Gates Redevelopment: Planning for Innovation

“When people come together they become much more productive” – Geoffrey West

Currently, the Old Gates Rubber Plant is being demolished. Its long anticipated demolition will pave the way for years of development and, in the end, provide South Denver neighborhoods with new places to shop, eat, hang out, and better connect with new friends.

This piece will not cover the demolition timetable, the history of the site, or what might have been; this is a piece laying out an idea for something new, something interesting, something that will continue to make Denver a lure for future generations to move to Colorado.

Imagine a cutting edge research institute within ten minutes of downtown Denver. A site that has great access to open space, public transit, historic neighborhoods, and great parks. This site would have a bustling center with shops, apartments, great restaurants, and tons of energy. The heart of this community would be built around innovation, creativity, and the next generation of scientists, designers, and entrepreneurs. A place where new technologies are being built in cooperation with universities, businesses, nonprofits, and local municipalities.

What I am envisioning is something best defined by Bruce Katz: an Innovation District is a location that clusters leading-edge anchor institutions and cutting-edge innovative firms, connecting them with supporting and spin-off companies, business incubators, mixed-use housing, retail and 21st century urban amenities.

The concept of the Innovation District it is not drastically different than the original plan for the redevelopment, where it is different is the clustering of anchoring institutions, and supporting companies. I am imagining a series of facilities that satellite locations for: CU, CSU, and the School of Mines. If done correctly, the three schools could share their resources in the purchasing of equipment, better run challenges, and foster new businesses that utilize students from the different institutions.

In terms of supporting organizations, space could be provided for the many other schools around the city: Metro, Johnson & Wales, the Art Institute. This connecting of universities would allow non-technically oriented students to assist these future companies with help in marketing, accounting, advertising, planning, art, etc.

Outside of schools, this would provide an impetus for businesses to relocate to Denver, they would have a plethora of talent to pull from, researchers at close reach, transit, historic neighborhoods within walking distance, a newly enhanced S. Platte River, and all within 10 minutes of Downtown Denver.

http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2013/12/30-silicon-cities-katz#

By | 2016-12-27T21:01:35+00:00 January 31, 2014|Categories: General Urbanism, Sustainability, Technology, Transit-Oriented|Tags: |6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. JerryG January 31, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Interesting idea and one that I have also considered for a location south of downtown along the Platte. First, I think that CU Denver would have some issues with your characterization that Denver does not have an academic research institution within it’s boundaries. They are more limited in comparison to CU Boulder or Anschutz, but that may be more of an issue with the administration of the CU system than CU Denver’s desires. The administrators at CU Denver have expressed a strong interest in changing that situation. Therefore, I would suggest a qualification of your proposal. What I think is missing is the transition space for academic researchers to scale their innovations and bridge the gap between industry and the bench. This could be a place for new businesses to arise out of the work of the researchers at those institutions in cooperation with the best investor/business/sales/government minds from out of downtown.

  2. CN January 31, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    The Auraria campus is already within ten minutes (walking) of the heart of downtown, and DU is just up the Valley Highway from the Gates site. I’m not sure that more competition is what either needs at this point, but perhaps they can both contribute to the development (being a few LR stops away) — be it business incubators, student housing, or what have you. What Denver really needs is a central hospital, and there’s great potential for that here.

    • Paul February 2, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      A central hospital? Isn’t that what Denver Health is (and located a bit more centrally)?

      Not to mention St. Joe’s, St. Lukes, Rose, Porter…. I just don’t see the need for another hospital in this area.

  3. BoulderPatentGuy February 3, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Not sure how big the National Western Stock Show area is, but if it ever moves to Aurora, that site may also be a great place for implementing one of these.

  4. Ian Harwick February 3, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    “What I think is missing is the transition space for academic researchers to scale their innovations and bridge the gap between industry and the bench. This could be a place for new businesses to arise out of the work of the researchers at those institutions in cooperation with the best investor/business/sales/government minds from out of downtown.”

    Jerry, love your comments. For me, the key is cooperation between the schools, and also the outside entities that provide support, and assistance.

  5. BillTheScienceFreak March 3, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Who’s going to put up the cash?

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