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East and East Central Area Plans

2021 Honor Award: General Planning Project

by Cheney Bostic, AICP, Studio Seed and Brad Segal, PUMA

The East and East Central Area Plans provide a blueprint for 10 of Denver’s most socioeconomically diverse, historic, and dense neighborhoods representing more than 80,000 people. These plans faced extremely opposing viewpoints on how to grow most sustainably – between advocates of property rights, historic preservation, parking, affordable housing, stormwater quality, and development feasibility– these plans provide carefully analyzed and thoroughly vetted policy recommendations that address all these elements.

Innovative programs not currently employed in Denver are recommended, such as a Character Home Program that incentivizes preservation of “character homes” by allowing an increase in density, an Adaptive Reuse Pilot Program for Colfax Avenue that incentivizes saving existing “character buildings” by making the process to reuse structures less onerous than current policies, and the creation of an International District along East Colfax to celebrate the diverse cultural businesses.

Another main aspect of the East and East Central Area Plans was planning for bus rapid transit (BRT) along Colfax Avenue. Blueprint Denver recommends directing growth to transit corridors, but Colfax is different than most of the city’s transit corridors in that it is directly adjacent to low and medium-density residential areas – most of which are historic – and its lots are very shallow. A comprehensive lot-by-lot analysis determined where transit-oriented redevelopment was feasible and recommendations for applying incentives in order to direct redevelopment in those areas that are: nearest transit, large enough to accommodate a dense mix of uses, and not requiring demolition of character structures were provided. 

Transformative Projects – projects that have the potential to catalyze positive change and have a lasting positive impact on each neighborhood include the following:

  1. Redevelopment of a city-owned parcel to include a mix of uses, affordable housing, and publicly accessible open space;

  2. Infill development of context-sensitive building forms and a mix of uses to bring life back to a neighborhood node;

  3. Transformation of an historic parkway from a single use street that moves vehicles to a multi-modal street that enhances safety and prioritizes pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users;

  4. Transit-Oriented Development at the intersection of two designated future high-capacity transit corridors;

  5. Enhanced intersection designs on busy one-way streets;

  6. New neighborhood parks that prioritize usable public space with stormwater management; and

  7. A new community center and affordable housing project

This project was not your typical neighborhood plan – 10 neighborhoods, four council districts (three of which changed seats in the middle of the project), four business improvement districts, over 20 RNOs and multiple non-profits. Thank you to all our project partners: OV Consulting, CIG, HDR, Civitas, Dick Farley, Winter & Company, ArLand Land Use Economics,  MJB Consulting, Root Policy, Two Hundred, Urban Interactive Studio, and Ben Kelly.

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