union Station. The new Silverliner V commuter trains are a lot different than the Siemens light-rail vehicles we are all used to seeing. The Silverliners go faster, have more storage, hold more passengers, and offer level boarding. The commuter lines also have less stops to their end destination, and go farther than current light-rail lines.

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Why the sandbags? You can’t just test an empty train and hope for the best when its packed full of airport-goers and commuters. The sandbags are a good human weight analog for simulating a packed train. We also caught two commuter rail cars parked under the canopy. What a good day!

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As of today, there are only 153 days left until the commuter line to the airport opens (Grand opening is April 22nd, 2016). We are incredibly excited!

Please Support Affordable and Attainable Housing for Denver – Council Bill 15-0811

Anybody following the Denver housing market has noticed a very large decline in new for-sale and condo development. In fact, only one Central Denver condo project, containing 80 units, has been completed in recent years. That means only 0.6% of all residential units being built in and around Downtown Denver were condos. With the simple rules of supply and demand, the for-sale supply is at an all time low with demand rising causing record high average home prices.

So what is Council Bill 15-0811 and how is it going to fix the supply flow of condos in Denver?

From the Downtown Denver Partnership:

The Downtown Denver Partnership has long advocated for policy changes to address the effects that construction defects legislation has had on the Downtown Denver housing market. We are proud to have worked with the Homeownership Opportunity Alliance and the City and County of Denver on proposed Denver City Council Bill 15-0811 to help address these issues through local ordinance changes.
Championed by Mayor Hancock and his policy and legal teams, the proposed ordinance would do the following:
  • Limit the manner in which technical building violations can be used in construction defects litigation;
  • Support covenants that require alternative dispute resolution of construction defects claims; and
  • Institute a majority vote process with all association homeowners before legal action can go forward.
Denver City Council Bill 15-0811 offers a balanced approach that will create a fair legal resolution for construction issues. Importantly, the City’s approach will not take away a homeowner’s or community’s rights to seek a resolution to a construction issue.
The Downtown Denver, Inc. Board of Directors passed a resolution in support of City Council Bill 15-0811 to further emphasize the importance of having a variety of housing options and price points available in the center city and surrounding neighborhoods.

From the Homeownership Opportunity Alliance:

The Colorado General Assembly last session failed to address the defect in state law that exposes homeowners and builders to a high risk of expensive, time-consuming litigation—despite broad bipartisan and coalition support.

This defect means that Denver’s housing market has not kept pace with the demand for affordable and attainable homes among first-time homebuyers and others with a modest income. Rising housing costs and soaring rents threaten to price many Denver residents out of the market. Yet, condos, which have always provided a pathway to homeownership, now represent just 3.4 percent of new homes in the Denver metro housing market.

Now it’s up to the City and County of Denver to address this issue at the local level—like Aurora, Lakewood and seven other communities. Denver City Council Bill 15-0811 offers a balanced approach that will create a fair legal resolution for construction issues. Importantly, the city’s approach will not take away a homeowner’s or community’s rights to seek a resolution to a construction issue.

Here is how you can show your support and help get this bill passed:

  • Send a letter to your City Council member. Head on over to the Homeownership Opportunity Alliance to help you get started.
  • Attend the Denver City Council courtesy public hearing Monday, November 16th at 5:30pm at the City and County Building in the City Council Chambers, 1437 Bannock Street Room 451.

Balanced for-sale and rental development is critical for any successful housing market and Denver’s great future. We hope to see you Monday!