Denver’s Community Planning and Development Department along with Civitas Consultants LLC held the final public meeting concerning the I-25 and Broadway Station Area Plan Wednesday, Dec. 16, at …
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Denver’s Community Planning and Development Department along with Civitas Consultants LLC held the final public meeting concerning the I-25 and Broadway Station Area Plan Wednesday, Dec. 16, at Mckinley-Thatcher Elementary School. The final draft of the plan, released five days prior to the meeting, was on display and included graphics and maps depicting the transformative projects that will drive the ambitious development area which surrounds the former Gates Rubber company site and existing multi-modal transit station.
The redevelopment will, according to the draft, “reknit the station area back into the fabric of the city.” Project managers David Gaspers and Chris Parezo presented the overview of the draft and held an open-forum discussion with nearly seventy-five people in attendance. The I-25 and Broadway Station Area Plan was constructed using the philosophy of transit-oriented development (TOD) as a guide. TOD, according reconnecting america.org “is a type of community development that includes a mixture of housing, office, retail and/or other amenities integrated into a walkable neighborhood and located within a half-mile of quality public transportation.” Several citywide plans, such as Denver Comprehensive Plan 2000 and Blueprint Denver: An Integrated Land Use and Transportation Plan (2002), also function as frameworks for the I-25 and Broadway Station Area Plan.
The project has a 20-year completion horizon and the plan’s report envisions “new development, along with new localized connections, [that] will create a strong center, linking neighborhoods to the east and west, and … wide-reaching opportunities through access to jobs, education, and services.” The development will make east-west connections with new crosscutting streets and pedestrian/biker walkways and sidewalks that tie into South Platte River Trail.
Also included in the development: multiple new parks and open spaces that expand and connect to existing green areas and multi-use urban plazas, as well as new mixed-income, affordable and senior housing opportunities.
The development conceptualizes a dense, urban, mixed-use center which encourages all forms of transportation and which will possibly reduce automotive traffic, with an “area of influence” touching numerous city neighborhoods including Baker, Athmar Park, Ruby Hill, Overland Park, West Washington Park and Platt Park. Each community sent representatives to a series of six steering committee meetings in 2015 to ensure constituent interests were represented in the planning process. Some residents are pleased by the impending changes: “I’m just excited about the plan,” said Conor McCahill of Platt Park, “everything I have seen in the plan is an improvement to the neighborhood.”
The draft plan, however, is not without its challenges and barriers. The existing transfer station is currently isolated from the adjacent neighborhoods by a lack of infrastructure, connecting streets, Interstate 25 and the South Platte River Drive and Sante Fe Drive couplet. Reconnecting the transfer station and development area with the surrounding neighborhoods are central intentions of the plan, but to overcome these physical barriers, major construction will need to take place.
Some residents have expressed concerns over the construction that will allow for the integration of the development area. Also, some residents are particularly concerned about a rumored expansion of Broadway by several lanes between Kentucky and Mississippi avenues. District 7 Councilman Jolon Clark quickly responded to those concerns, saying “there are lots of people who are going to be living, working and playing on what is now an empty lot, and nobody’s using it, and we have to make a commitment to making our infrastructure better for pedestrians and better for cyclists but also better for those of us who are still going to be in our car.”
A major point of contention among residents in attendance was the timing of the release of the draft plan, which was released only five days before the final public meeting and so close to the holiday season. At ninety-five pages, some citizens felt overwhelmed and frustrated. “There isn’t proper public process,” said West Washington Park resident Charlie Busch, adding “there is just not enough time to get the neighborhood people involved to say here’s what's in the final plan. All the stuff that we mentioned last time still didn’t get changed.”
Other concerns highlighted for existing neighborhoods include parking management, possible noise issues and an emphasis on access to Washington Park which some residents contend is consistently at capacity. Project manager Chris Parezo sees the draft as anything but final and argues that there are still opportunities for opinions to be shared and changes to be made.“This still has a process to go through where it will be revised and reviewed,” he says.
The planning board will hold a public hearing in February to determine if the draft plan will be recommended by Denver City Council for adoption. Residents, business owners and concerned citizens are encouraged to attend.
For more information on the plan itself, visit denvergov.org and search “I-25 and Broadway Station Area Plan.” For information on transit-oriented development, visit reconnectingamerica.org.
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