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Idaho Springs’ East End is Ready for Action

Above: EM Idaho Springs Sketch-04 011217.jpg – A festival street leads to a pedestrian bridge over Clear Creek to the Argo Mill site. New development embraces the river with café seating and plazas.

The City of Idaho Springs initiated an area plan for the eastern half of the city to capitalize upon their investment in Colorado Boulevard, the major east-west corridor through town, converting it from an auto dominated, CDOT-owned corridor to a city-owned pedestrian oriented street. The area planning initiative, led by studioINSITE, focuses on private sector opportunities for redevelopment, and to improve the quality of life for residents and visitors by expanding recreational opportunities, engaging Clear Creek, offering affordable housing choices, and better connections to Downtown.

The fast-paced 6-month process sought feedback from the community, and test fit redevelopment scenarios based on the community’s vision for the future of the East End and supporting economic factors. An overlay zone was created that is flexible and supportive of mixed use development that reinforces the desired character. An economic analysis revealed the need for workforce and affordable housing, quality lodging, and highway-oriented retail.

Above:  The East End Action Plan seeks to enhance recreation opportunities through new trails and trail connections and public and private open space amenities.

Additionally, the redevelopment of the Argo Mill, located in the East End project area, could serve as a major catalyst for boosting tourism and activity, if implemented. The preliminary redevelopment program includes a new boutique hotel, museum and residential units. The project also seeks to engage Clear Creek by opening up the creek edge to amenities such as retail and restaurants, and future gondola or funicular transporting visitors up the hillside.

Health and Environmental benefits were elevated through a concurrent greenway project along the banks of Clear Creek, which will upon system-wide completion connect the Platte River Greenway in Denver to the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. A system of local connections in the East End to the Clear Creek Greenway will enhance recreational opportunities and provide safe mobility options for bicyclists and pedestrians to destinations throughout town. The plan encourages redevelopment to embrace and orient toward the city’s largely forgotten amenity. On the hillside bordering the East End is city-owned land with plans to add a widespread trail network allowing visitors to capitalize on biking and hiking.

The East End Action Plan focuses on implementation steps, with strategy recommendations to spur redevelopment including an overlay zoning ordinance and the ability to leverage grant funding and future tax increment financing to encourage reinvestment and redevelopment.

 

 

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