Growth imperatives and mixed-use development

Material Information

Growth imperatives and mixed-use development the contested terrain of the suburban downtown
Skartvedt, Virginia Ann
Publication Date:
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xvi, 303 leaves : ; 28 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
Central business districts -- Social aspects -- Case studies -- Denver Metropolitan Area ( lcsh )
Suburbs -- Case studies -- Colorado -- Denver Metropolitan Area ( lcsh )
Mixed-use developments -- Colorado -- Denver Metropolitan Area ( lcsh )
Economic development -- Colorado -- Denver Metropolitan Area ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 274-303).
General Note:
College of Architecture and Planning
Statement of Responsibility:
by Virginia Ann Skartvedt.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
437260258 ( OCLC )
LD1193.A735 2009d S52 ( lcc )

Full Text
Virginia Ann Skartvedt
B.A., Harvard University, 1985
M.U.R.P., University of Colorado, Denver, 1989
M.L.A., University of Colorado, Denver, 1990
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Design and Planning

by Virginia Ann Skartvedt
All rights reserved

This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Virginia Ann Skartvedt
has been approved
Fahriye Sancar
Tony Robinson
Ray Studer

Skartvedt, Virginia Ann (Ph.D., Design and Planning)
Growth Imperatives & Mixed-Use Development:
The Contested Terrain of the Suburban Downtown
Thesis directed by Professor Fahriye Sancar
A recent development type, the town center, is transforming the former strips and
shopping centers of suburban communities into urban villages and reconstructed
Main Streets. These mixed-use developments which prioritize the creation of public
spaces and social gathering areas are being promoted as new downtowns and touted
as the solution to a host of social problems. Proponents claim that the centers will
give communities strong social connections, economic prosperity and democratic
physical arrangements. The application of mixed-use concepts to suburban downtown
development sounds promising but is untested.
Suburbs have been understood as unlikely places to find central social spaces and
public life. Studies of urban development have shown that private interests have been
privileged in determining local development policies. Development critiques
demonstrate that the urban development process has been privatized through the use
of public-private partnerships and results in unequal benefits and unequal
development outcomes across the city. Studies of the public realm argue that current
development practices result in public spaces that are highly commodified, privatized,
and controlled. How will the new town centers succeed?
Downtown development policies and practices are investigated in four Denver
metropolitan area suburbs. All four case communities recently engaged in
redevelopment or revitalization projects using mixed-use strategies that combined
commercial elements with civic facilities and public spaces in developments that are
being promoted as new downtowns.
The cases show that the suburban center is not a new phenomenon but instead has a
long planning timeline, one that is connected to urban development patterns, and one

that shows consistent planning attention in these communities over time. The study
confirms expectations that development processes are structured by conditions of
fiscal pressure and growth imperatives, and that physical outcomes are primarily
determined by private interests, but reveals that the configuration of growth interests
may be changing, and that the development process is permeable to other interests.
Significantly, the study discovers that recent mixed-use developments have created
public spaces and provided for community use in these suburbs, but that these spaces,
like their urban counterparts are threatened by privatization factors that compromise
public use and community value.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
its publication.
Fahriye Sancar

To Mark, Jasper and Spencer, my three Burget boys.
With thanks and love for all the times you dragged me away from my desk for
silliness, sustenance and family adventures, and also for all the times you sent me
back to my desk with admonishments to finish my homework!

My heartfelt thanks go to my advisor, Fahriye Sancar, for her patience, insights and
support. From the very beginning she has been my strongest advocate. I admire her
ethics and her dedication to scholarship and to her students, and I am grateful for her
friendship. These few words are wholly inadequate to express my appreciation for her
willingness to stay with me through this long, too often interrupted process.
1 also offer thanks to all the members of my committee, some of whom have been
part of this process for a very long time. Tom Clark introduced me to urban planning
analysis when I was a masters student and since then has been a valuable guide to the
world of economic development. Ray Studer led me through planning theory and
planning process and through his critical and insightful interpretations led me to ask
questions of my own. Tony Robinson has inspired me with the way his passion for
fairness and equity drives his scholarly investigations, not to mention his teaching
style. He has gone far beyond the call of duty in his attention to this enterprise and his
comments and advice have pulled me through more than one rough patch. Korkut
Onaran has demonstrated forbearance in the face of my flawed process. I appreciate
his diplomatic patience.
I would like to acknowledge Joan Draper (1946 2004), who early on set me on the
path to study suburban planning, and whom 1 have missed.
Finally I would like to thank my brother, Stephen Skartvedt, for his advice and help
with all things map-related

1. INTRODUCTION......................................................1
Pottersville and Bedford Falls................................1
The Suburban Downtown as a Contested Terrain..................2
The Research Question.........................................4
Project Description & Research Objectives.....................5
A New Growth Agenda...........................................6
Four Suburban Communities.....................................7
Dissertation Organization....................................10
Implications and Significance................................10
2. THEORETICAL CONTEXT..............................................12
Urbanism & Privatization.....................................13
Urbanist Critique......................................13
Normative Expectations.................................14
Evaluation Framework.........................................17
Civic Space............................................18
Marketing Space........................................19
Community Space........................................20
Social Space...........................................21
Democratic Space.......................................22
Theoretical Framework: Political Economy,
Development Interests & Growth Imperatives...................26

Theoretical Background.................................26
Theoretical Approach...................................30
Development Interests..................................31
Growth Imperatives.....................................38
Theoretical Expectations...............................39
3. DEVELOPMENT CONTEXT & METHOD.....................................41
Suburban Redevelopment Imperatives and Conditions............41
Fiscal Imperative......................................42
Growth Ideology........................................43
Public Private Partnerships............................44
Consolidation of Development Firms
and the Real Estate Industry...........................45
Denver Context...............................................46
Suburban Context.............................................47
Research Approach......................................49
Case Study Methodology.................................50
4. ENGLEWOOD........................................................58
Early Development and Original Patterns......................59
Civic Facilities.............................................60
Post War Development.........................................60
Park V Shop............................................60
Growth Machine in Action...............................61
Cinderella City Shopping Center........................64
Civic Center Plans.....................................67
Activity Centers.............................................68
Mall Prosperity & Downtown Decline.....................68
Urban Renewal in Englewood The
Core Area Plan.........................................69
DRCOG & Regional Activity Centers......................71
Trolley Square.........................................72
Mixed Use Development........................................78
Mall Decline...........................................78

Community Vision Unique & Special..................78
Developer Vision Power Center......................80
Community Response...................................82
New Ideas: CRNA and TOD..............................83
Mixed Visions........................................84
Change in Plans......................................86
Final Results........................................88
Current Status.......................................91
5. ARVADA.........................................................94
Early Development and Original Patterns.....................95
Civic Facilities............................................95
Post War Development........................................96
Growth and Decline...................................96
1960s Renewal Plan...................................97
1965 Comprehensive Plan.............................100
Activity Centers...........................................102
DRCOG & Regional Activity Centers...................102
Downtown Turnaround Plan............................102
1980s Renewal Plan..................................104
Mixed Use Development......................................112
1995 Comprehensive Plan.............................113
Historic Survey.....................................114
1998 Economic Summit................................114
The Renaissance Plan................................115
Olde Town Improvements..............................116
Current Status......................................120
6. LAKEWOOD......................................................124
Early Development and Original Patterns....................125
Civic Facilities...........................................127
Post War Development.......................................128

Commercial Strips & Shopping Centers.................128
Villa Italia.........................................128
Activity Centers............................................132
Concept Lakewood and DRCOG...........................132
Belmar Park..........................................134
City Hall............................................135
Villa Italia Activity Center.........................136
Mixed Use Development.......................................138
Lakewood Center Framework Plan.......................138
Roll Company Plan: Big Box Retail Center.............141
City Commons.........................................142
Final Results........................................152
Current Status.......................................156
7. AURORA.........................................................160
Early Development and Original Patterns.....................161
Civic Facilities............................................163
Post War Development........................................165
Colfax Decline.......................................165
Buckingham Square, Aurora Mall.......................165
Gruen Plan...........................................168
Downtown Debate......................................169
Colfax Concourse Cosmetic Mistake..................170
Activity Centers............................................171
City Center: Regional Center.........................171
City Offices Relocation..............................172
City Center: Grand Plans.............................173
The Festival Superblock..............................175
Municipal Center Plans...............................178
Politics and Planning................................178
Back on Colfax.......................................179
New Conceptions......................................180

Colfax: Diversity and Decline.........................182
Mixed Use Plans.............................................184
Colfax: Fletcher Plaza Part One.......................184
The Three Part Strategy...............................185
City Center Redefined.................................189
City Center Construction Finally....................191
INTERESTS & THE NEW GROWTH AGENDA..................................199
Development Phases: Downtown Patterns, Public Use
Configurations and Interest Group Dynamics..................200
Early Development and Civic Facilities
(1890- WWII)..........................................203
Post War Development (WWII 1970s)...................207
Activity Centers Recession (1970s 1980s)..........215
Mixed-Use Development (1990 Present)................223
Summary of Public Realm Configurations
And Interest Group Dynamics...........................230
Public Use Evaluation.......................................231
Aurora City Center..................................241
Aurora Fletcher Plaza...............................244
Physical Evaluation: Expectations and Results.........245
Mixed-Use Implications and Theoretical Expectations.........247
Shift to Mixed-Use Approaches.........................248
Mixed-Use Approaches & Framing Conditions.............250
Implications for Development Interest Dynamics........251
Summary of Mixed-Use Implications.....................259
Planning Implications and Recommendations.,.................259
Planning Vision.................!.....................260
Improved Suburban Planning & Design...................261
Public Sector Power...................................261
Citizen Involvement...................................262
The Suburban Downtown: Final Thoughts.......................264

A. Denver Development History.............................266

2.1 Theoretical Framework:
Development Interests & Framing Conditions........................33
3.1 Case Study Locations in the Denver Metropolitan Area................52
4.1 Englewood, 1961.....................................................62
4.2 1961 Plan for the Broadway Pedestrian Mall .........................63
4.3 Englewood 1971......................................................66
4.4 Englewood Core Area Redevelopment Plan..........................70
4.5 Englewood Downtown Redevelopment Plan, Trolley Square ..............73
4.6 Trolley Square View ................................................74
4.7 Englewood 1993 ......................................77
4.8 Cinderella City Redevelopment Plans,
Community Generated Alternatives...................................80
4.9 Cinderella City Redevelopment Plan,
Miller/Kitchell Big Box Plan ......................................81
4.10 Cinderella City Redevelopment Plan,
Miller/Kitchell Revision ..........................................81
4.11 Cinderella City Redevelopment Plan, CRNA Workshop Plan .............84
4.12 Cinderella City Redevelopment Plan with Theater ....................86
4.13 Final Plan CityCenter Englewood.....................................89
4.14 CityCenter Englewood, Central Piazza with Fountain .................91
5.1 Downtown Arvada, 1963 ..............................................98
5.2 Wadsworth Streetscape & Realignment,
Downtown Arvada, 1971 ............................................101
5.3 Downtown Turnaround Plan...........................................103
5.4 Arvada Urban Renewal Plan: Proposed Hotel/Office Complex...........107
5.5 Arvada Urban Renewal Plan:
Proposed Historic Plaza and Retail Center ........................107
5.6 Arvada Urban Renewal Plan..........................................108
5.7 Downtown Arvada, 1993..............................................110
5.8 Renaissance Plan for Olde Town Square..............................116
5.9 Olde Town Square ..................................................119

5.10 Olde Town Square Fountain ........................................120
5.11 Downtown Arvada, 2008.............................................121
6.1 Villa Italia & Belmar, Lakewood, 1971.............................131
6.2 Concept Lakewood Plan for the Villa Activity Center...............133
6.3 1978 Plan for Belmar Plaza......................................137
6.4 Lakewood Center View with
Existing Municipal Center Lower Left, 1990.......................139
6.5 Lakewood Center, Illustrative Plan, 1990..........................140
6.6 Lakewood City Commons Site Plan ..................................143
6.7 City Commons View, City Hall and Entry to Civic Plaza.............144
6.8 Lakewood City Commons, Cultural Center and Civic Plaza ...........145
6.9 BelMar Development Plan...........................................151
6.10 BelMar, Central Plaza.............................................153
6.11 BelMar, Streetscape and Theater Sign .............................154
6.12 BelMar, Park Space and Residential Lofts .........................155
6.13 Lakewood 2008.....................................................157
7.1 Auroras Main Street, Colfax in 1946..............................162
7.2 Plan for Aurora Civic Center 1952.................................164
7.3 Aurora City Center, 1978..........................................167
7.4 Colfax Concourse View ............................................170
7.5 City Center Plan 1979.............................................174
7.6 CentrePoint Development Plan......................................176
7.7 CentrePoint Development Model ....................................177
7.8 Aurora Planning Area & Employment and Activity Centers ...........182
7.9 Plan for Original Aurora Arts District ...........................187
7.10 Fletcher Plaza Site Plan .........................................189
7.11 Aurora City Place.................................................193
7.12 Aurora Municipal Center, 2007.....................................195
7.13 Aurora City Center, 2008..........................................197
8.1 Diagram of Interest Group Dynamics:
Early Development and Civic Facilities ..........................206
8.2 Diagram of Interest Group Dynamics: Post War Development .........214
8.3 Diagram of Interest Group Dynamics: Activity Centers .............219
8.4 Diagram of Interest Group Dynamics: Mixed-Use Plans...............228

2.1 Public realm evaluation framework, ideals & measures.................24
3.1 Community characteristics............................................55
8.1 Development phase patterns and concepts ............................201
8.2 Public realm configuration by development phase ....................202
8.3 Interest group dynamics, early development & civic facilities.......205
8.4 Interest group dynamics, post war development.......................212
8.5 Interest group dynamics, activity centers...........................217
8.6 Interest group dynamics: mixed-use development .....................226
8.7 Public use evaluation of development projects.......................232

Pottersville and Bedford Falls
In Frank Capras classic Holiday film, Its a Wonderful Life, the main character,
George Bailey confronts an alternative future in the form of Pottersville, the town that
undivided business interest has built. This popular tale of two cities contrasts Bedford
Falls, a Norman Rockwell-like village structured on the bonds of community and the
values of neighborly good will with Pottersville, built by the heartless businessman,
Henry Potter, and designed to enhance his power and wealth. Pottersville is a mean-
spirited place, a sin city of pawn shops, dance halls and sleazy bars. Bedford Falls, by
contrast, is a community where everyone knows each other and neighbors join
together in cooperative efforts to build housing and provide financial support for each
other. These iconic communities stand at the poles of community values, one
representing the city as the center of unfettered economic enterprise, and the other
showing the city as a place of social connections and collective support. The film
provides a dramatic illustration of the concept of real estate exchange values and use
values in community development and highlights the idea that the formational values
of a community will be reflected in the function and character of the places that are
built in it.
The vision of Pottersville as the sin city built by greed is actually an unusual take on
the American Main Street theme, which usually gives a positive spin to the
community benefits of business prosperity and growth. In presenting his darker views
Capra anticipates critical views of property development that have pointed out that
the simultaneous pursuit of property investment interests and property use interests is
inherently contradictory and as such is the source of conflict and tension in land
development politics (Logan & Molotch, 2007). Unlike their cinematic counterparts
real communities are created to serve both economic and social goals and so they
straddle the contradictions and must mediate the tension of land use conflicts. The
effort to create communities that balance public and private interests is the work of
urban politics and the province of planning and urban design.
The latest version of the balanced community comes out of new planning visions,
which proclaim the need to adopt mixed-use and compact planning forms to
counteract the dehumanizing sprawl that has resulted from exurban development
based more on property interests than human ones. This vision has proved to be

popular; the design and development media reeently seems full of images and
glowing accounts of a new development type, the town center, which is transforming
the former strips and shopping centers of suburban communities into urban villages
and reconstructed Main Streets. These mixed-use developments use urban style,
sustainable, walkable design formats to invigorate suburban communities by
providing central gathering spots that promote a sense of community (Sheridan, 2005,
p. 90), and they are promoted as cool downtowns that can attract business and
residential investment (Vitello, 2008). The mixed-use center promises a more
standard Main Street vision, one that combines business prosperity with social
connections, one that gives Pottersville a soul. Yet Capras original vision and the
insights of Logan and Molotch would argue that the development of these new
suburban downtowns raises conflicts between exchange and use values that will
require negotiations and compromises, and that these conflicts and negotiations will
determine physical and programmatic results.
The Suburban Downtown as a Contested Terrain
This dissertation set out to investigate the notion of the mixed-use town center, to
understand its development history and through it to understand the relationship
between private and public interests in community development. What I found,
through a study of four specific suburban communities was not unexpected. The
suburban center has a long planning history, one that is connected to urban
development patterns. More importantly, the suburban downtown has been a
contested terrain where conceptions of downtown have evolved and changed and
where community values and market values have been negotiated and debated in the
development process. Throughout that process suburban centers have been a focus of
community life as places for civic facilities and communal gatherings and the center
of growth ambitions as places that can attract private investment and development.
The development of the town center as a planning concept and a development product
is thus described as an ongoing community deliberation over the appropriate balance
of those disparate functions.
Downtown as a planning idea has not been a unitary concept, but instead as Abbott
has argued is a constructed concept whose meaning or understanding has undergone
surprisingly rapid changes (Abbott, 1993, p. 7). But even as certain meanings
change, the downtowns understood function as a multi-use center that hosts a variety
of activities and serves a range of populations and interests has remained constant. As
such it is a particularly intense center for real estate and development transactions that
highlight place value conflicts. Community and individual use goals that prioritize
neighborhood quality, communal activities and amenities, and public facilities,
compete with economic agendas including merchant and business owner objectives to

serve shoppers and customers, property owners desires to enhance property values,
municipal responsibilities to protect fiscal stability through strong tax revenues and
civic ambitions to attract development investment. Sometimes these needs and values
overlap and reinforce each other, more often they are in conflict. The downtown is a
place where competing agendas come together and as a result, downtown planning
and development has been a place of disagreement and negotiation. Planning is
traditionally the policy arena where these disagreements occur and where discussions
of the appropriate balance of community goals and values, and the fair allocation of
resources are publicly facilitated. Therefore, the stories of downtown property
development and land use planning are the focus of this investigation.
The urban public realm is also a contested idea, one which is embedded in the varied
functions, expectations and values of the city. Public spaces have traditionally been
the places in a city that serve community use values of social and democratic
interaction and unregulated use and behavior. As emblematic of community use
values the configurations of public spaces in a community represent the realization of
social development goals. Public spaces have also become important amenities for
urban development, amenities that fulfill economic agendas because they can create
an image and enhance identity which may attract investment. To the extent that the
public qualities of these amenity spaces are limited or curtailed by commercial
concerns, they reveal the influence of exchange values over use values. As a result, in
this study, public space configurations are viewed as physical indicators of
development interest interactions and public space outcomes are evaluated according
to measures of civic and commercial intentions and measures of public use suitability.
Questions remain about whether it is possible for public use areas to serve both public
and private agendas, but the reality of modem day urban development requires public
spaces to serve multiple roles and functions. Public spaces that balance these roles
and functions are seen as contributing to a healthy public realm and are viewed as
indicators of a healthy community.
Urban development in the United States occurs in a capitalist system where places are
commodified and where private interests are privileged in a political environment
with few limits to the commercial manipulations of land and buildings (Logan &
Molotch, 2007, p. 2). While in many policy arenas, private interests may diverge, in
the property development arena they share a unitary interest in growth. The desire for
growth, and the belief in development as a community benefit unites elite groups and
creates a growth consensus turning the city through its politics and policies into a
growth machine (Molotch, 1976, 1993). The growth agenda sets the pattern of
community interactions and drives development decision-making. This occurs
through a system where structural and external conditions affect the interactions of
development interests in the development process. Therefore, this project examines

growth politics and development interest interactions through a political economy
lens to investigate growth machine theory.
The latest planning concept that promises to solve the ills of suburbia is the mixed-
use center. Mixed-use is in part so popular because it describes a nostalgic notion of
how pre-modem cultures functioned; country villages, market centers, merchant ports
all reside in our imaginations as places where a variety of characters mix and mingle
as they engage in their various activities and adventures. Todays mixed-use centers
are conceived as new community centers that emphasize civic elements and public
space and that will energize the public realm and allow citizens to gather and
strengthen their community bonds (Beyard et. al. 2007, p. vii). The mixed-use town
center is being held up as an urban design form that can bring diversity and
sociability to suburban communities by creating dense, integrated mixed-use
developments with community gathering spaces in newly developed downtown
centers. But the mixed-use concept may be more of a private development tool than a
public planning agenda. The actual conditions of these developments have not been
fully scrutinized.
The Research Question
This investigation, which integrates understandings of suburban development
histories into the analysis of present conditions and plans, examines the
configurations of public space and the patterns of public use in the case study
downtowns to compare these project outcomes to public planning ideals. The context
of development processes where conflicting interest negotiations occur within an
environment of privileged private interests, portends that the mixed-use centers will
prove to be expressions of private values more than public ones, and so will fall short
of public use goals. The study theorizes that the gap between public space ideals and
public space realities is explained by the uneven balance of power in development
negotiations conditioned by a political and economic framework where growth
agendas are paramount, private interests are privileged and so public interests are
often ignored. The task of the project is to determine the extent of the gap and to
analyze the conditions and factors of development that influence its specific pattern.
Do the mixed-use development projects, that are currently popular in suburban
communities live up to their progressive public use visions? What are the conditions,
practices and policies that lead to a finer balance ofpublic and private interests in
the processes and outcomes of suburban redevelopment in terms of increased
community benefits, improved suburban design, and enhanced public use?

Project Description & Research Objectives
To address these questions, I carried out an in-depth investigation of downtown
development activities in four of Denvers suburbs from the post war years into the
present. All four communities have recently completed mixed-use development
projects in their downtown districts. The case study narratives are structured into a
two-part analysis which first describes the physical patterns of civic development and
then examines the interactions of interest groups in the development decision-making
To understand how current planning concepts have evolved and to examine how
mixed-use approaches are being applied in suburban locations the case narratives
describe the concepts and patterns of downtown building. The study traces the spatial
configurations of development in the past and into the present with special attention
given to the role of the public realm in downtown development, specifically how the
civic elements and public spaces are configured and conceived to support
development agendas. A framework for the evaluation of the physical development
outcomes is developed based on normative expectations for downtown centers and
public realm spaces drawn from urban design and public space literature. The public
space analysis is explicitly applied to the most recent development projects as a way
to evaluate the mixed-use town center claims and recommend community and public
space directed planning strategies. These particular questions are examined:
What do the patterns of public realm spaces reveal about the evolution of civic
areas and values of public life in these communities?
Do development outcomes address community and public interests in terms of
providing spaces and facilities for public use?
What planning strategies and development approaches result in redevelopment
that represents a balance between different development interests and values?
The second part of the analysis examines the dynamics of growth politics in the
subject communities to explain why suburbs may have fallen short of achieving
normative urbanist conceptions in their town centers despite planning intentions and
concrete attempts toward this aim The cases analyze development practices by
following the story of planning decision-making to reveal the interactions of different
community objectives and development agendas and to describe the actions and
responses of specific actors and of interest groups and constituencies. Particular
attention is given to the public sector and the role of planners in the development
process. These political and planning dynamics are viewed from a political economy
perspective as expressions of place value differences requiring ongoing negotiation
and revealing contestation. Specific questions that are asked:

Do the new town center projects represent a new balance of public and private
values in the development process?
What factors determine the extent to which public interests and values are
represented and considered in the development process?
What values are represented by which interests?
Which interest groups influence decision-making; are growth interests the
primary influence?
What are the motivations and agendas of the public sector in terms of
development policy?
What is the role of the planner in enacting the mixed-use vision?
A New Growth Agenda
The new mixed-use agenda has been promoted as a key strategy in the managed
growth movement and a human-centered design approach that will provide increased
social interactions and enhanced public community life. It is also a key strategy in a
new growth agenda. One of the findings of scholars examining the effects of
globalization on the worlds cities has been the discovery of the Creative Class
(Florida, 2002). The idea that economic expansion follows not only employment and
manufacturing development, but instead can track the moneyed, creative, amenity-
seeking class of professional, globalized workers who due to new labor mobility
conditions are free to seek their fortunes wherever they find coffee and lofts (Zukin,
1995; Clark, 2002) means that the creative class agenda has restructured the
configurations of local economic development. At first, amenity needs were met by
large scale entertainment and recreation development projects. More recently, the
town centers, urban villages and renovated Main Streets of the mixed-use movement
are serving the amenity agenda (Bohl, 2002; Gupta & Terzano, 2008).' New
development strategies change not only the configurations of development projects,
but also change the local development process. The interests in mixed-use growth are
varied and so change the configuration of interests and influence as they operate on
local development activity because the public sector has more interest in the
community elements, cultural facilities or public spaces that make up parts of the new
mixture of uses.
The shift in the dimensions of the growth agenda is significant for the study of public
space and public interests in planning and development. Development that seeks to
increase community amenities and provide public activity and community life would
1 Floridas claims for the power of the Creative Class to drive economic development have been
challenged by empirical studies, but the ideas were promoted heavily in the media and adopted by
mayors and municipalities as a rationale for amenity strategies and policies.

seem to be development that could provide a balance of public and private benefits,
increasing economic and social viability, and so measure up to progressive ideals. Yet
studies of development in cities where entertainment oriented strategies have been
employed has showed that the effort to appeal to upper class visitors has resulted in
uneven development with negative outcomes for lower class residents and
neighborhoods that face displacement and disruption. Amenity development aimed at
upper class residents should be not that different. The promises of the Urban Land
Institute publications that promote these new places in suburbia where people can
get together to interact, to celebrate, to stroll, to run errands, to protest, to sit and
watch the world go by, or just to enjoy day-to-day living (Gupta & Terzano, 2008, p.
5), are false promises for those segments of the public who do not have access to
suburbia, or who do not fit the social profile of those who stroll and run errands
during business hours. Despite claims of social openness, the public spaces of the
new developments could be compromised by amenity agendas and so should be
Four Suburban Communities
The stories that I have to tell are tales of obscure people in inconsequential places
engaged in a common human enterprise, planning. These are stories of places that
started out as small communities and then grew beyond their own recognition. The
account of that transformation, and the reactions and responses to it, form the basic
plotline of the case narratives. Although the communities in this study, Arvada,
Aurora, Englewood and Lakewood, are not well known, the patterns of their politics
and their development trajectories are familiar. These are communities that began as
small outposts in the Denver area, founded on streetcar lines, at railroad stops, or
along busy roadways. Post war development engulfed the Denver area in a wave of
new employment centers and new residential subdivisions to serve the needs of the
growing region. Older commercial areas were abandoned or neglected as new
commercial centers drew attention and business away from the original centers.
Efforts to stabilize failing downtowns and capture a share of the regions economic
expansion motivated planning and development plans and projects in the decades up
to the present day. Today the Denver area has seen a resurgence of the central city
that is driving redevelopment efforts in the surrounding communities. All four
communities recently embarked on the development of mixed-use projects as
downtown building efforts that are the subject of this investigation. This general
storyline is not uncommon as many cities have faced the same cycle of growth and
decline followed by redevelopment, and many suburbs are pursuing similar strategies
to create town centers as part of efforts to build community identity and compete for
economic growth.

Englewood is an inner-ring suburb which started the post war years as an outpost of
commercial prosperity when its zero sales tax status attracted Denvers retail trade.
Downtown business interests lured a large shopping mall to the central area in hopes
of reinforcing their economic ambitions. Instead, the mall pulled business away from
downtown starting a spiral of downtown decline, and then suffered its own demise
when shoppers and businesses continued to move outward to newer suburban areas.
Englewoods economic trajectory went from prosperity to decline and the city entered
the 1990s facing the double challenge of a declining mall and an outdated downtown
district. The city proactively moved to redevelop the aging mall and so took a
leadership role in the development dynamics of that project. In a lengthy series of
negotiations, plans and plan changes, the city pushed a mixed agenda of commercial
development with residential and community elements. Economic development and
image enhancement were the citys primary goals, but the leadership of the public
sector, influenced by a strong planning component, meant that Englewoods
development results include community buildings and public spaces as part of a
transit oriented, mixed-use development.
Arvada is an older, rural community that did not fully embrace the growth that
surrounded and subsumed it. The community expanded, commercial activity
dispersed and the central Main Street downtown was steadily abandoned by shoppers,
businesses and eventually civic and public facilities. Efforts by growth factions in the
community were challenged and opposed by conservative residents and business
owners who resisted new development. The ambivalence in the community meant
that while residential growth expanded and spread, commercial development was
limited. A proactive renewal authority with a development agenda exerted control in
the 1990s to replace a blighted area adjacent to downtown with big box
developments. As TIF funds became available, they were turned around into
downtown revitalization. Using a strategy of historic preservation that both
development advocates and old timers could agree on, Olde Town Arvada has been
renovated as an authentic mixed-use district that includes a new library and public
square and several new retail/office buildings. Economic development proponents
hope that renovations will stimulate more development, citizens benefit from new
public facilities, and local merchants worry about gentrification. The growth agenda
in Arvada has not been a unified one, but it has proved to be influential.

Lakewood was collection of neighborhoods until 1969 when the community
incorporated to avoid city taxes and city school busing. As a result the city had no
original center and no centralized business elite. A large shopping center provided a
suburban center for activities and also a focal point for development politics. In the
1970s, Lakewoods citizens mobilized to stop a large development and to create a
large central public park. Citizen activism continued throughout the decades, and
Lakewood has developed a planning process that includes planning education and
integration of citizen groups into development processes. Lakewoods politics have
been characterized by negotiation and compromise, with planning education adding
to a more cooperative relationship between public officials and citizens over time,
and a proactive and two-way relationship with developers. Lakewood has a
progressive planning culture which promotes participation and good design, but it has
a conservative social and business culture that promotes economic development and
sound tax policy. In this climate development agendas have promoted growth, but
planning interests have demanded high quality design.
Aurora started as a speculative real estate development on the eastern plains next to a
Colfax trolley stop, and it has maintained a speculative outlook ever since. Aurora is a
large, ambitious suburb that defines the concept of suburban growth. The older
downtown was neglected and left behind, while efforts to create a new center were
supplanted by more growth and continued expansion. In Aurora the public sector has
been divided into a growth faction of elected officials and a planning faction of city
staff. Citizen reaction to extensive growth in the 1970s led to planning action to
define growth nodes or activity centers to manage development and create a frame for
future expansion. Planners visions and official visions never found common ground
and as planners worked to develop focus areas, growth interests worked to expand the
boundaries of the community and add more centers. The older downtown which
was left behind by the major growth interests and suffered significant decline gained
renewed attention recently when surrounding sites, the former airport and two
decommissioned military facilities, became the focus of major regional
redevelopment activity. The original commercial district has been developed as a
neighborhood center with a public library and public plaza that has provided a bright
spot in an otherwise struggling neighborhood. The project that was originally billed
as City Center, and was originally meant to become the downtown for the expanding
city has been built as a Civic Center and retail area that is still evolving.

Dissertation Organization
The dissertation is organized in three parts. Chapters Two and Three provide a
context for the Case Studies which make up the bulk of the dissertation. Chapter Two
sets the theoretical framework with a literature review of particular themes in
urbanism, public space and political economy. Chapter Three provides a development
context by setting out issues that drive suburban development patterns generally and
then looking at specific conditions in Denver and its metropolitan region. Chapter
Three also describes the research approach and method. The case studies are profiled
in Chapter Four, Englewood; Chapter Five, Arvada; Chapter Six, Lakewood; and
Chapter Seven, Aurora. Each case chapter traces the development history of the
downtown in these communities through a political economy lens with particular
attention to civic and public space. Finally, Chapter Eight presents conclusions drawn
from the case study narratives. The chapter describes the evolution of public realm
configurations and provides an evaluation of the present day downtown spaces to
show how the physical spaces illustrate use/exchange value patterns, before turning to
a discussion of the dynamics of the development process, providing conclusions
about the effects of present day growth imperatives on mixed-use development, and
closing with a set of recommendations for planning applications.
Implications and Significance
Suburbs have been understood as a geography of nowhere, one that offers little in
the way of social gathering places or community identity and an unlikely place to go
in search of downtown planning concepts (Kunstler, 1994). To many urban designers,
suburban form is an oxymoron. Complaints about the placelessness of suburban
development are numerous and have underscored reformist planning agendas
including smart growth, new regionalism and the New Urbanism. The literature
describing the multitude of congruent forces and policies that shaped the suburban
landscape into its segmented and low density form is deep and growing more layered
all the time. But certainly suburbs have not developed in complete defiance of basic
human settlement traditions, in isolation from or rejection of all planning
prescriptions. There have been centers in suburban communities and there have been
plans for new centers. We are familiar with the story of the nowhere landscape, but
there has been less discussion of the form and development of the existing
community centers, or of the plans and visions that may not have been realized. This
study looks more closely at those centers and those plans as a way of articulating a
lesser told but still instructive story of the suburban geography of somewhere.
The effects of globalization have been pervasive and have affected multiple facets of
modem life. Local development is no exception. Despite desires for local autonomy,

the processes of local politics are influenced by larger forces. Local development is
conditioned by economic competition that requires municipalities to pursue growth
policies and to partner with private development interests. Even the larger forces are
transformed and reconfigured in the face of structural rearrangements. Growth
politics and development processes evolve to fit new structural systems in a circular
process of structuration (Imbroscio, 1999). By examining the effects of current
growth agendas and imperatives on the configurations of local development processes
the project will further understandings of political economy.
Pubic space has commonly been seen as an important community benefit. Not just a
benefit but a critical and essential piece of a functioning democratic society. Places
for public activity that are accessible and inclusive provide important social, political
and economic benefit to the city. They are necessary for larger social and political
interactions that improve community function, but they also contribute to simpler and
more personal quality of life benefits. Suburbs have been criticized for eviscerating
the public realm, not only through social and living patterns that promote private
activities but also through a sheer lack of public spaces. Now there are new
opportunities for suburban public space.
Urban public space scholars have written about the difficulties posed by positioning
public spaces as activity generators for commercial development, where private
concerns for control can compromise other public space values. There is no reason to
expect that public space in suburban development projects would be any more
resistant to the effects of privatization. The cases bear this out. However, the cases
also reveal examples of projects and pieces of projects that succeed in providing
public spaces that serve public use needs. This study, by analyzing development
practices as they have addressed the public and civic elements in these communities
and by critically examining the spaces that have resulted will suggest strategies and
practices that will defend the publicness of the physical public realm and provide
prescriptions for development strategies and approaches that achieve a balance of
public and private interests.

The town center development projects that are reviewed in the case studies have
created new community places through public-private partnerships and the
investment of public resources. These places are products of economic development
strategies for urban renewal and revitalization that have been widely adopted by
municipal governments in an entrepreneurial shift driven by forces of globalization,
economic restructuring, and neoliberal government policies (Harvey, 1989; Clarke &
Gaile, 1997; Chapin, 2002). The development policies of the new entrepreneurial city
have been studied and critiqued in a sizable literature, a portion of which deals
directly with the spatial configurations and implications of new forms of
development. This literature questions the consequences of the use of public
resources to support revitalization and redevelopment projects that support private
development. Previous studies have demonstrated the inherent conflicts between
corporate interests and citizen interests in mixed-use redevelopment, and have
explored the public realm implications of development privatization. The discussion
of the effects of privatization on development processes makes up the first section of
the chapter.
The new town centers have been heralded as both social community centers and
centers of economic growth and they incorporate both civic and commercial
elements. As such, they serve both private and public interests and they provide
physical evidence of the results of interest group development negotiations. The
evaluation of the relative balance of public and private benefits in the case study
developments is one of the objectives of this research. The primary tool for that
evaluation in this project is the examination of the physical results in terms of the
provision of civic facilities and public use spaces. On one level, the balance of public
and private value can be determined by examining the program and use mix of the
development project. A civic center clearly provides community benefits that a
shopping mall does not. Yet mixed-use projects are never that simple. The urban
development literature that has focused on the privatization of the public realm has
critiqued the public realm outcomes of mixed-use, public spaces, claiming that
privatization of the development process results in a diminished public realm where
public spaces are commodified and controlled. The evaluation of the physical
development outcomes of the case studies is based on expectations and definitions for

public space and assesses not just the presence of public spaces, but also their relative
levels of publicness. The description of evaluation criteria that were developed for
the case analysis based on the public space literature makes up the second section of
this chapter.
The case study projects represent the physical results of the interactions of growth
and development interests with other community agendas. Competing interests
interact to create the built environment through local government policies and
development politics. The political economy literature provides an outlook which
explains the dynamics of development politics in the city. Two basic understandings
of political economy have been that one, conditions in the US have resulted in an
extreme commodification of place (that) touches the lives of all and influences
virtually every cultural, economic, and political institution that operates on the urban
scene (Logan & Molotch, 2007, p. 2), and two, that private interests have been
privileged in determining public policies generally and local development policy
specifically (Reese & Rosenfeld, 2002; Fainstein, 2001, Wolman, 1996). The
privileging of private interests that occurs both structurally and locally and results in
the privileging of growth agendas in development politics is contested by community
interests who promote other agendas. The gap that exists between community
expectations for the public realm and the privatized realm of the entrepreneurial city
is explained by these contestations as they are shaped by structural conditions. The
discussion of these dynamics, as they have been treated in the political economy
literature, makes up the final section of this chapter.
Urbanism & Privatization
Urbanist Critique
Public and private property development creates places, places that serve certain
interests and that express the agendas of those that made them. Urbanist writers
have placed a renewed emphasis on urban design and spatial
configuration. Their analyses stress the symbolic importance of design
and chart the way in which it expresses relations of domination and
subordination, oppression and resistance. In particular, recent writings
on the city have explored the inclusionary and exclusionary aspects of
urban spatial formations (Fainstein, 2001, p. 203).
The analyses of the spatial configurations of recent development projects have been
mainly critical, arguing that in pursuing their aims of economic expansion,
(development) partnerships imprinted the built environment with their attributes of
privatism, competition, and commodification (Fainstein, 2001, p. 204).

Development critiques have shown that the privatization of the development process
through the use of public-private partnerships has resulted in unequal benefits and
unequal development outcomes across the city (Levine, 1987; Harvey, 1989;
Godfrey, 1997; Fainstein, 2001; Hodos, 2002). Public space scholars have continued
the critique by examining the specific results of development and debating how they
are changing the nature of public space in the city. According to these scholars,
economic and political forces of globalization and neoliberalism lead to development
that creates public spaces that are highly commodified, privatized, and controlled and
as a result fail to meet public expectations and societal requirements (Sorkin, 1992;
Loukaitou-Sideris & Banerjee, 1998; Mitchell, 2003; Kohn, 2004; Low & Smith,
2006). The two sets of discussions share a set of normative assumptions and
expectations based on diversity and equity that form the basis of urban design
philosophies and public planning practices.
Normative Expectations
In her book on urbanism and planning, Talen outlines a set of urbanist principles that
are widely shared.
Urbanism ideally rests on diversity (social, economic, physical),
connectivity (appropriate integration of elements, as well as the
concept of permeability), public space (opportunities for interaction),
and equity (in terms of access to meaningful goods, services,
facilities), and implies a variety of strategies necessary to make those
principles work successfully (Talen, 2005, p. 38).
Talens work focuses on the physical dimensions of the city and is clearly motivated
by a New Urbanist agenda and so promotes these principles unquestioningly. Other
writers point to problems with the simultaneous embrace of the related but also
contradictory values of diversity, authenticity and democracy (Fainstein, 2001, p.
203). Though both perspectives hold out integrated, diverse and equitable urban
spaces as a worthy ideal, some urban scholars are less confident of the possibility of
creating these kinds of places. In an article about conflicts over access to Tompkins
Square Park in New York, Harvey concludes To hold all the divergent politics of
need and desire together within some coherent frame may be a laudable aim, but in
practice far too many of the interests are mutually exclusive to allow their mutual
accommodation (Harvey, 1992, p. 591). The point is simply that despite some New
Urbanist claims, there are no easy answers to the issues of equity and exclusion.
Keeping in mind both the urbanist ideals and the real difficulties and issues that make
their achievement somewhat unobtainable, the urbanist critique, what Fainstein calls
the poststructuralist position, follows.

Economic development is certainly a valid and critical function of city government,
but an overemphasis on economic ends and the blurring of public and private interests
in development projects has proved to be problematic. Scholars argue that
public private partnerships become too oriented to the needs of the
private sector. Among the outcomes, then is that the public sector
invests in projects that generate profits for private entities but few
direct benefits for the public, formerly public spaces become
privatized, and accountability emerges as a problem as the private
sector reaps the benefits but often doesnt pay its share of the costs or
attend to its responsibilities (Chapin, 2002, p. 579).
By shifting attention and resources from traditional public services to investment
projects, the entrepreneurial development approach alters both agendas and processes
of urban politics and reorients them to serve the needs of the private sector (Harvey,
1989). As a result, market-led, closed-to-the-public style development predominates
and represents a limited set of outcomes that may not provide public use or public
benefit or express community interests.
Privatization has multiple consequences. The first, most obviously, is the shift in legal
ownership and management status. Private ownership changes the legal limits of
design, control and behavior in public use spaces (Kayden, 2000; Kohn, 2004;
Williamson, 2005). Another consequence of the privatization of urban development
and the concession to private sector interests are the efforts to insulate the process of
development from popular influence (Fainstein et. al., 1983; Harvey, 1989). The shift
to an entrepreneurial government approach has required public officials to act as
facilitators for development. This has meant reducing government interference and
buffering private initiatives from citizen review. Privatization, then, has legal and
political consequences which can compromise democracy and equity; it also has
socio-spatial effects.
Socio-Spatial Implications
While the discourse of redevelopment celebrates the reclaiming of blighted or derelict
spaces for productive uses, often the areas being reclaimed were never abandoned.
Instead, the gentrification of the redeveloped district has real consequences for those
residents or businesses that do not fit the new model of the consumption center. In a
story that can be found in almost every major US city, Kenny and Zimmerman
describe changes in a working class, minority neighborhood in Milwaukee.
Gentrification of historic homes has been accompanied by the development of factory
loft units and New Urbanist single family homes as well as a Hope VI project and

displacement of long time residents (Kenny & Zimmerman, 2003, p. 88). Critical
appraisals of redevelopment projects argue, gentrification is no longer about a
narrow oddity in the housing market but has become the leading edge of a much
larger endeavor: the class remake of the central urban landscape (Smith, 1996, p.
39). Although revitalization strategies often use a New Urbanist program which
advocates traditional urban patterns including mixed use neighborhoods and lively
civic spaces, in actuality downtowns today may have less interest in maintaining the
traditional vibrancy of income and housing differences and instead achieve more
economic success in homogenizing the landscape(Tumer and Rosentraub, 2002, p.
491). As a result, many of the new downtown neighborhoods that are meant to appeal
to the corporate service class become the gentrified enclaves described by Marcuse in
his discussions of excluded ghettos and fortresses that make up the new global city
(Marcuse, 1997).
These critiques emphasize the social implications of use and exchange value
dynamics in development projects and explain why development programs are
disputed and contested in many communities. Eisinger points out the challenges of
shifting from public policies based on use values toward economic development
policies to enhance exchange values.
Building a city as an entertainment venue is a very different undertaking than
building a city to accommodate residential interests. Although the former
objective is often justified as a means to generate the resources to do the latter
aim, the two are not easily reconciled. In reality, the deepest line of cleavage
created by the pursuit of entertainment projects is often that between
downtown interests and residential neighborhoods, a conflict that subsumes a
whole set of mutually reinforcing racial, class, big business-small business,
and even city-suburban divisions (Eisinger, 2000, p. 317, 329).
Levines analysis of Baltimores renaissance also argues that while redevelopment
did indeed bring benefits to the city, there is ample evidence that corporate center
downtown redevelopment has contributed to highly uneven growth in Baltimore
between 1970 and 1985. Statistical data confirm that for Baltimores poorer,
primarily black neighborhoods, conditions worsened considerably (Levine, 1987, p.
112). These critics open up the discussion to suggest that the development programs
aimed to revive the local economy are not necessarily uniformly beneficial for the
entire community as growth proponents claim and in fact can be detrimental to those
who are excluded from it.
Redevelopment projects that are focused on commercial growth affect overall
development patterns in a city. These projects have specific spatial consequences as
well. Scholars argue that the privatization of the public spaces of the city results in
changes to the way that the built environment is designed and managed. To ensure

the safe pursuit of profit within the reconstructed city, designers intentionally set
projects off from their surroundings so as to create defensible space (Fainstein, 2001,
p. 204). For growth interests, the apprehension and insecurity experienced by orderly
users in the face of disorderly people threatens the economic viability of development
projects. Many public-private developments are consumption and entertainment
oriented, which requires their public spaces to be commercially appealing, and they
are marketed to an upscale or middle class clientele which necessitates that public
areas be safe and secure. Even as public spaces are turned into places for fun and
excitement to attract visitors, those same places are managed and regulated to ensure
the orderly behavior of the visitors. Mixed-use developments have taken on the
trappings of the vitality of cities through a more diverse mix of activities and uses, but
have created a contrived diversity with the hard edges of chance and uncertainty
ironed out by a more controlled policing of the public realm (Allen, 2006; p. 441,
Mitchell, 2003; Sorkin, 1992).
Not only are spaces managed and regulated, they are isolated and introverted creating
a city fabric that is neither coherent nor diverse and which produces segmentation and
separation rather than connectivity and integration. To many urbanists, a primary
benefit of the city is its capacity to bring together strangers, allowing people to move
beyond the familiar enclaves of families and social networks to the more open
public of politics, commerce, and festival where strangers meet and interact
(Young, 1990, in Fainstein, 2001, p. 205). The combination of direct and indirect
regulation with privatized facilities and amenities translates into development projects
and public spaces that encourage some users and discourage others. Overly controlled
public spaces counteract the potential vitality and richness of public life by excluding
certain undesirable publics and limiting inappropriate behaviors (Sorkin, 1992).
Development projects can become arenas of conflict and exclusion. The construction
of fortified, controlled commercial spaces in the city limits diversity and social
interactions and so diminishes the public realm.
Evaluation Framework
The implications of the spatial outcomes of development have long been a topic in
urban literature, because planners, in particular, have believed that physical and social
outcomes are connected. The environment-behavior debate about whether
environment shapes behavior or the other way around is a long one that this study
does not cover. This project takes as a starting point the notion that there are
interactions between the physical environment and social behavior, and that the
physical contours of the city express some dimensions of its social relations. Public
spaces have always been part of this conversation. The roles that are attached to
public space and the values that they represent encompass a variety of community

interests. Public space has multiple and contested meanings and roles in modem
urban society (Madanipour, 1999, p. 879).
In order to analyze the results of public private development in terms of how the
projects express different place values and how they reflect varied community
interests 1 first examined the varied roles and meanings that public space plays in a
community. I then developed an evaluation approach based on public space roles. The
first part of the analysis is based on the projects function and intention. Public uses
are easily distinguishable from commercial activities and the first level of evaluation
is simply to determine the range of public and private uses included in a development
project. But the public spaces that are part of mixed-use developments have multiple
functions. They serve as public places of assembly, but they also serve as site features
that enhance customer appeal. In order to evaluate the different intentions of the
projects, in addition to merely cataloguing their functions, a set of criteria and
measures are described based on the expectations and understandings of civic space,
and marketing space. These criteria form the first part of the evaluation framework.
Civic Space
Public space as distinguished from private space represents, first of all, government
space, because it is the communal space provided by the state (Madanipour, 1999).
Civic spaces have served as places of ceremony and celebration, and so carry
symbolic meaning. As symbolic places that are representative of political power, they
can also be democratic spaces of protest and demonstration where power is
challenged through public assembly. Civic centers with their monumental buildings
and their cultural facilities became the places for civic ceremony and public ritual.
Public buildings and the spaces associated with them are also the setting of daily
community life as they host facilities such as permit offices and libraries that provide
necessary services and information. Civic spaces are also often the places where
public memory is kept. Monuments and ceremonies marking community history, or
citizen sacrifice and public contribution require public places if they are to contribute
to a shared sense of place and community past (Carr et. al., 1992; Lees, 1994;
Hayden, 1995).
According to this understanding of the role that civic spaces play in a community,
civic space would be expected to have public facilities and public gathering areas and
would be a place of assembly and a place for ceremony. The first measure of civic
space is simply the presence of public buildings, facilities, and services. Providing a
place for public assembly is an important function of civic space, so a second
measure would be gathering spaces that are designed and equipped for public events
and public use. Civic spaces contribute to collective memory and community identity.

The presence of public monuments, landmarks, or interpretive materials as well as the
existence of public ceremonies or events make up the third measure of civic space.
Marketing Space
Beginning with the pedestrian malls of the 1960s and running through festival market
places of the 1970s and 1980s, commercial interests in the United States recognized
the value of people-centered places and began to incorporate public space into retail
and office projects. As a result, the function of public space shifted to become
marketing space. The city has always functioned as a commercial marketplace, and
public space has often been commercially oriented (Lees, 1994; Madanipour, 1999).
What has changed is that public space is now valued as a commercial tool in and of
itself. Public space has been developed as an economic asset, part of the marketing
program. Festival markets created an upbeat and friendly atmosphere complete with
entertainers who enlivened the open air public space and made people watching fun
(Frieden & Sagalyn, 1989). More recent urban entertainment districts depend on the
liveliness of their street life to bring in customers (Hannigan, 1998). Marketing
space is public space that is designed to attract immediate customers, to serve as a
marketing device for the development project and to enhance the positive image of
the city.
The measures to determine whether the spaces of a redevelopment project function as
marketing space are based first on the economic function of the project, and secondly
on this concept of public space serving as a marketing image and a project amenity. A
primary goal of economic development activities in the entrepreneurial city is to
develop an attractive and marketable city image (Holcomb, 2001). Place-making, i.e.
creating attractive and imageable spaces, is the latest form of place marketing and is
intended to enhance and demonstrate (the citys) attractiveness to mobile investment
and consumption (Ward, 1998, p. 2). The first measure of marketing space
determines what commercial spaces are present and what economic functions are
being served. The next measures look at elements of image promotion and customer
appeal. The use of signature architecture or special marketable features is a measure
of the image promotion function of marketing space. The provision of attractive
customer amenities and appealing site design are also elements of marketing space.
An important element of attracting customers is creating a sense of safety and
security, therefore, one measure of marketing space is the presence of systems of
control, such as security personnel, behavior regulations, or use restrictions which
contribute to an orderly commercial environment.
The purpose of the evaluation framework is to gauge the relative balance of private
benefits and public benefits in the recent development projects of the subject

communities. The first level of project evaluation asks whether the projects under
review have civic uses and determines what level of community activity occurs.
Evaluation criteria also assess whether projects function as marketing spaces through
a second set of measures. This first level of evaluation identifies the projects civic
and commercial intentions, design and program. The second part of the evaluation
framework turns to an assessment of the public space qualities of the development
projects. As stated above, the privatization of the social spaces of the city has
resulted in design and regulation practices which isolate public spaces, limit their use,
and regulate the activity that can occur and are criticized for constraining social
interaction, restricting personal rights, and excluding certain populations. Therefore,
one measure of the dominance of exchange values and marketing intentions over
civic functions and community use values is the presence of design elements, use
restrictions or behavior regulations that limit public use.
The relative publicness of public space is a subjective measure and is constructed
as a continuum. Therefore each project will have a measure as a civic or marketing
space and then will be evaluated in terms of its public use qualities. For this purpose,
the second set of evaluation measures provide an assessment of program,
management, and design features that contribute to higher levels of social interaction
and lower levels of use restrictions and exclusion. These measures are based on
further definitions of the roles that public spaces serve in the public life of the
community: community space, social space, and democratic space. The evaluation
framework is shown in Table 2.1.
Community Space
The development of public spaces as key attributes of town centers and urban villages
is an intensification of their role as marketing spaces that enhance project identity and
appeal. The mixed-use center is also meant to create public spaces that provide social
mixing and community gathering areas. Inherent in the espoused alternatives to post-
war suburban sprawl, is a concern for the ability of metropolitan form to create a
sense of community, and public spaces are given a central role in its production
(Talen, 2000, p. 345). Community space, then, describes the concept of public space
that is meant to function as a community gathering place and so build community
identity and serve as the center of community life. This concept emphasizes the
pleasures of communal sociability. Community space can serve a civic role by
providing a place for communal events such as holiday celebrations in addition to
informal activities like a game of Frisbee. Communal public spaces also serve a
marketing role because place-making design that enhances a marketing image can
also contribute to community identity. The measures for community space are the
presence of identity features, centralized gathering spaces, and a program of

community events or activities. Because these spaces need not be public to serve as
community centers, this category represents the most generalized design and use
Social Space
Public spaces provide the network of places that serve everyday life as the setting for
daily routines and informal neighborhood interactions. As such, they serve as social
space, the stage upon which the drama of communal life unfolds (Carr et. al., 1992,
p. 3). The public space of daily life exists in the street and in the neighborhood; it is
the space of informal social interaction (Lofland, 1998). Chicago School sociologists
studied the variety of social groups that inhabited that city and depicted a mosaic of
ethnic communities and urban villages held together by face to face interactions and
neighborhood life (Kasinitz, 1995). In the urban neighborhoods that Jane Jacobs
described, the stoop and the sidewalk served as the locus of community activity
(Jacobs, 1961). Another concept of social public space is less intimate and comes
from the desire for relaxation, social contact, entertainment, leisure, and simply
having a good time (Banerjee, 2001, p. 14). Downtown shopping streets with their
department stores and cafes and commercial districts with public squares and plazas
provide more outwardly looking social spaces. Baudelaire described the flaneur,
(the person who strolls the city in order to experience it) in Paris while William
Whyte evaluated girl watchers in New York City (Whyte, 1980; Benjamin, 1995). In
both cases the public spaces of the city provide the chance to see and be seen in a
more public social arena. The communal gathering spaces that have been described
and that are being developed in mixed-use centers serve these types of social goals in
addition to their community building functions. Social space also includes a larger set
of public areas comprising the parks and plazas, also the streets, sidewalks, paths, and
even interior spaces such as libraries or entertainment facilities.
To function as social space that fosters social interaction, public space first of all has
to attract people. The literature of public space that was developed in the wake of
critiques of urban renewal such as Jane Jacobs The Death and Life of Great
American Cities (1961) focused on the elements of public spaces that made them
attractive to users. In response to the stark and empty spaces created by modernist
projects, planners and urban designers including Kevin Lynch and William Whyte
examined the spaces of the city to determine what qualities of the urban environment
actually promoted the kind of active social life that Jacobs so eloquently described
(Lynch, 1960; Rowe & Koetter, 1978; Krier, 1979; Whyte, 1980; Trancik, 1986). In
their book directed specifically to public space, Carr and his colleagues argue that to
function as integrated social arenas for public life, public spaces should be responsive
to user needs including comfort, relaxation, engagement and discovery (Carr et. al.,

1992, p. 19-20). Public spaces that are successful social spaces are those that respond
to these kinds of user defined goals, and so the evaluation measures for social space
are oriented to user needs.
First, because community social life encompasses a wide range of group and
individual activity public life is best served by a variety of types of spaces, from large
parks and plazas to smaller squares and pathways. Public life is also served well by
mixed-use areas that support a diversity of uses and activities. The need for comfort
and relaxation, which encourages more use by more people and so supports the social
use of space are met by the presence of pedestrian scaled development that is compact
and walkable. Comfort is also derived from site amenities such as plantings, seating,
and fountains. Engagement and discovery are served by the principles of variety and
diversity and also by concepts of connectivity and accessibility. Spaces that have
permeable edges allow users to move in and out and through them according to their
own preferences, increasing the chances of discovery and informal interactions.
Accessibility also depends on open edges and is also determined by the presence of
varied transportation methods. Increased accessibility adds to the social life of these
projects by increasing both the numbers and variety of the people who use them.
Democratic Space
The issues of sociability in public spaces that were covered in the urban design
literature also came under review by other urban scholars who pointed out that public
space planning needed to go beyond creating pleasant spaces to addressing issues of
democratic space. Public space in the city has been the space where people come
together, a place of assembly that has always had political significance (Madanipour,
1999). Public space has special resonance in American society because democracy
lives there. The link between urban space and the processes of democracy is one of
the crucial dimensions of the question of public space. Deutsche claims nearly
everyone agrees: supporting things that are public promotes the survival and
extension of democratic culture (Deutsche in Nadal, 2000, p. 176). The political and
philosophical arguments for the value and importance of the public sphere as the
abstract space where free speech and political opinion are expressed depend in great
measure on the existence of actual public places where political interactions can
occur. Mitchell argues forcefully that there is no guarantee of free speech or
democracy in America; there is only the exercise of it (Mitchell, 1996, 2003). His
accounts of students, labor activists, war protesters, and homeless people actively
occupying and fighting over spaces in the city demonstrate the concrete role that
physical public space plays in the effort to exercise and expand democratic rights
(Mitchell, 2003). Democratic space encompasses, among many parts of the city, the
sidewalks where leaflets are handed out and strikers walk picket lines, the vacant lots

and viaducts where homeless people exercise their right to live in the city, the plazas
where rallies are held and protests are heard, and the parks and grand spaces where
speakers gather their multitudes and express their dreams and aspirations.
Democratic space is also related to ideas about social difference. Democratic politics
in a heterogeneous society depends on the development of public opinion and debate
between unlike groups. Public space plays a role in democracy, then, not just as a
place of protest and assembly, but as a place to encounter difference and a place to
practice civility. Early on in public space discussions, Jane Jacobs set the tone for this
idea by rejecting the prevailing image of the urban neighborhood as a place of
poverty and dysfunction, and recasting it as a rich mixture of interlocking characters
(Jacobs, 1961). Lofland defined public space as the place where you encounter
strangers (Lofland, 1998). Other scholars confirmed the value of public spaces as
places where people can witness and appreciate diverse cultural expressions that
they do not share and do not fully understand (Young, 1990 in Kasinitz, 1995, p.
269). Berman, too, calls for a public space that would be open to encounters between
people of different classes, races, ages, religions, ideologies, cultures and stances
towards life. It would be planned to attract all these different populations, to enable
them to look each other in the face (Berman, 1986, p. 484). He readily acknowledges
that this space might be conflicted and dissonant, but he holds it out as a worthy ideal.
This vision has been revived by recent theorists who identify the polarization and
segregation of metropolitan areas as a significant issue. Madanipour argues that at a
time when social fragmentation has intensified, ... promotion of public space has
been seen as one of the vehicles of confronting this fragmentation (Madanipour,
The measures for democratic space take the ideals developed for social interaction
further to address issues of ownership, regulation and inclusion. Democratic space
should be, first of all publicly owned and managed spaces where individual and
collective rights can be exercised. Use restrictions and behavior regulations
negatively affect democratic space. The presence of rules, restrictions, security staff
and strict enforcement policies are measures that indicate the diminishment of public
values. Finally to address the ideal of democratic space serving as places for social
mixing between strangers, measures of inclusion adopt some previous measures in
combination. A varied program and use mix, site amenities that provide comfort,
public ownership and flexible management practices all create spaces that promote
higher levels of inclusiveness.

Table 2.1: Public realm evaluation framework, ideals & measures
, j | Ideals i Measures
Civic Space Public Facilities Provides Facilities & Services Public Buildings & Facilities, Municipal Use
Public Use Provides Public Gathering Areas Large Gathering Spaces. Community Events
Public Memory Provides History, Meaning Monuments, Interpretive Materials, Public Ceremonies
Marketing Space Commercial Use Provides Revenue Presence of New Commercial Uses & Activities
Image Promotes Positive Image Place-Making Design, Signature Architecture
Attraction Attractive to Customers Attractive Site Amenities, System of Order & Regulation

Community Space Community Identity Builds Sense of Community Presence of Central, Public Use Areas, Identity Features
Community Gathering Enhances Community Life Program of Public Events & Activities
Social Space Social Setting Creates Setting for Vibrant Social Interaction Variety' of Types of Spaces: Streets, Sidewalks, Squares, Parks, Plazas, Paths
Diversity Increase Number & Variety of Social Actors Variety of Uses & Activities

Table 2.1 (Cont)
Ideals Measures
Social Space Comfort Provide an Environment that Encourages Use Compact, Pedestrian Scaled, Walkable Presence of Site Amenities
Integration Connectivity & Visibility Permeable Edges & Boundaries, Connected Street Pattern
Accessibility Provides Varied & Open Access Circulation System, Transit Options
Democratic Space Public Ownership & Management Publicly Owned and Administered Spaces Ownership Status, Management Agreements, Management Style & Approach
Unrestricted Unregulated Allows Variety of Activities and Uses Use Restrictions, Rules, Regulations, Security Staff, Enforcement Practices
Inclusive Provides Social Mixing Space Open to Diverse Users Site Amenities, Program Mix Ownership Status, Enforcement Practices

Theoretical Framework:
Political Economy, Development Interests & Growth Imperatives
The literature reviewed in the first part of this chapter argues that the physical
outlines of redevelopment projects and the public spaces of entrepreneurial
development fail to measure up to the ideals that urban design and public space
scholars espouse. This is not a failure of the ideals. Instead it is the result of the
political conditions of development where conflicting interests compete to build the
spaces of the city. The political economy literature explains the politics of local
development and shows that the gaps between public space ideals and public space
realities result from an uneven balance of power in the development competition
where private interests are privileged and so public interests are largely ignored.
Theoretical Background
Works in urban political economy have critically examined development processes
and posited a basic contradiction between two kinds of interests in real estate activity:
use value and exchange value. These scholars have argued Any development on the
ground, private or public, large or small, distributes value of both types and should
not be mistaken as either neutral or inevitable (Logan & Molotch, 2007, p. ix). Thus
development activities are political. When local governments act to affect
development decisions, something that occurs with every land-use decision, their
actions effectively distribute value. Yet local governments often engage in
development activity without explicitly defining costs and benefits, following a
general sense that property development equals economic development and that
economic development will automatically result in positive changes in material well-
being for local constituents. Results are uneven and relationships between local
government action and economic improvement are unproven, yet political officials
promote and engage in economic development (Fainstein, 2001, ppl-2; Wolman,
1996, p. 226). The literature has addressed itself to understanding what drives
political decision making and associated development activities.
Petersons City Limits may be the most influential statement of the fiscal imperative
that impels cities to pursue economic development. Because cities raise the majority
of their funds locally, especially through property and sales taxes, they cannot afford
to ignore the imperatives of growth and economic development. According to
Petersons argument, because cities have no policy instruments to control mobile
capital and labor, they must constantly seek to upgrade their economic standing.
..Cities seek to improve their market position, their attractiveness as a locale for
economic activity (Peterson, 1981, p.22). In sum, cities, like private firms, compete

with one another so as to maximize their economic position through keeping their
tax base high and their service needs low (Peterson, 1981, p 29).
Certain arguments, such as Petersons, which describe the conditions that compel
cities to compete for development activity stress the economic factors driving
government decision making while accepting the assumption that a citys ability to
attract economic activity is in the unitary interest of the city as a whole, and not
questioning the overall capitalist system (Fainstein, 2001, p. 10). Structuralist theories
developed a more critical view. Rooted in Marxist thought, the structuralist position
gives primacy to economic relations, explaining urban growth and political decision
making as consequences of the logic of capital accumulation. More contemporary
structuralist explanations refer to the logic of capital operating in an era of global
economic restructuring and extreme social and spatial inequality (Fainstein, 2001, p.
11). Though the most extreme structuralist positions were criticized for neglecting
politics altogether, structuralist theories
highlight the ways that private property, market competition, wealth
and income inequality, the corporate system, and the stage of capitalist
development pervasively shape the terrain on which political
competition occurs. Structuralist studies may be flawed by economic
determinism, but they are factually on target in observing and
describing mechanisms that generate systemic, cumulative, political
inequality, which has a more profound impact on outcomes than the
coalition patterns studied by pluralists (Mollenkopf, 1992, p. 222).
Pluralist arguments originated with studies of political decision making and argued in
the 1960s against the single elite theory of urban politics, instead proposing that
elected officials were still of significance in shaping issues, and taking a more
optimistic view of the potential of progressive political action (Judge, Stoker &
Wolman, 1995; Fainstein, 2001). For pluralists, the political system was not closed
off, but was instead permeable to a plurality of interest groups. Critiques of pluralism
have focused on its failure to comprehend the systemic privileging of business and
to examine the distribution of benefits (Fainstein, 2001, p. 10). Both structuralist and
pluralist viewpoints have been subject to redefinition and refinements, but the two
basic positions emphasizing either structure or agency as the primary mechanism of
urban development have defined the outlines of scholarly debate. Current discussions
tend to bridge the two positions suggesting that economic forces clearly condition
the kind of economic development policies local government pursues but that within
the framework set by these external forces, political choice exists (Wolman, 1996, p.

Growth Machine
Growth machine theorists expanded the discussion of elite political power by looking
specifically at development policy. Logan and Molotch contend that property based
elites drive political decision making in their own interests.
Nested interest groups with common stakes in development use the
institutional fabric, including the political and cultural apparatus, to
intensify land use and make money. Coalitions with interests in growth
of a particular place (large property holders, some financial
institutions, the local newspaper) turn government into a vehicle to
pursue their material goals (Molotch, 1993, p. 31).
The growth machine view considers redevelopment a central issue and regards urban
politics as a confrontation between elite interests and community interests (Fainstein,
2001, p. 11). While they emphasized the power of the business community, Logan
and Molotch set out to challenge structuralist accounts by stressing the role of
individuals and groups, but they also shifted away from the pluralist Who
governs? question to a more specific concern with Who has the greatest influence
over the physical restructuring of places, why, and with what effect? (Stoker, 1998,
p. 122).
Within the community power discussions, the growth machine thesis has been the
most directly focused on land development practices and still provides a useful and
realistic representation of North American local politics (Jonas & Wilson, 1999, p.
92). In the authors terms, the thesis is stated as follows.
Those who make their money from land and buildings have most at
stake in what goes on. They make more if rents and real estate prices
rise. They are nimble in the process, taking into account shifts in
economies and cultural taste within and beyond their cities
boundaries. Regardless of the specific quarry, they seek more demand
- more people needing a place to live, more retailers needing
storefronts, more companies needing a location. To get all that going,
they try to guide development their way. ... To build private wealth
under changing circumstances, one needs permissions, subsidies and
the right kind of public infrastructure. So ... the real estate interests
push government levers (Logan & Molotch, 2007, p. x).
These theorists find evidence of growth machine dominance in the earliest American
city building efforts, from the town boosterism of frontier communities to the efforts
of town leaders to direct transportation infrastructure and investment through canal,
railroad and road building projects. These urban founders were in the business of
manipulating place for its exchange values (Logan & Molotch, 2007, p. 54). More

recently, they claim that growth efforts have become more subtle. The growth
machine is less personalized, with fewer local heroes, and has become instead a
multifaceted matrix of important social institutions pressing along complementary
lines (Logan & Molotch, 2007, p. 58). But they argue that the primary premise of
the earliest town boosters has stayed in place: that development programs have only
positive consequences for a city overall. This is seen even today when population or
production gains are celebrated as signs of local progress and reasons for civic pride.
The alignment of civic goals with economic growth goals, which is consciously
engineered by private interests according to Logan and Molotch, means that local
government and planning departments and commissions are not neutral actors, but are
used by growth interests. Planning, virtually from its inception in the United States,
has primarily been at the service of the growth machine (Logan & Molotch, 2007, p.
153). The business interests in a community not only push the government levers, it
seems they manipulate and control them. The most durable feature in U.S. urban
planning is the manipulation of government resources to serve the exchange interests
of local elites, sometimes at the expense of local citizens (Logan & Molotch, 2007,
p. 178). This projects a bleak picture for both the role of government and the potential
for progressive planning, and one that has been questioned. Yet it seems important to
belabor the growth machine thesis here. Fundamentally, growth interests represent an
adherence to market principles. In both development practices and politics, suburban
communities have been seen to represent the strongest outposts of free market
ideology (Beauregard, 2006; Bruegmann, 2005). Therefore, the growth machine
model of urban development holds especially true for suburban communities where
local governments have more fully engaged growth agendas and where there have
been fewer alternative voices. A study of suburban development will almost by
definition find growth coalitions and growth politics, and therefore is an appropriate
venue to interrogate growth machine theory.
Regime Theory
Stones work, Regime Politics, set in Atlanta developed a new model of urban politics
that acknowledged the power of business interests, but provided more room for
government action (Stone, 1989). In his argument, neither the business elites, nor the
local government were likely to be able to exercise comprehensive control in a
complex world. Rather, governments are driven to cooperate with those who hold
resources essential to achieving a range of policy goals (Stoker, 1998, p. 123).
Regime theory changed the focus of inquiry somewhat by looking less at which
groups had social control to examine how different interests or groups exercised
power and formed stable relationships to create a capacity to act and to accomplish
goals, i.e. social production. Fainstein claims that regime theory straddles the

boundary between structuralist and pluralist theories by recognizing the structural
biases of capitalism without diminishing the importance of political factors
(Fainstein, 2001). Regime theory examined ideology and agenda setting as part of
social production mechanisms and so extended the scope of community power
discussions, but it may be that urban regimes prove to be not so different from
previous growth coalitions. Research on the existence and nature of governing
regimes has clearly suggested that development/corporate regimes are far more
prevalent than other types (Reese, & Rosenfeld, 2002, p. 646). The predominance of
development regimes tells us what we know already: that private interests hold a
privileged position in development politics.
Fainstein supports regime theory but states that it doesnt go far enough to recognize
the importance of economic structures (2001, pp. 14-15). Reese and Rosenfeld
suggest that regime theory has been stretched beyond its original meaning and that it
may not apply to smaller communities (2002, p. 647). At the same time, continuing
reevaluations and discussions have raised questions about the power and uniformity
of private sector interests in public decision making (Reese & Rosenfeld, 2002, p.
647; Stoker, 1998; Wolman, 1996). Fainsteins approach adopts the regime theory
middle ground but tries to unravel the factors that lead to the formation of interest by
social groups. In other words, perceived interest is neither an automatic response to
economic position nor a wholly voluntaristic option among possible stances. It rather
represents a structured position derived from the interaction between economic,
communal and ideological forces at a particular historic moment. (Fainstein, 2001,
p. 15). The formation of interest is then, the subject of exploration.
Theoretical Approach
My own perspective adopts both growth machine and regime understandings and
Fainsteins research approach. The growth machine thesis highlights structural
economic factors of development politics by putting the actions of growth interests
front and center. In a suburban context, where private development interests are
expected to dominate development processes, the growth machine theory is
applicable. Regime theory allows for more varied interactions and coalitions within
development agendas allowing for political agency. Recent work on governance and
urban social movements shows patterns of political influence are changing in ways
that would support regime theory. The growth politics of suburbs are also changing
and may show evidence of regime interaction. Fainstein argues that although she
finds overwhelming evidence of business interests dominating development
processes, she rejects the idea that the power of economic interests produces only one
possible interpretation of interest or outcome. Development studies show that growth
coalitions can combine other interests; individual choice can affect strategy; local

conditions, traditions and ideology affect responses all these affect development and
the fate of communities.
Perhaps the farthest one can go in addressing the issue is to identify
areas of indeterminacy that can be seized locally within the overall
capitalist economic structure that is to identify courses of action that
can produce lesser or greater growth, more or less social policies. The
subject of investigation therefore switches to the strategies followed by
local actors, the factors influencing their choices and how and under
what circumstances these strategies affect what happens (Fainstein,
2001, pp. 17-18).
In identifying interest formation as a key point of inquiry Fainstein suggests an
avenue of interpretation and approach that is useful; and one that can respond to
deficiencies in previous perspectives. By identifying the interest groups present and
by examining how these development actors define their interests within the political
and development arenas, a fuller picture of urban development can be developed. In
the case of the growth machine, a more complete and up to date picture of urban
growth interests is needed because business relationships have changed in the face of
restructuring and internationalization and have invalidated original growth machine
descriptions. In the case of regime theory, attention to the interactions of place value
interests will test the relationship between local actors and economic factors.
Development Interests
The foregoing discussion of community power and the politics of development
processes focused on questions about the relationships between interest groups,
especially the interaction between the business sector and local officials in the context
of the local community. Business interests are generally understood to drive
economic development efforts; government actors are seen to be either manipulated
by or working in concert with private interests; citizen groups are understood to be
marginalized by or in opposition to development politics. Studies show, however that
development coalitions may vary.
Detailed case studies of urban redevelopment in specific cities ...
reinforce this notion of significant cross-community variations in the
patterns of community conflict on growth policies. Even within
communities, specific economic development issues can spawn
conflicts within the business community or within the middle class,
between core and peripheral areas or neighborhoods of the city,
between groups seeking capital accumulation and those wishing social
consumption, and even among lower-income neighborhoods
(Fainstein et. al., 1983, p. 255).

Four major groups have been identified in the development literature as being
interested actors in development politics. This section describes the different groups
and outlines how they have been discussed in the literature especially in terms of their
development agendas. As Fainstein points out, their positions are not fixed and their
inter-relationships and agendas are the focus of this exploration. The local public
sector is the primary focus of attention, comprising not only elected and appointed
officials, but also administrative staff such as planning department personnel. The
public sector also includes semi-public agencies and authorities that are now common
in development activity. The development sector holds a privileged position in local
land use activity. This is the rentier group which is made up of real estate interests
as well as the consultants and services which support their property development
related activities. In the past, local business concerns would have been part of the
development sector, but increasingly, the small businessmen, local property owners
and independent merchants that make up local business associations and chambers of
commerce have divergent interests from nationally or regionally based firms and so
have separate growth interests. As a result, the local private sector is considered a
separate interest group. Finally community groups and neighborhood interests
represent a variety of perspectives and agendas, and engage in development politics
through formal planning processes, oppositional activism and individual project
Public Sector
The local public sector is made up of both elected officials including the mayor, city
council, and county commissioners, and professional staff and appointed officials.
Public sector interests in development are multi faceted. As has been stated, a
fundamental development goal for municipal government is to maintain fiscal
solvency, but development agendas often extend beyond the bottom line. Pagano and
Bowman suggest that building civic identity is a crucial function of urban
development and a major motivation for the public sector.
Development projects are tangible symbols of survival,
transformation, or ascendance, depending on the citys circumstances.
In fact, depending on how the deal is structured, on the degree of risk,
and on the intentions of local officials, symbolic value may be the sole
return that.a city gets from a project (1995, p. 49).
In the growth machine perspective, government officials promote identity building as
part of a program to improve a citys attractiveness for private investment. Pagano
and Bowman suggest that community and individual political ambition are also part
of the calculation. They argue that city image building is not a superficial exercise but
that it is critical to the ability of city leaders to bring people together around shared

goals for improvement, and that it contributes to electoral success (1995). Both
perspectives suggest that creating a connection between growth goals and civic pride
and promoting development projects as a collective good are politically popular
stances. Others suggest that regardless of outcomes, government officials build
electoral capital simply by having ambitions for the city and implementing
development projects because they are seen as getting things done. While there may
be discussion and disagreement about the benefits and costs of certain projects, public
pressure tends toward the message to do something, and public officials feel the
obligation to respond (Wolman, 1996, p. 242).

Fiscal Imperative, Economic Competition
r a r a
Public Development
Sector Sector
V_____________/ v_______________
/ \
Growth Ideology, Growth Agendas
Figure 2.1: Theoretical Framework: Development Interests & Framing Conditions
The municipal administration staff also plays a role in development policy and
practice. Logan and Molotch have stated that planners are inherently part of
development politics and that their work is aligned with the needs of local growth
machines (2007, p. 156). Changes in economic systems and development practices
that have led city governments to take on entrepreneurial strategies likewise have led
planners to adopt new roles (Harvey, 1989; Frieden, 1990). Economic development
planning has become more important and planners now work as facilitators and deal
makers (Fainstein, 2001). While the new style of negotiated development gave the

planner the opportunity to deliver a private project that was responsive to public
interest (Frieden, 1990, p. 425), it also meant that the focus of planning shifted from
a comprehensive concern with the whole urban system to a fragmented project-to-
project approach that has led to uneven development patterns. Even planners who
worked for government or nonprofit groups and did focus on distributional effects
became absorbed into the discourse of business negotiations and a single-minded
concentration on the deal at hand (Fainstein, 2001, p. 99). In terms of land use
decisions and property development, planning finds itself part of the local autonomy
conversation; as an interest group their ideas may differ from both city
administrations and developers and as actors, they may have varying degrees of
influence (Frieden, 1990; Teitz, 1996; Fainstein, 2001).
Economic shifts pushed cities to adopt entrepreneurial approaches and policies which
as stated have changed planning attitudes. One significant feature of entrepreneurial
approaches and development planning is the use of public private partnerships and
semi-public agencies to direct development projects. Public private partnerships were
conceived to bring the capital resources of the private sector together with the
political mobilization resources of the public sector. These arrangements increase
development capacity directly and also provide more indirect benefits for
development interests. Harvey suggests that projects that require public private
partnerships are inherently more risky than purely private development, and that too
often the public sector assumes most of the risk while the private sector takes the
benefits (1989, p. 7).
Several writers have pointed out that a consequence of employing semi-public
agencies and mixed partnerships is to insulate development processes from
democratic scrutiny. Judd and Swanstrom talk about quasi-public development
corporations as constituting shadow governments and Fainstein argues the state
aims to segment off the administrative apparatus of redevelopment from democratic
representative mechanisms, to keep decision-making bottled up among a small circle
of technocrats, developers and elite public officials sharing common interests
(Fainstein, et. al. 1983, p. 254; Judd & Swanstrom, 2002, p. 381). Again, questions
exist about the autonomy and relative power of these development agencies and
partnerships, even as understanding of their significance grows. Molotch reports, As
documented by Austin Works (1991), the financial scale of these insulated
authorities, of all sorts, has by now become significant: in toto, they appear to be the
most important fiscal force in US places (Molotch, 1993, p. 36).

Development Sector
The growth machine thesis rests on the existence of a group of private interests that
promote an urban development agenda. In most writing on the subject, a downtown
business community comprised typically of banks, retail stores, newspapers, major
corporations, real estate groups, and others who own large fixed investments make
up this group (Kantor & David, 1988, in Wolman, 1996, p. 247). Yet the effects of
globalization which have changed the structure of the local business community and
have led to the consolidation of the real estate industry into large national and
international firms surely have also changed the contours of the growth machine.
Especially in smaller communities, banks, stores, and newspapers may not be held
locally. Real estate interests, developers, and property investors may still have the
most to gain from development, but those interests may be spread across metropolitan
areas and across the country. Whereas real estate had been a local business, in the last
few decades, especially since the rise of real estate investment trusts in the aftermath
of the Savings and Loans crisis of the 1980s, changing financial structures have
moved decision-making to centralized equity markets (Leinberger, 1996, 2005). One
result of this consolidation has been a standardization of development products and
Strom examined the changing nature of downtown development interests and found
that just as the land use configurations of downtowns have changed from
manufacturing and industrial or corporate concerns to entertainment and cultural uses,
so too the downtown influence structure has changed (Strom, 2008). She argues that
the downtown business interest represents different segments of the business
community and organizes itself differently, and in a study of 3 cities shows that the
dominant business sector represented on downtown advocacy boards is the real estate
industry (Strom, 2008, p. 44, 46). Fainstein argues that the private real estate industry
is the main progenitor of changes in physical form, but that the development
industry has only recently become the focus of serious political-economic analysis
(Fainstein, 2001, p. 4). Therefore, in the new entrepreneurial city the development
industry is becoming a central player in and of itself rather than a byproduct of more
traditional business expansion needs. Clearly, the development sector has gained
influence, and the configuration of the growth machine has changed, but those
changes have not been fully explored.
The growth of the development industry has expanded the influence and the role of
the private consultant community. Logan and Molotch originally pointed out that the
rentier class depends on a host of support services including lawyers, syndicators, and
property brokers. In later work, Molotch describes a small army of urban consultants
who now go from city to city with projects they say will work. Their expertise,

personal grace, and quality of graphics are mobilized behind analyses and plans that
can be applied, with some modification, to the local predicament (Molotch, 1993, p.
36). These development experts in some cases have worked for city government or
planning departments themselves and so know the constraints and concerns of public
officials and agencies. Molotch argues that in general the consultant group favors
The product the consultants are allowed to sell is knowledge to
construct development instruments and to make edifices happen. ..
Often the relationship between city and consultant moves through a
series of steps.... As local financial and psychological investment
grows in the particular scheme and overall strategy, it becomes harder
to retreat from the development dynamic, which gains its own
organizational momentum (Molotch, 1993, p. 36).
The standardization of development strategies that derived from globalized financial
conditions has been reinforced by the nationalization of development consultants. The
local practices of the development sector are conditioned by a national set of accepted
practices that limit local choices (Leinberger, 1996, 2005). Again, the role of the
consultant community in development politics and interactions has not been fully
studied; and this project which looks at the role of the development sector will help
fill that gap.
Local Business Sector
The private sector is not limited to the development community; local business
interests do play a role in development politics. The local business community holds a
privileged position in most communities, typically holding seats on city councils and
planning commissions as well as on development authority boards or other quasi-
public agencies. But changes in business organization have affected local
development agendas and have diminished local business power. Logan and Molotch
point to the erosion of a clearly visible and locally committed elite due to a
delocalization process (Logan & Molotch, 2007, pp 205-207). They suggest that the
original conceptions of industry and business growth being good for the whole
community were more valid when local largesse and tax payments stayed in a shared
locality. The relocation of business institutions has meant that the strongest players
have less motivation for local investment and smaller institutions step in to try to
fulfill investment needs and development promotion roles (Logan and Molotch, 2007,
p. 207). Reese and Rosenfeld in a recent study of 350 cities in Canada and the U.S.
conclude that Business interests are not unitary nor cohesive within cities, the
composition and nature of the private sector is not uniform across cities, and
differentiated patterns of business input and policy output can result (Reese &

Rosenfeld, 2002, p. 642). Just as the development sectors role requires more study,
so too, the present day role of the local business sector is not clearly understood.
Community Sector
In Molotchs terms the community sector tends to emphasize the use value of
property more than the exchange value (Molotch, 1976), and as a result, it has often
been characterized as being anti-development or anti-growth. Neighborhood groups
and citizen activists have mobilized against development projects in cases where
development threatened open space or cultural resources, or in efforts to limit traffic,
congestion, pollution and density caused by growth. Citizens have also entered
development processes in favor of specific facilities or planning programs. There is
substantial case study evidence of citizen mobilization around economic development
issues, especially in the form of controversies over particular development policies
and projects (Sharp & Bath, 1993 in Wolman, 1996, p. 254). These citizen
mobilizations which began in response to concerns about the damaging effects of
growth on the natural environment have also registered quality of life concerns.
Citizens are now demanding density, convenience and urban amenities such as open-
air streetscapes and public activities (Gupta & Terzano, 2008). In some metropolitan
areas citizen groups have gained experience and are gaining influence. The new
power players are the homeowner associations. Increasingly, these groups are waging
sophisticated and effective warfare against developments they see as a threat to their
property values and quality of life (Kelly, 1995, p. 28A).
In addition to neighborhood and residential organizations, the community sector
extends to non-profits and institutions. Strom reports that the downtown interest
groups in her study
have extended their constituency to include non-profit executives and
public officials. ... Today most downtown groups include several
public representatives ex officio, suggesting a more formalized
cooperation between private and public interests in downtown
development and management (Strom, 2008, p. 44, 46).
She suggests that in theory the presence of non-profit and public actors would change
the agendas of these development coalitions. Although it would be naive to claim
that public officials and nonprofit leaders always engage in urban redevelopment with
democratic goals, it is clear that such leaders are responsible to different
constituencies than are their private sector counterparts (Strom, 2008, p. 47).
Stroms findings, though focused on three specific downtown business organizations,
suggest what other studies have indicated, that as larger economic forces have pulled
dominate businesses out of local communities relationships of local power and
influence have changed. As a result, the representation of community interests in

development and growth politics is evolving and continues to change (Stoker, 1998,
p. 124).
Growth Imperatives
The spaces of the suburban downtown are conceived and created in a context where
these interest sectors compete within a structural framework of growth imperatives
and development conditions that shape their intentions and interactions. The analysis
task is to examine the conditions and practices in the specific case communities to
discover how structural and external conditions affect the interactions of the different
interest constituencies, the public, development, local business, and community
sectors, and how those different interests wield influence.
Structural conditions have implications for how the different sectors operate and how
development occurs. The fiscal imperative that underlies the need for cities to pursue
economic development is reinforced by a growth ideology that equates economic
growth with community prosperity. For the public sector, the need to pursue
development becomes an end in itself and an important political motivation for public
actors. Development decisions are motivated by the need to make deals and get
something done. The configurations of public private development also have
implications for the public sector as privatized development arrangements insulate
development decisions from the political process and so limit the influence of the full
range of community voices. Yet the scope of development and the reduction of
outside sources of funds mean that cities are unable to pursue large scale development
projects on their own and must enter into partnership agreements and development
The development sector represents actors that are constrained by nationalized
standards and practices that affect what resources are available and which strategies
can be pursued. Nationalized standards also determine community agendas as certain
development trends become must have items for municipal ambitions. For the
community sector, the nationalization and consolidation of businesses, especially in
the real estate sector has led to the delocalization of dominate business interests and
opened up avenues of influence as primary local actors have dispersed or disappeared
making room in the local power hierarchy for non-profit or institutional actors.
Finally, the rise of quality of life concerns as a mainstream political agenda has
provided support for local community groups who question the dominant growth

Theoretical Expectations
The preceding sections outline a theoretical framework based on a political economy
perspective. Studies of urban development and political economy challenge the
notion that growth and development always result in community benefits. The
literature leads to the expectation that suburban redevelopment projects will follow
the patterns of previous urban development creating privatized areas that serve
commercial interests more than community ones. As a result, mixed-use town centers
will fall short of public and community benefit goals. The local development process
occurs with four interest sectors interacting at the local level to negotiate project
programs and design. If the most basic understandings of the growth machine are
valid, then the relationships between the four sectors would be characterized by
uneven levels of power and influence with the development sector and the local
business sector as private interests strongly influencing the development decisions of
the public sector, and the community sector functioning in a minor role.
However, more recent studies have investigated urban development in relationship to
larger factors of globalization and economic restructuring, suggesting expansion and
readjustment of the original growth machine conceptions. The four sectors are
expected to exert varied levels of influence and control as they follow different
interests and purposes. The public sector and the development sector have primary
roles, especially in large scale projects that require partnership arrangements. The
local business sector has a reduced role as economic conditions reduce the presence
of significant business concerns in smaller communities through consolidation and
relocation. The community sector is expected to be more active in current
development negotiations as citizen activism in smaller communities has grown and
non-profit institutions are present.
The development process is also conditioned by structural and external factors that
impact both the purposes of each sector and the interactions of the interest groups
with each other. Structural conditions place communities in a position of prioritizing
economic development and growth and set certain expectations about development
priorities. The fiscal imperative that Peterson describes leads to the expectation that
increased sales tax revenue would be the primary goal for redevelopment activity for
the public sector. The over whelming adherence to the belief in growth as a positive
community objective suggests that commercial development and amenity programs
will be the dominant strategy in suburban communities. External factors affect
interest group relationships and are expected reduce local control and influence. The
increased need for partnership arrangements to carry out development projects, in
particular mixed-use development projects, within a context of commercial and tax
revenue priorities suggests that partnership relationships will be skewed toward

private sector interests with the public sector seeing high risks with limited returns.
The consolidation of the real estate industry in terms of standardized development
products and financing requirements means that local desires for contextual or unique
design may be harder to meet and lessens the number of local businesses or
developers who can enter into large scale projects.
Urban development is constantly undergoing change based on fluctuating economic
cycles, changing socioeconomic patterns, evolving planning and design strategies,
new retail trends and ever-shifting consumer preferences. Structural conditions and
external factors vary in their impacts and affects as local politics and economics go
through cycles. As a result, development processes are not static. The development
projects in the subject communities reflect the most recent configurations of
development politics and so the study will test the correspondence between
expectations for the interactions of development interests and processes and actual
project results. The study will also provide a test of the how well expectations based
on primarily urban based literature will apply to suburban development.
Development projects have many objectives but to the extent that public resources are
utilized to create them and in view of the fact that downtown projects create the
central places of social and economic activity in a community, these projects should
be evaluated and examined in terms of their public benefit and in terms of the quality
of the community spaces that result. The literature provides an approach to follow and
a set of concerns to address. Evaluating the configurations of civic places and public
spaces that are created by development activities will show how different
development strategies address public interests and lead to future strategies that can
be used to better achieve diversity and equity goals. By examining the range of
interest groups involved in development activities and analyzing their motivations
and levels of influence, this study will add to an understanding of development
politics and patterns of influence and recommend ways that community interests can
be more effectively represented in development processes, and public and private
benefits better balanced in development projects. Finally, the examination of how the
underlying conditions of development in specific suburban communities affect the
interactions of the different interest sectors will extend the study of political economy
into a neglected arena.

The case studies profile the development histories of four suburban communities in
the Denver area in the last century with an emphasis on downtown building efforts
especially in the last several decades. These cases show their own unique patterns and
peculiarities, but they also fit into more general outlines of planning history and
development trends as they have occurred around the country and in the Denver
region. The last chapter outlined an argument which states that development occurs as
a result of growth interests driving political decision-making within a structural
framework that determines the conditions of development. The first section of this
chapter applies the same theoretical argument to the suburban context to outline a set
of suburban redevelopment imperatives. The second section of the chapter describes
the background of Denvers development as it reflects and embodies national trends
that correspond to the discussion of downtown planning in the case studies. Denvers
development story is followed by an outline of recent conditions that have affected
suburban development in the Denver metropolitan area. These sections together
provide a background for the case analyses. The final part of the chapter outlines the
research approach and research method. By demonstrating the way that the suburban
context connects to urban development theory and by indicating the similarities
between Denvers growth history and national development patterns, the chapter
shows that the individual cases which are set in one specific region and tell individual
stories are also more general stories that fit within larger patterns and provide insights
and understandings that are relevant beyond the local context.
Suburban Redevelopment Imperatives and Conditions
Suburban redevelopment is not nearly as well studied as urban redevelopment has
been, yet the conditions that have pushed cities to invest in land development projects
are also found in suburbs. A review of the patterns and issues of local economic
development that has come out of the urban literature is also useful for understanding
suburban development motivations. Four different imperatives are designated. The
first has to do with the fiscal stress that cities operate under, whereby they are
dependent on raising revenues through their own sources and therefore depend on
economic development programs. In suburbs, tax policies mean that suburban
communities depend primarily on sales tax and so are motivated to pursue
commercial and retail development above other uses. Secondly, suburban
communities are driven by economic competition and political ambition to support

growth agendas that will enhance their marketing image and position to attract
development and investment growth. Growth strategies are seen as providing the
highest level of development benefit for the largest proportion of the community.
The third imperative derives from the first two, but has been intensified by the effects
of economic restructuring and shifting national economic policies. The need to pursue
economic development and to pursue strategies for high levels of development
activity mean that municipalities consider large scale development projects even as
public financing for those projects is less available. This situation has led to
development through public private partnerships. Suburban governments tend to be
smaller and younger than urban ones and so require partnerships more, but may be
less experienced in partnership relationships. Finally globalization has affected local
development by creating large scale development firms and real estate investment
companies that have delocalized development activities. Suburban development in
many smaller communities has always depended on outside development consultants
who came from the surrounding region or the main metropolitan center, but local
business interests had influence over decision-making. The relocation or closing of
local firms lessens that influence at the same time that developers and consultants
shift into national and multinational configurations which further reduces local
Fiscal Imperative
Because cities and suburbs in the US are dependent on a local fiscal system that is
structurally dependent on generating tax revenue from locally based economic
activity and city residents (Wolman, 1996, p. 228), suburbs face an economic
development imperative just as larger cities do. As Peterson and others have argued,
communities engage in economic development activity because given the mobility of
capital across geographic boundaries, they have an overriding interest in attracting
economic activity. Cities constantly seek to upgrade their economic standing... they
seek to improve their market position, their attractiveness as a locale for economic
activity (Peterson, 1981, pp 22-3). In fact, in these competitive conditions, studies
have found that if anything the competition for investment resources is fiercer
between suburbs within a region than it is at a state level or between major cities
(Goetz & Kayser, 1993; Anton, 1998; Wassmer, 2002).
Cities in Western states such as California, Colorado, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, and
Utah where voters and legislatures have enacted restrictions to local use of property
taxes are especially impacted by economic conditions that force them to raise their
own revenues (Wassmer, 2002). Studies of the effects of Californias Proposition 13
which effectively minimized property taxes as a dependable source of local revenue

concluded that the complex and fragmented system of local finance in California,
with its heavy reliance on sales taxation as a source of local discretionary revenue (is)
the single most important factor driving local land-use decisions in the state
(Wassmer, 2002, p. 1310). One result of the changed tax structure has been a higher
dependence on sales tax as a local revenue source. A survey of officials in 300
California cities asked them to rank 18 different motivations for evaluating the
desirability of various forms of development projects. New sales tax revenues
always finished first or second. At the same time, 36 central city officials ranked sales
tax considerations considerably lower (Lewis & Barbour, 1999). Wassmer argues that
these results would be matched in other Western states. In a context where increasing
sales tax is a significant development motivation, retail development is highly sought
after (Wassmer, 2002).
In this kind of a competitive environment, suburbs are motivated to carve out their
own unique positions in the regional urban system. In the years immediately before
and after the Second World War, individual communities had regional identities that
were well known to community residents. Aurora was the military suburb in Denver
because of its location between Lowry Air Base, Fitzsimons Army Hospital and
Buckley Field. The rural centers of Arvada and Englewood had their own
personalities. Arvada was the Celery Capital. Englewood was known for its beer
halls, saloons and the Tuileries Amusement Park as well as its horse drawn streetcar
(Leonard & Noel, 1990).
After the war, modem growth and development filled in the landscape with an array
of housing, shopping and office growth. Community boundaries blurred into each
other and community identities lost their relevance. At the end of the twentieth
century, residents orient themselves in the metropolitan region less by community
centers or boundaries, and more by highway routes, freeway interchanges and
shopping malls. In the present patchwork of the homogenized landscape, creating a
unique identity is a necessity for development projects. The undifferentiated blur of
todays metropolitan landscape demands some kind of definition of community
identity and place marketing approaches. To be successful, development projects
have to compete for limited sales tax dollars; they need to have tangible symbols of
identity to attract customers and residents.
Growth Ideology
Fiscal stress pushes certain communities to engage in development activities and
explains why local governments would be motivated to pursue development projects.
But even communities that are economically stable engage in economic development.
External forces put pressure on local governments to follow growth agendas because

private interests also have an interest in economic development. Urban growth
machines are understood to work through property entrepreneurs who work to
increase land values and land rents by using government to pursue growth and so
maximize their own investments (Logan & Molotch, 2007; Wolman, 1996). Regime
theory suggests that local governments are not used by the property elite, so much as
they enter into governing coalitions with them to engage in property development
(Stone, 1989). Scholars of suburban history argue that private developers have held a
powerful position in suburban communities based on federal financial and policy
support (Jackson, 1985; Hayden, 2002). In the growth oriented development context
that has characterized suburban development, property development activities would
be expected to dominate economic development efforts.
Economic development is an ambiguous business due to the complexity of forces
affecting local economies and the difficulty of predicting actual results or potential
benefits (Giles & Blakely, 2001). Despite certain risks and uncertain outcomes, cities
and suburbs actively pursue redevelopment projects. Local officials are likely to see
growth and development as a collective good and so necessary to electoral success.
Major land use projects are seen as the most visible signs of economic success and so
a source of positive political reputation (Peterson, 1981; Pagano & Bowman, 1995).
But even short of electoral calculations or political ambition, there is likely to be
strong public pressure on local officials to do something. Even in nonstressed cities,
the pressure to respond may be strong if other competitive jurisdictions are engaged
in active efforts to attract economic activity (Wolman, 1996, p. 242). Public pressure
and political ambition combine with other forces to further promote redevelopment
projects in suburban communities.
Public Private Partnerships
Urban centers have followed entrepreneurial strategies for redevelopment projects
using public-private partnerships that focus on providing amenities and attractions in
order to appeal to world class consumers and businesses. These strategies arose in
response to conditions of fiscal stress and urban decline and were supported by
business interests and political actors seeking to fortify downtown property
investment, public reputation and a worrisome civic image. Facing the loss of federal
aid programs and the decline of outside funding sources, suburbs have also focused
resources on local development and economic growth. David Harvey writes about the
shift in public policy by saying, there seems to be a general consensus emerging
throughout the advanced capitalist world that positive benefits are to be had by cities
taking an entrepreneurial stance to economic development. Put simply, the
managerial approach so typical of the 1960s has steadily given way to initiatory and
entrepreneurial forms of action in the 1970s and 1980s (Harvey, 1989, p.4). The

entrepreneurial approach that Harvey describes necessitates partnerships with private
The commitment to economic development and the partnering with private interests
that is required has two affects on development processes. The first comes from the
citys new entrepreneurial role as a development facilitator which means that the
public sector is motivated to reduce government interference and to buffer
development initiatives from citizen review. The formation of partnerships and the
creation of quasi-public agencies such as renewal authorities and development
corporations serve this motivation. In addition, entrepreneurial development is more
likely to be conceived on a project to project basis rather than from a community
wide or long term perspective therefore diverting attention and resources from
broader jurisdictional issues into specific place specific projects. These conditions of
partnership development strategies will be more pronounced in the suburbs where
development has traditionally followed project to project, leapfrog style development
and thwarted planners efforts to create regional strategies. The ability to insulate the
development process from oversight and review could be more pronounced in the
suburbs which have had a strong tradition of private development influence and weak
municipal government (Kruse & Sugrue, 2006).
Consolidation of Development Firms and the Rea/ Estate Industry
The building industry has had a significant role in shaping the suburban landscape, a
role that expanded dramatically in the post war years and which is still dominant.
Globalization has had the effect of consolidating the real estate development business
into large national and international firms. Whereas real estate had been a local
business, in the last few decades, especially since the rise of real estate investment
trusts in the aftermath of the Savings and Loans crisis of the 1980s, changing
financial structures have moved decision-making to centralized equity markets
(Leinberger, 1996, 2005). The result of this consolidation has been a standardization
of development products.
The main benefit of access to the new market for real estate
developers has been access to financing and dispersal of investment
risk. But to participate in it, they have had to commodify what they
build, and this has meant ensuring that each unit of each product, type
was adequately similar to every other (Leinberger, 2005).
The standardization, commodification and specialization that Leinberger describes in
his discussion of the Nineteen Standard Real Estate Products which are dominated
by retail and office uses is especially relevant to suburban communities because of
the dominance of those sectors in the suburban economy.

Denver Context
Denver was chosen initially for pragmatic reasons of familiarity and access; it was
practical for this researcher to do multiple site visits and face to face interviews in the
Denver area. More importantly, Denver is justified as the site for this research for a
number of theoretical reasons. Denver exhibits many of the growth patterns of urban
and suburban development that have been identified for other cities in the United
States (Abbott, 1998). A central business district arose and grew at the turn of the
century only to face decline and decentralization in the face of suburbanization. Early
suburbs exhibit a range of patterns that are described in the literature including street
car suburbs, industrial communities, rural centers and picturesque enclaves. More
recent post-war growth also fits national trends. Federal and military installations
brought capital and labor to the area during the war, and set up conditions for rapid
growth and development after the war. Bedroom communities characterized by
residential subdivisions filled in a landscape opened up for development by interstate
highways and growth continues today in outer ring communities.
Denver has also exhibited the patterns of urban development that have been
documented by political economy scholars. In the post war years, in response to
decentralization, demographic changes and population decline Denver took on the
task of upgrading and improving its downtown through traffic changes and
questionable urban renewal projects, which altered the character and built fabric of
the downtown district. After a wave of office tower projects built in the 1970s created
a new skyline and new business optimism, Denver suffered an economic recession
that lasted until the end of the 1980s. The city then embarked on an ambitious
revitalization campaign to bring visitors and residents into the city, a campaign that
has included new or renovated spectacle attractions such as sports stadiums,
amusement centers, art museums, an expanded library, and residential loft
apartments, and has resulted in a back to the city revival. A detailed account of
Denvers development history can be found in Appendix A.
Denvers development history forms a common backdrop to the suburban case
studies, as the fates of the central city and its suburbs are intertwined. Not only do
they share the economic cycles of boom and bust that have affected Denver from its
earliest mining days, but they are linked through shared ideas, metropolitan planning
districts, business and political personalities, local consultants and designers in a
common metropolitan culture. When Denver pursued City Beautiful civic
improvements in the early part of the century, surrounding communities also built
parks, installed street lights and improved their downtown streets with sidewalks.
Later when Denver turned to renewal schemes to revitalize its downtown,
communities with fading commercial corridors watched the process and the results.

The shopping centers and office parks that were built in one community were the
objects of scrutiny and comparison in the others. Finally when Denver embarked on a
series of new urbanist, mixed-use redevelopment projects at the old Stapleton Airport
site and the former Lowry Air Base, suburban planners and politicians joined in
conversations and panels about the new planning ideas. Denver serves as an example
that its surrounding suburbs watch and follow. It also provides a metropolitan context
for suburban development that should offer similarities and parallels to other
metropolitan areas.
Suburban Context
Just as Denvers downtown fits the model of revitalization that has been seen in other
cities, so too do Denvers suburbs fit national patterns. Denver has brought new
businesses and new residents to downtown and to the city as a whole through a
program of infrastructure investment, the development of lifestyle amenities and
attractions, and the creation of functioning downtown residential neighborhoods.
Denvers suburbs meanwhile have continued to expand and to diversify, while adding
increased services, employment centers and residential options. As suburbs have
aged, growth has moved beyond the inner ring and is expanding further out, drawing
resources away from older areas and creating a varied set of conditions across and
even within suburbs. Communities on the edges are still expanding while some of the
inner ring suburbs are facing fiscal and social challenges. Denver also has suburbs
that contain both declining and growing areas.
Even as the city of Denver was staging a set of development responses that brought
new residents into the city and raised tax revenues, a Rocky Mountain News article
from 1995 profiled the unprecedented growth in the suburbs surrounding the city.
A surge of people and jobs in the five counties ringing Denver has the
suburbs rivaling or even overshadowing the core city as the chief
economic engine of the regional capital of the Rocky Mountain West.
From Broomfield to Parker, towns once considered the boondocks are
fast becoming centers of commerce and industry (Kelly, RMN,
8/13/1995, p. 28A).
Clearly, the author points out, the growth of the suburbs is not news, but the
concentration of economic and political clout and the shift from suburbs being
bedroom communities to leading commercial centers is something to pay attention to.
In the years between 1980 and 1994, Denver grew by only 873 residents to a
population of 493,559, while the five counties, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas,
and Jefferson, grew by 426,510 to 1.56 million. Job growth was equally uneven; in
the same years, Denver added 5,411 jobs while the counties total increased by
281,761 (Kelly, 1995, p. 28A).

The combination of Denvers residential resurgence and the continuing growth at the
urban edge has meant that Denver now has inner ring suburbs that are facing
challenges once reserved for the central city. One Denver based urban consultant,
Brad Segal of Progressive Urban Management, described the changes caused by the
rediscovery of Denvers urban neighborhoods. As predominantly poor
neighborhoods in the city become gentrified people who cant afford to rent are
forced to move farther out (Rebchook, 1999, p. 7G), creating a doughnut-like urban
The inner city neighborhoods are the prosperous middle. The outer
area, the distant suburbs, will continue to be strong, but we will see
pockets of poverty on the periphery of downtown. Traditional urban
poor will become suburban poor. The areas off the center of the
doughnut parts of Aurora, Englewood, Lakewood can become a
new ring of poverty (Rebchook, 1999, p. 7G).
The conditions of the first tier suburbs that have been described in recent studies such
as Hudnuts Halfway to Everywhere are true of parts of Denvers inner ring. These
are clearly communities that are seeing signs of struggle says Terri Bailey from
Denvers Piton Foundation (Anton, 1998, p. 5A). The number of children in the
federal free and reduced price lunch programs jumped by 53 percent in Denvers
suburbs in the 1990s, and suburban social service agencies saw large increases in
homelessness and hunger. Denvers suburbs have also witnessed ethnic and racial
change as communities that have been predominantly white have attracted minority
residents. Between 1990 and 1998, suburban school districts in the Denver
metropolitan area had a 58% increase in minority enrollment, a rate nearly three times
greater than overall enrollment (Anton, 1998, p. 5A). Declining infrastructure,
especially housing, has been a reason for the influx of newcomers, but also a concern.
As housing prices in Denver have gone up, the smaller, older homes of Denvers
aging suburban neighborhoods in Englewood, Aurora, Thornton, Wheat Ridge,
Lakewood, Arvada and Commerce City are more affordable for residents who have
been priced out of the Denver market. But the older neighborhoods are also creating
the need for suburban officials to launch programs and find funding to prevent them
from deteriorating so far that they cant be brought back. Especially in a housing
market that values ever larger homes and newer amenities, that is a significant
challenge (Anton, 1998; Rebchook, 1999).
In another discussion of suburban change, several of Denvers suburbs are
characterized as having strong dividing lines between older, poorer areas and newer,
more affluent zones (Anton, 1998). Lakewoods City Manager, Mike Rock stated of
the older neighborhoods and Lakewoods position, They have the potential to have
the worst of both worlds not as interesting as the city, not as convenient and shiny

as the new suburbs. We have pockets of wealth and pockets of poverty and a lot of in-
between stuff that could go either way (Anton, 1998, p. 5 A). This characterization
also fits Arvada, Westminster and Aurora which still have room to expand and create
new neighborhoods, malls, and office centers even as they work to shore up older
sections of their communities. It is less true of smaller, more land locked
communities like Federal Heights and Englewood, which have to renovate their
existing fabric because their expansion options have been shut off by surrounding
In this climate of change Denvers suburbs have had to try to increase services while
also paying attention to economic development. Because of state laws and tax
policies local governments depend primarily on sales tax revenue to meet fiscal
demands. In the 1960s, the Colorado legislature rejected shared-revenue programs
that were being passed in other states in favor of allowing cities to generate and keep
their own sales tax while the state collected income tax. In 1982, the Gallagher
Amendment limited residential propertys share of the tax burden to 45%. Then in
1992, the TABOR amendment limited tax revenues overall. The combined effect of
this legislation is to make municipal governments overly dependent on sales tax
revenues (Amole, 1998, p.22A; Wheeler, 2003, p. Al). As Noel describes Each
community, no matter how tiny and poor, is forced into uneven and bitter competition
to annex more land and capture more retail business (Noel, 1996).
Research Approach
My interest in investigating the phenomenon of town center development in suburban
communities led me to a case study approach. The complexity of downtown
development projects with long histories, multiple phases and multipart project
programs and partners suggested a qualitative method.
With qualitative data one can preserve chronological flow, see
precisely which events led to which consequences, and derive fruitful
explanations. Then, too, good qualitative data are more likely to lead
to serendipitous findings and to new integrations; they help researchers
to get beyond initial conceptions and to generate or revise conceptual
frameworks. Finally, the findings from qualitative studies have a
quality ofundeniability. Words, especially organized into incidents
or stories, have a concrete, vivid, meaningful flavor that often proves
far more convincing to a reader another researcher, a policy maker, a
practitioner than pages of summarized numbers (Miles &
Huberman, 1994, p. 1).

Urban redevelopment has been studied successfully through qualitative case studies
which have traced the decision making paths, project motivations, interest group
politics and physical outcomes in a variety of settings and situations and provided
rich analytical material and results (Fainstein et. al, 1983; Pagano & Bowman, 1995;
Flyvbjerg, 1998; Savitch & Kantor, 2002; Ford, 2003). Therefore, I chose to do a
multiple-case study of downtown planning and development in four suburban
communities located in the Denver metropolitan area.
In-depth case studies are warranted for several reasons. First, the academic treatment
of suburban planning has been until recently surprisingly thin. Suburbs have been
described and critiqued, but suburban planning has been mostly ignored, almost as if
to suggest that planning has not occurred. Planning activity in these communities
deserves attention, even when the results do not meet normative planning and design
standards. Second, town center projects may be simply enhanced shopping malls, but
the preponderance and variety of the form suggest that it is a phenomenon with
widespread application that makes it worthy of more in-depth investigation. Finally,
the treatment of mixed use centers and new downtowns that does exist comes mostly
from the development community. Urban Land and other publications from the Urban
Land Institute provide the bulk of profdes and reports about this type of project, but
the reports do not necessarily place projects in a larger planning context, examine
planning processes or present critical evaluations. Analytical case studies should
provide a more critical and contextual evaluation and multiple case studies will
provide a higher degree of credibility.
In smaller, more homogeneous suburbs, most redevelopment policies
are enacted at the municipality level. Different suburbs have different
attitudes toward development and different approaches and levels of
commitment for encouraging it. (These) case studies cannot explain all
the many facets that may affect redevelopment activity, but they do
provide useful insights into a broad range of conditions and public and
private policies that determine the trajectory of (downtown) vitality
(Peiser, 2007, p. 3).
Case Study Methodology
The case study is a way of telling a compelling story that offers increased
understanding of human activity, in this instance of planning activity. Flyvbjerg
quotes Machiavelli in his discussion of the dangers of what he terms the normative
attitude: a man who neglects what is actually done for what should be done learns
2 For a useful treatment of the development of suburban scholarship see Kevin M. Kruse & Thomas J.
Sugrue, Introduction: The New Suburban History in The New Suburban History eds. Kruse &
Sugrue, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2006, pp 1-10.

the way to self-destruction (Flyvbjerg, 1998, p.2). In planning we are often driven by
our normative expectations of what should be done, and frustrated when what
actually happens falls short of those expectations. The case narrative makes use of
storytelling to describe what is actually done and in so doing to make sense of
particular planning experiences.
Narrative inquiries begin with an interest in a particular phenomenon
that is best understood narratively. Narrative inquiries then develop
descriptions and interpretations of the phenomenon from the
perspective of participants, researchers, and others (Flyvbjerg, 2006,
p. 240).
This project claims that the phenomenon of the suburban downtown represents a
planning story that has not been sufficiently told, but one with a central plot line
about the tension in planning between expectations and motivations, strategy choices
and final outcomes. The case study approach is an appropriate method to investigate
that phenomenon and to provide insights and understandings for planning practice.
After all we tell stories in order to do things differently. (Flyvbjerg, 1998, p. 4).
Case Selection
The first phase of the case research, then, was identifying potential stories, and
deciding which stories to tell. I started the process by having conversations with local
consultants and planners about ongoing and recent development activity in the
Denver area and then conducting brief site visits to suburban downtowns throughout
the metropolitan area. Because a significant research objective was to look at how
public and civic values were being expressed and included in downtown planning, I
chose my cases specifically on that dimension. I looked for suburban communities
with downtown development projects that included public space, public facilities or
civic spaces. 1 started with a broad set of Denvers regional suburbs consisting of the
29 communities larger than 10,000 residents in the 2000 Census in the five county
area surrounding Denver. Of those, 8 are CDPs, or census defined places that are not
incorporated cities or towns, and 21 are cities or towns with municipal government
structures including planning departments. I eliminated the CDPs because I wanted to
be able to study public planning activity and the interaction of the public and private
sectors in development activity. From the set of 21 cities and towns 1 chose to look
further at the 14 communities that are within close proximity of Denver and so had
the most direct city/suburb relationship with the central city. Of that group 12
communities had downtown redevelopment and revitalization departments or
projects, but only nine had projects that included public elements. Finally, five of
those nine had projects that were in the planning stages, but not far enough along to
be able to study final outcomes. The remaining four communities, Englewood,
Arvada, Lakewood, and Aurora, have five downtown projects as Aurora has an

original downtown redevelopment project as well as a City Center project, and they
became my case studies. A map of the subject redevelopment projects is shown in
Figure 3.1. The map provides a view of the project locations in relation to downtown
Denver and shows the projects sizes relative to each other.
Figure 3.1: Case Study Locations in the Denver Metropolitan Area
Archival Research
My research into my specific cases began with archival research. Archival sources
consisted of project files, planning documents, site plans, and other project records
that could be found in libraries and municipal offices, or provided by project
participants. These sources were used to detail the history and background of each
project; the development process including conceptualization, vision setting, strategy
development, public input processes, partner responsibilities, design changes, budget
setting and implementation; and the comprehensive planning and development
outlook for the community over time. As public documents these records meet
standards of accuracy and represent a reliable source of information. While for the
most part project participants were open and helpful, archival data proved more

difficult than expected to obtain. City departments usually entrusted with maintaining
development documents had uneven archiving practices. Local libraries in many
cases had incomplete collections of public documents. In both public offices and
libraries space constraints and periodic relocations had caused the disposal of older
files. City offices also had different approaches to researcher access.
To fill in some of what I felt were documentation gaps, I extended my archival
research through an exhaustive review of media records. I searched the two major
newspapers in the metropolitan area, the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News
for newspaper articles pertaining to the projects. The Denver Public Librarys
Western History Department has a local subject index as well as an extensive set of
clipping files that proved useful to that search. In addition, I read weekly issues of the
local newspaper for multiple decades for each of the subject communities. In each
case the weekly local paper provided useful accounts of council deliberations and
decisions, editorial comments, letters to the editor, reports of citizen activism, copies
of development plans, discussions of project progress and setbacks, and local election
results and commentary. Media reports showed some level of inconsistency, but have
met at least adequate standards of accuracy and editorial review. Incorporating these
different sources of data increased the accuracy and dependability of the overall
findings of the archival material.
Interviews with primary project staff including city officials, planning and agency
staff, developers, consultants, and other stakeholders were conducted to gather a
variety of perspectives concerning development projects and to fill out
understandings of project motivations, agendas, strategies, decision-making, and
outcomes. The initial archival research indicated potential interview subjects. I also
contacted the planning department in each community as a starting point, first to ask
for access to planning records and then to identify planning and agency staff to talk
to. Planning staff identified principal project staff, from both the public and private
sector, and often provided contact information. While some stakeholders were
unavailable or did not respond to contact attempts, forty-three semi-structured
interviews of about an hour in length, were conducted either at the interviewees
office, at a location close to the project site, or over the telephone. Interviews were
recorded and transcribed following the communication.
Interviews pursued answers to numerous questions related to project intentions and
motivations. How did this project fit into the larger planning outlook for the
community? Why were public elements included? What were the expectations for
public use? How did the inclusion of a public component affect the overall strategy

for development? Interviews were also concerned with the planning process. Which
groups or individuals initiated and supported the public use agenda? What were the
project issues and how did the project move forward? How did the different project
entities work together and relate to each other? Was there a public process and how
did it affect the development? Finally, interviewees were asked about outcomes and
results. How does the project function as a gathering area, a community focal point, a
public space? Who uses the space, and what activities happen there? How was the
space programmed and designed and why? Individual interviews varied somewhat
depending on the interview subject. Elected officials were asked more questions
about overall community vision and expectations for development, while project
consultants were asked more specific questions about design decision-making and
program elements.
On-Site Observation
Site visits and observation filled out my research process. Over a series of 12 multiple
day visits occurring between June 2006 and June 2008 in all seasons and at different
times of day, I visited each site on at least 12 occasions to verify project details, to
observe public activity, and to evaluate design results. Patterns of use were identified
including where people gathered, how they moved through the site, and the kinds of
behaviors they engaged in; the approximate ages and types of people using the site
were also noted. I used field notes and photographs to document my observations. I
also used a template of my evaluation framework to systematically record physical
elements and use and activity measures for each project site. I engaged in limited
participant observation at each site because whenever possible during my visits, I
stayed close to the project areas and made a point of grocery shopping, eating, getting
coffee, meeting colleagues, conducting interviews, and doing miscellaneous errands
in the project areas, to further familiarize myself with both the specific case sites, and
also the surrounding community context and neighborhood. The combination of
archival research, interviews and on-site observation provided a well-grounded and
rich description of the context, conditions and consequences of downtown
development in each of the four subject communities.
The following chapters will provide more in depth information about these
communities and will present the development details of downtown planning efforts
and redevelopment projects in each. For each case, the discussion will trace the
trajectory of downtown planning and development through five growth phases that
correspond to changing planning models and approaches. The final section of each
case study chapter provides an evaluation of the current status of the downtown area,
both in terms of how it fits into the communitys planning outlook, and in terms of
how it meets public and civic objectives.

Table 3.1 shows the general outlines of conditions in these communities as compared
to Denver. Population figures indicate community sizes and growth rates while
income and poverty levels show how the communities compare to each other and to
Denver. Population characteristics provide the ethnic makeup of each community and
educational attainment and professional status measures indicate job force potential.
These figures show that Aurora is larger and more diverse than the other three, but
that Englewood has the most difficult financial position due to its second highest
poverty rate and lowest income figure. Numbers for land area, density and housing
age provide a picture of the land use character of each community. Aurora is clearly
the most spread out with large land area, low density and the highest percentage of
homes built since 1980, while Englewood is denser than Denver and has the largest
percentage of older homes.
Table 3.1: Community characteristics
Arvada Aurora Englewood Lakewood Denver
2005 Population 103,548 299,922 32,124 146,140 492,694
% Change from 2000 3 16 -2 11 -5
2000 Population 102,153 276,393 31,727 144,126 554,636
% Change from 1990 14 22 8 13 17
1990 Population 89,235 222,103 29,387 126,481 467,610
% Change from 1980 5 34 2 3 9
1980 Population 84,576 158,588 30,021 112,860 492,365
% Change 1980-2005 22 89 7 29.5 0

Median Household Income 2000 $55,541 $46,507 $38,943 $48,109 $39,500
Median Household Income 1990 (in 2000 $) $56,255 $47,782 $36,572 $48,990 $36,118
% Change in Med. Household Income 1990-2000 -1.3 -2.7 6.5 -1.8 9.3
Poverty Rate 2000 5.2% 8.9% 8.2% 7.1% 14.3%
Poverty Rate 1990 6.3% 7.4% 10.9% 7.6% 17.1%


Table 3.1 (Cont.)
Arvada Aurora Englewood Lakewood Denver
Annual Tax Revenue per Capita Sales Tax $312.00 $444.76 $832.17 $315.99 $795.46
Annual Tax Revenue per Capita Property Tax $28.00 $68.01 $80.98 $38.62 $236.58
Sales Tax as % of Operating Expenses 72.5% 74% 84% 67% 54%
Land Area sq. mile 32.66 142.5 6.55 41.59 153.35
Housing Density Units/sq. mile 1216.7 766.7 2276.4 1500.8 1639.6
# of Housing Units 39,623 109,074 14,879 62,433 251,435
Single Family Detached 72% 49.8% 58.4% 50.7% 47.5%
Year Built: Before 1939 1.8% 1% 15.5% 2.3% 24.5%
Year Built: 1940-1959 13.2% 9.4% 43.5% 18.3% 28.5%

Year Built: 1960-1969 20.9% 10.6% 12.8% 22.4% 14.3%
Year Built: 1970-1979 34.3% 34.3% 13% 25.5% 16.3%
Year Built: 1980-1989 15.1% 32.5% 11% 19% 8.9%
Year Built: 1990-2000 14.6% 12% 4.3% 12.7% 7.5%
% Built Prc-1970 36% 21% 72% 43% 67.3%
2000 Population: % White 91 68.9 87.8 87.2 65.3
2000 Population: % African American .9 14.5 1.8 1.8 11.8
2000 Population: % Asian 2.7 5.3 2.4 3.3 3.4
2000 Population: % American Indian 1.2 1.4 2.1 1.8 1.9
2000 Population: % Latino 9.8 19.8 ' 13.1 14.5 32
2000 Population: % Bachelors Degree or Higher 29 24.5 23 32.8 35
2000 Population: % Managerial Occup. 35.8 30.7 30.1 38.9 37.9

Table 3.1 (Cont.)
Population, Household Income, Tax Revenue, Race & Ethnicity, Education from DRCOG
Community Profiles accessed June 2006
Poverty Rates, Housing Age & Density, Occupation from American FactFinder/US Census accessed March 2005
Sales Tax/Operating Expenses from compundium/lgov fin a.html accessed 12/08/08

Although it is one of Denvers smaller suburbs, at only 6.9 square miles and a
population of 32,491, Englewood was one of Colorados most prosperous
communities, posting the 4th highest retail sales volume in the state in the 1950s
(RMN 7/14/60, p. 76). Now, Englewood has a lower average household income than
most of the communities in the metropolitan area3, and is characterized as a classic
inner-ring suburb with a reduced market share. Englewood was settled at the same
time as Denver, and incorporated early, in 1903. The community grew and developed
in the early years of the century and was surrounded and landlocked by the time
World War II brought explosive growth to the metropolitan area. Englewood
benefitted from post war development and prosperity which led to its status as a top
retail center during the 1950s and 1960s, but its inability to expand meant that it faced
redevelopment challenges earlier and more urgently than some other communities
that had more geographic opportunity. The story of how this community traveled a
road from prosperity to decline can be told by tracing the story of the downtown
district where the changing fortunes of this community were played out on the ground
and where the different conceptions for its future were negotiated in the form of
development plans and projects.
Originally the primary commercial district in the community was the Broadway
streetcar corridor which grew and thrived as a downtown Main Street into the 1950s;
both benefiting from the exodus of residents and shopping activity from Denver, and
then suffering from the presence and competition of other outlying commercial areas.
As a result, redevelopment conversations started in Englewood in the late 1950s, at
the same time that Denver was looking at renewal projects for its own downtown.
Through both circumstance and strategy, the city attracted a major regional mall to a
site near its downtown in the late 1960s. When Cinderella City Shopping Center
opened in 1968 just 5 blocks west of Broadway, it shifted the center of gravity away
from the original commercial core and became the community center pulling retail,
office and civic development into its orbit. As Cinderella City thrived, Broadway
declined and various renewal and rehabilitation schemes were undertaken to revitalize
the original commercial corridor and create a thriving downtown commercial area
connecting the mall and Broadway. As renewal schemes sputtered to mixed results,
3 Englewood ranked 6th in average household income among the 30 largest communities in the 5-
county Denver metropolitan region in the 2000 Census.

the mall lost ground to new shopping centers that developed outside the community
and Englewood faced the double challenge of a declining mall and an outdated and
lackluster downtown commercial corridor.
Like other inner ring suburbs, Englewood faced a mixed set of opportunities and
challenges as it approached the 21st century. Its location between downtown Denver
and the Denver Tech Center and its proximity to the first light rail line in the region
gave it a desirable position in the metro area. However, the citys older, smaller
housing stock, demographic profile, and aging infrastructure and failing commercial
centers made it a less desirable location for residents and businesses. When
Cinderella City Mall, a significant community landmark and revenue resource, finally
closed in 1994, the City embarked on an ambitious mall redevelopment project and
took the lead role in the redevelopment of Cinderella City into CityCenter
Englewood, which opened in 2000. CityCenter Englewood was developed as a mixed
use, open air, transit oriented project which has been studied and cited as an
instructive example of TOD and mixed use planning in a first tier suburb. The project
is seen as a catalyst for development of the entire downtown district and as such it
represents the latest chapter in the story of planning efforts and activities to maintain
the vibrancy of Englewoods downtown commercial area since the post war years.
Early Development and Original Patterns
Englewoods settlement dates back to 1858 and one of the regions first gold finds at
the Little Dry Creek, Platte River confluence. Located directly south of Denver on
Broadway, Englewood grew as development extended from Denver along the
Broadway streetcar line which was established in the 1890s assuring the growth of
the community as residential and business development followed the streetcar line
and clustered at the junction of three lines at the Broadway and Hampden intersection
(Hicks, 1971, p.14). The 1920s was period of expansion and growth for Englewood
as it was for many other streetcar suburbs around the country. The towns 1920
population of 2,983 more than doubled by 1930 when 7,980 residents called
Englewood home (Leonard & Noel, 1990, p. 286).
The growth and development of the pre-war years set the framework for Englewoods
future. Commercial development centered on Broadway, industry located along the
railroad corridor and the South Platte River to the west, and tidy, gridded residential
areas filled out the pattern in between. Englewoods original commercial and civic
core was the area surrounding the 3300 and 3400 blocks of South Broadway, and it
took the form of a traditional Main Street, with one and two-story brick buildings and
storefronts, and a mix of commercial, entertainment, service and municipal uses,
including the city hall and fire department, the post office, and multiple businesses

(, Historical Map). Englewood, then, in the prewar years was a
full-service community with a balanced mix of industry, commerce and residential
neighborhoods and a downtown district that functioned as the center of business,
political and community activity.
Civic Facilities
In 1930, the city bought the former Tuileries Amusement Garden Dance Pavilion
located on Broadway and turned it into the City Hall, Fire and Police Headquarters
and City Library (Hicks, 1971). These central civic functions were integrated into the
downtown fabric in a historic building. A new post office was built on Broadway in
1938. In the 1940s the City acquired land west of downtown to be used as a City
Park. The park was eventually expanded and became the site of a gymnasium and
outdoor swimming pool built in the 1950s (Post 7/13/55, p. 45). Summer concerts and
other community events were held in the park during the post war years (RMN
1/2/55, p. 11). The park area became a kind of civic center in 1950 when a new City
Hall and Library building was built adjoining the park. At the same time, the Fire and
Police Headquarters also moved into their own building nearby (Anderson, 1963, p.
1). These new facilities were needed for the growing community which had increased
to a population of 16,896 by 1950 (Leonard & Noel, 1990, p. 286). In 1955, in
keeping with mid century planning trends in larger cities, the city proposed an
ambitious community civic center to be built on the park grounds and planned to
include a concert hall, indoor and outdoor theaters, a new library and recreation
facilities (Post 7/13/55, p. 45).
Post War Development
Park n Shop
After the war, Englewood continued to grow as the Denver area as a whole benefited
from new industries and a burgeoning population. After WWII, Englewood
underwent a vast change there was a new high school, and industries began
choosing Englewood as a good place to locate new manufacturing plants
(, City History). By 1955, Englewood was Colorados 4th largest
city behind Denver, Pueblo and Colorado Springs (RMN 1/2/55, Empire, p. 2). In
these years development patterns began to respond to the decentralization forces that
were beginning to affect Denver and other cities around the country. In Denver, major
commercial activity moved out of downtown in the mid 1950s to the south when the
Cherry Creek Mall opened in 1953 and then University Hills Shopping Center opened
shortly thereafter. These malls were the largest of the early retail exodus, but they
were accompanied by smaller centers. In Englewood, a Park n Shop was built on

Broadway when, in 1950, the City sold City Hall to a local retail developer (Post,
12/27/1950, no page).
The Park n Shop, though located on the main commercial artery, did not maintain
the Main Street configuration of the existing downtown framework. Instead, the 19
shops in the center were oriented to a large parking lot behind the buildings (RMN
1/2/55, Empire p.12). The new retail center matched other post war retail shopping
villages with its attention to landscaping, combined store buildings and shared
parking areas. The development also represents a shift in the values and building
patterns in the downtown. The retail center, built as a single structure, took up an
entire city block, a block that had been the location of one of the communitys
original attractions and landmarks, the Tuileries building that was serving as the City
Hall when it was sold and redeveloped. The Park n Shop diminished the diversity of
uses on the Broadway corridor by replacing a mixed block that included a civic
facility and an historic structure with a block that contained only retail uses.
The shopping center had an immediate pay-off for the business and development
interests in the community. A Rocky Mountain News profile in 1955 celebrated
Englewood as a shoppers paradise because of its abundance of free parking, and
the lack of a city sales tax, both features which proved attractive to Denver shoppers
who faced a new sales tax that had been passed in that city after the war (RMN
1/2/55, Empire, p. 12). The shopping center and the surrounding Broadway
commercial area gave Englewood $35 million in retail sales according to the local
press, and by 1960, the small community ranked 4th in the state in retail sales volume
(RMN 7/14/60, p. 76).
Growth Machine in Action
Yet even as some observers trumpeted the success of the small business district, other
voices were more anxious. A market analysis done by the University of Colorado
showed that the Englewood trade area was shrinking and the downtown area
deteriorating (Post 11 /20/60, p.3AA; Post 10/31 /60, p. 19). By 1961, a shopping
center consultant hired by the Chamber of Commerce told Englewoods business
leaders that their downtown was falling behind and they must improve, or face losing
more business. To retain market share the business men were told, it will be
necessary to outdo the competition in terms of physical amenities and conveniences
such as ample parking and convenient traffic flow (Post 2/21/61, p. 17A).

Figure 4.1: Englewood, 1961

These reports and concerns about maintaining market share reflect the workings of a
metropolitan retail cycle that was set in motion with the beginning of suburbanization
but was accelerated by post war decentralization. Just as Englewood had benefited
when shoppers looked beyond Denvers downtown to fulfill their commercial needs,
so the next wave of growth was already expanding commercial development into a
broader ring, and causing a climate where each community found it necessary to
outdo the competition. In this competition, the winner would be the community that
prioritized attracting retail development and wealthy shoppers. It is worth noting that
unlike todays conditions where sales tax is the primary suburban revenue source, in
these years, Englewoods development ambitions were not motivated by the
immediate need to increase sales tax revenues, as one of the downtowns selling
points was that it had no sales tax. Therefore at this early stage, it appears that
Englewoods ambitions for retail growth would have been motivated by a more
general desire to maintain a positive image as a prosperous community to attract
continued growth of investment and population, a motivation that fits the classical
growth machine concept.
Faced with the consultants and academic reports Englewood mobilized its own
growth machine. Business and civic leaders, including the developer of the Park n
Shop came together to form a non-profit corporation called Downtown Englewood
Development Association (DEDA) and to develop ideas for shoring up the citys
retail position (Post 1/29/61, p. 6E). What resulted was a series of plans for
Englewoods new downtown that surfaced in 1960 and 1961. Early ideas called for
traffic improvements and new buildings and pedestrian areas to be created along
Broadway near the newly expanded Flampden Avenue (RMN, 2/1/59, no page).
Figure 4.2: 1961 Plan for the Broadway Pedestrian Mall (Post, 1/29/1961, p. 6E)

Plans published in the Denver Post in 1961 were more dramatic. In these plans, traffic
would be diverted around Broadway. The project
will cover 94 acres and will turn S. Broadway from Floyd Avenue to
below Hampden Avenue the heart of Englewoods business district -
from a humming traffic artery into a beautiful, tree-lined pedestrian
mall. Stores in the rebuilt area will be surrounded by acres of parking
space dotted with trees, lawn and flowers. Shoppers will be able to
turn quickly and easily off these adjoining one-way streets into the
parking lots beside them (Post 1/29/1961, p. 6E).
The project backers included many of the 15 largest landowners in the downtown
area who were being offered the chance to exchange their property holdings for
shares in a real estate investment trust (REIT) that was being set up to finance and
build the project. Smaller parcels would be acquired through urban renewal action if
necessary (Post 1/29/61, p. 6E). The plans for a Broadway pedestrian mall were never
realized, but Englewoods business interests continued to act to maintain its retail
Cinderella City Shopping Center
In 1960, Gerri Von Frellick, an aggressive developer who had arrived in Denver in
1952 fresh from near-bankruptcy in Texas, announced plans to build a new shopping
center east of Englewood in what was then unincorporated Arapahoe County.
Surrounding property owners, residents of wealthy Cherry Hills Village, immediately
opposed the plans. Englewood officials and business leaders jumped into the fray.
This conflict over the developers plans is an intricate narrative of suburban politics
in south Denver in the 1960s that I wont fully elaborate here.4
What is important to understand about the original Cinderella City development battle
was the way that Englewood turned it into an opportunity for its own development
ambitions. First, Englewood officials proposed, and later enacted, a strategy to annex
the unincorporated county site before Denver could, recognizing by the developers
interest in it that the property was valuable as a development site and therefore worth
bringing into the citys jurisdiction. At the same time, Englewood business leaders,
particularly downtown business owners, freshly worried by the consultant reports
4 It is reasonable to expect that some of the residential landowners who opposed the mails location
were also Englewood business leaders who might have stood to gain both personally and
professionally from the mall relocation from the residential area to the downtown site, and so represent
both sides of the use-exchange value equation. It is a fact that a competing developer, Temple Buell,
who was a primary backer of the Broadway pedestrian mall scheme and who had plans for a luxury
hotel next to the original Cinderella City site put his financial and political power behind the main
opposition groups (Post 8/24/60, p. 43; RMN 11/16/60, p. 46; Post 11/20/60, p. 3AA).

about market decline, decided that a new mall, even one within city limits, was a
significant threat to downtown. As a result, they began a campaign to assemble land
around City Park and convince Von Frellick to locate his mall there, where they
believed it would attract development to the downtown area (RMN 8/14/60, p. 54;
Post 8/24/60, p. 43).
The plan proposed by the Englewood group to trade the citys only park for a
commercial development gained traction in the community when the business leaders
worked with city officials to develop an alternate parks plan, one that would replace
the central park with a series of smaller parks more conveniently located to individual
neighborhoods. This move represented a strategic success by creating a coalition of
interests to support what was essentially a development plan, but which could be sold
to voters as a parks plan. In 1964 the voters of Englewood turned out in record
numbers to support selling their City Park for $1 million to Von Frellick so that he
could build a shopping center there (EH 4/9/64, p. 1).
The terms of the park sale mandated that the city use the money it received to build
new park and recreation facilities across the city. At the time, it seemed to be a
winning situation for residents who gained a full complement of recreation facilities,
city officials who leveraged the sale money to obtain additional grants and so were
able to provide up-to-date parks and recreation services for their constituents, and the
business community who attracted a major commercial facility to a central location.
After two years of legal wrangling, Von Frellick finally broke ground for what was
then being called The New Englewood Shopping Center in March of 1966 (RMN
11/29/65, p. 44; RMN 3/31/66, p. 89). (At the time, Von Frellick was still fighting to
get approval to also build the Cinderella City center further to the east.)
Von Frellick claimed that the new shopping center will not be a shopping center in
the usual sense. We are involved in the redevelopment of Englewood, and the new
complex will be an extension of the downtown (Post 11/15/64, p. 83). Other mall
developers, notably Victor Gruen had promoted their mall developments as more than
just retail centers and claimed for them the status of community centers. Not really an
extension of downtown, Cinderella City created a new center of activity and a new
form of development for the city. Cinderella City opened to great acclaim in March of
1968. With three levels of shopping and offices and parking for 7,000 cars, one report
called it the worlds largest enclosed shopping city (RMN 2/11/68, p. 24). The center
was a commercial success and became a center of activity and a landmark for

Figure 4.3: Englewood 1971

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The trade of the park for the shopping center represented another diminishment of the
diversity of uses and activities in the downtown district in favor of commercial uses.
The Park n Shop initially pushed the City Hall off Broadway into the adjacent
downtown district. Now the shopping center pushed the park out of the downtown
area all together. This rearrangement of uses and priorities in downtown would
continue in the ongoing negotiations over land development decisions that make up
the substance of urban development. In Englewoods case, the next set of
conversations revolved around the appropriate location of civic uses.
Civic Center Plans
While Von Frellicks shopping mall proposals were being discussed and debated, the
city was also reviewing other planning needs and in 1963 commissioned a Municipal
Facilities Study. The study indicates that this was a planning turning point for the
city. When the City Hall, Library and Fire and Police Headquarters had been built in
1950, the population of Englewood was 16,869 and the community at the time was
still a separate and distinct community, a relatively quiet suburban residential and
business center (Anderson, 1963, p. 1). By 1960, the community had doubled its
population to 33,398 and development in surrounding communities had fdled in
around Englewood making it less of a distinct entity and obscuring its identity. The
need for a new Municipal Center came from the functional requirements of a growing
city government, and it also represented an opportunity to create a distinctive civic
center complex (Anderson, 1963).
At that time the final location of the mall was not certain and Broadway was still a
viable commercial strip. The report compared three major site alternatives for a new
municipal complex: the Norgren factory building west of downtown, across from the
proposed mall; expansion and remodeling of the existing facilities one block west of
Broadway; and a 5 or 6 acre complex to be built on the east side of Broadway on
parcels the city would have to purchase. The study concluded that the east Broadway
would not only provide the best possible solution to housing all of the
citys functions but would also provide downtown Englewood with a
new focus for all civic activity, a much needed break in the
commercial canyon that Broadway has become, and give back to the
community the identity that has been lost in recent years (Anderson,
1963, p. 62).
The report favored the Broadway site even if the mall proposal went forward.
The Broadway East site for a new civic center complex would
provide a new center of gravity on the east side of the downtown area
which would tend to balance the new commercial center to the west.

With the present downtown commercial area between these two
centers, it might well be revitalized much more quickly than if it were
in a peripheral position to total civic and commercial activity
(Anderson, 1963, p. 63).
The city ignored the conclusions of the consultants study and chose to throw its civic
lot in with the new mall and leave Broadway behind. A vote in November, 1965
approved the purchase of the Norgren Factory to be used as a City Hall and
Municipal Center (Englewood Historical Society, 1993). By the time the mall
groundbreaking occurred in 1966, the shift of commercial and civic activity away
from Broadway towards the mall was in full swing. The new City Hall and Library
was underway. The department stores, JC Penneys and Joslins announced they
would move from Broadway to the mall, two high rise bank and office buildings were
under construction, and a new King Soopers grocery store project next to the mall
was being planned. Now the original downtown corridor which had only recently
been rebuilt to accommodate expanded retail use was shedding commercial activity.
Not only was the concept of what a downtown should be changing in Englewood, the
question of where it should be located was up for grabs.
Activity Centers
Mall Prosperity & Downtown Decline
In the beginning of the 1970s, Englewood seemed to bask in the glory of the
successful shopping center. The mall was not just a shopping mall; it was the focus of
Englewoods reputation and economic ambitions. The mall became a regional
attraction and was promoted as the biggest mall west of Mississippi. Cinderella
City was proof, just as being rated 4th in the state had been, that the city was still a
player, still on the map and worthy of further investment and growth. The mall also
served as a glamorous new community gathering place as well as a tourist attraction.
Community events and activities including concerts, proms, fundraisers, fashion
shows, and holiday promotions all occurred at the mall which was considered
exciting and even elegant with its high fashion stores, modem materials and lighting,
and elegant fountains (RMN 2/12/71, p. 76).
But all was not well in the kingdom. While the city government and the vast majority
of the business community had enthusiastically supported the recruitment of the
shopping center, the expected spread of prosperity and development had stopped
short of the Broadway corridor. In fact as we have seen, the mall pulled development
away from Broadway and contributed to perceptions and actual conditions of
commercial decline, which prompted Broadway business interests to look for city

investment and support. This put the city and the business community in a divided
position between the new mall area and the old commercial corridor. City leaders had
a political and a fiscal interest both in renewing the Broadway corridor and in the
continuing success of the mall and its immediate environs. The city also showed a
reluctance to apply public funds to one specific business district. Property owners and
business owners on Broadway obviously favored some kind of downtown
improvements. Business owners around the mall would not have been as enthusiastic.
As early as 1969 the citys Comprehensive Plan called for a unified approach from
downtown businessmen and the mall developer to revitalize downtown and create a
24 hour a day total business and shopping environment (City of Englewood, 1979).
The reality of the matter was that the mall developer had little reason to support
downtown revitalization and so was an unlikely target for an alliance. This plan
illustrates a situation where the shopping center and the original downtown are in
such close proximity that joint development efforts seem logical, but where the two
entities travel separate development trajectories because the regional financial
interests of the mall owner are not served by the growth interests of the downtown.
Urban Renewal in Englewood The Core Area Plan
In 1972 the Englewood Urban Renewal Authority was created by City Council to
facilitate downtown development (Englewood Historical Society, 1993). Also at that
time a Core Area Citizens Committee of 200 citizens began work with city staff and a
San Francisco planning consultant, Environmental Planning and Research, Inc., on a
Core Area Plan to redevelop downtown. The area covered by this planning effort
encompassed approximately 100 square blocks of the city. The goal of the plan was
to develop the core area as a multipurpose center of regional significance with
diverse economic activities (RMN 8/28/73, p. 32).
The Core Area Plan fit the pattern of other modernist, renewal plans of that era. It
maximized transportation efficiency, showed multi-story buildings placed in clean
landscaped parks, and separated uses and districts in rationalistic formats. The plan
was ambitious, calling for 5,855 new residential units, office development to house
14,000 new employees, and a new civic center complex on the south side of
Hampden/US 285 to be connected to downtown via a second story pedestrian
concourse system (Post 12/12/73, p. 52). The scale of the plan was outrageously out
of keeping with the character of the community; compare the proposed 5,855
additional downtown housing units with todays community total of 2,276 housing
units and consider that the latter figure represents one of the highest building densities
in the metro area. The most controversial parts of the plan were first, the
recommendation to turn the Broadway commercial district into a heavily landscaped

office and residential corridor without retail, and second, the intention to tear down
most of the existing residential and business fabric in downtown.
Figure 4.4: Englewood Core Area Redevelopment Plan (Straight Creek Journal, May
21-28, 1974, p. 12)
In meetings with city officials, merchants and residents protested the plan. The single
point of agreement among businessmen, EPR representatives and city officials was
that Englewoods core area was in need of upgrading. The merchants agreed the core
area is going to pot and something has to be done, but they contended that South
Broadway was a viable business community and wanted the city to plan for their
retention (Post 1/23/74, p. 90). Residents objected to the destruction of residential
areas. The consultant maintained that complete demolition was the only possible
solution. We want to create a totally new environment. To leave the existing
buildings would be a cancer on that new environment (Post 1/23/74, p. 90).
This is a classic renewal story where a redevelopment and growth agenda based on
efforts to increase the development potential of the downtown is contrasted with local
residential and local business goals to maintain their use values of the same area. It
also represents the outsize growth agenda of the activity center plans and the way that
they combined developer ambitions with city ambitions. It also illustrates the
planner/consultant interest in making an impact with new planning ideas.
Before the plan even came to the review stage, citizens and Broadway business
owners came out in force, not just in opposition to the plan, but in favor of a recall
election for the mayor and certain council members and the resignation of the city
manager and the community development director. City officials complained that

they had begged citizens and merchants to join the committee and the planning
process, but had found little enthusiasm. In the midst of the Watergate scandal, the
Mayor claimed, No one trusts officials; they are rejecting anything that is proposed.
They cant get Nixon, but they can get City Council (Post 5/12/74, p. 24). Frustrated
citizens accused the city administration of trying to destroy the community (Post
2/20/74, p. 24). By June of 1974, the city manager had resigned, and the city had a
new Mayor and several new council members (EH 6/13/74, p.l).
Englewoods experience with the Core Area Plan was certainly not unique in either
the overly grandiose scope of its planning ideas, or in the reaction of its citizens. The
episode is also indicative of other planning conflicts of this time as suburban
communities like Englewood grappled with the transformations that post war growth
had set into motion; transformations that exposed fault lines in communities caught
between their desires for growth and prosperity and their reluctance to give up the
character and qualities of their very recent small town pasts. It also shows the extent
to which citizen or community groups had to go to prevail with an anti-development
point of view. Even in the midst of recall petitions, packed city council meetings,
letters to the editor and so on, the City Council deliberated for several meetings about
whether to renew the consultants contract to begin detailed design work for the plan.
DRCOG & Regional Activity Centers
The Core Area Plan was representative of a planning concept that had a significant
effect on Denver area suburbs in the 1970s. The concept was based on the work of the
local regional planning agency, the Denver Regional Council of Governments
(DRCOG), which had been developing and promoting the idea of activity centers as
part of their transportation planning efforts.
The concept of activity centers evolved from a need to develop
intensive areas of housing, employment and services to encourage
development of an effective public transportation system. The activity
centers were also defined to provide alternatives to strip commercial
and single-purpose shopping center development as well as urban
sprawl (DRCOG, 1980).
Englewood had been defined in the 1978 DRCOG Regional Growth and
Development Plan as one of DRCOGs 12 Regional Activity Centers and so was
eligible for federal transit funding and the subject of continued DRCOG planning
studies. Englewoods 1979 Comprehensive Plan responded to the designation by
setting the development of Downtown as a high density, activity center as one of its
primary goals. City planners and officials in Englewood would have been partially
motivated to intensify downtown development plans at this juncture to maintain their

activity center status in order to preserve their access to potential transportation
funding. Englewoods growth agendas, then, were intensified and supported by the
regional planning agencys policies.
At the same time, several sections of the 1979 Comprehensive Plan refer to the need
to preserve and protect the residential areas surrounding downtown from those high
impact activities. It seems clear that in the aftermath of the Core Area Plan debacle,
the 1979 Plan was trying to show more sensitivity to neighborhood concerns while
also trying to address regional development ambitions. The plans set of somewhat
contradictory goals is typical of growing suburban communities that recognized the
need for employment and commercial development to support municipal services,
and also had to answer to residents who opposed changes to their quiet communities
that they feared development would bring. The city once again had divided loyalties
and agendas that are shown in this plan between protecting the city as a place for
community life, and promoting it as a place for economic investment and exchange.
Trolley Square
Downtown revitalization started on a small scale as EDDA worked on plans for a
parking lot, pedestrian connection and a walkthrough mini mall that would connect
Lincoln Street to Broadway. By 1981, EDDA had managed to build a downtown
parking lot with a landscaped walkway to Broadway, but plans for a retail building
and a larger park were scrapped for lack of unified business community support (ES
11/25/81, p. 3). The work in the downtown area was promoted as an improvement
plan for Broadway businesses rather than a whole scale revitalization plan for the
city. Broadway was no longer seen to carry the fortunes of the community and so the
planning efforts in the downtown attracted fewer resources and less support.
Meanwhile other plans surfaced, and redevelopment activities quickly escalated. In
1980 a Denver developer named Bud Brady had approached the city with plans to
revitalize downtown. The city jumped at his proposal and by 1981 had reauthorized
the Englewood Urban Renewal Authority which had been inactive since 1973, and
began drafting plans, hiring consultants and holding public hearings to develop a
downtown redevelopment plan following Bradys ideas. Initially EDDA kept going
with its parking lot plans, but its board fired the director and hired someone more
capable of working with Brady, and EDDA joined a three partner agreement with
Brady Enterprises and the City to work on a development guide for large scale
redevelopment (ES 1/7/81, p. 3; ES 2/11/81, p. 1; ES 10/7/81, p. 3).
The $245 million plan that was prepared in 1981 by Design Workshop in conjunction
with the City, EDDA and Brady, reflected new planning ideas of the time when urban

development was turning to mixed use and entertainment oriented concepts in
response to the success of projects such as Faneuil Hall in Boston and Riverwalk in
San Antonio (ES 8/5/81, p. 1). An article in the Englewood Sentinel described
Bradys ideas for
the most challenging and exciting development in the country. It is
based on a concept known as mixed use a blend of retail, commercial
and residential development that is becoming increasingly popular in
city centers. Englewood could become a tourist attraction, like Faneuil
Hall in Boston (ES 4/7/82, p. 1-4; EURA, 1982).
Figure 4.5: Englewood Downtown Redevelopment Plan, Trolley Square (Englewood
Urban Renewal Authority, 1982, p. 26a)

In contrast to the Core Area Plan of the previous decade, and following the ideas of
festival market development like Faneuil Hall, the plan encouraged integrated uses
and pedestrian oriented places. The plans public improvements featured a central,
landscaped pedestrian mall connecting Cinderella City to Broadway, lined with retail
shops and residential units and culminating in a new City Hall and civic plaza on
Little Dry Creek. The proposal called for park-like pedestrian walkways with bike
paths and landscaping next to the creek and the redevelopment of an existing open
space with a flood control lake and park elements that would serve as an attractive
entrance to downtown and as an amenity for a proposed hotel and conference center
(EURA, 1982).
Although the plan reflected a different planning sensibility from the earlier Core Area
scheme, the expectations for the private development component was just as
ambitious. The plan called for 1.7 million square feet of new office, retail, residential
and hotel development to be housed in two 14-story office towers, several high rise
condominium buildings and a multi-story hotel convention center. The new
development was concentrated in the area between Cinderella City and S. Broadway
with a fairly dense array of buildings. In August of 1982, City Council adopted the
Downtown Redevelopment Plan (ES 8/25/82, p. 1).
Artists rendering shows futuristic image of downtown Englewood according to Brady Enterprises proposal. View looks northwest from
Skerritt Park (Broadway & U.S. 285) in lower left corner.
Figure 4.6: Trolley Square View (City of Englewood, 1983, p. 2)
Before the ink had even dried on the approval signatures, the developer was
backtracking and fast talking in his efforts to redefine the scope and expectations for

the work. By 1983 Brady spokespeople were suggesting that the Denver market
might not be able to support the 400,000 sf of new office space proposed in the plan
(Post 5/23/83, p. 1-B). In the summer of 1983, the Rocky Mountain News declared
that the recession had caused Englewood to scale back its plans. The pedestrian mall
was eliminated and the office towers and retail space were cut back (RMN 7/30/83, p.
63). Yet even as the city was demanding a letter of credit from Brady Enterprises to
ensure that despite Bradys shaky position, the downtown plan would go forward
(ES 6/8/83, p. 1; ES 5/25/83, p.l), $23 million in TIF bonds were issued to pay for
roadway and drainage improvements (Bond Buyer, 12/18/85).
As the local economy fell into decline, Brady and EURA had difficulty negotiating
land purchases. In a 1984 court ruling, EURA won legal possession of several
buildings on Broadway which was not originally part of the renewal district (RMN
7/19/84, p. 23). As a result, the Trolley Square project which became the first phase
of the grand downtown redevelopment scheme consisted of tearing down a block of
buildings on Broadway, building a new 50,000 sf King Soopers grocery store in the
block to the west and constructing a new retail building on Broadway. The new retail
space remained mostly vacant until it was finally tom down in the 1990s (RMN
7/19/84, p. 23, Post Magazine 7/23/95, p.5). Brady had planned to build senior
housing and more retail further west in addition to the hotel/conference center that
had been envisioned (ES 8/21/85 p. 3). However, in May, 1986, Brady Development
Corporation defaulted on its contract (RMN 5/9/86, p. 9).
Given the state of the regional economy which suffered a major downturn in 1982
when the price of oil dropped, it is not surprising that Brady could not pull together
the resources to complete the full scale plan that had been presented to the city. The
City and EURA scrambled in the ensuing months to bring developers in to try to get
some development projects going in the renewal area. Plans for the area were rapidly
reduced and reconfigured. Gone were the ambitions for pedestrian spaces and a civic
complex. Gone too were luxurious office and condominium towers and the
conference hotel. With the first payments for the TIF bond obligations coming due in
1987, EURA quickly put out RFPs (Englewood Historical Society, 1993, p. 46).
Originally EURA selected Ross Investment Group to build 105,000 sf of retail, two
restaurants, a lake with a water feature, and a plaza in place of the hotel and
convention center (RMN 8/8/86, p. 53). By 1987 both the developer and the plans
had changed again when EURA sold Trammel Crow 8.2 acres to build a 94,000 sf
retail center, named Englewood Market Place (RMN 7/29/87, p. 12). Originally
anchored by Childrens Palace and Pier 1 Imports, today the site houses BigLots, and

a RAC RentaCenter. JBC Co. was awarded the contract for the former King Soopers
site on Elati St. Early plans called for senior housing and a cinema, but eventually the
site was redeveloped as Phar-Mor Plaza which today houses Hobby Lobby and Dollar
Tree. (Englewood Historical Society, 1993). EURA took on the responsibility of
completing the flood control project which included a lake, fountains and Little Dry
Creek Plaza. In 1986 and 1987 a power center, which included Buyers Club, Home
Club, and Silo, was built south of Hampden Avenue in an area that had been added to
the urban renewal district in 1985 (ES 7/3/85, pp. 1,6; RMN 7/29/87, p. 12).
All of these developments were architecturally uninteresting, one-story retail boxes
set in large parking lots with no relationship to the original renewal plan vision of
mixed use buildings along attractive pedestrian spaces. Little Dry Creek Plaza, the
public plaza that was built by the city, served as a public gathering area with concerts
and events for many years, and was highlighted as an exciting new center for the city
(Stitt Interview, 2007; Post 8/27/88, p. 7B), but it is a small space tucked out of sight
between Highway 285 and Broadway, behind the unattractive Big Lots center.
Yet Englewood in 1988 considered itself lucky. A Denver Post article in that year
described how successful Englewoods aggressive redevelopment program had been
in saving the city from the economic decline that had affected other local
communities. Downtown urban-renewal projects that have given this aging city a
new lease were celebrated Friday with completion of a $10.5 million flood-control
project (Post 8/27/88, p. 7B). In the face of the stagnant economy and debt payments
coming due, Englewoods priority at the end of the decade was to fill in the holes
created by urban renewal demolitions with commercial projects that could bring in
revenues. Compared to other communities that were suffering economic decline,
some Englewood interests may have felt the urban renewal program was a success,
but compared to the original vision of the project and based on some of the final
results, the Trolley Square project was viewed by many community members as a
mistake (Simpson Interview, 2007).

Figure 4.7: Englewood 1993

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Mixed Use Development
Mall Decline
Coming out of the Trolley Square renewal project, Englewood may have felt some
relief that it had survived the experience and even achieved some economic
development, but the city was not in a position to have an optimistic outlook, because
the rough times were just beginning. In 1990 the Urban Renewal Authority defaulted
on $25 million in loans. Not only had nearly half of the expected commercial space
within the urban renewal district not been built, what was built had high vacancy
rates. Some businesses that may have remained viable in older, lower rent buildings
had been forced out by demolition, construction and higher rents. In 1991, the mayor
publicly acknowledged, We realize were on the downturn now. Were now working
to bring this city back up (RMN 3/31/91, p. 34).
But the main cause of Englewoods economic crisis, in conjunction with the weak
regional economy, was the rapid decline of what had been its primary revenue source,
the Cinderella City Mall. Despite renovations in the mid 80s, the department store
anchors fell on hard times, other stores also suffered and by 1991 the mall was 40%
vacant. While in 1984 the mall produced $5.4 million in tax revenue, in 1990 that
total had fallen to $2.4 million. The local papers declared that the fairy tale days were
over (Post 12/6/91, p.lC). The City tried to work with the malls owners to come up
with revitalization plans, but had little luck as Equitable Life Assurance Society and
Kravco Co. showed little interest in putting money into the failing commercial site
(RMN 6/29/92, p. 18). The realities of Englewoods location within the market area
of other more modern malls and its working-class demographics meant that options
for redevelopment were limited. The older, out-of-date mall could not be revitalized
as a regional center because of spatial constraints and design issues, and the
surrounding working class neighborhood made a smaller more upscale redevelopment
unlikely (Post 12/6/91, p. 1C; RMN 6/29/92, p. 18). The city then began talking to
developers to find a new owner, and Equitable began talking about selling the
property to the highest bidder (RMN 5/26/93, p. 5A). City officials worried that a
new owner might just let the mall continue to deteriorate and become a fenced-off,
empty structure, a scenario which was unacceptable to the community (Stitt
Interview, 2007; RMN 1/20/94, p. 45A).
Community Vision Unique & Special
To help chart some kind of course to move forward, in February 1994 the city held a
series of public forums. While retail consultants were promoting the power center
concept as the best alternative for the site (RMN 3/22/94, p. 33A), citizens presented

a wider variety of options to consider including an arts center, a medical college, an
all-sports retail center, a park, elderly housing, entertainment uses and retail (RMN
3/22/94, p. 34A). The strongest conclusion that came out of the public meetings was
the sense of sentimental attachment that community members had for the center.
Cinderella City had been the site of first dates and marriage proposals and citizens
were reluctant to let it go. The mall was a symbol of Englewoods bright and shiny
past, and its devolution into a blighted center was a source of embarrassment to the
community. Many citizens expressed the sentiment that whatever replaced the
shopping center should not be just another commercial development, but instead
should be something long-lasting and significant that would restore the communitys
image and be a source of civic pride (Simpson Interview, 2007; Emerson Interview,
Specific objectives were developed through the 1994 public meetings:
The project must contribute something of lasting value to the
The project will contribute to the entire community, and will be
evaluated on the benefits to the entire City.
The project must provide a reasonable level of sales tax
revenue to the city.
The project must be planned and executed to complement and
relate well to the surrounding area.
The projects planning must incorporate the RTD Light Rail
stop which may be developed on the site.
The project should include an entertainment element which
will benefit residents and draw visitors from a larger market
The project must provide a public amenity as an integral part of
the project. (Stitt File, CC History, p. 6).
In a Denver Post feature story about the mails redevelopment, Mayor Tom Bums
described the plan that the community envisioned, a plan that would include returning
public access to Little Dry Creek which runs through the site, building restaurants off
a public plaza, creating small shops at the proposed RTD rail station at the sites
western edge, and perhaps opening a civic auditorium. Bums stated, Its a unique
opportunity for doing something special and our residents fully expect something
special. Id like to see as many public amenities as possible (Post 12/10/95, p. IB).

Big box

1 'iS
L^netail^ 1 I Retell
\ Ill4^
Light rail
{ii* * _
* Hampden Ave.
Community plaza
"New England town square"
Royd Ave.
-. :t>;rsei?..r..
i Rocry Mountain lw
Figure 4.8: Cinderella City Redevelopment Plans, Community Generated Alternatives
(RMN, 3/22/1994, p. 34A)
Developer Vision Power Center
In January, 1995, after issuing an RFQ, based on the objectives that had been created
in the public meetings and which are outlined above, the city chose the Miller
Development and Kitchell Development Co. team to develop what the developers
were calling Civic Center Market Place (Post 12/7/94, p. Cl). Miller/Kitchell was

chosen because their proposal, which combined big box retail with entertainment uses
in a fairly typical power center layout, claimed to fit into the city context by bringing
the city street grid through the site and because their proposal integrated a light rail
station into the scheme (RMN 1/13/95, p. 47A; Stitt Interview, 2007). Yet it is hard,
from looking at the site plan, to see how the redevelopment plan proposed by
Miller/Kitchell would fulfill the communitys desire for something unique and
significant or how it would meet Burnss descriptions of creek access and public
amenities. The plan showed a large building set back from Hampden by a large
parking lot with smaller retail pads set along Hampden. The existing City Hall
anchored the east end of the parking lot and the plan shows a small green space at the
edge of the lot across Elati St. from City Hall.
W. Hampden Ave.
Figure 4.9: Cinderella City Redevelopment Plan, Miller/Kitchell Big Box Plan (Post,
4/28/95, p. 7D)
Figure 4.10: Cinderella City Redevelopment Plan, Miller/Kitchell Revision (RMN,
7/14/97, p. 24A)

Once the city chose the developer, the difficult work of negotiating the development
contract began. The city had hired Bob Simpson in September 1995 specifically to
work with the City Manager to get the mall redevelopment underway. Simpsons
recollection of that time is instructive. Not only was the project mired in discussions
about costs, responsibilities and liabilities among the owner, the city, and the
developer, but the city council was not unified in its approach to the project. Simpson
remembers when he first started that
It was going to be a power center and they were trying to get it built.
But the council at that point was split 50/50. One side said lets just do
it. The other side said we can do better. We dont know what better is,
but we should do better. Everyone knew something should be done,
they didnt know what it should be. And at the same time there were
negotiations and conversations with the developer and with Equitable
and as the numbers were more accurately determined, then there
needed to be more public money and so that contributed to the council
saying well ok if we are going to have to contribute, then we may want
to rethink what we want and what other things are out there (Simpson
Interview, 2007).
Community Response
Community meetings that were held in Feb 1996 showed that the community was
also not unified behind the developers vision. Residents came to public meetings
opposing the power center concept while proposing a performing arts center and a
park. City Council asked the staff to look at different options for how to move
forward (RMN 4/3/96, p. 7B). It started to become clear that the city and citizens and
the developer were headed in opposite design directions. In April, Miller and
Equitable decided to move ahead with the original plans. The mall owner gave the
city an ultimatum last week to get the project back on track or lose the owners
involvement. Miller said without city endorsement they could not recruit tenants
(Post 4/8/96, p. 2B). As a result, the Council approved a resolution endorsing
400,000 square feet of new commercial buildings, including 180,000 square feet for a
general merchandiser and a multi-screen movie complex (Post 4/8/96, p. 2B).
Therefore, even as citizens and staff were working to come up with the somewhat
elusive plan for something better than a power center, the Council signed an
agreement that would prove to have significant staying power and affect the course of
the project development. Reflecting on the April agreement, Mayor Bums stated,
We were floundering. People were trying to manipulate the process, trying to torque
it one way while others tried to torque it the other way. Another council member,
Alex Habenicht was more blunt. It was implementation through intimidation she

said (Post 5/12/96, p. IB). Claiming town centers that include small specialty shops
have a track record of failing; Miller disagrees with residents who support a village
square concept (Post 5/12/96, p. IB). But despite Millers claims, other retail and
design consultants brought in by the city to assist with redevelopment plans advised
that power centers were being replaced as a development type by town center style
projects and so citizens, staff and some members of City Council continued to support
finding a more innovative plan (Post 5/12/96, p. IB).
New Ideas: CRN A and TOD
In July two regional non-profit groups, the Center for Regional and Neighborhood
Action (CRNA) and Compass RPI, approached the city hoping to include Englewood
in a series of design workshops and charettes they were organizing to promote transit-
oriented development in the Denver metro area (Post 7/31/97, p. B2; RMN 8/1/97,
p.34A). The CRNA led process and workshop that was carried out from August to
October 1997 proved to be significant for the project both in terms of defining a set of
concepts that the community could get excited about and in providing a process for
education and communication that resulted in a more unified approach (Simpson
Interview, 2007; Stitt Interview, 2007).
The working group purposely included a variety of different perspectives pro and
con, local and regional. The local constituency included all the people who had been
active on all sides of the project incorporating staff, council, activists and citizen
volunteers. Significantly, city staff brought council candidates running in the
November election into the process. Regional team members were architects,
planners, and business people who had ideas and expertise about transit-oriented
development, including Peter Calthorpe, a nationally known planner and TOD expert
(Simpson Interview, 2007).
The report stated the goals of the community and the City Council. They were similar
to the community objectives that were developed in 1994. The community and the
City Council want a project that creates a regional presence, maintains long-term
value and which supports, reflects, and enhances the small town character of
Englewood and establishes a positive image for Englewood (CRNA, 1997). The
report describes a process where two site proposals were carefully evaluated, the first
a modified big-box plan and the second a traditional TOD. Neither proposal could
meet all the functional and financial requirements so after review, the workshop team
created a modified big box plan that incorporated elements of transit oriented design
and which was designed to allow phased development of the site into a full transit
oriented project (CRNA, 1997).

The concept that was developed introduced several design ideas that became
important to the final plans. The most important one was the idea to broaden the
project program beyond just retail and entertainment to include residential, civic and
cultural uses. Creating a pedestrian oriented site plan was also emphasized by the
CRNA plan. The sketch plan shows a civic plaza in front of the transit station on the
west side of the site. The civic plaza also connects to the former Foleys department
store building which the plan proposes to renovate as a new City Hall, Library and
Arts building. Reusing the mall building as a public facility and thereby creating a
civic center to anchor the project was another idea that came out of the TOD charette
process. Finally, creating a parkway to create a clear connection between the light rail
station and Broadway was adopted as a strong planning concept. The existing street
grid is brought back through the site and a greenway corridor is created. (CRNA,
Figure 4.11: Cinderella City Redevelopment Plan, CRNA Workshop Plan (CRNA,
Mixed Visions
According to the project planner, by the end of the CRNA process, the city had found
TOD religion (Stitt Interview, 2007). The November elections created a different city
council, and because all the members, even the newly elected ones, had been involved
with the CRNA planning process, it was a more unified group going forward, a group
which voted unanimously consistently on Cinderella City issues (Simpson Interview,
2007). However, the developer was still a skeptic. By setting up the nonprofit entity