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Archive of posts filed under the General Urbanism category.

Denver Urbanists Unite! MeetUp #17 Coming March 16, 2016

Back in July 2013, Ian Harwick and I launched Denver Urbanists MeetUps to give people who care about cities an informal venue to gather, chat about urban issues, build relationships, and work together to help Denver grow and thrive. We are now up to MeetUp #17 and they continue to be a source of gratification and inspiration for me.

Each meetup consists of a mix of regulars—people who I’ve come to know from previous meetups and enjoy reengaging with—and first-timers who bring new and interesting perspectives to the conversation. Of course, the combination of regulars and first-timers is different every time, which results in each meetup feeling comfortably familiar but unique at the same time. Also, everyone is amazingly friendly and I leave each meetup feeling grateful that I live in a city that has such a culture of openness. A big THANK YOU to everyone who has attended a meetup in the past!

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A pleasant urban scene for your enjoyment. Thank you, Ryan Dravitz—you’re awesome!

Here are the details for our upcoming meetup:

Denver Urbanists MeetUp #17
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
5:30 – 8:30 PM
McLoughlin’s Restaurant and Bar (map)

In case you’ve never been to a Denver Urbanists MeetUp before, we have three rules: 1. Put on a nametag, 2. Get your own food/drink, 3. Have fun meeting and talking to people about building a sustainable and walkable Denver! If you want to let us know you’re going to attend (optional), use this link to RSVP at our Eventbrite page. DenverUrbanists MeetUps are free.

See you on March 16!


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!


Denver Urbanists Unite! MeetUp #15 Coming November 18, 2015

Hey Denver urbanists… it’s time for another meetup!

Please join us for Denver Urbanists MeetUp #15 on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 starting at 5:30 PM at McLoughlins Restaurant and Bar, 2100 16th Street. McLoughlins is a great neighborhood pub right next to the Millennium Bridge.

As always, there is no program or anything formal—just a bunch of friendly people getting together to chat about Denver’s growth and development and to meet like-minded people and make connections. There is no fee and you’re on your own for food and drinks.

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There is a lot to talk about, right?! Huge year for RTD coming up in 2016; new development on just about every corner; new bike lanes popping up all over downtown! Stop by and discuss these and other topics with other people who love Denver and cities!

Click on the link below to see additional details. Registration just helps give us an idea of how many people to expect. You do not need to bring the RSVP ticket with you, and if you don’t register, that’s OK too. Please stop by either way!

Denver Urbanists MeetUp #15 Eventbrite RSVP

We hope to see you at Denver Urbanists MeetUp #15 on Wednesday, November 18 at 5:30 PM at McLoughlins!


Downtown Reinvestment: 1660 Lincoln

It has been a little while since we looked at some of the reinvestment going on around central Downtown Denver. With newer, more attractive office projects going up in Union Station and Lower Downtown, the older office buildings in the central core have started to step up their game.

1660 Lincoln is not, by any means, Downtown Denver’s most attractive skyscraper. Built in 1972 and rising 30-stories (366 feet), 1660 Lincoln has always had a closed in presence on both the skyline and street level.

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However, the skyline of a city is not what makes or breaks the experience; it’s the street level. Would you rather walk by a closed up office building, with two entrance / exit doors or a bright, open lobby with glass curtain walls lining the street?

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This revialization project should be wrapping up in the next couple of weeks, brightening up yet another intersection in our great city.


Where Should We Put Bike Lanes? (Part 2 of 3)

Bike Lanes on Major Streets

There are significant advantages and disadvantages to building bike lanes on streets like Broadway and Brighton. From the perspective of bike advocates, the most obvious advantage is the visibility of the lane as a political victory. The effect of claiming one of Denver’s most important arterials is resounding. It sends a message, loud and clear, that bikes matter; that people on bikes deserve part of the road; and that, as a transportation mode, they’re just as important as people in cars.

Further, it directly connects people on bikes with their destinations. In Denver, and especially on South Broadway, the destinations aren’t on Bannock or Sherman—they’re on Broadway. Putting people on bikes right on Broadway connects them directly with their destinations—no first and last block considerations needed. Additionally, from a business standpoint, people on bikes who are just passing through become an important customer base for those businesses on Broadway. People riding on Bannock aren’t going to make an impromptu stop if they can’t see the business.

Check out this protected bike lane in Vancouver. It’s beautiful, and has increased bicycle traffic along this route by 19% per year since 2010–but are we willing to build this intensely on our major arterials?

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*Photo courtesy of Paul Krueger, Momentum Mag (source)

How much work and investment does it take to build a good bike lane on Broadway? And if the lane only attracts people who are already biking, what have we really accomplished? As I wrote in my last post, any new bike lane that a family with kids doesn’t feel comfortable riding in, is insufficient—plain and simple. The sheer infrastructure that building such a lane on Broadway would require, would be monumental and expensive. A three-foot buffer with plastic bollards-style lane like 15th Street simply isn’t good enough. Have you ever seen families biking on 15th Street? I haven’t.

That is the downside of building bike lanes on major streets: the lanes have to be much more intensive in order to account for existing high-speed, high-volume traffic, and guarantee safety–real and perceived. Overall, they are more expensive to build out entirely, and take a long time to build because of all the engineering and traffic considerations. But, they connect people on bikes directly to their destinations, while facilitating more low-speed traffic (bikes and pedestrians) on retail corridors.


Doors Open Denver Preview: Art Students’ League of Denver

Built in 1893, the Sherman School is a prominent landmark that represents the grandeur and pride that was once part of the public school image. Rising above the surrounding residential neighborhood, the main Richardson Romanesque structure features a sandstone base and arched portico entries that welcome students today as they have for 110 years. The building was designed by architect Henry Dozier, and is one of only a few of his structures that are still in existence.

Here is an image of the Art Students’ League of Denver at the Sherman School building, courtesy of Doors Open Denver.

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The Annex building on the North side of the main building was built in 1920 and is typical of the “bungalow school.” It was designed with a decidedly homey character to accommodate kindergarten children, featuring fireplaces in its two rooms that today are spacious sculpture studios. Once covered in blacktop and surrounded by a rusted chain link fence, the surrounding gardens were landscaped in 2001 and have since been lovingly designed, planted and maintained through the hard work and green thumbs of a team of garden volunteers. The gardens include many native Rocky Mountain Region perennials. Funding was generated through private donations and foundation contributions.

This building preview is part of DenverUrbanism’s special countdown series to Doors Open Denver 2015. Click here for more information on Doors Open Denver.


Doors Open Denver Preview: Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre

A local and national treasure, the Historic Elitch Theatre is located in the Highlands and has been an anchor to the 38th and Tennyson corridor on the edge of Berkeley for a 124 years. The theatre is one of the original buildings within the famous Elitch’s Zoological Gardens and Amusement Park. It exemplifies America resort architecture predominantly exhibited in great resort hotels. The building is constructed with a combination of stick and shingle style that is similar to two other well- known National Register of Historic Places in Colorado; the Stanley Hotel and the Chautauqua Auditorium. Through the years there have been additions and changes, but the main structure, housing the auditorium has retained its original structural form. It is octagonal in shape , rising two stories with a tent shaped shingle roof.  Above the central portion of the roof is a miniature version of the building which is crowned by an open look-out tower or belvedere, topped with a flag pole.  On opening day the roof was painted with geometric designs; stars, circles and semi-circles. In 1954, an addition of no architectural merit was added as a backstage building and is strictly utilitarian.

Here is an image of the Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre, courtesy of Doors Open Denver.

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The theatre is the first woman-owned theatre in the country. Its bear pits were designed by Denver architects Charles Herbert Lee and Rudolph Liden. The National Register of Historic Places recognized the theatre for the significance it represents as a part of American architecture and the contribution it played to the theatrical world. Today, it still remains the longest running summer stock theatre in the nation were Hollywood notables graced its stage. Stars like early vaudeville sensation Harold Lloyd to the beautiful faces of Grace Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Lana Turner and the striking debonair of Douglas Fairbanks, Robert Redford and William Shatner are just a small representation of the hundreds of the Elitch Theatre alumnus.

The current Board of Directors of the non-profit Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre Foundation are proud to open the doors of the theatre as they begin Phase Three of restoration. The “Then and Now” theme will be well represented with entertainment, exhibits, displays and artifacts. The audience will walk away knowing that a breath of new life has come back to this iconic gem.

This building preview is part of DenverUrbanism’s special countdown series to Doors Open Denver 2015. Click here for more information on Doors Open Denver.


Doors Open Denver Preview: Hotel Teatro

The 110-room, eight-story, 42,000-square-foot tower is a Renaissance Revival, clad in glazed red brick and white terra cotta, with coffered plaster ceilings, overhanging parapet and galvanized metal cornice. Interior marble from Tennessee, Vermont and Arizona complement Pike’s Peak granite in the façade of this streetcar headquarters, once scarred with bullet holes during the 1920 Tramway Strike. Additionally, onyx chandeliers adorn the ceilings, and an eight-story, restored brass mail chute adds vintage charm through the property.

Hotel Teatro recently received a new round of renovations in Summer 2014, led by Colorado-based interior design firm Studio Frank. With the renovations came The Study, the new contemporary-yet-rustic lobby area of the hotel, as well as the Barista Bar, which offers coffee from local vendor, Method Roasters. At this time, the property also welcomed The Nickel, a new chef-driven restaurant within Hotel Teatro that focuses on modern Rocky Mountain comfort food while distilling flavors from the best of Colorado.

Here is an image of Hotel Teatro, courtesy of Doors Open Denver.

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Hotel Teatro is renowned for its exceptional guest amenities, distinctively appointed guest rooms, dog-friendly policy, complimentary vintage cruiser bikes for guest use and more. Additionally, the property has received notable accolades from Travel + Leisure, Sunset Magazine and Condé Nast Traveler. During this year’s Doors Open Denver weekend, Hotel Teatro will offer guests informational programs regarding the property, as well as an exclusive tour of the hotel’s recent renovations, The Nickel restaurant, ornate meeting spaces and a guest room.

This building preview is part of DenverUrbanism’s special countdown series to Doors Open Denver 2015. Click here for more information on Doors Open Denver.


Doors Open Denver Preview: Republic Plaza

Republic Plaza is a skyscraper in Denver, Colorado. Rising 714 feet, the building currently stands as the tallest building not only in the City of Denver, but also the entire Rocky Mountain region of the United States. Additionally, the building currently stands as the 109th-tallest building in the United States. The Plaza was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and built in 1984 by PCL Construction Services, Inc. The building contains 56 floors, the majority of which (1,200,000 sqaure feet) are used as office space, and three retail levels containing shops, restaurants, and service businesses.

Here is an image of the Republic Plaza building, courtesy of Doors Open Denver.

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The Plaza is built largely of reinforced concrete clad in Sardinian granite. Also, it contains a 3-story marble lobby that features a quarterly “Art in Public Places” program of Colorado and regional artists. The free public arts program, “Arts Brookfield” offers 2 galleries of outstanding exhibits all year round. This is one of the few large-scale exhibit spaces that are free and open to the public in the metro area. Currently showing are: Photosynthesis, Southwest Voices and Elements at Play by Marc Berghaus.

Simlarly, Republic Plaza is involved in ongoing Denver events. For example, on October 27, 2007, the building’s top 20 stories were lit in purple with giant white letters “C” and “R” to celebrate the Colorado Rockies’ World Series debut. Today, the Republic Plaza is also the home to the American Lung Association in Colorado’s Anthem Fight for Air Climb. The event is held the last Sunday in February and is a 56-story stair climb to the top of the building.

This building preview is part of DenverUrbanism’s special countdown series to Doors Open Denver 2015. Click here for more information on Doors Open Denver.