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WalkDenver’s Policy Advocacy Gains Momentum

By Jill Locantore, WalkDenver Policy and Program Director

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Timothy is just one of more than 900 people who have signed (electronically and on paper) WalkDenver’s petition calling upon the City to establish a Pedestrian Advisory Committee and adopt a Denver Moves Pedestrians implementation plan. More than 30 partners have provided letters of support as well–view the full list on the WalkDenver website.

This groundswell of support is having an impact: last week the WalkDenver team met with senior city officials to discuss our policy goals, and was very well received. We learned that the draft 2015 City budget includes funding for a Denver Moves Pedestrians plan. With support from Public Works and Community Planning and Development we have initiated the process of establishing a Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Now we are working to schedule a meeting with the Mayor, to emphasize the importance of walkability in Denver and ensure funding for a pedestrian plan is maintained in the final City budget.

The more petition signatures and support letters we can present to the Mayor, the greater our chances of success. If you haven’t done so already, please sign the petition today, and help us spread the word! If your organization would like to provide a letter of support, contact WalkDenver’s Executive Director Gosia Kung at gosia.kung@walkdenver.org.

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A version of this post also appeared on WalkDenver’s blog at http://www.walkdenver.org/walkdenvers-policy-advocacy-gains-momentum/


Adaptive Reuse: Avanti Food and Beverage

Adaptive reuse—that’s planner-speak for the repurposing of an old building—is an important part of helping cities revitalize and grow in a sustainable way. Some adaptive reuse projects are no-brainers, where the historic and architectural quality of the existing building is so great that to demolish the building instead of reusing it doesn’t make any sense. Good examples would include the Colorado National Bank (now the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel) and The Source.

Then there’s the adaptive reuse project called Avanti Food and Beverage at 32nd and Pecos in Lower Highland. The existing building looks like this today:

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Okay, maybe not an architectural masterpiece, but that’s alright! Even if the structure itself isn’t all that glamorous, the reuse of an old building—in addition to being an environmentally friendly option—helps preserve some of the neighborhood’s physical scale and offers a reminder of fast-changing Lower Highland’s economic roots. This structure, built in 1935, was occupied by Avanti Printing and Graphics for many years. Here’s a view of the inside:

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After its physical transformation is complete, this will be the home of Avanti Food and Beverage, a “collective eatery.” The concept behind this project is really cool. Most people are now familiar with coworking spaces, where small start-up companies share office space and resources and collaborate with each other. Avanti Food and Beverage will be very similar, except it’s for restaurants instead.

The building will house eight different restaurants, each operating out of a modified 8′ x 20′ shipping container. This allows restaurant entrepreneurs, particularly up-and-coming chefs, the opportunity to launch a new restaurant or test a new food concept for a fraction of the cost of building out a traditional restaurant space, all while fostering creativity in a cooperative “restaurant incubator” environment. Customers will have a great selection of affordably priced and innovative food, plenty of indoor and outdoor seating areas to share, and two bars offering adult beverages.

Here are a couple of images, courtesy of the Avanti development team. Here’s an example of the shipping container-turned-kitchen:

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and here is the ground-level interior floor plan showing five of the eight shipping container/restaurants, shared seating areas, and one of the bar areas:

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Three more restaurant spaces, the other bar, and additional seating will be built out on the roof, providing awesome views of the Downtown Denver skyline. Here’s a rendering of the rooftop deck, followed by a photo I took from the roof (the power lines will be buried):

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The building will be given a thorough makeover and new windows will bring a lot of natural light to the interior. The grounds will be landscaped along with additional patio seating overlooking Highland Gateway Park:

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Renovation work will be getting underway soon and the project is planned to open Spring 2015.   

The Avanti Food and Beverage project is fantastic in so many ways. It renovates an old building in disrepair; it infuses energy and activity next to a small public park; it adds an innovative concept to Denver’s booming culinary scene; and it brings another great dining option to Denver’s hottest restaurant neighborhood.


It’s a huge weekend for US transit openings

Mid summer is prime time for big transit openings, and this weekend is a doozy. Three big projects around the US are opening today or tomorrow.

  
Left: Denver Union Station photo by Ryan Dravitz. Center: DC Silver Line photo by Fairfax County. Right: Tucson streetcar photo by Bill Morrow.

By now, probably everyone who reads DenverUrbanism knows the interior of Denver Union Station officially opens tomorrow.

Out east, that same day, Washington, DC’s new Metrorail Silver Line opens. The Silver Line expands America’s second busiest subway network by about 10%, although the new portions are above ground.

But Tucson beats both Denver and DC by one day. Their Sun Link streetcar opens today, at 9:00 am Mountain Time. It’s the first modern rail line in Tucson.

All these projects have been a long, difficult road. It’s great to see them starting to pay off.


Denver Urbanists Unite! MeetUp #7 Coming July 30, 2014

Hey! Do you love cities and consider yourself an urbanist?

Please join us for Denver Urbanists MeetUp #7 on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 starting at 5:30 PM at Wynkoop Brewing Company at 18th & Wynkoop, 2nd floor. There is no program or anything official, just a bunch of friendly people getting together informally to chat about city-building topics and to promote a positive urban agenda for Denver. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and build relationships.

For MeetUp #7, let’s talk Union Station! MeetUp #7 will take place just four days after the big Denver Union Station grand opening celebration on July 26. Come and share your impressions of our new/old transportation hub and exchange your ideas about Denver’s transit future with fellow urbanists. And, if you haven’t been to Union Station yet since it opened and you don’t think you’re going to make it to the July 26 celebration, then this is what you should do: Stop by Union Station first and check it out, then walk across the street to Wynkoop’s and join us for the MeetUp! That’s easy.

Click on the link below to see additional details. It’s free! Registration just helps give us an idea of how many people to expect. You don’t need to bring the ticket with you, and if you don’t register, that’s OK too. Stop by anyway!

Denver Urbanists MeetUp #7 Eventbrite RSVP

We hope to see you at Denver Urbanists MeetUp #7 on July 30!


Photographic proof bikes and streetcars work together

Despite the fact that streetcar tracks can be hazards to cyclists, bikes and streetcars are great allies.

They both help produce more livable, walkable, less car-dependent streets. It’s no coincidence that the same cities are often leaders in both categories. In the US, Portland has both the highest bike mode share and the largest modern streetcar network. In Europe, Amsterdam is even more impressive as both a streetcar city and a bike city.

With that in mind, here’s a collection of photos from Amsterdam showing bikes and streetcars living together.

  
  
All photos from BeyondDC.com

Of course, it doesn’t just happen. It’s easy for bikes and streetcars in Amsterdam to avoid one another, and to interact safely, because each one has clearly delineated, high-quality infrastructure.

Chalk that up as one more reason to build both good bike lanes and great transit.