Citation
Lower Downtown neighborhood plan, 2000

Material Information

Title:
Lower Downtown neighborhood plan, 2000
Creator:
Downtown Denver Business Improvement District
Lower Downtown District, Inc.
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
Lower Downtown District, Inc.
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Community planning
City planning
Neighborhood plans
Spatial Coverage:
Denver -- Lower Downtown

Record Information

Source Institution:
Auraria Library
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain.

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text
L O 4 L H I) U k !i M)tt N N E I 0 IHI OR (I I) ['LAN
Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan
August 2000


Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan
l_o
DO
DENVER
The Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan
This project is partially funded by a State Historical Fund grand award from the
Colorado Historical Fund
Other Funding Courtesy of:
The Downtown Denver Business Improvement District
The Lower Downtown District, Inc.
August 28, 2000


Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan
Table of Contents
Introduction
A. Why A Neighborhood Plan?........................................................1-2
B. The Planning Process............................................................1-4
C. How to Use the Plan.............................................................1-6
D. Definitions, Acronyms and Abbreviations.........................................1-7
E. Acknowledgments................................................................1-14
F. Recap of Planning Activity.....................................................1-19
Historic Preservation
Introductory Comments...............................................................HP-1
Neighborhood Concerns...............................................................HP-3
A. Lower Downtowns Historic Architecture and Design Vocabulary...................HP-3
B. Context and Height.............................................................HP-8
C. The Lower Downtown Design/Demolition Review Board (LDD/DRB)...................HP-14
D. Incentives....................................................................HP-15
E. Heritage Educati on..........................................................HP -16
F. Design Principles for Contributing Buildings and Buildings Built Between
1860 and 1941.................................................................HP-16
Goals .................................................................................HP-18
Principles, Policies And Recommendations...........................................HP-19
Principle HP1 Protect Lower Downtowns historic architecture and use its design
vocabulary to guide renovations, additions and new construction.....HP-19
Principle HP2 Additions and new construction must be in context........................HP-20
Principle HP3 The LDD/DRB is a critical link in preservation in Lower Downtown.........HP-20
Principle HP4 Continue to utilize incentives that encourage reuse of historic buildings ...HP-24
Principle HP5 Tell Lower Downtowns story..........................................HP-24
Principle HP6 Develop, enact, and utilize supplemental guidelines for the Lower
Downtown Historic District that deal specifically with contributing
buildings and additions thereto.....................................................HP-25
Principle HP7 Develop, enact, and utilize guidelines for the Lower Downtown
Historic District that deal specifically with noncontributing buildings.HP-25
Implementation
HP-26


Design of New Buildings
Introductory Comments..............................................................D-1
A. Proposed Design Guidelines and Their Use.......................................D-l
B. Requirements vs. Preferences...................................................D-l
C. Definitions....................................................................D-l
Neighborhood Concerns..............................................................D-2
A. Building Height and Massing....................................................D-2
B. Other Design Considerations....................................................D-4
Goals .............................................................................D-7
Principles, Policies And Recommendations...........................................D-8
Principle D1 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to contemporary
buildings.......................................................... D-8
Principle D2 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to new buildings...D-8
Principle D3 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to all buildings...D-8
Implementation.....................................................................D-9
Uses
Neighborhood Concerns..............................................................U-l
A. Diversity of Uses..............................................................U-l
B. Neighborhood Livability........................................................U-2
C. Open Space.....................................................................U-3
D. Inter-Neighborhood Connections.................................................U-4
E. Retailing......................................................................U-4
F. New Housing Development........................................................U-5
G. New Office Development.........................................................U-6
H. Preserving Art and Cultural Uses...............................................U-7
I. Street Liveliness..............................................................U-7
J. Zoning Changes.................................................................U-8
K. Application of Ordinance 109...................................................U-9
Goals
U-10


Principles, Policies And Recommendations
U-ll
Principle U1 Enhance the attraction of Lower Downtown to a broad
range of uses...............................................................U-ll
Principle U2 Enhance livability among residential, business/office,
commercial and retail uses..................................................U-ll
PrincipleU3 Enhance connections to adjacent neighbors and nearby open space.............U-ll
Principle U4 Enhance the attraction of Lower Downtown to both neighborhood
serving and one-of-a-kind regional retail...................................U-12
Principle U5 Increase residential use in Lower Downtown..................................U-12
Principle U6 Preserve existing employment opportunities, and enhance a wide
range of new business and office uses.......................................U-12
Principle U7 Explore ways to retain and enhance art and cultural uses in Lower
Downtown....................................................................U-13
Principle U8 Develop lively street-level uses and activities to enhance Lower
Downtowns streets..........................................................U-13
Principle U9 Change existing ordinances to apply co-terminus boundaries to
Ordinance 109 and the B-7 zone district.....................................U-13
Implementation..........................................................................U-14
Mobility and Parking
Neighborhood Concerns.................................................................MP-1
A. Streets...........................................................................MP-1
B. Street and Alley Closures.........................................................MP-2
C. Buses and Mass Transit............................................................MP-2
D. Calming Traffic...................................................................MP-4
E. Accessibility.....................................................................MP-4
F. Pedestrian/Vehicular Conflicts Resulting from Parking Uses........................MP-5
G. Parking...........................................................................MP-5
H. Excess Parking....................................................................MP-8
I. Design Considerations for Parking Uses - General................MP-8
J. Design Considerations for Parking Uses Adjacent to Existing Residential Uses......MP-9
Goals...............................................................................MP-11
Principles, Policies And Recommendations.............................................MP-12
Principle MP1 Enhance the pedestrian experience on Lower Downtowns streets.........MP-12


Principle MP2 Maintain the historic grid of Lower Downtowns
streets, sidewalks and alleys............................................MP-12
Principle MP3 Give top priority to pedestrian movement and
safety when resolving pedestrian/vehicular conflict......................MP-12
Principle MP4 Minimize negative effects of traffic...................................MP-12
Principle MP5 Optimize public transportation opportunities...........................MP-13
Principle MP6 Ensure, to the extent feasible, that Lower Downtowns public
and private circulation network is made up of accessible routes........MP-14
Principle MP7 Adopt new design guidelines for parking structures and parking
located in other buildings...............................................MP-15
Principle MP8 Revise parking requirements in Lower Downtown............................MP-15
Principle MP9 Establish a procedure and criteria for the review of structures
with excess parking......................................................MP-16
Principle MP10 Work collaboratively to find a downtown-wide parking solution...........MP-17
Principle MP11 Better manage the existing parking inventory............................MP-18
Principle MP12 Advocate and support a variety of alternative transportation
modes serving Lower Downtown.............................................MP-18
Principle MP13 Educate city center users about alternative transportation and
parking options..........................................................MP-18
Implementation............................................................................MP-19
Streetscape
Neighborhood Concerns..............................................................S-l
A. Streetscape Design and Redevelopment............................................S-l
B. Modem Uses......................................................................S-2
C. Authentic Streets and Alleys....................................................S-2
D. Clean Streets...................................................................S-7
Goals...............................................................................S-9
Principles, Policies And Recommendations..........................................S-10
Principle S1 Preserve and enhance Lower Downtowns streetscape....................S-10
Principle S2 Design the sidewalks and alleys to create urban places for
congregation, interaction, recreation and the conduct of commerce..S-10
Principle S3 Retain Lower Downtowns "gritty-ness"................................S-ll
Principle S4 Maintain the sidewalks, streets and alleys...........................S-ll


Principle S5 Adopt the Design Guidelines for the public realm as an interim
measure until new design guidelines for the streetscape are approved..S-11
Implementation.......................................................................S-12
Appendix
Ordinance 109, Series of 1988.................................................Appendix A
B-7 Zoning District...........................................................Appendix B
Historic District Buildings Map...............................................Appendix C
List of Figures
Figure 1 Lower Downtown Historic District (from Ordinance 109).................1-3
Figure 2 Lower Downtowns Special Character is Reflected in its
Private and Public Realms.............................................HP-4
Figure 3 Lower Downtowns Historic Buildings Embody Denver1 s Rail History
and Reflect Simple Tenets of Good Design for Today....................HP-6
Figure 4 The Defining Characteristics of Historic Buildings Provide the Basis for
Architectural Design Guildelines......................................HP-7
Figure 5 Existing Building Heights.............................................HP-9
Figure 6 Potential Lower Downtown Development Sites...........................HP-10
Figure 7 Special Review Projects may be Acceptable in Three Designated
Special Review Districts.............................................HP-13
Figure 8 Height and Massing Reflect the Scale of Lower
Downtown's Historic Buildings..........................................D-3
Figure 9 Opportunities to Celebrate the Special Character of Lower
Downtown's Built Environment...........................................D-5
Figure 10 Lively Detailing Can Extend Lower Downtown's Special Character
to a New Generation of Buildings ......................................D-6
Figure 11 Proposed Hierarchy of Streets in Lower Downtown.......................MP-3
Figure 12 Parking Structures Should Be Positive Features in Lower
Downtowns Built Environment.........................................MP-10
Figure 13 New Projects Can Contribute to Enhancing Lower Downtown's
Pedestrian-Oriented Streetscape........................................S-3
Figure 14 Lower Downtown's Special Character is Reflected in its Public and
Private Realms.........................................................S-4
Figure 15 Public Art Enhances Lower Downtown's Public Realm and Conveys its
Identity as an Arts District...........................................S-5
Figure 16 Improved Alleys Can Retain Their Authenticity and Reflect Lower
Downtown's Historic Past...............................................S-6


Lower Downtown
Neighborhood
Plan
Introduction


Introduction to the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan
Contents of this Section
A. Why A Neighborhood Plan?......................................................1-2
B. The Planning Process..........................................................1-4
C. How to Use the Plan...........................................................1-6
D. Definitions, Acronyms and Abbreviations.......................................1-7
E. Acknowledgments..............................................................1-14
F. Recap of Planning Activity...................................................1-19


Introduction
A. Why A Neighborhood Plan?
Contrary to some perceptions, Lower Downtown was not an overnight phenomenon. The origins
of mixed use date back to 1974 when Lower Downtowns I-1 industrial zoning was changed to
B-7 mixed-use zoning. But it was not until the mid- to late- 1980s that a vision for Lower
Downtown solidified, followed shortly by enabling ordinances and plans and targeted
investment. The key pieces that have guided Lower Downtowns redevelopment included:
The 1986 Downtown Area Plan
The 1987 Urban Design Plan for Lower Downtown
The 1988 revisions to the B-7 zone district
The 1988 Ordinance 109 establishing the Historic District (see Figure 1) and the Lower
Downtown Design/Demolition Review Board
The Citys investment programs for housing, building preservation and streetscape
redevelopment
The 1991 Lower Downtown Streetscape Design Guidelines
Taken together, the plans and ordinances created a vision for Lower Downtown, including:
Preservation of the historic buildings and historic character of the District
Creation of a mixed use neighborhood, incorporating housing, retail, light industrial,
office and entertainment uses
Stabilization of the real estate markets
Redevelopment of a pedestrian friendly streetscape
Improved transit and access
A sense of place
This vision has largely been accomplished. Today, most of the historic buildings have been
profitably renovated. Infill construction has become feasible due to strong demand in Lower
Downtown for offices, shops and homes. Mixed use is a reality not only District-wide, but also
within individual buildings, where many incorporate some combination of housing, office, retail
and parking uses. The 1986 Downtown Area Plan contemplated an unknown anchor to spur and
support retail and entertainment uses in Lower Downtown. The anchor has been identified,
constructed and currently operates eighty days a year, in the guise of Coors Field. The viaducts
have come down, new arterials provide improved access and major portions of the streetscape
have been redeveloped. The real estate markets show continuous improvement in occupancy,
absorption, rental rates and sales prices. Real estate, sales and employment taxes are up, as are
parking revenues, permits, licenses and other fees.
1-2


IS i|i i;
fyil a,lUU||i|l,l0 Itiijij) UJy j P*AlilsAi>tj [
( .uiSij


With progress of this magnitude, it is logical to question the need for a new plan. Why tinker
with machinery that isnt broken? The answer is two-fold.
First, while the machinery is not broken, still it doesnt do all it needs to do. Its capacity can be
enhanced. New issues and problems need to be looked at, issues and problems that have their
genesis in the success of the neighborhoods redevelopment. Among them are such questions as:
How should new buildings fit into the historic context of Lower Downtown? How should
residential and hospitality uses coexist? How can changing vehicular demands on Lower
Downtowns streets be mitigated? How should further investment in the District be stimulated?
How will neighborhood users access new open space, parks, attractions and emerging
neighborhoods? What should be done about parking?
And second, while the machinery is not broken, still it rattles and is noisy. It needs some fine
tuning so that its parts will work together better. To quell the rattle in Lower Downtown, the
vision for the future needed to be reviewed. In the context of rapid development, there is the
perception that consensus is missing. The prevailing view is that Lower Downtown residents and
interests are against everything proposed. City agencies and staff, media, developers, investors
and business people are among those questioning Lower Downtowns positions on projects and
its willingness to work cooperatively with others.
And so, with current plans lacking guidance about emerging issues and speculation that the
neighborhood was at odds with itself, the need for a community dialog emerged. The consensus
reached in that dialog is the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan.
B. The Planning Process
In light of the rapid changes and growth that had occurred in Lower Downtown since the late
1980s, the Lower Downtown District Inc. (LDDI) and its members became increasingly
concerned that the concepts and guidelines developed ten years prior provided no help in
resolving new issues and pressures. In March 1995, LDDI secured grants from the State
Historical Fund (CHS) and the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District (DDBID),
which it supplemented with funds from its own treasury. In May, LDDI and the Neighborhood
Plan Management Committee (the Management Committee) solicited proposals from qualified
consultants to assist in the development of a neighborhood plan to be incorporated into Denvers
Comprehensive Plan.
In committing to develop the Plan, LDDI wanted not only a strong product, but also a plan that
would be implemented. Just as critical was a desire to have an open, inclusive process. For this
reason, the stakeholders were not only the funders LDDI and its membership, CHS, which
administers the State Historical Fund and the DDBID but also all the other constituents of
Lower Downtown, its neighboring districts, the city administration and Denver City Council.
Development of the Plan required a maximum amount of early input from residents and the
many interest groups concerned with Lower Downtown. As an initial step, over 250 people were
interviewed in small groups by the consultant team. Follow-up public meetings and meetings
1-4


with special interest groups and individuals continued throughout the process. Perceptions of
issues, needs, opportunities and visions for Lower Downtown were gathered and shared at public
meetings.
A vast amount of existing research relating to the neighborhood was made available through
LDDI and its policy committees, as well as by the city, private sector real estate firms and the
Downtown Denver Partnership. This material was assimilated and used in preparation of the
Plan by the consultants. Visual inventories of the physical assets, character and opportunities in
the District were collected and recorded. Additional research was conducted on selected issues
by the consultant team.
Required by contract were case studies of neighborhoods in other cities with characteristics
similar to Lower Downtown. Four case studies (Fort Point, Boston; Pioneer Square and Pike
Place Market, Seattle; various neighborhoods, San Francisco) were conducted and the lessons
learned were summarized in a slide show presented at a public meeting.
In addition, the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Committee (the Neighborhood Committee)
was formed to respond to questions raised by the second draft Plan issued by the consultant
team. This committee was composed of 28 members representing broad constituencies in the
community. Initially, the Neighborhood Committee met 10 times over a two-and-a-half month
period and LDDI produced a newsletter covering its deliberations, which was faxed weekly to
over 500 people. Once there was general agreement on the major elements of the Plan, a third
revision was issued, which was reviewed by the Neighborhood Committee and the Management
Committee in joint sessions. The City then recommended a format change and the Plan went to
the Editorial Committee, which issued drafts #4, #5 and #6. In joint meetings, the Neighborhood
Committee, the Management Committee, the Editorial Committee and the lead consultants met
six more times to resolve the remaining open issues and to refine and polish the Plan.
The objective of all the committees was to reach consensus on all the issues raised by Plan.
Consensus was indeed reached and the members of the planning committees (Management,
Neighborhood and Editorial) recommend the Plan for adoption without exception.
Interestingly, the goals for Lower Downtown that emerged from the planning process do not
differ markedly from the vision contained in the plans developed in the 1980s. The new Plan still
calls for preservation of the District, it still calls for mixed use, it still calls for a pedestrian
friendly environment and it still calls for a healthy development market. Where it diverges is that
this Plan seeks to resolve issues that are the result of the Districts own successes issues, like
conflicts of mixed use and the question of context that emerged along the road toward the
initial vision. Many of todays problems were only dimly seen in the 1980s and hence only
vaguely considered. Consequently, this Plan seeks not to rewrite the vision or alter significantly
the course of development, but to fill in the gaps of prior planning efforts.
1-5


C. How to Use the Plan
The Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan consists of six sections:
Introduction
Historic Preservation
Design of New Buildings
Uses
Mobility and Parking
Streetscape
While the parts of the Plan may appear discrete, they are, in fact, interdependent. For example,
street liveliness is discussed in the Uses section of the Plan, but it is also a fundamental concept
driving preservation, new building design, mobility and parking and streetscape redevelopment.
The same plan-wide importance can be applied to concepts like mixed use (which affects
design of new buildings, design of parking structures, preservation and infill of the streetwall,
etc.) and the street and alley grid (which affects accessibility, parking, pedestrian friendliness,
public open space, preservation of grittyness and the historic streetscape, etc.). Consequently,
fulfillment of the goals of one section of the Neighborhood Plan, without the others, cannot get
the neighborhood where it wants to go. For this Plan to be as successful as the last plan, progress
must be made on all fronts and several universal issues (parking, maintenance, compatibility,
context) must be resolved in concert with one another.
In addition to the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan, the planning process produced a set of
new Design Guidelines. The Plan calls for enabling legislation so that they can be implemented.
The Design Guidelines are not a part of the Neighborhood Plan, but the principles that form their
foundation are incorporated into the Plan. The Neighborhood Plan recommends that the
Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) adopt these guidelines as supplements to its Design
Guidelines for Denver Landmarks and Landmark Districts for application specifically in Lower
Downtown. The Design Guidelines cover:
Contributing Buildings
Non-Contributing Buildings
Contemporary Buildings
New Buildings
All Buildings
Buildings with Parking Uses
The Public Realm
The parts of the Design Guidelines that deal with Contributing and Noncontributing Buildings
are not intended to be all-inclusive. They deal primarily with topics brought up by various
constituents while planning progressed. The LPCs Design Guidelines for Denver Landmarks
and Landmark Districts form the basis of guidelines for Contributing and Noncontributing
Buildings; the guidelines suggested by this Plan are to supplement them.
1-6


The guidelines proposed by the Neighborhood Plan for Contemporary and New Buildings are
more comprehensive and address many topics that are unique to Lower Downtown, commercial
districts in general, or the requirements of modem technology and uses. Rather than
supplementing existing guidelines, the guidelines for Contemporary and New Buildings are
proposed to fill a gap where very little guidance existed before.
D. Definitions, Acronyms and Abbreviations
Definitions, acronyms and abbreviations used in this Plan follow. Because the definitions relate
primarily to design issues, they are listed separately; however, the terminology is found
throughout the Plan document. A separate list of acronyms and abbreviations follows the
definitions. All the words that are specifically defined herein are subsequently printed in bold
letters wherever they are found in this Plan.
Definitions
Abut Abutting. Immediately adjacent to, beside. Buildings are also abutting if they are
separated by a public right-of-way (like an alley or street) upon which there are no intervening
buildings.
Active commercial uses. Active commercial uses are those uses that promote the comings and
goings of more than a few pedestrians on a regular basis.
Additional parking. Additional parking is parking which can be included in a project in
addition to the minimum parking without special approval in the following amounts:
One space per 1500 square feet for commercial uses
One half space per unit for residential uses
Applicant. The proposer of alterations to existing buildings or construction of new buildings in
the Historic District who has filed an application for review of the project by the LDD/DRB.
Articulation. How each element, such as a window, door, cornice, floor line, or column, is
architecturally expressed, that is, called out as special or distinct from other elements by the
designer. This can be done through use of color, change of material or texture and so on. The
idea is to make these elements read differently from others while still retaining a pleasing
composition overall.
Borrowed light basements. The interior first floor is set back by some means from the
streetfront face to allow for light wells or skylights providing light into a habitable basement
area. The result is to push the storefront and street-level windows some distance back from the
sidewalk and pedestrians.
1-7


Building height. Building height is the height of a building as measured from a point defined
in the city Zoning Ordinance and extending to the roof deck of the subject building, but not
including parapets, cornices, elevator overruns, stair towers extending onto the roof, mechanical
equipment or mechanical penthouses, certain architectural rooftop elements, or other such
elements as discussed herein.
55 feet is the height-by-right in Lower Downtown. Based on established criteria, the
LDD/DRB may grant additional height up to a maximum of 85 feet, 100 feet and in certain
districts, 130 feet. For buildings above 55 feet that are not located in the SRDs, the height alone
of a proposed building relative to its context may be considered a reason for denial of the
project. For projects located in the SRDs, all elements of context must be addressed except that
projects cannot be denied approval on the basis of height alone.
Compatibility, Compatible. Compatibility, or to be compatible, is a condition wherein two or
more entities are combined to achieve desirable aftereffects for the whole and each other. It is
the ability of different components, whether similar or dissimilar, to function together and stand
together without disharmony or conflict (in other words, complementary but not necessarily
similar or the same). The intent of the proposed guidelines is that new buildings should not
replicate existing ones.
Context. Context consists of the conditions that form the setting within which a building is
experienced. It derives from a Middle English word that meant coherence and there is an
implication of disparate elements harmoniously woven together. As used here, context consists
of all the external factors that have a formative influence on the appearance of an area, including
height, mass, massing, scaling elements, design, materials, location on site and so forth.
Context applies to all sites.
In Lower Downtown, the contributing buildings in a proposed sites vicinity establish context.
There are three types of context: primary, secondary and district-wide. Primary context is
applied to Part 1 decisions in the design review process. Secondary context is used in Part 2
decisions. District-wide context is used when the LDD/DRB determines that there are no
contributing buildings in a sites primary or secondary context.
Primary context is used to determine the general height and massing the envelope of a
proposed building. It is established by the contributing buildings located within 300 feet in all
directions from any point on the property line of a proposed site.
Secondary context is used to determine the finer grain details of a proposed building. The
geographic parameters used to determine secondary context are as follows:
1-8


For sites on named streets, context is established by contributing buildings located on
the face block on which the project is located, the face block immediately across the
street and the face block across the alley.
For comer buildings, context is established by contributing buildings located one-half
block in each direction from the comer, including both sides of each half block.
For sites on numbered streets, context is established by contributing buildings located
the face block on which a project is located, the face block immediately across the street
and both face blocks on each of the blocks that abut the block of the proposed project.
For sites in which context is not provided due to the absence of proximate contributing
buildings, context is the historic architectural character of the entire District.
Contemporary buildings: See Contributing buildings
Contributing, noncontributing and contemporary buildings. Contributing buildings are
those determined to be of historic significance. Determination was made in an authorized survey
conducted by the City of Denver Landmark Preservation Commission and recorded within the
designation of the Lower Downtown Historic District. A map identifying contributing
buildings can be found in the ordinance establishing the District. Buildings considered
noncontributing were not, at that time, found to be of historical significance. Contemporary
buildings are buildings built after 1941.
De novo appeal: De novo is a legal term that refers to a trial which starts over, the same as if it
had not been heard before and as if no decision previously had been rendered. As used in this
Plan, a de novo appeal means that the LPC will not merely review the record from the
LDD/DRB, but will take new evidence and hear the appeal issues again. The decision of the
LDD/DRB will be given a presumption of correctness, but the LPC may make its own decision
based on the information presented to it and its application of the guidelines to that information.
Elements of a project that are the subject of an appeal must be presented to the LPC in the same
form as those presented to the LDD/DRB.
Design vocabulary. The physical attributes, characteristics and details that make up a building:
put simply, the elements one can see when looking at the building. These include, at one
extreme, the size, shape, color and texture of its materials. At the other extreme is the way the
building handles stepbacks and the articulation of the facade or elevation through alignment of
elements (such as windows, cornices, or columns). Further examples include texture, scaling
elements, color, material changes and window mullions and muntins.
Elevation, facade and primary elevation. Facade, or primary elevation, when used in
conjunction with buildings, refers to any street-facing wall of a building, or a street wall.
Elevation refers to the walls of a building that do not face the street, such as side or alley walls.
Excess parking. Excess parking is parking in an amount greater than the sum of (i) the
minimum required parking (see MP8.1) and (ii) the additional parking (see MP8.2) permitted in
1-9


any structure without the consent of the LDD/DRB. See also, minimum parking and
additional parking.
Facade. See Elevation
Height. See Building height
Human scale. See Scale
Mass, Massing. A buildings mass is synonymous with its volume, or the total gross cubic
volume of space it occupies on the site. Massing is the way in which its volume, or mass, is
distributed on the site (which parts are higher, lower, wider, or narrower and what pops up and
where). Massing is an important consideration in helping a building fit comfortably into its
context. The aspects of a buildings form include its visual treatment in the variations of heights
and widths of its mass, as well as its overall height and stepbacks. Two buildings can have the
same mass but entirely different massings. (See Building height).
Related to a buildings mass is its width. Establishing visually appropriate building widths -
defined as the distance the facade of a single new building extends along the street without a
break in massing is important to maintaining Lower Downtowns character. This break in the
visual massing may be accomplished in any number of ways, including an expression of two
distinct buildings, a break in a portion of the facade with a different function (such as a door or
passageway), a change of wall plane (such as recessing part of a segment), a change of column
spacing, or a change of materials, color, texture, or detailing.
Mechanical penthouse. See Penthouse
Minimum parking. For those structures subject to parking requirements, minimum parking
is:
One space per 750 square feet for commercial uses
One space per unit for residential uses
Mixed use. Mixed use buildings are buildings with more than one use.
Noncontributing buildings. See Contributing buildings
Part 1 approval, Part 1 decision. A decision made by the LDD/DRB in the process of
reviewing and approving alterations to existing buildings or construction of new buildings. A
decision that approves or denies an applicants proposal for a projects building envelope,
(defined as the buildings height, mass, form, stepbacks, site plan, contextual fit, etc.) and the
concept of the basic exterior facade appearances, including identification of major materials.
Part 2 approval. Part 2 decision. A decision made by the LDD/DRB in the process of
reviewing and approving alterations to existing buildings or construction of new buildings. A
1-10


decision that approves or denies an applicants proposal for a projects building details. Such
building details shall include materials, color, windows, entrances, scaling devices and other
exterior details.
Pedestrian friendly. Pedestrian friendly is a measure of the quality of an environment from
the perspective of a person on foot. A pedestrian friendly environment is a place where people
can enjoy public life in a comfortable setting. The Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan seeks
to foster this kind of an environment by recommending several community development
strategies, including approaches to land use, building design, historic preservation, streetscape
design, transportation, mobility, traffic management, parking and economic development. For
example, the Plans design guidelines advance pedestrian friendliness through such things as
build-to-property-line requirements, minimum and maximum heights and human scale
development, all of which serve to enclose and define public space and to create a pedestrian
environment people understand and to which they can relate. Mixed-use development puts
people and eyes on the street at all hours, helping to reduce crime and increase a feeling of
security. Historic preservation adds interest to streets and a sense of place that, in turn, promotes
use and enjoyment of the public realm. Streetscape elements provide amenities and
convenience. Use of alternative modes of transportation reduces traffic entering the District.
Parking strategies encourage a park-once environment where, upon arrival, it is possible to do
a variety of things by walking between them. Taken together these elements and others in the
Neighborhood Plan, shape the Districts urban structure to support pedestrian use, safety,
comfort and enjoyment.
Penthouse, residential penthouse and mechanical penthouse. A structure or portion of a
structure located on the roof of a building (a penthouse usually has its own roof as well). It is
generally a roof element and may or may not contain habitable space. Often it contains or hides
building equipment. It is generally set back from the roof edge of the main part of the building
and covers only a small portion of that roof.
For purposes of this document, a residential penthouse is any rooftop penthouse containing
habitable space; a mechanical penthouse does not. Note, however, that not all mechanical
equipment is placed inside a penthouse.
Period of significance. Lower Downtowns period of significance is established on the
National Register of Historic Places to be from 1860 through 1941.
Primary elevation. See Elevation
Residential penthouse. See Penthouse
Scale, human scale and scaling elements. A visual concept regarding the relative size of a
buildings architectural parts compared to the whole or to the human figure, created by
introducing into the design some unit that acts as a visual measuring rod.
1-11


There are many types of scale, human scale being most commonly used; even when a different
scale is referred to, it always refers back to the human scale. For example, a cathedral or
governmental building may have a seemingly bigger-than-life, or monumental, scale: its scale is
altogether larger than the human figure and is intended to be so as this results in a humbling
effect on the observer. In a smaller-than-life, or miniature, scale, everyday things shrink down to
less than what the observer would expect. A scale model an architectural design tool that
represents a building prior to its construction is an extreme example of miniature scale. In our
physical environment, miniature scale can be seen when, for example, a three-story building is
squeezed into the height of what otherwise would have been a two-story building. This effort of
a developer or designer to pick up an extra story can result in unsettling visual consequences.
A building will have scale (i.e., human scale) if there are elements of it which can be
(metaphorically) used as steps, through which the observer will intellectually reach, grasp, or
comprehend the building. The steps in that sense are the elements of a building that are known
to the observer, the elements with which he is familiar and whose dimensions one knows in
relationship to oneself. (A. C. Antoniades, Architecture and Allied Design, 3rd ed., Dubuque:
Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., 1992).
Scaling elements range from small items recognizable close-up, such as a unit of masonry,
doorknob, or window muntin, to larger ones such as doors, windows, awnings, balconies,
railings and signs. The division of a building vertically (by expressing the floor lines in the
construction) and horizontally (through column spacing) adds enormously to a viewers ability to
get a sense of how the building stacks up, how tall or wide it is and how comfortable he or she
feels with it.
A building without scaling elements can take on whole new meanings and create unsettling
feelings. The more difficult it is to relate to a building as a human being, the more
uncomfortable it makes the viewer to be near it. At worst, such a building may feel threatening
or unfriendly and thus be avoided. At best, the observer will be visually confused by the
building and its relationship to him or her.
Scaling elements. See Scale
Screen, screening. To screen cars or parking means to visually obscure to a degree what is
behind the screen. The intent is not to hide or make disappear the subject of the screening, but to
diminish its prominence or push it visually into the background. The screen becomes the
dominant focus instead of the subject behind it. A screen can be mostly solid or mostly
transparent depending on the purpose it is to serve and the subject behind it.
1-12


Acronyms and Abbreviations
ADA Americans with Disabilities Act
AIA American Institute of Architects
BID Business Improvement District
CBD Central Business District
CHAFA Colorado Housing and Finance Authority
CHS Colorado Historical Society
CPV Central Platte Valley
DDBID Downtown Denver Business Improvement District
District, the The Lower Downtown Historic District
DHA Denver Housing Authority
DRCOG Denver Regional Council of Governments
DUT Denver Union Terminal (Union Station)
DURA Denver Urban Renewal Authority
Editorial Committee Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan Editorial Committee
FAR Floor Area Ratio
HOV High Occupancy Vehicle
LDD/DRB Lower Downtown Design/Demolition Review Board
LDDI Lower Downtown District, Inc.
LPC Landmark Preservation Commission
Management Committee Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan Management Committee
Neighborhood Committee Lower Downtown Neighborhood Committee
Plan Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan
RTD Regional Transportation District
SRD Special Review District
SRP Special Review Project
Streetscape Plan Streetscape Design Guidelines for Lower Downtown
1-13


E. Acknowledgments
None of the ordinances and plans which guided the development of todays Lower Downtown
would have been possible without strong continued support from Historic Denver, the Landmark
Preservation Commission, the Downtown Denver Partnership, the Colorado Historical Society,
the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Mayors Federico Pena and Wellington Webb,
Denver City Council members and city staff members. And none of these plans would have been
realized without the acceptance and implementation by Lower Downtowns developers,
investors, residents, business owners, galleries and artists, property owners and employees.
Without these people those who dreamed it, enabled it and made it happen Lower
Downtowns redevelopment would surely have been inhibited.
In preparation of this plan Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan, the consultant team was aided
by many people having a strong interest and concern for the future of Lower Downtown. In
particular, the following groups should be acknowledged: the Management Committee, the
LDDI Board of Directors, LDDIs policy committees (Urban Design, Transportation,
Community Development), the Editorial Committee and the Neighborhood Committee,
consisting of 28 members representing major interests in the community. Staff members from the
Denver Planning Office, Zoning Department, City Attorneys Office and the Transportation
Department provided many hours of review and discussion to ensure that what is proposed is
consistent with city-wide policies and is legally and administratively achievable.
In addition to funds provided by the State Historical Fund, LDDI and the DDBID, significant in-
kind contributions were made, including facilitating services by the Vector Group and meeting
space by JohnstonWells, Gorsuch Kirgis, BRW and the Wynkoop Brewing Company. Photo-
graphy was provided courtesy of Ronald A. Straka, FAIA. BRW, Inc. and Tim Berland at LoDo
& Downtown Denver News provided graphic layouts.
Professionals of all types lawyers, engineers, economists, architects, developers, construction
contractors, traffic planners, realtors gave freely of their time and expertise. Other volunteers
conducted surveys, monitored traffic movement, distributed literature, stuffed envelopes and
manned tables. Not the least of the in-kind contributors were the local members of the
consulting team who continued to play an important role in the development of the Plan long
after their contract had expired.
This is truly a neighborhood-generated Plan. The work of obtaining funding, selecting
consultants, monitoring progress, organizing citizen input and distributing informational
materials all happened through the leadership of LDDIs Board and staff, representing the
variety of interests found in the neighborhood.
To all who helped, sincere thanks for being a part of the Lower Downtown planning process.
1-14


The Management Committee
John Anderson
Anderson Mason Dale
Diane D. Blackman
Blackman & Darling
Kathleen Brooker
Historic Denver
Bar Chadwick
Planning and Community Development
City and County of Denver
Phillip E. Flores
Landmark Preservation Commission
Barbara Gibson
Resident
Lane Ittelson, Deputy SHPO
Colorado Historical Society
Carrie Kramlich (1995-1997)
Gorsuch Kirgis
Larry Gibson
BRW, Inc.
William E. Mosher, President
Downtown Denver Partnership
Deborah Ortega
Denver City Council
Barbara Pahl
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Cathy Reynolds
Denver City Council
Joanne Salzman
Resident
Roberta Smith
Lower Downtown Arts District
Tom Sprung
Sprung Construction
1-15


The Neighborhood Committee
Robert Allman Jerry Glick Deborah Ortega
Attorney Columbia Group Denver City Council
Diane Blackman Gail Godbey Julie Muse
Blackman & Darling Resident McCormicks
Charles Callaway Larry Griewisch Larry Nelson
Real Estate Developer Jacksons Hole 620 Corp.
Tee Cowperthwaite Kris Hoen Bob Rynerson
Architect Historic Architect RID
Dana Crawford Jack Houser Joanne Salzman
Urban Neighborhoods Resident Resident
Joe Dolan Lillian Kaufman Chris Shears
Dolan & Associates Dia Star Shears + Leese
Mark Gallegos Carrie Kramlich (1995-1997) Roberta Smith
CHAFA Gorsuch, Kirgis Artist
Barbara Gibson Joyce Meskis Tom Sprung
Resident Tattered Cover Sprung Construction
Larry Gibson Marilee Utter
BRW, Inc. Trillium
1-16


LDDIs Policy Committees
Community Development Committee
Larry Gibson, Co-Chair
BRW, Inc.
Gerry Erlich, Co-Chair (deceased)
Hanover Erlich
Urban Design Committee
Tom Sprung, Chair (1995 1996)
Sprung Construction
James Leese, Chair (1997-1998)
Shears + Leese
Transportation and Parking Committee
Joe Dolan, Co-Chair
Dolan & Associates
Steve Weinstein, Co-Chair
Gorsuch Kirgis
David damage, Co-Chair
Saulsbury Hill Financial Services
1-17


The Editorial Committee
Karen Aviles
Denver City Attorney
Diane Blackman
Blackman & Darling
Bar Chadwick
Planning and Community Development
Office
City and County of Denver
Joe Dolan
Dolan & Associates
Larry Gibson
BRW, Inc.
Ellen Ittelson
Planning and Community Development
City and County of Denver
Bob Kelly (deceased)
Denver City Attorney
Bill Lamont
Murray Lamont & Associates
James Leese
Shears + Leese
Barbara Pahl
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Everett Shigeta
Planning and Community Development
City and County of Denver
Ron Straka
Ronald A. Straka, FAIA
1-18


The Consultant Team
William Lamont, Jr., AICP
Murray Lamont & Associates, Inc.
Denver, Colorado
David Dixon, FAIA
David Dixon/Goody, Clancy
Boston, Massachusetts
David Leahy, PE
TDA Colorado, Inc.
Denver, Colorado
Dean Macris, AICP
San Francisco, California
James Murray, Ph. D.
Murray Lamont & Associates, Inc.
Denver, Colorado
Ronald A. Straka
Ronald S. Straka, FAIA
Denver, Colorado
Charles H. Wooley
St. Charles Town Company
Denver, Colorado
F. Recap of Planning Activity
The table that follows is a summary of the various activities undertaken by the Consultants,
LDDI, the Management Committee, the Neighborhood Committee and the Editorial Committee
from inception of the planning process to the date of issue of this Plan.
Recap of Planning Activity
3/22/95 Management Committee Meeting
4/1/595 Newsletter #1
4/20/95 Management Committee meeting
4/26/95 Pre-submission Conference
5/11/95 Management Committee meeting
5/19/95 Management Committee meeting
5/26/95 Management Committee meeting
5/31/95 Management Committee meeting
Review RFP
Role of Management Committee going
forward
15+ potential respondents participated
Review RFP submissions
Short List presentations
Selection of consultants
Joint meeting with consulting team
1-19


Recap of Planning Activity
6/26/95 Consulting Team
6/27/95 Consulting Team
6/27/95 Public Meeting #1
7/7/95 Newsletter #2
7/17/95 Management/Consultants meeting
7/27/95 Public Meeting #2
8/5/95 Newsletter #3
8/8/95 Management/Consultants meeting
8/16/95 Management/Consultants meeting
9/11/95 Public Meeting #3
9/22/95 Management/Consultants meeting
10/1/95 Newsletter #4
10/10/95 Management/Consultants meeting
10/16/95 Public Meeting #4
11/17/95 Management/Consultants meeting
12/1/95 Management; Consultants; City Planning; Zoning; City Attorneys; LDD/DRB meeting
12/5/95 Public Meeting #5
1/5/96 Newsletter #5
1/11/96 Management/Consultants meeting
1/16/96 Public Meeting #6
1/22/96 Press briefing
1/31/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting
Focus group meetings
Focus group meetings
Introduce team; kick off process
Recap focus group discussions
Report research findings
Commence Concept Phase of planning
Review draft vision statement
Present vision statement
Commence Guidelines Phase of planning
Presentation of Draft Plan #1
Presentation of Draft Plan #1
Presentation of Revisions to Draft Plan #1
LDD/DRB legal issues
Public ccmment cn revisions to Draft Plan #1
Presentation of Draft Plan #2
Presentation of Draft Plan #2
Denver Post; Rocky Mountain News;
Denver Business Journal; Westword
The role of the committee
1-20


Recap of Planning Activity
2/4/96 Newsletter #6
2/7/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting Neighborhood issues
2/11/96 Newsletter #7
2/14/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting Neighborhood issues
2/18/96 Newsletter #8
2/21/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting Neighborhood issues
2/25/96 Newsletter #9
2/28/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting Neighborhood issues
3/3/96 Newsletter #10
3/6/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting Neighborhood issues
3/10/96 Newsletter #11
3/13/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting Neighborhood issues
3/17/96 Newsletter #12
3/20/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting Discuss report of Neighborhood Committee
3/28/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting Discuss report of Neighborhood Committee
4/3/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting Discuss report of Neighborhood Committee
4/10/96 Management Committee meeting Discuss report of Neighborhood Committee
4/10/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting Discuss report of Neighborhood Committee
4/24/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting Discuss report of Neighborhood Committee
5/3/96 Management; Consultants; City Planning; City Attorneys; LDD/DRB meeting LDD/DRB legal issues
1-21


Recap of Planning Activity
5/7/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting
5/8/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting
7/17/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting
7/19/96 Management Committee meeting
8/7/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting
10/31/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting
11/15/96 Management; Consultants; City Planning; City Attorneys meeting
11/22/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting
2/28/97 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting
5/16/97 Editorial Committee meeting
5/23/97 Editorial Committee meeting
6/20/97 Editorial Committee meeting
8/4/97 Editorial Committee meeting
9/3/97 Meeting with Editor
9/17/97 Meeting with Editor
1/6/98 Editorial Committee meeting
1/9/98 Editorial Committee meeting
1/22/98 Editorial Committee meeting
2/20/98 Editorial Committee meeting
3/12/98 Draft Plan #6 issued
LDD/DRB legal issues
LDD/DRB legal issues
Review Draft Plan #3
Review Draft Plan #3
Review Draft Plan #3
Report on Citys review of Draft Plan #3
Discuss Citys comments on Draft Plan #3
Discuss Citys comments on Draft Plan #3
Review Draft Plan #4; refer to Editorial
Committee
Rework Draft Plan #4
Rework Draft Plan #4
Rework Draft Plan #4
Rework Draft Plan #4
Review of Draft Plan #5
Revisions to Draft Plan #5
Revisions to Draft Plan #5
Revisions to Draft Plan #5
1-22


Recap of Planning Activity
3/25/98 Joint Committees meeting Review Draft #6
4/16/98 Joint Committees meeting Review Draft #6
5/6/98 Joint Committees meeting Review Draft #6
5/27/98 Joint Committees meeting Review Draft #6
7/08/98 Joint Committees meeting Review Draft #6
11/12/98 Neighborhood Transportation Taskforce Discussion of transportation issues
11/23/98 Transportation/Planning meeting Discussion of transportation issues
11/30/98 Transportation/Planning meeting Discussion of transportation issues
12/09/98 Joint Committees meeting Review Draft #6, approve all revisions
01/15/99 Plan Available for Public Review
04/28/99 Public Presentation & Comment
04/28/00 Commence City adoption process Draft of April 28, 2000
06/06/00 Presentation to Landmark Preservation Commission Draft of April 28, 2000
06/07/00 Presentation to Lower Downtown Denver Design Review Board Draft of April 28, 2000
06/07/00 Denver Planning Board work session Draft of April 28, 2000
06/21/00 Denver Planning Board approval Draft of April 28, 2000
07/25/00 Council Land Use Committee Draft of April 28, 2000 (Revised)
08/28/00 City Council Approval/Incor- poration into Comprehensive Plan Draft of August 7, 2000
1-23


Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan
Historic Preservation


Historic Preservation
Contents of this Section
Introductory Comments..................................................................HP-1
Neighborhood Concerns..................................................................HP-3
A. Lower Downtowns Historic Architecture and Design Vocabulary......................HP-3
B. Context and Height................................................................HP-8
C. The Lower Downtown Design/DemolitionReview Board (LDD/DRB).........................HP-14
D. Incentives.........................................................................HP-15
E. Heritage Educati on................................................................HP -16
F. Design Principles for Contributing Buildings and Buildings Built Between
1860 and 1941.....................................................................HP-16
Goals ..................................................................................HP-18
Principles, Policies And Recommendations................................................HP-19
Principle HP1 Protect Lower Downtowns historic architecture and use its design
vocabulary to guide renovations, additions and new construction.........HP-19
Principle HP2 Additions and new construction must be in context........................HP-20
Principle HP3 The LDD/DRB is a critical link in preservation in Lower Downtown.........HP-20
Principle HP4 Continue to utilize incentives that encourage reuse of historic buildings ...HP-24
Principle HP5 Tell Lower Downtowns story...............................................HP-24
Principle HP6 Develop, enact, and utilize supplemental guidelines for the Lower
Downtown Historic District that deal specifically with
contributing buildings and additions thereto............................HP-25
Principle HP7 Develop, enact, and utilize guidelines for the Lower Downtown
Historic District that deal specifically with noncontributing buildings.HP-25
Implementation
HP-26


Introductory Comments
Because it is the last significant, intact collection of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century
commercial and industrial structures in the American West, Denvers Lower Downtown is
worthy of preservation.
Lower Downtown was part of the original townsite of Denver that grew in the 1860s near the
confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, where gold was discovered in 1858. The
arrival of the Denver Pacific, Kansas Pacific, and Rio Grande Railroads in 1870 triggered a
citywide building boom, and over the next decade Lower Downtown evolved into a
manufacturing and warehouse center for businesses seeking to locate next to the rail yards. The
area experienced its greatest expansion during the great Silver Boom (1881-93), when
warehouse, factories, several hotels, and Denver Union Depot were constructed. A red-light
district prospered along Holladay Street (now Market) from Nineteenth to Twenty-first streets
until authorities intervened in 1915. The construction of large warehouses continued into the
1910s, followed by development on a much smaller scale in the 1920s. The area saw very little
construction during the Great Depression, and most major building activity came to an end in the
1940s with the onset of World War n.
Changes in manufacturing, coupled with the development of the federal interstate highway
system and the demise of railroading, ended Lower Downtowns growth as Denvers
manufacturing and warehouse center. The District fell into decline and disrepair until the oil
boom of the 1970s, when many buildings were renovated for office use. But many other historic
buildings were lost during this period as a result of the construction of seven large office
buildings and demolition for surface parking lots.
Although interest in preserving, rehabilitating, and reusing individual buildings began in the late
1970s, it was not until the mid- 1980s that serious discussions about preserving the District took
place. Key zoning actions have influenced preservation and redevelopment in Lower
Downtown:
1974: zoning changed from I-1 (industrial) to B-7 (mixed use)
1982: B-7 amended to provide density bonuses for preservation of historic buildings
1988: B-7 amended and Ordinance 109 passed, creating the Lower Downtown Historic
District and Lower Downtown Design and Demolition Review Board
Ordinance 109 designates Lower Downtown as a District for Preservation. On the basis of the
local designation, the District was certified by the National Park Service, the equivalent of a
listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
HP-1


Beginning in the mid-1980s, the City and County of Denver approved a series of major plans,
code changes, and investments in and around Lower Downtown, spurring private sector
investment and development in the area. Major infrastructure changes included: the
consolidation of railroad tracks in the Central Platte Valley, the removal of viaducts passing over
and into Lower Downtown, and the construction of new roadways providing direct access to
downtown and Lower Downtown from 1-25. The Sixteenth Street Mall was extended from
Market Street Station in the heart of Lower Downtown to Wewatta.
In the private sector, historic buildings were renovated to accommodate offices, art galleries,
restaurants, bars, housing, and retail uses. Lower Downtowns housing stock grew from fewer
than 100 units to more than 600 within eight years. Vehicular and pedestrian traffic increased
dramatically. Land and building values climbed. Today, new construction is either under way or
being considered for many properties that contain parking lots or marginal, noncontributing
buildings. Over 50 percent of the area is ripe for new development once the market justifies
such an investment.
Denvers largest concentration of historic commercial and industrial buildings is in Lower
Downtown. While a significant number have been demolished over the years, the recent trend
has been toward restoration and renovation. The majority of the buildings still standing were
constructed between 1870 (when the railroads reached Denver) and 1940. While they vary in
architectural detail and size, from two-story commercial storefront structures built in the 1870s
and 1880s to five- and six-story manufacturing buildings and warehouses, the buildings are
homogeneous in their use of brick, extensive fenestration, and rectangular shape. The areas
dependence on the railroads for its development and financial success is still evidenced by the
railroad tracks embedded under some streets and alleys and the loading docks that remain
attached to many buildings.
HP-2


Neighborhood Concerns
A. Lower Downtowns Historic Architecture and Design Vocabulary
Background:
A rich variety of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century architectural elements can be found in
Lower Downtown. Walking along the best preserved and most pedestrian-friendly streets -
Wynkoop, Wazee, Blake, Market, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth one discovers elegant
brick and metal cornices, interesting signage and graphics, and articulated windows and doors.
Lower Downtowns alleys are equally appealing and historically significant, with their back
door accumulations of equipment, docks, recessed doorways, lighting and other elements. (See
Figure 2.)
Together, the following features define Lower Downtowns historic architecture:
Massing. Buildings in Lower Downtown are simple rectangular forms that, except for the
largest warehouses, tend to be taller than they are wide.
Consistent street wall. Lower Downtowns structures were built on a twenty-five-foot lot
pattern without setbacks. Most have two- to four-lot facades without a major break on street
frontage. There is a recognized distinction among individual buildings within the street wall
of any block.
Facade division. Facades are even and consistent and feature vertical elements such as
windows, doors, columns, and piers.
Facade composition. Facades are made up of a variety of planes, window treatments, and
elements, all of which give a facade an articulated, three-dimensional quality. Entrances are
typically centered.
Articulation. Buildings are well articulated, with a distinct and detailed cornice or top, a
middle and a base that is strong, expressive, and inviting to pedestrian passersby.
Windows. Windows have vertical proportions, but are often grouped to form larger
compositions. Windows are typically organized by function denoted by size, shape, and
operation.
Richness. Buildings display a richness and formality of details, materials, and colors.
HP-3


Figure 2
Lower Downtown's special character is reflected in its private and public realms. Key characteristics include mixed use buildings, gritty
connections to the industrial past, tum-of-the-century building massing, and an increasing residential presence.


Consistent building materials. Exterior building materials are primarily brick. Other
characteristic materials include stone bases, sills, and lintels and metal or brick cornices.

Subtle distinctions in the color of materials between buildings and the occasional use of a
different material such as stone or terra cotta underscore the consistency.
Roof lines. Roofs are predominantly flat and hidden behind cornices and parapets. Many
have exposed and visible water towers and utility stacks. (See Figures 3 and 4).
Although the historic buildings in the District have great similarities and use many of the same
elements, historic buildings tend to fall into one of three categories: Storefront,
FactoryAVarehouse, and 20th Century Commercial. Each of these building types represents a
different aspect and time of the Districts development.
Storefront buildings were the most common types of commercial buildings constructed in the
late 19th and early 20th century. These structures are typically two or more stories tall with
large display windows and inset door on the first level, rows of windows above for office or
housing, and a comice at the top. In Lower Downtown, Storefront buildings are the earliest,
dating from the 1870s through the early 1900s. They tend to be located in the south comer of
the District along Market, Blake and Wazee. These buildings reflect Lower Downtowns
roots as the commercial center of Denver.
Factory/Warehouse is a large utilitarian structure used for manufacturing and warehousing.
Factory buildings tend to have large expanses of glass, industrial sash windows for light,
while warehouse buildings have small windows to maximize wall space. F actory/W arehouse
buildings in Lower Downtown date from Lower Downtowns railroad era and are primarily
located along Wynkoop and Wazee.
20th Century Commercial is a transitional style that carries forward some of the storefront
character with simplified detailing typical of the 20th century. These buildings are small, one
or two stories, and often have docks as well as some kind of storefront. These buildings tend
to be located between 19th and 20th streets and were used by small manufacturing and
warehousing establishments.
Each block contains its own unique collection of buildings in one or more of these types. The
specific combination of types, sizes, and detailing are what provide the visual and historical
interest from block to block.
Issues:
The general consensus in public meetings and interviews was that Lower Downtowns historic
buildings and traditional character must be preserved. The majority believes that new buildings
should not be allowed to overwhelm or change the existing historic character of the District. In
addition, most felt that the context for each buildable site needed to be determined individually.
HP-5


Facade Have A Clear Sense of
Division:
Middle
Roofline or cornice.
Facades have a sense of depth and three
dimensional complexity related to the
articulation of windows and other facade
elements.
Windows are vertically proportioned and
often grouped to form larger
compositions.
Facades convey a richness of colors,
details, and a consistent vocabulary of
materials and proportions.
Building entrances feature architectural
detailing and rich materials.
Loading docks and other industrial
elements offer unique reuse opportunities
for urban porches.
Consistent street wall and massing
(25 lot widths).
Vertical facade composition, using windows,
major entries, decorative elements.
Figure 3
Lower Downtowns buildings embody Denvers railroad history and reflect simple tenents of good design for today. The Districts
contributing historic buildings offer a rich palette of architectural elements to guide traditional and innovative new architecture.


Rooftops:
- Historic rooflines are essentially flat.
Articulated building massing:
- A well defined, architecturally detailed
building top, often including a cornice.
A separate mid-zone extending from the
base to the top floor or roofline.
- A strongly expressed, visibly discernible
base featuring a prominent entry, and
using color, materials, and/or textures to
reinforce a vital pedestrian-oriented
streetscape.
Rich architectural detailing, graphics, and
materials:
- Exterior materials and colors compatible
with adjacent buildings
- Traditional building materials such as
masonry and stone with metal, stone and
wood details
- Traditional window and door forms and
detailing
- Special materials and canopies to
emphasize the main building entry
- Creative and expressive approaches to
building ornamentation and trim
Signage and other building graphics which
enliven the streetscape.
Building facades facing public streets:
- A strong, consistent, vertical bay rhythm
reinforced by vertical architectural details
such as punched window openings
- Architectural details such as arches,
columns, and decorative elements provide
visual richness and complexity
Traditional fenestration, lively play of light
and shadow, recessed and vertically
oriented windows, transparent glass,
traditional storefront windows at street
level
Figure 4
The defining characteristics of historic buildings provide the basis for architectural design guidelines.


B. Context and Height
Background:
Ordinance 109, Series of 1988, created the Lower Downtown Historic District through the
authority of the Landmark Preservation Ordinance (Chapter 30, R.M.C., as amended). It contains
guidelines for development in Lower Downtown.
Lower Downtowns preservation challenges are highly unusual as compared to other historic
districts around the country. Research on the Districts historic buildings revealed the following:
There are 170 buildings in Lower Downtown, of which 131 are contributing buildings.
Of the 131 contributing buildings, none are in excess of eighty-five feet tall; nineteen
are fifty-five to eighty-five feet tall; and the remainder (85 percent) is less than fifty-five
feet tall. (See Figure 5.)
Fifty percent of the historic built fabric remains, and the balance is likely to be filled in
with major new buildings over time. (See Figure 6.)
13,000 linear feet of the more than 30,000 linear feet of potential building street frontage
along named streets is developed.
Of the 104 comer sites within the District sites that contribute most visibly to the
Districts character more than 50 percent are vacant and available for redevelopment.
These data point out that, if and when the Historic District is built-out, more than half the
buildings would be outside the Districts period of significance.
Issues:
With more than fifty percent of the Historic District available for redevelopment, concern was
expressed by planning participants over the impact of growth on Lower Downtowns historic
character. Current regulations, urban design standards, and guidelines are perceived to lack the
clarity and direction to ensure that new construction is compatible with that character.
Participants in public meetings and interviews complained that the design standards in Ordinance
109 do not provide enough guidance to review and act on applications for large buildings, and
particularly new construction, allowed by the B-7 Zone District. This comment was heard in all
sectors of the community including project proposers, community stakeholders, and the
LDD/DRB, itself
HP-8



mr !
m

:-l 1
W.ir v
JULIE]
liZEIET
snvjriar--.i .=- _____ _________ _____________#
i ri ...................................................

::::


ita,kl.:,p,^lrLU,35*
iuildinjii btiivecm 5iV and ?5'
I! Buildings tvlm-eii 5{V anici N?"
iuikli:i|ts Between Kn' ami i jir
Buiklinjis iiKJler this 13H
feel iw
Figure 5
hxisl iiiji huiidirip he i eh I*
(HviUftwiks t'lininlHiliiie huiklines Mt 55 (ce
less in lietii II
C it nun
Held


fil'd H
ftnaaial Site Avaifatiltffor(MftilwMWf* |I54[
Silo lincln: It;lcjpmt*iTi3 t2*JH
F igurc #
Potential Lower Downtown development sites. 50% of I ower Downtown's land is potentially available for new development

Of particular concern to planning participants is the definition and application of the term
context. While Ordinance 109 uses the word, it does not define it, saying only that new
construction must fit into its . The Ordinances lack of specificity about context has
led to confusion about what can be built, and participants comments reflected two sides of the
discussion about new construction in Lower Downtown.
To project proposers, if the definition of context limits building size, then context may have a
direct bearing on the economics, and hence the profitability, of a project. Certain fixed costs
must be met by every project. In theory, a larger project spreads those costs over more product
(in this case, space), reducing the cost of each unit, making the product more affordable for the
buyer and the project more profitable for the seller. Reducing the cost per unit is particularly
important where low cost housing and small retail uses are desired. Increased margins also
permit more flexibility in the quality of the product that is offered and in the availability of funds
for streetscape improvements.
To others, if the definition of context does not limit building size, then Lower Downtowns
historic character is at risk. Projects that are much larger than historic neighbors, that ignore the
patterns found in the immediate area, or that introduce conflicting materials, shapes or elevations
may overwhelm historic buildings, dwarfing them and reducing their significance. In addition,
they believe, there is the potential to disrupt the historic fabric, and/or compromise the
authenticity of the streetscape.
After considerable discussion by all planning participants, and compromise on all sides, the
definition this Plan uses for context is:
Context. Context consists of the conditions that form the setting within which a building
is experienced. It derives from a Middle English word that meant coherence, and there is
an implication of disparate elements harmoniously woven together. As used here, context
consists of all the external factors that have a formative influence on the appearance of an
area, including height, mass, massing, scaling elements, design, materials, location on
site, and so forth. Context applies to all sites.
In Lower Downtown, the contributing buildings in a proposed sites vicinity establish
context. There are three types of context: primary, secondary and district-wide. Primary
context is applied to Part 1 decisions in the design review process. Secondary context
is used in Part 2 decisions. District-wide context is used when the LDD/DRB
determines that there are no contributing buildings in a sites primary or secondary
context.
Primary context is used to determine the general height and massing the envelope
of a proposed building. It is established by the contributing buildings located within
300 feet in all directions from any point on the property line of a proposed site.
HP-11


Secondary context is used to determine the finer grain details of a proposed
building. The geographic parameters used to determine secondary context are as
follows:
For sites on named streets, context is established by contributing buildings
located on the face block on which the project is located, the face block
immediately across the street and the face block across the alley.
For comer buildings, context is established by contributing buildings located
one-half block in each direction from the comer, including both sides of each half
block.
For sites on numbered streets, context is established by contributing buildings
located the face block on which a project is located, the face block immediately
across the street, and both face blocks on each of the blocks that abut the block of
the proposed project.
For sites in which context is not provided due to the absence of proximate
contributing buildings, context is the historic architectural character of the
entire District.
The influence that each element of context has on the whole context of an area varies from
block to block in Lower Downtown. For example, on the block from Wynkoop to Wazee on
17th Street, the richness of the materials and formality of design have a profound impact on
context. By contrast, this same elegance of design would be out of place among the simple,
utilitarian buildings along Blake or Market from 19th to 20th Streets.
Similarly, the degree to which height, as an element of context, must be considered in
evaluating a project is specific to the projects site. Generally speaking, height weighs heavily in
determining if a project fits compatibly into its context; it may even be a determining factor. An
exception to this general rule is buildings below 55 feet. Because 55 feet is height-by-right,
height is not considered as an element of context for projects below that plane.
Another exception to a heavy weighting of height is Special Review Projects (SRPs). SRPs
must address contributing buildings in their primary context, which is defined as context
established by the contributing buildings located within 300 feet in all directions from any
point on the property line of a proposed site." In the Special Review Districts, the LDD/DRB
should consider height, but height alone will not be as decisive a factor as it might be in other
parts of Lower Downtown. The SRDs were specifically identified because they largely lack
historic context, and hence can support height and density. (See Figure 7).
HP-12


3C
TJ
i
Cook
Field
[ j Special Review Dislncls (ISW9)
| | SRD ate Under DevdojiiiKiit (2000)
Figure 7
Special Review Projects may be acceptable in three designated Special Review Districts. Projects may range up to ]30 feet in height if they meet exceptional design standards.


For new construction in the Historic District, participants in the planning process recommended
the principles found in the Design of New Buildings Section of this Plan. They believe the
principles encourage both preservation and mixed use development. To adopt the principles will
require amendment of several City Ordinances, most particularly Ordinance 109.
C. The Lower Downtown Design/Demolition Review Board (LDD/DRB)
Background:
The Lower Downtown Design/Demolition Review Board (LDD/DRB), created by Ordinance
109, currently has five members, one of whom is a member of the Landmark Preservation
Commission (LPC); the mayor appoints the other four based on nominations made by Lower
Downtowns City Council representative, residents, and business organizations.
The role of the LDD/DRB is to approve, approve with conditions, or deny applications for
alterations to existing buildings or new construction in Lower Downtown. Its decisions are
based on general design standards contained in Ordinance 109, the Design Guidelines for Denver
Landmarks and Landmark Districts, and other applicable documents. The current role of the
LPC is to adopt guidelines applicable to Lower Downtown and to hear appeals of applicants of
decisions made by the LDD/DRB. Ordinance 109 specifies that only applicants may appeal any
decision of the LDD/DRB to the LPC.
Issues:
The LDD/DRB is a critical link in the application of the design guidelines that manage
development in Lower Downtown. As such, the LDD/DRB helps projects meet the intent of the
guidelines; helps developers design more compatible buildings and additions; and helps District
residents, business owners, property owners, and others appreciate, understand and comment on
the nature of the proposed work.
Participants felt that the LDD/DRB, together with proponents for specific projects, public
agency staff, interested members of the community, and others, should be able to freely
articulate positions and viewpoints in LDD/DRB hearings. Given the unique nature of each
project and of each parcel of real property, it should be understood that the comments and
decisions of the LDD/DRB, and of all participants in LDD/DRB hearings, apply to the particular
project and parcel in question, and not generally to all projects and parcels in Lower Downtown.
Composition and qualification of LDD/DRB members was discussed by planning participants.
There was general agreement that the Board should be expanded to seven members, to provide
both greater expertise and relief from quorum problems.
HP-14


Meeting and interview participants also raised a number of procedural questions and requested
that these be clarified. One such question asked for clarification of the submission process for
project proposers, including identification of the types of approvals available and the
requirements to obtain each. Meeting participants also recommended that review procedures,
submission requirements, mechanics of meetings, parliamentary authority, and so forth, be
embodied in a set of by-laws or operating procedures and made available to the public.
The Neighborhood Committee, especially, spent a great deal of time discussing the nature of
decision making in the design review process. In the end, every decision of the LDD/DRB is an
exercise of the Boards discretion in the application of the design principles and guidelines to the
unique facts of each individual application. Importantly, the design principles and guidelines,
LDD/DRBs procedural safeguards, the special expertise of LDD/DRBs members, and
proposers right to appeal unfavorable decisions will all serve as safeguards to limit the
s discretion and help ensure that applicants will be treated in a fair and consistent
manner. If a decision could be rendered simply by application of fixed and inflexible rules,
without reference to the discretion of the LDD/DRB or to the potential to negotiate alternative
approaches that meet the proposers needs and serve the public interest, then there would be no
need for an expert design review board. The ability to by-pass the LDD/DRB by adhering to
prescribed and inflexible requirements has been available to proposers in Lower Downtown
since 1988, but it has never been used. Instead proposers have opted to make the case in a
public forum.
The Neighborhood and the Management Committees recommend that, to the extent permitted
by law, the LDD/DRB be authorized to exercise reasonable discretion in weighing the elements
that make good projects as the Board applies adopted guidelines to the facts of each application.
Finally, planning participants felt it is important that all interested parties, as defined by Denver
City ordinance, have standing to appeal a decision of the LDD/DRB to the LPC.
D. Incentives
Background:
There are a number of preservation incentive programs that are available for qualifying projects
in Lower Downtown. These include state income tax credits, federal investment tax credits,
grants-in-aid from the Colorado Historical Fund (CHS), and charitable deductions for facade
easements. Lower Downtown is also located in an Enterprise Zone and state income tax credits
are available for employment, investment in capital assets, and the payment of employee
benefits, among other more specialized credits.
In addition to preservation incentives, specific programs for housing may be available in the
form of the low income housing credit; low interest rate loans from agencies like HUD, Colorado
Housing and Finance Authority (CHAFA), and the Denver Housing Authority (DHA); and tax
increment financing from the Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA). This Plan also
recommends permitting additional height for the provision of housing. Finally, the cost of
preservation of historic buildings may be managed through the use of reduced parking
HP-15


requirements or use of Chapter 61 to provide flexible approaches to meeting current health and
safety requirements.
Issues:
Because every historic building is important, incentives should be made available to developers
to make the economics of preservation work better. Meeting and interview participants urged the
consolidation of materials that explain the incentives available in Lower Downtown into a
handbook and its subsequent distribution to interested parties.
E. Heritage Education
Background:
Lower Downtown has an historic interpretive signage program and thirty-five of the Districts
buildings and important sites are marked with plaques containing lively details about the
architecture, buildings, sites and people who inhabited these streets before us. There is a
companion map to guide visitors to the plaques. In addition, various non-profits sponsor walking
tours of the District from June through September, LDDI holds an annual Loft Tour in the fall,
and there are several guidebooks of the District, most notably Barbara Gibsons The Lower
Downtown Historic District.
Issues:
There are actually two stories to tell about Lower Downtown. The first, and most frequently told,
is the story of Denvers birth and growth. The second story is preservations success story in
Lower Downtown. The "crystal ball gazing" done in the 1980s and the investment made by the
City and the private sector yielded a rehabilitated and revitalized area.
Sparse as they may be, Lower Downtowns current heritage education programs are well
received. Most rely on volunteer labor and contributions. Meeting participants suggested a
pooling of resources in the preservation community to produce new programs to appeal to a
broad range of ages and interests.
F. Design Principles for Contributing Buildings and Buildings Built Between 1860
and 1941
Background:
The guiding principles for minor additions and alterations to, and rehabilitation and preservation
of, contributing buildings in the Lower Downtown Historic District are found in the Design
Guidelines for Landmark Structures and Districts. These guidelines were adopted by the LPC on
March 21, 1995. Additionally, there are guidelines in Ordinance 109.
HP-16


Issues:
For the most part, the guidance provided in design guidelines applicable to Lower Downtown
has served the LDD/DRB well when reviewing alterations to contributing buildings and
noncontributing buildings. However, new materials, construction processes, and, particularly
uses for which the buildings were never built, have raised questions unforeseen by the
Ordinance. Additions to historic buildings, like balconies and roof top structures, are particularly
troublesome. Furthermore, the LPC's Guidelines examine more closely residential preservation
needs, and while most of the principles are applicable in Lower Downtown, there are some
unique aspects of commercial districts that are not covered.
HP-17


Goals
Lower Downtowns goals for historic preservation include:
Preservation of all the historic structures in the District.
New buildings that reflect, in a contemporary way, Lower Downtowns design
vocabulary.
New buildings that fit comfortably into their context.
A community where preserving historic buildings is valued and rewarded.
A design review board that is fair and consistent, and whose decisions are made in the
public interest based upon facts in the record and the codified design review principles
and guidelines.
Administrative policies and procedures that clearly define the review process.
The ability of all parties with standing to appeal decisions of the LDD/DRB to the LPC.
A neighborhood where a broad heritage education program tells the story of early Denver
and the story of its ongoing preservation.
Revised design guidelines for contributing buildings, for noncontributing buildings,
for contemporary buildings, and for buildings as yet unbuilt.
HP-18


Principles, Policies And Recommendations
Principle HP1 Protect Lower Downtowns historic architecture and use its design vocabulary to guide renovations, additions and new construction
Policy HP 1.1 Every historic building contributes to the character of Lower Downtown.
Recommendations:
HP 1.1.1 Maintain protection from demolition for every contributing building
HP 1.1.2 Utilize the authority to deny demolition to the greatest extent possible
HP1.1.3 where appropriate and in keeping with laws, regulations and guidelines. Carefully evaluate exterior alterations to maintain and enhance the integrity of every contributing building.
HP 1.1.4 Balance historic integrity with contemporary use by continuing the careful consideration of exterior alterations that has been exhibited by the LDD/DRB.
HP1.1.5 Periodically resurvey Lower Downtown to assess its structures contributing and noncontributing status in light of alterations, restorations, rehabilitations, and changing perceptions of more recent styles.
Policy HP 1.2 Use the characteristics of historic buildings traditional size, massing, height, organization of features, masonry materials, articulation of facades, and clear entries as a basis for proposed construction.
Policy HP 1.3 Recognize that, collectively, Lower Downtowns historic buildings form the basis of many of the Districts most valued attributes, including a nationally recognized collection of historic commercial structures, walkable streets, pedestrian friendly building facades, an interesting mix of uses, and industrial elements.
Recommendations:
HP 1.3.1 Maintain edge of buildings along sidewalks.
HP 1.3.2 Maintain Lower Downtowns historic industrial look and feel by
preserving such elements as fire escapes, water towers, loading docks,
alleys and alley facades, and other evidences of the Districts past.
HP-19


Policy HP 1.4 Because historic wall signs hold intrinsic value for both their history and their ability to inspire curiosity, they should be preserved where possible.
Principle HP2 Additions and new construction must be in context
Policy HP2.1 Use new construction to reinforce the historic qualities of Lower Downtown.
Policy HP2.2 Policy HP2.3 Respect the unique character of each block. Clarify the word context
Recommendations:
HP2.3.1 Define context to refer to a specific geographic area, not the District as
HP2.3.2 a whole. Define context to include only historic buildings.
Principle HP3 The LDD/DRB is a critical link in preservation in Lower Downtown
Policy HP3.1 Utilize the Design Guidelines for Denver Landmarks and Landmark Districts in making design review decisions about historic buildings.
Policy HP3.2 Utilize the design standards to be contained in a revised ordinance and rules and regulations.
Policy HP3.3 Because each site is unique, comments and decisions made by the LDD/DRB, although consistent with the Plan and the Guidelines, do not set precedents for future projects.
Policy HP3.4 Maintain the recommending and appointing of knowledgeable and interested people to the LDD/DRB.
Recommendations:
HP3.4.1 Expand the LDD/DRB to a seven-member Board.
HP3.4.2 Appoint a cross section of interests to the Board, including a:
Real estate developer Practicing architect Historic preservationist Preservation architect Resident of Lower Downtown Property owner in Lower Downtown Owner or operator of a business in Lower Downtown
HP-20


HP3.4.3 Make all appointments to the LDD/DRB by soliciting recommendations
from the following organizations:
For the practicing architect, seek recommendations from AIA-Denver.
For the developer, seek recommendations from Lower Downtown's
City Council representative.
For the preservationist, seek recommendations from Historic Denver.
For the preservation architect, seek recommendations from CHS and
the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Mountain and Plains
Region.
For all others, seek recommendations from neighborhood
organizations registered with the city that identify Lower Downtown
as being within their boundaries.
HP3.4.4 Appoint disinterested parties to two of the four Board positions not
specifically required to be Lower Downtown constituents. A disinterested
party is one who does not live, own property, own or operate a business,
practice professionally, or represent interests in Lower Downtown.
HP3.4.5 Members of the LPC should not also serve on the LDD/DRB.
Policy HP3.5 Ensure due process.
Recommendations:
HP3.5.1 Adopt by-laws and a parliamentary authority.
HP3.5.1.1 Provide for a majority vote of the quorum on general matters that
come before the Board.
HP3.5.1.2 Provide for a 5 out of 7 vote of the entire Board on all special review
projects.
HP3.5.1.3 Adopt Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised as parliamentary
authority.
HP3.5.2 Develop and disseminate administrative and regulatory procedures that
include procedures for giving appropriate notice of all meetings.
HP3.5.3 Provide continuous training to LDD/DRB and LPC members related to
design review decision-making and due process in quasi-judicial meetings
HP3.5.4 Clarify the appeals process.
HP3.5.4.1 Permit any interested party to appeal de novo a decision of the
LDD/DRB to the LPC.
HP3.5.4.2 Require that such appeals be made within 15 days of a Part 1 or Part 2
decision. (See HP3.7.1, below)
HP-21


Hp3.5.4.3 On appeal to the LPC, require that any decision of the LDD/DRB be
presumed to be correct until sufficient evidence is introduced to
support a contrary finding.
HP3.5.4.4 Require that elements of a project that are the subject of an appeal be
presented to the LPC in the same form as those presented to the
LDD/DRB
Policy HP3.6 To the extent permitted by law, authorize the LDD/DRB to exercise
reasonable discretion, consistent with the Plan, design principles and
guidelines, in weighing the elements that comprise compatible projects.
Policy HP3.7 Revise the review process for proj ects proposed in Lower Downtown.
Recommendations:
HP3.7.1 Revise the design review process as follows:
Each project, whether for an existing building or new construction, shall
be reviewed by the LDD/DRB in the following sequence:
Part 1 cf 1he review process will address the building envelope, (defined as 1he
buildings height mass, form, stepbacks, ate plan, contextual fit, etc.), and the
concept of 1he basic exterior facade appearances, including identification of
major materials. The Board will make a decision on 1he building envelope and
the concept of 1he basic exterior facade. Such decision can be appealed by any
interested party to the LPC within 15 days ofthe Boards decision. If such
decision is not appealed to 1he LPC within 15 days, that decision is final.
Part 2 of the review process will address building details beyond the
previously approved concept of the basic exterior facade. Such
building details shall include materials, color, windows, entrances,
scaling devices, and other exterior details. The Board will make a
decision concerning such building details. Such decision is appealable
by any interested party to the LPC within 15 days of the Boards
decision. If such decision is not appealed to the LPC within 15 days,
that decision is final.
In the alternative, except for proponents of SRPs, the applicant may
request a Board decision on an entire project at a single meeting.
The applicant may request that the Board review/reopen any of its
decisions. If the Board does so, its reconsideration may include other
relevant decisions it has made regarding the project. However, such
reopening shall not be allowed if the Boards decision has been
appealed to the LPC.
HP-22


HP3.7.2 Create an application form for projects which come before the LDD/DRB
Policy HP3.8 Establish review procedures and criteria for Special Review Projects (SRPs)
Recommendations:
HP3.8.1 Apply the same review procedures described in Policy HP3.7 to Special
HP3.8.2 Review Projects, except that SRPs may not request a Board decision on an entire project at a single meeting. Require an affirmative vote of five out of the seven members of the Board to approve an SRP. If seven members are not eligible to vote, then approval shall require a favorable vote of 75% of the eligible members. Eligible voters are duly appointed LDD/DRB members, who are present at the meeting and who have not otherwise recused themselves from voting (e.g., conflicts of interest).
HP3.8.3 Employ models extensively to illustrate the proposed SRP.
HP3.8.3.1 Require that a model exhibiting all of the elements required for Part
1 approval accompany an application for an SRP review.
HP3.8.3.2 Prior to the commencement of Part 2 of an SRP review, update the
model to reflect decisions made regarding Part 1 and the new
elements to be reviewed in Part 2.
HP3.8.3.3 Make the models available for public inspection in Lower Downtown
HP3.8.4 while the SRP is under consideration by the LDD/DRB. Provide notice of any meetings where an SRP is to be considered by the LDD/DRB. Notice requirements are met by mailing written notice to registered Lower Downtown neighborhood organizations 14 days prior to the scheduled meeting.
HP3.8.5 Create an application form for SRPs.
Policy HP3.9 Allow de minimus changes to be approved by the Boards staff after the Board has made decisions.
Recommendations:
HP3.9.1 The staff may not approve any changes to elements of a project taken up
by the Board in Part 1 of the review process.
HP3.9.2 The staff may approve de minimus changes to elements of a project taken
up by the Board in Part 2 of the review process.
HP-23


HP3.9.2.1 A de minimus change is a change that has little impact on the visual
appearance on a project. It is unnoticeable to the casual viewer.
HP3.9.2.2 In determining if a change is de minimus, staff must consider not only
the impact of the change being proposed, but also the aggregate affect
on a project of all de minimus changes previously approved.
HP3.9.2.3 De minimus changes granted under this provision must be noted as an
information item on the LDD/DRBs consent calendar.
Principle HP4 Continue to utilize incentives that encourage reuse of historic buildings
Policy HP4.1. Continue to make incentives available as long as they prove effective in encouraging reuse of historic buildings.
Recommendations:
HEM. 1.1 Keep parking requirements as they are now, as provided in the B-7 Zone
HP4.1.2 District, to eliminate the parking requirement for historic buildings. Maintain and continue to improve the Chapter 61 process to provide relief from building codes for older buildings.
HP4.1.3. Promote existing incentives such as the State Income Tax Credit, Federal Investment Tax Credit, and State Historical Fund.
HP4.1.4 Promote other housing and retail incentive programs (DURA, CHAFA, DHA) where they also serve preservation.
Policy HP4.2 Evaluate the need for the addition, elimination or substitution of incentives based on changing market conditions and development pressures.
Principle HP5 Tell Lower Downtowns story
Policy HP5.1 Use the built environment to educate and to promote an interest in Denvers late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century heritage; its industrial and transportation roots; and its linkages to the South Platte River, Cherry Creek, the railroad, adjacent historic neighborhoods, and the Central Business District (CBD).
Recommendations:
HP5.1.1 Provide year-round walking tours jointly promoted and carried out by
AIA-Denver, LDDI, Historic Denver, CHS, the CU-Denver School of
Architecture and Planning, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
HP-24


HP5.1.2 Market the guidebook, The Lower Downtown Historic District.
HP5.1.3 Hold an annual childrens event in Lower Downtown, sponsored by Historic Denver, CU-Denver, LDDI, and Denver Public Schools.
HP5.1.4 Sponsor an annual workshop/celebration for the owners of historic lofts in Lower Downtown and downtown.
HP5.1.5 Work with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Convention and Visitors Bureau to develop a heritage tourism program for Lower Downtown, downtown, and other historic central Denver neighborhoods.
Policy HP5.2 Tell the history of Lower Downtowns preservation and revitalizatioa
Principle HP6 Develop, enact, and utilize supplemental guidelines for the Lower Downtown Historic District that deal specifically with contributing buildings and additions thereto
Policy HP6.1 Additions, alterations, and rehabilitation of contributing buildings must retain and preserve the historic character of the building
Principle HP7 Develop, enact, and utilize guidelines for the Lower Downtown Historic District that deal specifically with noncontributing buildings
Policy HP7.1 Alterations to noncontributing buildings must be designed to help the building better fit its context.
HP-25


Implementation
Amend the 1989 Denver Comprehensive Plan to include the Lower Downtown
Neighborhood Plan as a detailed component.
Amend City Ordinances to be consistent with one another as they apply to Lower
Downtown and to reflect the principles in the Preservation section of the Lower
Downtown Neighborhood Plan.
To supplement the Design Guidelines for Denver Landmarks and Landmark
Districts, adopt guidelines specifically for Lower Downtown that address new
construction and alterations and additions to contributing and noncontributing
buildings.
Specifically define the context area to be used in evaluating new construction.
Revise the composition of the LDD/DRB to provide for a seven-member Board.
Clarify the appeals process from LDD/DRB to the LPC.
Revise the review process for projects proposed in Lower Downtown to provide for
two distinct approvals.
Establish review procedures and criteria for Special Review Projects (SRPs).
Allow any interested party to appeal a decision of the LDD/DRB to the LPC.
Promote preservation incentive programs.
Monitor the effectiveness of incentives and the need for new incentives.
Create, produce and disseminate heritage education programs.
HP-26


Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan
Design of New Buildings


Design of New Buildings
Contents of this Section
Introductory Comments..............................................................D-1
A. Proposed Design Guidelines and Their Use......................................D-l
B. Requirements vs. Preferences..................................................D-l
C. Definitions...................................................................D-l
Neighborhood Concerns..............................................................D-2
A. Building Height and Massing...................................................D-2
B. Other Design Considerations...................................................D-4
Goals .............................................................................D-7
Principles, Policies And Recommendations...........................................D-8
Principle D1 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to
contemporary buildings............................................. D-8
Principle D2 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to new buildings...D-8
Principle D3 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to all buildings...D-8
Implementation.....................................................................D-9


Introductory Comments
A. Proposed Design Guidelines and Their Use
As a part of the neighborhood planning process, design guidelines were created which are
recommended for adoption by the Landmark Preservation Commission and the LDD/DRB. The
guidelines are designed to supplement the Design Guidelines for Landmark Structures and
Districts and deal with Lower Downtowns specific architectural and urban design issues. The
basic purposes of the guidelines are:
to reinforce the key characteristics of Lower Downtowns traditional architectural
character-most importantly, height, massing and articulation of building facades;
to encourage high-quality approaches to new architectural and urban design elements
contributing to Lower Downtowns physical character.
The general principles that underlie the proposed design guidelines are presented in this Plan.
B. Requirements vs. Preferences
The proposed guidelines are divided into two levels:
Requirements. These are mandatory; they must be met in order for a project to be approved.
Preferences. These are the guidelines that a projects applicants must consider in the design of
the project. Preferences should be viewed as ideas to be encouraged rather than as prescriptive.
They are suggestions of ways to make projects more appropriate to Lower Downtown and to
spark lively responses to Lower Downtowns historic setting. If an applicant does not follow a
given preference, the applicant must demonstrate that s/he is otherwise responding appropriately
to the preference.
C. Definitions
Through the course of the planning process, terminology frequently caused problems. In some
cases, confusion resulted because of differences between professional and lay usage. In others,
even the professionals disagreed. To ease the interpretation of the recommended guidelines,
several terms are specifically defined. (See Introduction to the Lower Downtown Neighborhood
Plan, Item D.) These definitions represent the only applicable interpretations for use with this
Plan and the Design Guidelines.
D-l


Neighborhood Concerns
A. Building Height and Massing
Background:
The B-7 Zone District Ordinance and Ordinance 109, which created the Historic District and its
urban design guidelines, conflict with regard to the matter of height. B-7 calls for maximum
building heights of one hundred and thirty feet. Ordinance 109, on the other hand, calls for
projects to be in context. Lower Downtowns historic context consists of 131 contributing
buildings, of which 85% are under fifty-five feet tall, 15% are between fifty-five and eighty-five
feet tall and none exceed eighty-five feet. (See Figure 5)
During the early 1990s, when the historic inventory was plentiful and rehabilitation was more
profitable than new construction, the interplay of the zoning and preservation ordinances was not
apparent. However, as new construction became cost effective, projects were proposed which
tested the conflicting provisions of the two ordinances.
Related to height is building mass. The B-7 Zone District Ordinance provides a formulaic
approach to the arrangement of a buildings volume on a site. It employs a bonus system that
permits a maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 7.4:1 and manages massing by way of stepback
requirements.
Issues:
Meeting and interview participants expressed concern over the conflicts between the two
ordinances. Developers, property owners and project proposers called for resolution of the
question in the interest of maintaining predictability and stability in the development
environment. Residents and the preservation community also want resolution, expressing
concern about the potential for large projects to overwhelm the historic character of the District.
Ordinance 109 omits the definition of context. For purposes of application in Lower Downtown,
it is defined in this Plan. (See Introduction, Item D; see also, Historic Preservation, Item B)
Context considers only historic structures. It requires the designer to understand and employ an
intrinsic design vocabulary and it requires a project to respond sensitively to its neighbors. (See
Historic Preservation, Item A)
But there are places in the District where context is weak where little exists to guide the
designer (e. g., 18th to 19th on Market) or where existing uses have established important
development patterns (16th Street Mall). In these circumstances, more height and mass is
supportable, especially when there is a resulting increase in the residential or regional retail base.
In fact, throughout the District, height incentives are offered for the inclusion in projects of
residential uses. (See Figure 8) (See Design Guidelines, Policy 4.1)
D-2


Building Heightenstklhirt
iViwl-.' riftn dtogt'trutt fadkawiwe hrtgftr-
rcfa ted gu ictli'rwj; ipoeurl tvtfttiivui ent\ add
for Hwwer fafArifj|g. b\dMiu$t witiMi, LJtTLf budding; located pjj specific
hi'Htivtt.i HU'h tto \ftwt£ rAf jiS/iV SriWi1 WrNV.
a

-i*
MuximLEm
Building Height 551
IXWiWff wiio1 pvjiu a
rrwji'fjf tarcttfitiva to
rm-jti! tt Actiiff fit il,jiijii
evatest of adjacent
butidtnss
Exterior aptesxiaa.ihaii
reati tiy fO\rr /Ivors pins
trcaruicf
I 'n/ermi ta iVr mwj nw
IwtgtuSf Twftjlwrt /TO
reinforce.Tired wait)
NoU-: Rruiltnliul
Pent bouse up fo IMfl'
- fftnflrfiw f.p£W# Reifioivif xttfitar&s: iwrumwim
ZJ at ih* st/Vtl. ihttVusi,.'i ii'ilh
/noldiag kiidJA srttd .v/Af Mitxk'ki
*vtfTtmkifbtmIwitrfm£'i rnvt^tdum
ihrcc fats in width.
SS hi US*
ftafidin LMirDItB apprm'ai
Comtce height darr yea h US'
' HaiI'/wf vnpmrsioii shod reml
.l-r illr Jlinvrf i? hwtiJhV
fii'friVrtW Aj£>WP I'rori'j-rfl^
j >Tif ij ij finoMt j.t wuri'tuf J/"jtf.uvf
j'J titter/ TO reltrli,
mtuimurt, and/or art galleries;
t'tytfnhrtV. hoWSfrigi'vifttid'n&tT
iy ipi,d,iirnrf i5at> ij these urns are
gfo'dA'd at .itnxt i&tvi
1' Special Review PrujccU
tol3U*
Umpires IPtVOIW Tiitpyovfd
ami /nest meet exceptional
.yfaurffliyfy
Special hearing /ion (meatatmn,
a,kf OpfirOWI reqnirettH.'iW.'i
Special model* myttlted
Figure 8
Height and massing guidelines reflect the scale of Lower Downtown's historic buildings.


Meeting and interview participants also commented that computation of FARs was confusing,
both to those who sought to use them and those who sought to measure compliance. Others felt
that the FAR formula permitted massing which was out of character with the largely rectilinear,
blocky nature of the historic context.
B. Other Design Considerations
Background:
Ordinance 109 is largely silent about guidelines for new building design. Still, many new
buildings are being proposed for sites in Lower Downtown and many new questions are raised
about building design.
Issues:
Building placement along property lines create street walls in Lower Downtown which, because
of their human scale, are a unique feature of the historic commercial District. Maintenance
and enhancement of this feature is desirable. Continuity of the street wall facade is also
desirable. The sense of enclosure, created by continuous building fronts of human scale, is
both historic and conducive to community. Buildings can be and should be designed to enhance
street-level liveliness. Providing retail uses on the ground floor creates a synergy that fosters
both business and community.
Comer buildings have a greater presence and tend to be more defined. Because multiple facades
are visible, they have a three-dimensional look and may be larger than their neighbors. Still, all
buildings must fit comfortably in their site and respond to their neighbors.
Among other features, facade composition includes building articulation and definition; the
size, shape and orientation of windows, doors and balconies; the exterior expression of floor-to-
floor heights; and the scale of a building. New buildings that incorporate features of Lower
Downtowns design vocabulary do so with a modem interpretation the objective is to create
buildings that reflect their own time, understanding and responding to patterns in their immediate
environment. (See Figure 9.)
A buildings details, materials, color, signs, awnings and lighting help it fit into its context. (See
Figure 10.)
Mechanical structures, exposed equipment, stair towers and other appurtenances have
traditionally been located on rooftops in Lower Downtown. Historically, they were not screened
because they were located behind cornices among buildings of similar height. Today, as
building heights vary and rooftops become outdoor living space for District residents, such
elements are more visible. Rooftop structures and mechanical elements should be neutral and
integrated into the overall design of the building they append.
D-4


Figure 9
Opportunities to celebrate the special character of Lower Downtowns built environment. New buildings that incorporate features of Lower
Downtowns design vocabulary use a modem interpretation that is lively, innovative, and diverse. These enrich the Districts unique character.


Figure 10
Lively detailing can extend Lower Downtowns special character to a new generation of buildings.


Goals
Lower Downtowns goals for the design of contemporary and new buildings include:
A design framework shaped by historic architectural precedent conveying the spirit of
each successive era.
New construction and alterations that are compatible with their context.
Building facades that visually respect and respond to each other.
Buildings with a base, middle and top.
Artfully composed, expressive facades displaying a consistent rhythm, vertical
composition and articulation of elements.
Facades that contribute to the Districts pedestrian scale and character.
A variety of architectural elements and textures, details, signs, graphics.
High quality craftsmanship.
Reliance on traditional building materials.
Continuous street walls with a variety of compositions.
D-7


Principles, Policies And Recommendations
Principle D1 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to contemporary buildings
Policy Dl.l Policy D1.2 A contemporary building shall remain an expression of its time. Additions and alterations should be sympathetic and subordinate to the original building and to their context.
Policy D1.3 Alterations to contemporary buildings shall be reviewed by the LDD/DRB as new buildings and are subject to the Guidelines for New Buildings.
Principle D2 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to new buildings
Policy D2.1 Policy D2.2 Height and massing are important determinants of compatibility. The placement of architectural elements is important to building in continuity and to the Lower Downtown physical experience.
Recommendations:
D2.2.1 To articulate these elements and to be compatible with the Districts
D2.2.2 historic context, the design of new building facades needs to employ Lower Downtowns design vocabulary. Other visible elevations, such as walls found in alleys or sidewalls of buildings, contribute significantly to the overall impression of the built environment.
Policy D2.3 A buildings materials, details and colors are important factors in establishing its compatibility with its context.
Principle D3 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to all buildings
Policy D3.1 Building signs, awnings and lighting help establish the perceived liveliness and safety of Lower Downtown street life.
Policy D3.2 Roof structures and appurtenances must work within the overall design of the building. They also offer opportunities to enhance the buildings architectural effect.
D-8


Implementation
Amend the 1989 Denver Comprehensive Plan to include the Lower Downtown
Neighborhood Plan as a detailed component.
Amend City ordinances to be consistent with one another as they apply to Lower
Downtown and to reflect the principles in the Design of New Buildings section of the
Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan.
Amend City ordinances to enable the LDD/DRBs review of projects pursuant to the
Design Guidelines recommended by this Plan for adoption by the LPC.
To supplement the Design Guidelines for Denver Landmarks and Landmark
Districts, adopt guidelines that address the design of new buildings, contemporary
buildings and all buildings in Lower Downtown.
D-9


Lower Downtown
Neighborhood
Plan
Uses


Uses
Contents of this Section
Neighborhood Concerns..................................................................U-l
A. Diversity of Uses.................................................................U-l
B. Neighborhood Livability...........................................................U-2
C. Open Space........................................................................U-3
D. Inter-Neighborhood Connections....................................................U-4
E. Retailing.........................................................................U-4
F. New Housing Development...........................................................U-5
G. New Office Development............................................................U-6
H. Preserving Art and Cultural Uses..................................................U-7
I. Street Liveliness.................................................................U-7
J. Zoning Changes....................................................................U-8
K. Application of Ordinance 109......................................................U-9
Goals ................................................................................U-10
Principles, Policies And Recommendations..............................................U-11
Principle U1 Enhance the attraction of Lower Downtown to a broad range of uses......U-11
Principle U2 Enhance livability among residential, business/office, commercial and
retail uses...........................................................U-ll
PrincipleU3 Enhance connections to adjacent neighbors and nearby open space........U-ll
Principle U4 Enhance the attraction of Lower Downtown to both neighborhood
serving and one-of-a-kind regional retail.............................U-12
Principle U5 Increase residential use in Lower Downtown.............................U-12
Principle U6 Preserve existing employment opportunities and enhance a wide
range of new business and office uses.................................U-12
Principle U7 Explore ways to retain and enhance art and cultural uses in Lower
Downtown.............................................................U-l 3
Principle U8 Develop lively street-level uses and activities to enhance Lower
Downtowns streets....................................................U-13
Principle U9 Change existing ordinances to apply co-terminus boundaries to
Ordinance 109 and the B-7 zone district..............................U-13
Implementation........................................................................U-14
U-l


Neighborhood Concerns
A. Diversity of Uses
Background:
With the official designation of the Lower Downtown Historic District in 1988, emphasis shifted
from preserving individual buildings to preserving the areas general character as a tum-of-the-
century commercial district. At the same time, the District was transforming into an urban
mixed-use neighborhood with a substantial number of residents.
New restaurants and bars, nearby major attractions such as Coors Field and the new Pepsi Center
and development or proposed development of more than 600 residential lofts, in addition to
proposed new development on vacant and underutilized building sites, have combined within a
decade to change Lower Downtown from a historic neighborhood into a vital, mixed-use historic
district.
Land Use in Lower Downtown Total Square Feet (mil) Percent
Office 2.54 35
Parking 1.61 22
Retail 0.98 14
Industrial 0.81 11
Residential 0.63 9
Open Space 0.34 5
Transportation 0.15 2
Vacant 0.13 2
Total 7.19 100
Source: Lower Downtown Land Use Study, The Levi Company, 1994.
Issues:
The consensus reached in public meetings and interviews was that Lower Downtown should
serve as a 1 i ve/work/piay/1 earn environment for people with a range of incomes. Participants
expressed a desire that Lower Downtown provide urban residential units everywhere people care
to live. So that no single use dominates and drives out other uses through failure in the
management of potentially negative side effects, good neighbor policies were suggested to assure
a balance among the various uses.
U-l


Participants in neighborhood meetings and interviews singled out the neighborhoods mixed use
character as one of their main reasons for choosing to locate in Lower Downtown, citing
particularly the range of activities available, proximity to the downtown business core, the
variety of lifestyle opportunities, the ability to walk to work or business meetings and the
uniqueness of the Historic District. The variety and intensity of uses function compatibly for the
most part and, taken together, distinguish Lower Downtown as a successful urban area: Denvers
most diverse, 'round the clock' neighborhood.
Presently, over 50 percent of the area is available for new development, and approximately 57
percent (17,000 of 30,000 total linear feet) of potential building street frontage along named
streets is available. As development progresses, a balance of uses must be maintained a
balance that meets the functional needs of an urban neighborhood and preserves valuable historic
buildings while realizing the potential for new uses and new buildings. Uses should be
encouraged that support and capitalize on the stable, year-round market associated with the
expanding residential, specialty retail and office/employment opportunities in the neighborhood.
Participants in neighborhood meetings and interviews expressed a desire for mixed uses along
with additional residential development. For example, there is the desire to preserve the
remaining manufacturing and employment uses that add diversity to Lower Downtown: there is
no interest in seeing business and employment driven out of the neighborhood to accommodate
any single use. Participants also highly desire the continued encouragement of mixed use
buildings; there was virtually no support for segregating uses or otherwise limiting their location
in the District.
Looking at other cities approaches, meeting and interview participants identified useful
guidelines to consider in managing Lower Downtowns uses, specifically:
recognition that built-up older sections of major cities should be regarded as unique
neighborhoods, that are complex and varied in purpose and intensity and that are not
well served by blanket, generalized controls, and
Recognition that uses inappropriately located, too numerous, managed without regard
to neighbors, or too concentrated can become serious detractions, requiring some
form of management to ensure a balance of uses.
B. Neighborhood Livability
Background:
Lower Downtowns evolution from a primarily commercial district to a mixed-use neighborhood
with more and more housing has sparked a variety of livability issues concerning the adjacency of
residential and commercial uses. With greater numbers of residents and visitors, and as nighttime
entertainment and bar and restaurant uses increase, the potential for conflict increases.
U-2


Issues:
Residences and businesses need a compatible environment to flourish in Lower Downtown.
This includes clean air; open space; reduced noise; clean streets, sidewalks and alleys; and a
sense of safety. Some residents, for example, are finding that noise, such as late-night music
from outdoor bars and patios, loud talking on the street and exhaust noise from rooftop
equipment, interferes with the enjoyment of living in Lower Downtown.
C. Open Space
Background:
The increasing numbers of people who live and work in Lower Downtown create a greater need
for open space where people can congregate and interact. Within the Historic District, the
Cherry Creek corridor, the 16th Street Mall and Market Street Station plaza offer recreational and
open space opportunities. The Cherry Creek trail is used primarily for bicycling, walking,
jogging and rollerblading. Market Street Station plaza is used primarily for sitting and (from
spring through fall) a farmers market and the 16th Street Mall accommodates both sitting and
strolling. Just outside Lower Downtown are the playfields at the Auraria Higher Education
Center and the South Platte River. The proposed thirty-acre Commons Open Space and
Recreation Area and Rockmont Park in the Central Platte Valley will provide added recreational
opportunities within a ten-minute walk from Lower Downtown.
Within Lower Downtown, open space takes on a unique definition. Open space in the Historic
District, because of its traditional commercial nature, consists of a network of streets (including
the 16th Street Mall extension), sidewalks, alleys and small spaces between buildings. (See
Streetscape, Item B)
Issues:
Because recreation facilities are limited in Lower Downtown, convenient and easy access to
parks, attractions and open space outside the District is important to both residents and workers.
Meeting and interview participants urged careful design of the new Wewatta ring road and the
pedestrian connections to the Pepsi Center. They also supported shuttle service on the Lower
Downtown extension of the 16th Street Mall.
Meeting and interview participants also stressed that, once the Market Street bus facilities are
relocated to the proposed intermodal center, preservation of some open space on the Market
Street Station site or another site in Lower Downtown is desirable. Small vacant areas, spaces
between buildings and increased use of alleys and rooftops represent other open-space
possibilities.
U-3


D. Inter-Neighborhood Connections
Background:
Access to adjoining neighborhoods ranges from seamless to non-existent. For example, the
rectilinear pattern of streets in Lower Downtown is continued without disruption as it enters the
CBD. The pattern is also continued into the Ballpark Neighborhood, but 20th Street has been
improved to accommodate regional bus transit and baseball needs and is busy with vehicles.
Access to the Auraria Higher Education Center requires crossing Speer Boulevard and/or Auraria
Parkway. Although the streetscape is developed and there are trees and well-marked pedestrian
crosswalks, it is nonetheless daunting on foot. Still to be determined is Lower Downtowns
access to the Central Platte Valley (CPV). Denver Union Terminal and railroad tracks in the
CPV form physical barriers to both pedestrians and vehicles. The roadbed for Wewatta, in the
CPV, has been determined. Access from Lower Downtown to the Pepsi Center will be primarily
across Speer at Auraria Parkway, with some pedestrian connection provided by the new Wewatta
Street, also across Speer.
Issues:
Convenient links between neighborhoods means, among other things, that each can draw on the
others services and amenities, without the need for duplication. Participants urged careful
design of the new Wewatta ring road and pedestrian connections to Lower Downtowns newest
neighbor, the Commons Neighborhood.
E. Retailing
Background:
The Lower Downtown retail market is interlocked with the downtown market in all segments,
except entertainment and art galleries. Whereas metro Denvers retail market continues to
improve at among the fastest rates in the country and the downtown submarket has the regions
highest square footage of leased retail, new neighborhood serving retail businesses are unable to
justify locating in Lower Downtown because of the limited market and high development costs.
In addition, with the exception of the Tattered Cover Book Store, there is no regional retail along
the 16th Street Mall Extension Downtowns retail spine and only a sprinkling of specialty
and boutique retailing in other areas of the District. Lower Downtown does, however, serve as a
strong anchor and attraction for the Central Business District and abutting neighbors and
connects downtown with a complementary suite of activities and uses.
Residential and business development in Lower Downtown has created new demand for
neighborhood serving retail and personal services. Lower Downtown, by virtue of its wholesale
and warehousing past, has never provided neighborhood services such as grocery, hardware, or
household supply stores. With the future development of a mixed use neighborhood in the
Central Platte Valley, however, an overall downtown residential and business critical mass
U-4


should be available to support new neighborhood retail and personal services. Continued
expansion of Lower Downtowns housing market and improvements in office occupancies also
has the potential to increase this demand. Once the market justifies such an investment,
approximately 150,000 square feet of vacant, street-level space in Lower Downtown could be
converted to retail and service uses.
Issues:
Meeting and interview participants expressed an interest in attracting more retail uses to Lower
Downtown. Particularly important were uses that capitalize on the stable year-round markets
associated with residential and office uses, and specialty markets such as those tied to art
galleries and design offices. Attracting and keeping small- to medium-scale retailers, whose
products are unique to the regional market, were also viewed as important components of a
healthy retail mix in Lower Downtown. Strategies for attracting these uses and taking advantage
of surrounding developments are seen as key issues in creating a vibrant mix of uses.
The cost and availability of parking in Lower Downtown affect the Districts ability to attract
retail and service uses to the area. Perceptions of the high cost of parking, the lack of convenient
and available spaces, and safety must be overcome. Current zoning regulations require that
reduced amounts of parking be required for projects in Lower Downtown than is required in
other districts in the city. No parking is required if development commits to joining a parking
district, when formed. When new development occurs on existing surface parking lots in Lower
Downtown, the loss of spaces and increased demand for those remaining spaces adversely affect
the areas attractiveness to retailers. (See Mobility and Parking, Item G)
Lastly, the ability to attract retail uses and affect the timing of development is often beyond
Lower Downtowns control. Examples are the extension of mall shuttle service to Wewatta
Street and the development of the Union Station intermodal center. Both these projects have the
potential to generate considerable pedestrian traffic and retail demand in the neighborhood while
reducing the demand for parking spaces.
F. New Housing Development
Background:
Denvers Comprehensive Plan, the Downtown Area Plan and the Denver Partnership have
identified the desirability of and created programs to increase the number of housing units in and
around downtown, including Lower Downtown. These programs are proving to be successful.
Most housing has either been developed with subsidies or marketed at higher-end price points.
Between 1980 and 1996, the population of Denvers central business district, including Lower
Downtown, increased 28 percent (from 2,639 to 3,369). Whereas growth between 1980 to 1990
was small (6 percent), growth between 1990 and 1996 increased dramatically to 22 percent
(DRCOG, 1996). Compared with other large cities, however, Denvers downtown population -
U-5


five percent of the downtown work force is very low. In other large American cities, the
percentage of workers who live downtown is typically 20 percent or higher.
According to the DRCOG survey, Lower Downtowns population in 1996 was 1,775, with an
average household size of 1.42 persons (census tract 17.01). The housing stock currently
includes more than 600 units. Included in that number are 151 affordable/non-market rental units
in the Barth Hotel, Mercantile Square and Studebaker Apartments. Within two blocks of Lower
Downtown are 2,418 existing or proposed housing units. This development activity indicates a
strong market for housing in Lower Downtown.
Issues:
Meeting and interview participants agreed that housing in Lower Downtown should be
encouraged, essentially anywhere people want to live the more the better. Additional housing
is fundamental to achieving a primary City objective: the increasing focus on downtown as a
center for culture, entertainment and business. This emphasis, in turn, will contribute greatly to
Lower Downtowns housing market, and vice versa.
Participants expressed the desire for new housing units at a broad range of costs, including
affordable housing, which gives a greater variety of people the opportunity to live and work in
Lower Downtown. Currently, primarily upper-income housing is being developed and proposed.
Loft condominiums are rapidly sold at escalating prices with very few units priced below
$200,000. Few resale units are available.
While housing rents in Lower Downtown are climbing to over $1.00 per square foot per month,
high land and building costs limit the profitable construction of new rental units. Whereas a
large amount of land in Lower Downtown is presently utilized for surface parking, the cost of the
land and development for new housing on these sites is high. A major contributor to this high
cost is the need to provide on-site parking in order to obtain project financing.
The biggest challenge in the sustained development of housing, particularly affordable housing,
is whether it can be financed conventionally (e.g., FHA, Fannie Mae). In addition, only
enlightened developers and mortgage lenders are willing to support mixed use buildings and
projects that include market-rate and affordable residential with retail and office uses.
G. New Office Development
Background:
Lower Downtowns popularity has increased demand in the office sector of the market. Office is
the predominant use in Lower Downtown (35 percent of all uses), because of the areas
proximity to downtown, lower rental rates than the CBD, smaller and more varied building floor
plates, and unique historic environment.
U-6


This demand has raised rents (to an average $11.59 per square foot in 1995), which threatens
smaller businesses and offices and encourages their relocation outside of Lower Downtown.
From 1989 to 1994, the amount of office space in Lower Downtown increased by 18 percent,
while the vacancy rate fell by 23 percent. Recent surveys indicate that Lower Downtowns
office vacancy rate reached a ten-year low of 11.89 percent in 1995. In comparison, the CBD
vacancy rate at the same time was 14.2 percent (Woolley, Fuller). Large blocks of office space
are only rarely available.
Issues:
It appears likely that the strong demand for office space will continue, prices and rents will rise,
and conversions and new construction can be anticipated. Neighborhood participants indicated,
as with other uses, it is important that office use be spread throughout the District and
particularly along the major streets and the 16th Street Mall extension. Finally, because a lively
pedestrian environment is an objective of the Plan, eight-to-five ground-level office uses are less
desirable than round-the-clock active uses, such as retail and art galleries.
Continued improvement in office occupancy has the potential to contribute to the increased
demand for both residential and retail development in Lower Downtown.
H. Preserving Art and Cultural Uses
Background:
Galleries, studios and workshops are key to the sensory experience of the neighborhood, and are
an integral part of its modem character. But their continued presence in Lower Downtown is
threatened by increasing rents that may force them to relocate outside the neighborhood.
Issues:
Meeting and interview participants confirmed that retaining and preserving the art community as
a major component of Lower Downtown is a shared goal of all constituencies in the
neighborhood. In response to the effect of increased rents, however, there was some concurrence
that the type of art and cultural uses might change and reflect a different arts focus (performance
arts, graphic arts, culinary arts.)
I. Street Liveliness
Background:
Lower Downtown has become a heavily pedestrian district, particularly since the development of
housing, the opening of restaurants, art galleries and retail stores, and the construction of Coors
Field. The neighborhood is known for its lively and active street life. The major factor in
creating Lower Downtowns lively streets and increased pedestrianization is the areas active
U-7


street-level focus. New developments and rehabilitation projects residential, office and retail -
provide exciting ground-floor activities and lively fronts and streetscapes.
At street level, inactive uses, like parking or residential use, create gaps in activity. Surface
parking lots and vacant land interrupt not only activity, but also the street wall and its sense of
enclosure. Sometimes these gaps provide relief a view of the sky, a different perspective but
when experienced in quantity, gaps appear as missing teeth in a smile.
Issues:
Meeting and interview participants encouraged the commercial use of street-level frontage to
screen inactive uses. Participants recommended wrapping the ground level of parking
structures in retail space. They felt the resulting small retail floor plates have the added
advantage of offering affordable spaces that attract a variety of desirable uses uses which
otherwise might not be able to afford rent in Lower Downtown. Where residential use is found
at ground level, live/work spaces are preferable to live-only spaces. Ground floor, service-
related office components with active foot traffic provide spaces and displays of interest for
passing pedestrians.
Alleys also offer opportunities for street-level uses and activities, particularly where they are
enhanced by adjacent lower-cost retail spaces and uses that do not require on-street frontage and
access. Participants urged developers and lessees alike to maintain alleys and develop small,
inexpensive retail uses. However, a concentration of alley retailing that compromises retailing
along Lower Downtowns streets is not desirable.
J. Zoning Changes
Background
Currently, the Lower Downtown Historic District, defined in Ordinance 109, consists of three
zone districts. The B-7 zone district comprises the bulk of Lower Downtown and is located
north of Cherry Creek and west of Wazee Street. The properties located south of Cherry Creek
and east of Wazee Street are zoned either B-5 or I-1 and are owned by the City and County of
Denver and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Issues
Planning participants expressed concern that as properties in the B-5 and I-1 districts are
developed there arises a potential for conflicts between the zoning ordinances and the
preservation ordinance. In order to avoid such conflict and to simplify the review of projects that
come before the LDD/DRB, participants urged rezoning of the B-5 and I-1 parcels to B-7.
Affected property owners expressed no objection to the proposed zoning changes.
U-8


K. Application of Ordinance 109
Background:
Currently, projects that span both the B-7 zone district and another zone district may, by virtue of
their contiguity, be subject to the provision of another zoning ordinance. An example of this
might be a free standing parking structure, which is not a use-by-right in Lower Downtown, but
which may be constructed as an adjunct to a larger project located in a abutting district.
Issues:
Planning participants expressed concern that uses deemed by ordinance as unsuitable, or only
marginally suitable, for the Historic District might nonetheless be permitted where an
assemblage of land crossed over the B-7 zone district. Participants felt this was unfair and in
contravention of the spirit of the Landmark Ordinance. As a result, participants recommended
that ordinances be clarified to provide that regardless of any overlap of ownership between zone
districts, that portion of a project located in the B-7 zone will be subject to both the B-7 Zoning
Ordinance and Ordinance 109.
U-9


Goals
Lower Downtowns goals for uses and development include:
A balanced and broad range of uses to foster a vibrant urban neighborhood with
live/work/play opportunities.
Compatibility among the variety of uses that contributes to the neighborhoods
livability and ambience.
New codes, regulations and procedures that reflect the neighborhoods unique,
complex and historic character.
Clean, well-lit streets.
Neighborhood retail and personal services that support residential, office and
commercial uses.
Regional specialty and boutique retail that complements existing retail and other uses
found in the District.
Housing opportunities for a broad range of people.
Employment opportunities for a broad range of workers.
A vibrant and healthy art and cultural community including fine arts, performance,
galleries and studios.
Lively, active sidewalks and alleys with adjacent street-level uses.
A variety of open spaces to support neighborhood interaction.
U-10


Principles, Policies And Recommendations
Principle U1 Enhance the attraction of Lower Downtown to a broad range of uses
Policy Ul.l Identify alternative ways to resolve perceived parking shortage and other parking problems in Lower Downtown.
Policy Ul.2 Use tax increment financing, where available, and other financing sources to provide infrastructure improvements as an attraction to development.
Policy Ul. 3 Educate lenders and underwriters to support financing of mixed use projects with greater than 20 percent commercial use.
Principle U2 Enhance livability among residential, business/office, commercial and retail uses
Policy U2.1 Provide for voluntary, community-based resolution of nuisances. Create and administer a Good Neighbor Policy for issues pertaining to security, noise, management of patrons in public areas and trash pickup.
Policy U2.2 Provide for resolution of nuisances or potentially conflicting uses by enforcement of city codes and regulations.
Recommendations:
U2.2.1 Reduce or eliminate outdoor noise and odors.
U2.2.2 Establish criteria for planning, execution and location of outdoor special
U2.2.3 events. Amend B-7 Zone District to eliminate certain adult and obsolete uses
U2.2.4 presently permitted in Lower Downtown. Amend B-7 Zone District to restrict outdoor patio space to 25 percent of total permitted floor area.
Policy U2.3 Vigorously enforce existing noise and odor emissions ordinances.
Principle U3 Enhance connections to adjacent neighbors and nearby open space
Policy U3.1 Provide linkage to parks, attractions and open space outside the District.
Recommendations:
U3.1.1 Provide enhanced connections to the Cherry Creek corridor.
U3.1.2 Facilitate access to the proposed Commons Open Space and Recreation
U-ll


U3.1.3 Area and Rockmont Park. Ensure that the design of Wewatta, in the CPV, facilitates pedestrian access between the communities.
U3.1.4 Provide safe and easy pedestrian access to the Pepsi Center.
Policy U3.2 Policy U3.3 Policy U3.4 Provide linkage to nearby neighborhoods. Provide shuttle service the length of the 16th Street Mall. Preserve some open space on the Market Street Station site or another site in Lower Downtown.
Principle U4 Enhance the attraction of Lower Downtown to both neighborhood serving and one-of-a-kind regional retail
Policy U4.1 Policy U4.2 Develop a retail marketing program for Lower Downtown. Support and advocate the extension of shuttle service on the 16th Street Mall and the development of the Union Station intermodal center.
Policy U4.3 Advocate additional residential and office development in downtown, the CPV and Lower Downtown.
PolicyU4.4 Support completion of the Streetscape Plan.
Principle U5 Increase residential use in Lower Downtown
Policy U5.1 Achieve a mix of housing types in projects to accommodate a full range of residents.
Policy U5.2 Policy U5.3 Enact residential bonuses for buildings over fifty-five feet tall. Utilize DURA, CHAFA, CDBG and DHA programs to support a full range of housing opportunities.
Policy U5.4 Educate lending institutions and underwriters to support financing of mixed use projects, including residential, office and commercial use.
Principle U6 Preserve existing employment opportunities and enhance a wide range of new business and office uses
Policy U6.1 Policy U6.2 Emphasize transit-oriented development. Use tax increment financing, where available, to provide infrastructure improvements as an attraction to office and employment development.
Policy U6.3 Support new residential and retail development in Lower Downtown.
U-12


Principle U7 Explore ways to retain and enhance art and cultural uses in Lower Downtown
Policy U7.1 Policy U7.2 Policy U7.3 Promote the arts in Lower Downtown. Encourage the development of small, inexpensive spaces for gallery use. Support cultural activities and events in the Historic District.
Principle U8 Develop lively street-level uses and activities to enhance Lower Downtowns streets
Policy U8.1 Encourage active street-level uses such as retail, art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants and live/work spaces.
Recommendations:
U8.1.1 Where parking is the primary ground level use, wrap parking uses with
U8.1.2 small floor-plate active retail uses. Where residential is the primary ground level use, encourage live/work
U8.1.3 uses. Where service-related office uses are the primary ground level use, encourage those with active foot traffic.
U8.1.4 For retail uses that do not require on-street frontage and access, consider lower-cost retail spaces in alleys.
Policy U8.2 Policy U8.3 Prohibit drive-through uses. Establish specific performance criteria for sidewalk vending and special event activities.
Policy U8.4 Maintain the network of sidewalks, alleys and small open spaces for congregation and interaction.
Principle U9 Change existing ordinances to apply co-terminus boundaries to Ordinance 109 and the B-7 zone district
U-13


IMPLEMENTATION
Amend the 1989 Denver Comprehensive Plan to include the Lower Downtown
Neighborhood Plan as a detailed component.
Amend City Ordinances to be consistent with one another as they apply to Lower
Downtown and to reflect the principles in the Uses section of the Lower Downtown
Neighborhood Plan.
Create and administer a Good Neighbor Policy.
Facilitate access to the proposed Commons Open Space and Recreation Area and
Rockmont Park.
Commission a study and develop a retail marketing program for Lower Downtown.
Create and promote a package of materials for lending institutions and underwriters to
support financing of mixed-use projects.
Identify a program to retain and support Lower Downtowns arts and cultural
community.
Advocate for extension of shuttle service on the 16th Street Mall
Advocate for the creation of an intermodal facility at Denver Union Terminal.
U-14


Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan
Mobility and Parking


Mobility and Parking
Contents of this Section
Neighborhood Concerns...................................................................MP-1
A. Streets.............................................................................MP-1
B. Street and Alley Closures...........................................................MP-3
C. Buses and Mass Transit..............................................................MP-3
D. Calming Traffic.....................................................................MP-4
E. Accessibility.......................................................................MP-4
F. Pedestrian/Vehicular Conflicts Resulting from Parking Uses..........................MP-5
G. Parking.............................................................................MP-5
H. Excess Parking.....................................................................MP- 8
I. Design Considerations for Parking Uses - General....................................MP-8
J. Design Considerations for Parking Uses Adjacent to Existing Residential Uses.....MP-9
Goals..................................................................................MP-11
Principles, Policies And Recommendations...............................................MP-12
Principle MP1 Enhance the pedestrian experience on Lower Downtowns streets..........MP-12
Principle MP2 Maintain the historic grid of Lower Downtowns streets, sidewalks
and alleys.............................................................MP-12
Principle MP3 Give top priority to pedestrian movement and safety when resolving
pedestrian/vehicular conflict..........................................MP-12
Principle MP4 Minimize negative effects of traffic.....................................MP-12
Principle MP5 Optimize public transportation opportunities.............................MP-14
Principle MP6 Ensure, to the extent feasible, that Lower Downtowns public
and private circulation network is made up of accessible routes......MP-14
Principle MP7 Adopt new design guidelines for parking structures and parking
located in other buildings.............................................MP-15
Principle MP8 Revise parking requirements in Lower Downtown............................MP-15
Principle MP9 Establish a procedure and criteria for the review of structures
with excess parking....................................................MP-16
Principle MP10 Work collaboratively to find a downtown-wide parking solution.........MP-17
Principle MP11 Better manage the existing parking inventory..........................MP-17
Principle MP12 Advocate and support a variety of alternative transportation
modes serving Lower Downtown...........................................MP-18
Principle MP13 Educate city center users about alternative transportation and
parking options........................................................MP-18
Implementation.........................................................................MP-19


Neighborhood Concerns
A. Streets
Background:
Lower Downtowns current street hierarchy is as follows: Wynkoop Street is classified as a local
street; Wazee Street is a collector street; and Market and Blake are arterial streets. The arterials
carry traffic that passes through Lower Downtown enroute to and from other areas, including
other parts of downtown. The numbered streets northwest of Blake, with the exception of 15th
Street and all of 16th Street, also serve as collector streets, distributing traffic from local
generators in Lower Downtown to the arterial system.
Particularly important for access between the CBD and 1-25 are Market and Blake Streets, a one-
way pair, which connects the city and the highway by way of Auraria Parkway and Speer
Boulevard. 20th Street, on the north of Lower Downtown, is a component of the 1-25 HOV
system, and Speer Boulevard on the south, in addition to connecting to 1-25, provides diagonal
access to northwest and southeast Denver. (See Figure 11)
Since the passage of the Landmark Ordinance in 1988 and the subsequent creation of the Lower
Downtown Historic District, development in and adjacent to Lower Downtown has caused
changes in the patterns, volume, and character of street use. The citys traffic engineering
department has worked with LDDI on various adjustments to the circulation pattern as regional
and local transportation improvements occurred. An example of this joint effort is the
Memorandum of Understanding dated October 1992.
Issues:
Lower Downtowns streets are unique to Denver. On the one hand, they are a part of a broader
network of ingress and egress to the CBD. As such, they are expected to move traffic efficiently,
considering vehicular and pedestrian safety, ease of mobility, and air quality. On the other hand,
because Lower Downtown is a pedestrian oriented neighborhood, the community wants them to
also perform as neighborhood streets. Planning participants and interviewees expressed concern
that some of the functions Lower Downtowns sidewalks should provide are made difficult by
traffic. For example, automobiles and buses, even at moderately low speeds, can be noisy and
make even a casual greeting difficult to hear. Yet residents and workers need to be able to meet
on the sidewalks. There are also areas in Lower Downtown where, to improve traffic efficiency,
street parking is not permitted, but the layer of real or perceived protection provided by the
parking buffer is lost to the pedestrian.
MP-1



i


Many of the participants in meetings and interviews felt some streets in the neighborhood have
been pressed into service to the am/pm commute. They specifically point out 15th Street, as it
enters Lower Downtown from the Central Platte Valley, and Wazee Street, which funnels traffic
across Lower Downtown and up 17th Street to parking and businesses in the CBD.
Planning participants and LDDIs Transportation Committee felt that it is desirable to establish a
revised hierarchy of streets in Lower Downtown, with Market, Blake, Speer and 20th the primary
carriers of through-traffic. The other streets should be calmed to slow traffic, to discourage it
when it is not Lower Downtown-destined, and to serve primarily adjoining businesses and
residents. The objective is to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment.
B. Street and Alley Closures
Background:
In the last several years, a few projects have been advanced calling for closure of streets and
alleys. In 1994, the Taubman Company proposed a shopping mall paralleling and covering the
16th Street Mall from Blake Street to Arapahoe Street. Initially, the proposal called for the
closing of Market Street and dead ending of all alleys between Larimer and Blake. Community
stakeholders vigorously objected to this aspect of the proposal. A more recent example is a
request for closure of 14th Street, between Blake and Market.
Issues:
Participants and interviewees expressed concern over proposed projects that requested closure of
streets and alleys and their conversion to private use. They felt such closings create
discontinuities in the historic grid pattern, confusing and intimidating visitors. In addition, street
closures may increase traffic on the remaining streets, often moving it onto local streets not
intended as major traffic carriers. Discontinuity of pedestrian pathways may also result.
Participants cautioned against disruption of the grid.
C. Buses and Mass Transit
Background:
Currently, a steady number of RTD express and regional buses travel to and from Market Street
Station in the weekday morning and afternoon peak hours along the portion of the 16th Street
Mall in Lower Downtown. The proposal for an intermodal transportation center at Union Station
calls for the relocation of this bus service from Market Street Station. The center would also
provide connections to a range of intercity and regional transportation modes, including light
rail, charter and tour buses, Amtrak, commuter and passenger rail, and the proposed AirTrain to
Denver International Airport.
Daily local bus service will continue in the neighborhood. Regular shuttle service on the mall,
the extension of the historic trolley, the Cultural Connection Trolley, and privately and publicly
MP-3


operated vehicles may provide local access as well. To reduce the traffic generated in the
neighborhood by the intermodal center, the centers front door for drop-offs and pick-ups,
parking access, and curbside queuing will be located on Wewatta Street in the Central Platte
Valley. Limited access will continue to be provided at Union Station from Wynkoop Street.
Presently, there is no shuttle service on the extended portion of the Sixteenth Street Mall. This is
due, in part, to a lack of ridership in the neighborhood. With the relocation of the RTD express
and regional bus service and the extension of light rail to the intermodal center, mall shuttle
service will be extended through the neighborhood.
Issues:
The intermodal center offers Lower Downtown the opportunity to address many of the goals of
this neighborhood plan, including those related to traffic, parking, and increased pedestrian
activity. It is critical to removing express and regional buses from neighborhood streets, reducing
traffic and the demand for parking, and extending local access and distribution services,
including service on the 16th Street Mall. The center will also improve downtown and regional
accessibility. Securing the means to implement it will call upon the resources of all beneficiaries
of the improved access.
D. Calming Traffic
Background:
Streetscape elements can contribute to pedestrian safety and traffic calming efforts. Techniques
such as widening sidewalks and providing on-street parking separate pedestrians from vehicles
and create both the sense and reality of safety. Stop signs and two-way streets, in addition to
serving other regulatory functions, also slow traffic as it moves to and through an area.
Issues:
Planning participants agreed that Lower Downtown should be a pedestrian friendly
environment and that when traffic and pedestrian conflicts occur, the safety of the pedestrian and
the continued enhancement of a pedestrian friendly environment should be preserved,
including, but not limited to, the use of traffic calming techniques.
E. Accessibility
Background:
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires that all new and existing facilities
open to the public, with the exception of religious facilities and most residential facilities,
provide equal access to all individuals, including the disabled. The ADA prohibits discrimination
against individuals with disabilities. This prohibition includes: a failure to remove architectural
barriers which are "readily achievable" or easily accomplished with little difficulty or expense;
and, where the removal of architectural barriers is not readily achievable, a failure to provide
MP-4


alternative means to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
The ADA established standards and guidelines for compliance. Alterations to historic properties
must comply, to the maximum extent feasible, with specific provisions governing historic
properties. Under those provisions, alterations should be done using standards for non-historic
buildings. However, if following the usual standards threatens to destroy the significance of an
historic feature, alternative standards may be used. The decision to use alternative standards for
that feature must be made in consultation with the appropriate historic advisory group.
The City of Denver and State of Colorado also have laws and ordinances that prohibit
discrimination and promote accessibility. For the most part, these ordinances are similar to the
ADA
Issues:
Participants in public meetings and interviews stressed the importance of making Lower
Downtown accessible to all as a place to work, live, play and leam.
F. Pedestrian/Vehicular Conflicts Resulting from Parking Uses
Background:
In order to access parking, vehicles must pull across the sidewalks as they enter and exit lots and
structures. In Lower Downtown, the frequency of the pedestrian/vehicle encounter is amplified
by the intensity of use of the sidewalks and, especially at peak hours, the number of entering and
exiting vehicles.
Issues:
For ingress and egress to parking lots and structures with parking uses, participants
recommended using the street with the least foot-traffic.
G. Parking
Background:
Landmark designation, changes in zoning, and changes in the marketplace have assisted Lower
Downtown in its current burst of growth and development. As development encompasses
existing parking lots and leads to building renovations, the need to address parking availability
becomes more acute.
There are more than 4,300 parking spaces in Lower Downtown, with more than 33,000 spaces in
the 120-block Downtown Business Improvement District. The B-7 zoning code governing
Lower Downtown requires the provision of parking by all new construction and expansion
projects. Generally, a per-square-foot calculation determines the amount of parking that will be
MP-5


required. Proposals may include construction of parking on- site, or leasing of parking at existing
facilities. Developers may also satisfy the parking obligation by agreeing to participate in a
parking district if one is formed.
Since parking is not a use by right in Lower Downtown, a project that meets its requirements on-
site is precluded from adding more spaces unless approved for excess parking. Existing
ordinances are largely silent on the circumstances in which excess parking would be approved.
A joint meeting of LDD/DRB and the LPC recently heard the only proposal in Lower
Downtown that included excess parking.
Issues:
The parking market in Lower Downtown is very diverse. With peak utilization during multiple
events and development shrinking the parking supply, requiring developers to satisfy parking
requirements and perhaps permitting excess parking are one of many strategies that could be
implemented to balance the needs for parking in Lower Downtown.
But, meeting demand is just one of the many issues involved in adding parking. Inclusion of
parking in a project is a key factor in determining its final size and configuration. The larger size
needed to include parking has a direct impact on the ability of a project to fit into Lower
Downtowns historic context. Generally speaking, the larger the project, the harder it is to fit it
into the Lower Downtown context. Additionally, the design of parking is unique among
building types. This uniqueness, driven by the building use, introduces new architectural
patterns into the historic fabric of Lower Downtown. For example, floor-to-floor height,
ramping, wall systems, ventilation, and the crossing of pedestrian zones by automobiles are all
unique to parking structures. Consequently, when reviewing proposed parking structures or
mixed use projects that include parking, design and use cannot be separated. One strategy may
be to encourage new development to consider underground parking.
To respond to the parking situation in Lower Downtown will require an agreement by all
involved first on the issues then on the optimal number of parking spaces for Lower
Downtown. The optimal number must consider the impact of parking on transit usage, the
environment, and Lower Downtowns historic character. Then, community consensus will be
necessary to determine the means to achieve the optimal number of parking spaces and the best
method for efficiently utilizing all available parking at all hours. Community consensus must
also determine the cost of achieving optimal conditions and who will pay for that achievement.
Continuing education about parking is necessary to achieve optimal conditions. Visitors may
perceive there is a parking shortage, when what they are really conveying is that there may not
be inexpensive parking located at their destination. Clearly, Lower Downtown experiences peak
periods of utilization baseball days, summer events, weekends and evenings when parking
prices in the historic district increase as the demand increases. However, within the Downtown
Business Improvement District are more than 33,000 parking spaces, most of which are empty
during Lower Downtowns peak periods.
MP-6


Members of various committees involved in the Lower Downtown neighborhood planning
process considered the parking situation. They agreed that the goal of parking responses should
continue to promote a mixed use, pedestrian friendly environment. The committees reached
five broad conclusions:
Responses to Lower Downtown parking must be part of a collaborative Downtown effort.
Visitors do not clearly distinguish boundaries between Lower Downtown and Downtown.
New construction projects are more flexible than renovations. New construction projects
should meet parking requirements on-site and new construction in some locations may be
eligible to provide excess parking. In all cases, maximization of underground parking should
be encouraged first.
Management of the existing parking inventory should be a high priority. This will help to
ensure adequate parking in response to times of peak demand. Priority should be given to
providing parking for visitors and tourists, while encouraging employees to utilize transit and
other alternative modes.
Lower Downtown should continue to support the use of transit and alternative modes of
transportation by employees and visitors. Additionally, Lower Downtown should continue to
strive for pedestrian and bicycle amenities to promote a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly
environment.
Education programs geared toward both visitors and employees will help to manage the
parking supply in Lower Downtown. Programs that promote alternative modes of travel, in
addition to access and parking locations, will help educate both employees and visitors,
resulting in an efficient use of parking resources.
In addition, Lower Downtown should continue to work with other regional constituents to further
the role of Denver Union Terminal as a regional, inter-modal facility. Lower Downtown should
continue to be an active participant in planning for transportation management activities in the
Central Platte Valley, ensuring the CPV is developed to compliment Lower Downtown,
Downtown and the adjacent neighborhoods.
In the course of their discussion, Committee members realized that parking in Lower Downtown
is diverse, misunderstood, and complex. Questions about the actual inventory, patterns of usage,
the impact of proposed transit patterns, and the economic implications of sub-surface parking
continued to plague Committee members as they searched for a parking solution. Committee
members realized that it would take a large community consensus with participation by a variety
of groups and individuals to draft meaningful responses to the parking situation. Therefore,
Committee members did not propose a comprehensive parking program for the Lower
Downtown Neighborhood Plan. However, Committee members have made recommendations in
the Plan that will help Lower Downtown respond to parking challenges on an interim basis, and
have included a recommendation that stakeholders in the community work collaboratively to find
a downtown-wide parking solution.
MP-7


H. Excess Parking
Background:
During the fall and winter of 1998, a proposed mixed-use building to be located on a surface
parking lot in Lower Downtown caused considerable discord. The issue focused on the
additional height of the structure caused by inclusion of parking in excess of that required by
zoning. The excess parking was to be available for public use, but it added an additional floor to
the proposed structure. Opponents of the proposed structure argued that the building was too tall,
it blocked residential views, and it concentrated too much parking in a single structure.
Since parking is not a use-by-right in Lower Downtown, a joint meeting of the LPC and the
LDD/DRB was convened to address the question of excess parking. Together, the LPC and the
LDD/DRB reconfirmed a previous approval of the height and mass of the building, but
stipulated that the excess parking spaces be removed from the building program. This resolution
neither established a precedent for considering subsequent proposals of buildings with excess
parking, nor did it stipulate how similar projects would be reviewed in the future and by whom.
Issues:
Although the example cited above is the first project that proposed excess parking, it is clear
that there will be similar proposals in the future. Planning participants expressed concern over
the height and mass of buildings driven by parking in excess of that required by the uses
contained in a project. At the same time, they also felt that under certain circumstances excess
parking might be desirable and might serve a community need. As a result, planning participants
reviewed existing zoning regulations and recommend some minor changes in minimum parking
requirements. They further recommend permitting limited additional parking that, at the
applicants option, can be included in projects without special approval. However, if a project
proposes to include parking over the minimum required amount and over the additional
permitted amount, the project includes excess parking. The Plan provides a mechanism and
criteria for approving excess parking. The intent of the recommendations is to balance an
increasing demand for parking, a decreasing inventory, and the need to preserve the historic
character of the District.
I. Design Considerations for Parking Uses General
Background:
Parking uses require a specialized structure circulation, floor-to-floor heights, openings, glazing,
lighting, and access are all geared to serve vehicles rather than people.
Issues:
Because parking uses are not generally designed for pedestrians and because Lower Downtown
MP-8


aims to be pedestrian friendly, planning participants felt that parking structures, like other
buildings in the Historic District, should be contextually appropriate and should contribute to a
pleasant pedestrian experience along the Districts streets. (See Figure 12.) The Plan
recommends the adoption of design guidelines that address parking in all buildings, freestanding
parking structures, mixed use buildings with parking uses, and any structure with parking uses
that abuts residential uses. The objective of the guidelines is to integrate parking uses into the
streetscape and to help them be good neighbors.
J. Design Considerations for Parking Uses Adjacent to Existing Residential Uses
Background:
The question of excess parking, discussed in H above, raised considerable discussion about the
design of structures containing a significant parking program that were to be located near or
could affect an existing residential structure. A number of factors increase the likelihood that in
the future structures with parking will be considered adjacent to or near residential uses. These
factors include the availability of approximately fifty-percent of the property in Lower
Downtown for redevelopment, significant demand for residential development in new and
renovated structures, and zoning that encourages mixed-use projects.
Issues:
In order to provide protection for existing residential developments, specific guidelines are
recommended by the Plan for parking uses adjacent to residential uses. When viewed in
conjunction with design guidelines for all parking uses, the objective is to preserve and enhance
quality of life and to mitigate any impacts of proximity.
MP-9


Figure 12
Parking structures should be positive features in Lower Downtowns built environment. New structures should embody the same design
qualities as other new buildings in the District.


Goals
Lower Downtowns goals for transportation and mobility include:
Streets that enhance the pedestrian experience.
A hierarchy of streets to channel traffic and calm its impact, slowing traffic as it
moves through Lower Downtown and discouraging non-destination traffic from
traversing the neighborhood.
Streets and buildings that are accessible to all.
Parking that is sized, located, and managed to meet Lower Downtowns needs.
Parking uses that compliment the pedestrian friendly environment and that are good
neighbors to residential uses.
Efficient and comfortable internal and external circulation for both vehicular and
pedestrian traffic.
Strong pedestrian connections to adjacent neighborhoods and attractions.
A neighborhood that optimizes the benefit of its location as a regional transit hub.
MP-11


Principles, Policies And Recommendations
Principle MP1 Enhance the pedestrian experience on Lower Downtowns streets
Policy MP1.1 Create a sense of safety, intimacy, and separation from traffic on Lower Downtowns streets.
Recommendations:
MP 1.1.1 The goal of the Neighborhood Plan is to convert Wazee Street to two-way,
MP1.1.2 15th to 20th Streets, no later than the year 2000, subject to funding. Extend 17th to two-way from Blake to Larimer
MP1.1.3 Extend Blake to two lanes, 18th to 20th
MP1.1.4 Extend Market to two lanes, 17th to 20th
Principle MP2 Maintain the historic grid of Lower Downtowns streets, sidewalks and alleys
Principle MP3 Give top priority to pedestrian movement and safety when resolving pedestrian/vehicular conflict
Policy MP3.1. Install an All Walk pedestrian phase on: Wazee at 17th, 18th, and 19th 17th and Market 18th and Blake
Policy MP3.2 An All Walk pedestrian phase at Wazee and 15th will be modeled beginning in March of 1999 to determine if a pedestrian friendly and safe environment will be enhanced. The modeling of the 15th and Wazee intersection will be developed in cooperation with LDDI. The conclusions reached between LDDI and the City as a result of the modeling will be supported by both parties. Efforts will be made to make changes, if any, within the nearest practical budget cycle.
Principle MP4 Minimize negative effects of traffic
Policy MP4.1 Channel and contain non-destination traffic into streets designated as arterials
Recommendations:
MP-12


Full Text

PAGE 2

LOWER DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN The Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan This project is partially funded by a State Historical Fund grand award from the Colorado Historical Fund Other Funding Courtesy of: The Downtown Denver Business Improvement District The Lower Downtown Distri ct, Inc. August 28, 2000

PAGE 3

Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan Table of Contents Introduction A. Why A Neighborhood Plan?................................................................................................I-2 B. The Planning Process........................................................................................................ ...I-4 C. How to Use the Plan......................................................................................................... ....I-6 D. Definitions, Acronyms and Abbreviations..........................................................................I-7 E. Acknowledgments............................................................................................................. .I-14 F. Recap of Planning Activity................................................................................................I19 Historic Preservation Introductory Comments .........................................................................................................HP-1 Neighborhood Concerns .........................................................................................................HP-3 A. Lower Downtowns Historic Architecture and Design Vocabulary................................HP-3 B. Context and Height..........................................................................................................HP-8 C. The Lower Downtown Design/Demolition Review Board (LDD/DRB)......................HP-14 D. Incentives.................................................................................................................. .....HP-15 E. Heritage Education.........................................................................................................H P-16 F. Design Principles for Contributing Buildings and Buildings Built Between 1860 and 1941................................................................................................................HP -16 Goals ............................................................................................................................... ......HP-18 Principles, Policies And Recommendations ........................................................................HP-19 Principle HP1 Protect Lower Downtowns historic architecture and use its design vocabulary to guide renovations, additions and new construction..............HP-19 Principle HP2 Additions and new construction must be in context....................................HP-20 Principle HP3 The LDD/DRB is a critical link in preservation in Lower Downtown........HP-20 Principle HP4 Continue to utilize incentives that encourage reuse of historic buildings...HP-24 Principle HP5 Tell Lower Downtowns story.....................................................................HP-24 Principle HP6 Develop, enact, and utilize supplemental guidelines for the Lower Downtown HIstoric District that deal specifically with contributing buildings and additions thereto....................................................................HP-25 Principle HP7 Develop, enact, and utilize guidelines for the Lower Downtown Historic District that deal specifically with noncontributing buildings.......HP-25 Implementation .....................................................................................................................HP-26

PAGE 4

Design of New Buildings Introductory Comments ...........................................................................................................D-1 A. Proposed Design Guidelines and Their Use......................................................................D-1 B. Requirements vs. Preferences............................................................................................D-1 C. Definitions ..........................................................................................................................D-1 Neighborhood Concerns ...........................................................................................................D-2 A. Building Height and Massing............................................................................................D-2 B. Other Design Considerations.............................................................................................D-4 Goals .............................................................................................................................. ...........D-7 Principles, Policies And Recommendations ............................................................................D-8 Principle D1 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to contemporary buildings.......................................................................................................... D-8 Principle D2 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to new buildings...............D-8 Principle D3 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to all buildings..................D-8 Implementation .........................................................................................................................D-9 Uses Neighborhood Concerns ...........................................................................................................U-1 A. Diversity of Uses........................................................................................................... ........U-1 B. Neighborhood Livability..................................................................................................... ..U-2 C. Open Space.................................................................................................................. .........U-3 D. InterNeighborhood Connections..........................................................................................U-4 E. Retailing................................................................................................................... .............U-4 F. New Housing Development..................................................................................................U-5 G. New Office Development.....................................................................................................U -6 H. Preserving Art and Cultural Uses.........................................................................................U-7 I. Street Liveliness........................................................................................................... .........U-7 J. Zoning Changes.............................................................................................................. ......U-8 K. Application of Ordinance 109...............................................................................................U -9 Goals ............................................................................................................................... ..........U-10

PAGE 5

Principles, Policies And Recommendations ..........................................................................U-11 Principle U1 Enhance the attraction of Lower Downtown to a broad range of uses. .....................................................................................................U-11 Principle U2 Enhance livability among residential, business/office, commercial and retail uses................................................................................U-11 Principle U3 Enhance connections to adjacent neighbors and nearby open space................U-11 Principle U4 Enhance the attraction of Lower Downtown to both neighborhood serving and one-of-a-kind regional retail. .........................................................U-12 Principle U5 Increase residential use in Lower Downtown...................................................U-12 Principle U6 Preserve existing employment opportunities, and enhance a wide range of new business and office uses..............................................................U-12 Principle U7 Explore ways to retain and enhance art and cultural uses in Lower Downtown. ........................................................................................................U-13 Principle U8 Develop lively street-level uses and activities to enhance Lower Downtowns streets...........................................................................................U-13 Principle U9 Change existing ordinances to apply co-terminus boundaries to Ordinance 109 and the B-7 zone district...........................................................U-13 Implementation .......................................................................................................................U-14 Mobility and Parking Neighborhood Concerns ........................................................................................................MP-1 A. Streets..................................................................................................................... ............MP-1 B. Street and Alley Closures...................................................................................................MP-2 C. Buses and Mass Transit.....................................................................................................M P-2 D. Calming Traffic ..................................................................................................................MP-4 E. Accessibility............................................................................................................... ........MP-4 F. Pedestrian/Vehicular Conflicts Resulting from Parking Uses...........................................MP-5 G. Parking..................................................................................................................... ..........MP-5 H. Excess Parking.............................................................................................................. .....MP-8 I. Design Considerations for Parking Uses General ...........................................................MP-8 J. Design Considerations for Parking Uses Adjacent to Existing Residential Uses..............MP-9 Goals ............................................................................................................................... .......MP-11 Principles, Policies And Recommendations .......................................................................MP-12 Principle MP1 Enhance the pedestrian experience on Lower Downtowns streets............MP-12

PAGE 6

Principle MP2 Maintain the historic grid of Lower Downtowns streets, sidewalks and alleys........................................................................MP-12 Principle MP3 Give top priority to pedestrian movement and safety when resolving pedestrian/vehicular conflict...................................MP-12 Principle MP4 Minimize negative effects of traffic............................................................MP-12 Principle MP5 Optimize public transportation opportunities.............................................MP-13 Principle MP6 Ensure, to the extent feasible, that Lower Downtowns public and private circulation network is made up of accessible routes................MP-14 Principle MP7 Adopt new design guidelines for parking structures and parking located in other buildings............................................................................MP-15 Principle MP8 Revise parking requirements in Lower Downtown....................................MP-15 Principle MP9 Establish a procedure and criteria for the review of structures with excess parking.....................................................................................MP-16 Principle MP10 Work collaboratively to find a downtownwide parking solution..............MP-17 Principle MP11 Better manage the existing parking inventory............................................MP-18 Principle MP12 Advocate and support a variety of alternative transportation modes serving Lower Downtown...............................................................MP-18 Principle MP13 Educate city center users about alternative transportation and parking options............................................................................................MP-18 Implementation ....................................................................................................................MP-19 Streetscape Neighborhood Concerns ............................................................................................................S-1 A. Streetscape Design and Redevelopment................................................................................S-1 B. Modern Uses................................................................................................................. .........S-2 C. Authentic Streets and Alleys................................................................................................ ..S-2 D. Clean Streets........................................................................................................................ ..S-7 Goals ............................................................................................................................... .............S-9 Principles, Policies And Recommendations ...........................................................................S-10 Principle S1 Preserve and enhance Lower Downtowns streetscape.....................................S-10 Principle S2 Design the sidewalks and alleys to create urban places for congregation, interaction, recreation and the conduct of commerce..............S-10 Principle S3 Retain Lower Downtowns "gritty-ness"...........................................................S-11 Principle S4 Maintain the sidewalks, streets and alleys.........................................................S-11

PAGE 7

Principle S5 Adopt the Design Guidelines for the public realm as an interim measure until new design guidelines for the streetscape are approved...........S-11 Implementation ........................................................................................................................S-12 Appendix Ordinance 109, Series of 1988........................................................................................ Appendix A B-7 Zoning District.........................................................................................................App endix B Historic District Buildings Map...................................................................................... Appendix C List of Figures Figure 1 Lower Downtown Historic District (from Ordinance 109)...............................I-3 Figure 2 Lower Downtowns Special Character is Reflected in its Private and Public Realms.............................................................................HP-4 Figure 3 Lower Downtowns Historic Buildings Embody Denver's Rail History and Reflect Simple Tenets of Good Design for Today ..................................HP-6 Figure 4 The Defining Characteristics of Historic Buildings Provide the Basis for Architectural Design Guildelines ..................................................................HP-7 Figure 5 Existing Building Heights..............................................................................HP-9 Figure 6 Potential Lower Downtown Development Sites..........................................HP-10 Figure 7 Special Review Projects may be Acceptable in Three Designated Special Review Districts..............................................................................HP-13 Figure 8 Height and Massing Reflect the Scale of Lower Downtown's Historic Buildings.......................................................................D-3 Figure 9 O pportunities to Celebrate the Special Character of Lower Downtown's Built Environment......................................................................D-5 Figure 10 Lively Detailing Can Extend Lower Downtown's Special Character to a New Generation of Buildings ..................................................................D-6 Figure 11 Proposed Hierarchy of Streets in Lower Downtown....................................MP-3 Figure 12 Parking Structures Should Be Positive Features in Lower Downtowns Built Environment .................................................................MP-10 Figure 13 New Projects Can Contribute to Enhancing Lower Downtown's PedestrianOriented Streetscape.......................................................................S-3 Figure 14 Lower Downtown's Special Character is Reflected in its Public and Private Realms..................................................................................................S-4 Figure 15 Public Art Enhances Lower Downtown's Public Realm and Conveys its Identity as an Arts District................................................................................S-5 Figure 16 Improved Alleys Can Retain Their Authenticity and Reflect Lower Downtown's Historic Past.................................................................................S-6

PAGE 8

LOWER DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN Introduction

PAGE 9

Introduction to the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan Contents of this Section A. Why A Neighborhood Plan?...................................................................................................I -2 B. The Planning Process........................................................................................................ ......I-4 C. How to Use the Plan......................................................................................................... .......I-6 D. Definitions, Acronyms and Abbreviations.............................................................................I-7 E. Acknowledgments............................................................................................................. ....I-14 F. Recap of Planning Activity.................................................................................................. .I-19

PAGE 10

I-2 Introduction A. Why A Neighborhood Plan? Contrary to some perceptions, Lower Downtown was not an overnight phenomenon. The origins of mixed use date back to 1974 when Lower Downtowns I-1 industrial zoning was changed to B-7 mixed-use zoning. But it was not until the midto late-1980s that a vision for Lower Downtown solidified, followed shortly by enabling ordinances and plans and targeted investment. The key pieces that have guided Lower Downtowns redevelopment included: The 1986 Downtown Area Plan The 1987 Urban Design Plan for Lower Downtown The 1988 revisions to the B-7 zone district The 1988 Ordinance 109 establishing the Historic District (see Figure 1) and the Lower Downtown Design/Demolition Review Board The Citys investment programs for housing, building preservation and streetscape redevelopment The 1991 Lower Downtown Streetscape Design Guidelines Taken together, the plans and ordinances created a vision for Lower Downtown, including: Preservation of the historic buildings and historic character of the District Creation of a mixed use neighborhood, incorporating housing, retail, light industrial, office and entertainment uses Stabilization of the real estate markets Redevelopment of a pedestrian friendly streetscape Improved transit and access A sense of place This vision has largely been accomplished. Today, most of the historic buildings have been profitably renovated. Infill construction has become feasible due to strong demand in Lower Downtown for offices, shops and homes. Mixed use is a reality not only District-wide, but also within individual buildings, where many incorporate some combination of housing, office, retail and parking uses. The 1986 Downtown Area Plan contemplated an unknown anchor to spur and support r etail and entertainment uses in Lower Downtown. The anchor has been identified, constructed and currently operates eighty days a year, in the guise of Coors Field. The viaducts have come down, new arterials provide improved access and major portions of the streetscape have been redeveloped. The real estate markets show continuous improvement in occupancy, absorption, rental rates and sales prices. Real estate, sales and employment taxes are up, as are parking revenues, permits, licenses and other fees.

PAGE 12

I-4 With progress of this magnitude, it is logical to question the need for a new plan. Why tinker with machinery that isnt broken? The answer is two-fold. First, while the machinery is not broken, still it doesnt do all it needs to do. Its capacity can be enhanced. New issues and problems need to be looked at, issues and problems that have their genesis in the success of the neighborhoods redevelopment. Among them are such questions as: How should new buildings fit into the historic context of Lower Downtown? How should residential and hospitality uses coexist? How can changing vehicular demands on Lower Downtowns streets be mitigated? How should further investment in the District be stimul ated? How will neighborhood users access new open space, parks, attractions and emerging neighborhoods? What should be done about parking? And second, while the machinery is not broken, still it rattles and is noisy. It needs some fine tuning so that its parts will work together better. To quell the rattle in Lower Downtown, the vision for the future needed to be reviewed. In the context of rapid development, there is the perception that consensus is missing. The prevailing view is that Lower Downtown residents and interests are against everything proposed. City agencies and staff, media, developers, investors and business people are among those questioning Lower Downtowns positions on projects and its willingness to work cooperatively with others. And so, with current plans lacking guidance about emerging issues and speculation that the neighborhood was at odds with itself, the need for a community dialog emerged. The consensus reached in that dialog is the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan. B. The Pl anning Process In light of the rapid changes and growth that had occurred in Lower Downtown since the late 1980s, the Lower Downtown District Inc. (LDDI) and its members became increasingly concerned that the concepts and guidelines developed ten years prior provided no help in resolving new issues and pressures. In March 1995, LDDI secured grants from the State Historical Fund (CHS) and the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District (DDBID), which it supplemented with funds from its own treasury. In May, LDDI and the Neighborhood Plan Management Committee (the Management Committee) solicited proposals from qualified consultants to assist in the development of a neighborhood plan to be incorporated into Denvers Comprehensive Plan. In committing to develop the Plan, LDDI wanted not only a strong product, but also a plan that would be implemented. Just as critical was a desire to have an open, inclusive process. For this reason, the stakeholders were not only the funders LDDI and its membership, CHS, which administers the State Historical Fund and the DDBID but also all the other constituents of Lower Downtown, its neighboring districts, the city administration and Denver City Council. Development of the Plan required a maximum amount of early input from residents and the many interest groups concerned with Lower Downtown. As an initial step, over 250 people were interviewed in small groups by the consultant team. Follow-up public meetings and meetings

PAGE 13

I-5 with special interest groups and individuals continued throughout the process. Perceptions of issues, needs, opportunities and visions for Lower Downtown were gathered and shared at public meetings. A vast amount of existing research relating to the neighborhood was made ava ilable through LDDI and its policy committees, as well as by the city, private sector real estate firms and the Downtown Denver Partnership. This material was assimilated and used in preparation of the Plan by the consultants. Visual inventories of the physical assets, character and opportunities in the District were collected and recorded. Additional research was conducted on selected issues by the consultant team. Required by contract were case studies of neighborhoods in other cities with characteristics similar to Lower Downtown. Four case studies (Fort Point, Boston; Pioneer Square and Pike Place Market, Seattle; various neighborhoods, San Francisco) were conducted and the lessons learned were summarized in a slide show presented at a public meeting. In addition, the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Committee (the Neighborhood Committee) was formed to respond to questions raised by the second draft Plan issued by the consultant team. This committee was composed of 28 members representing broad constituencies in the community. Initially, the Neighborhood Committee met 10 times over a two-and-ahalf month period and LDDI produced a newsletter covering its deliberations, which was faxed weekly to over 500 people. Once there was general agreement on the major elements of the Plan, a third revision was issued, which was reviewed by the Neighborhood Committee and the Management Committee in joint sessions. The City then recommended a format change and the Plan went to the Editorial Committee, which issued drafts #4, #5 and #6. In joint meetings, the Neighborhood Committee, the Management Committee, the Editorial Committee and the lead consultants met six more times to resolve the remaining open issues and to refine and polish the Plan. The objective of all the committees was to reach consensus on all the issues raised by Plan. Consensus was indeed reached and the members of the planning committees (Management, Neighborhood and Editorial) recommend the Plan for adoption without exception. Interestingly, the goals for Lower Downtown that emerged from the planning process do not differ markedly from the vision contained in the plans developed in the 1980s. The new Plan still calls for preservation of the District, it still calls for mixed use, it still calls for a pedestrian friendly environment and it still calls for a healthy development market. Where it diverges is that this Plan seeks to resolve issues that are the result of the Districts own successes issues, like conflicts of mixed use and the question of context that emerged along the road toward the initial vision. Many of todays problems were only dimly seen in the 1980s and hence only vaguely considered. Consequently, this Plan seeks not to rewrite the vision or alter significantly the course of de velopment, but to fill in the gaps of prior planning efforts.

PAGE 14

I-6 C. How to Use the Plan The Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan consists of six sections: Introduction Historic Preservation Design of New Buildings Uses Mobi lity and Parking Streetscape While the parts of the Plan may appear discrete, they are, in fact, interdependent. For example, street liveliness is discussed in the Uses section of the Plan, but it is also a fundamental concept driving preservation, new building design, mobility and parking and streetscape redevelopment. The same plan-wide importance can be applied to concepts like mixed use (which affects design of new buildings, design of parking structures, preservation and infill of the streetwall, etc.) and the street and alley grid (which affects accessibility, parking, pedestrian friendliness, public open space, preservation of grittyness and the historic streetscape, etc.). Consequently, fulfillment of the goals of one section of the Neighborh ood Plan, without the others, cannot get the neighborhood where it wants to go. For this Plan to be as successful as the last plan, progress must be made on all fronts and several universal issues (parking, maintenance, compatibility, context) must be resolved in concert with one another. In addition to the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan, the planning process produced a set of new Design Guidelines. The Plan calls for enabling legislation so that they can be implemented. The Design Guidelines are not a part of the Neighborhood Plan, but the principles that form their foundation are incorporated into the Plan. The Neighborhood Plan recommends that the Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) adopt these guidelines as supplements to its Design Guidelines for Denver Landmarks and Landmark Districts for application specifically in Lower Downtown. The Design Guidelines cover: Contributing Buildings Non-Contributing Buildings Contemporary Buildings New Buildings All Buildings Buildings with Parking Uses The Public Realm The parts of the Design Guidelines that deal with Contributing and Noncontributing Buildings are not intended to be allinclusive. They deal primarily with topics brought up by various constituents while planning progressed. The LPCs Design Guidelines for Denver Landmarks and Landmark Districts form the basis of guidelines for Contributing and Noncontributing Buildings; the guidelines suggested by this Plan are to supplement them.

PAGE 15

I-7 The guidelines proposed by the Neighborhood Plan for Contemporary and New Buildings are more comprehensive and address many topics that are unique to Lower Downtown, commercial districts in general, or the requirements of modern technology and uses. Rather than supplementing existing guidelines, the guidelines for Cont emporary and New Buildings are proposed to fill a gap where very little guidance existed before. D. Definitions, Acronyms and Abbreviations Definitions, acronyms and abbreviations used in this Plan follow. Because the definitions relate primarily to design issues, they are listed separately; however, the terminology is found throughout the Plan document. A separate list of acronyms and abbreviations follows the definitions. All the words that are specifically defined herein are subsequently printed in bold letters wherever they are found in this Plan. Definitions Abut, Abutting Immediately adjacent to, beside. Buildings are also abutting if they are separated by a public right-ofway (like an alley or street) upon which there are no intervening buildings. Active commercial uses Active commercial uses are those uses that promote the comings and goings of more than a few pedestrians on a regular basis. Additional parking Additional parking is park ing which can be included in a project in addition to the minimum parking without special approval in the following amounts: One space per 1500 square feet for commercial uses One half space per unit for residential uses Applicant The proposer of altera tions to existing buildings or construction of new buildings in the Historic District who has filed an application for review of the project by the LDD/DRB. Articulation How each element, such as a window, door, cornice, floor line, or column, is architecturally expressed, that is, called out as special or distinct from other elements by the designer. This can be done through use of color, change of material or texture and so on. The idea is to make these elements read differently from others while st ill retaining a pleasing composition overall. Borrowed light basements The interior first floor is set back by some means from the streetfront face to allow for light wells or skylights providing light into a habitable basement area. The result is to push the storefront and street-level windows some distance back from the sidewalk and pedestrians.

PAGE 16

I-8 Building height Building height is the height of a building as measured from a point defined in the city Zoning Ordinance and extending to the roof deck of the subject building, but not including parapets, cornices, elevator overruns, stair towers extending onto the roof, mechanical equipment or mechanical penthouses certain architectural rooftop elements, or other such elements as discussed herein. 55 feet is the height -by-right in Lower Downtown. Based on established criteria, the LDD/DRB may grant additional height up to a maximum of 85 feet, 100 feet and in certain districts, 130 feet. For buildings above 55 feet that are not located in the SRDs the height alone of a proposed building relative to its context may be considered a reason for denial of the project. For projects located in the SRDs all elements of context must be addressed except that projects cannot be denied approval on the basis of he ight alone. Compatibility Compatible Compatibility or to be compatible is a condition wherein two or more entities are combined to achieve desirable aftereffects for the whole and each other. It is the ability of different components, whether similar or dissimilar, to function together and stand together without disharmony or conflict (in other words, complementary but not necessarily similar or the same). The intent of the proposed guidelines is that new buildings should not replicate existing ones. Context Context consists of the conditions that form the setting within which a building is experienced. It derives from a Middle English word that meant coherence and there is an implication of disparate elements harmoniously woven together. As used here, context consists of all the external factors that have a formative influence on the appearance of an area, including height, mass, massing scaling elements design, materials, location on site and so forth. Context applies to all sites. In Lower D owntown the contributing buildings in a proposed sites vicinity establish context There are three types of context : primary, secondary and district-wide. Primary context is applied to Part 1 decisions in the design review process. Secondary context is used in Part 2 decisions District -wide context is used when the LDD/DRB determines that there are no contributing buildings in a sites primary or secondary context Primary context is used to determine the general height and massing -the envelope -of a proposed building. It is established by the contributing building s located within 300 feet in all directions from any point on the property line of a proposed site. Secondary context is used to determine the finer grain details of a proposed bui lding. The geographic parameters used to determine secondary context are as follows:

PAGE 17

I-9 For sites on named streets, context is established by contributing buildings located on the face block on which the project is located, the face block immediately across the street and the face block across the alley. For corner buildings, context is established by contributing buildings located onehalf block in each direction from the corner, including both sides of each half block. For sites on numbered streets, context is established by contributing buildings located the face block on which a project is located, the face block immediately across the street and both face blocks on each of the blocks that abut the block of the proposed project. For sites in which context is not provided due to the absence of proximate contributing building s, context is the historic architectural character of the entire District Contemporary buildings : See Contributing buildings Contributing noncontributing and contemporary buildings Contributing buildings are those determined to be of historic significance. Determination was made in an authorized survey conducted by the City of Denver Landmark Preservation Commission and recorded within the designation of the Lower Downtown Historic D istrict. A map identifying contributing buildings can be found in the ordinance establishing the District Buildings considered noncontributing were not, at that time, found to be of historical significance. Contemporary buildings are buildings built after 1941. De novo appeal : De novo is a legal term that refers to a trial which starts over, the same as if it had not been heard before and as if no decision previously had been rendered. As used in this Plan a de novo appeal means that the LPC will not merely review the record from the LDD/DRB but will take new evidence and hear the appeal issues again. The decision of the LDD/DRB will be given a presumption of correctness, but the LPC may make its own decision based on the information presented to it and its application of the guidelines to that information. Elements of a project that are the subject of an appeal must be presented to the LPC in the same form as those presented to the LDD/DRB Design vocabulary The physical attributes, characteristics and details that make up a building: put simply, the elements one can see when looking at the building. These include, at one extreme, the size, shape, color and texture of its materials. At the other extreme is the way the building handles stepbacks and the articulation of the facade or elevation through alignment of elements (such as windows, cornices, or columns). Further examples include texture, scaling elements, color, material changes and window mullions and muntins. Elevation facade and primary elevation Facade or primary elevation when used in conjunction with buildings, refers to any street-facing wall of a building, or a street wall. Elevation refers to the walls of a building that do not face the street, such as side or alley wa lls. Excess parking Excess parking is parking in an amount greater than the sum of (i) the minimum required parking (see MP8.1) and (ii) the additional parking (see MP8.2) permitted in

PAGE 18

I-10 any structure without the consent of the LDD/DRB. See also, minimum parking and additional parking Facade See Elevation Height See Building height Human scale See Scale Mass Massing A buildings mass is synonymous with its volume, or the total gross cubic volume of space it occupies on the site. Massing is the way in which its volume, or mass is distributed on the site (which parts are higher, lower, wider, or narrower and what pops up and where). Massing is an important consideration in helping a building fit comfortably into its context The aspects of a buildings form include its visual treatment in the variations of heights and widths of its mass as well as its overall height and stepbacks. Two buildings can have the same mass but entirely different massings (See Building height ). Related to a buildings mass is its width. Establishing visually appropriate building widths defined as the distance the facade of a single new building extends along the street without a break in massing is important to maintaining Lower Downtowns character. This break in the visual massing may be accomplished in any number of ways, including an expression of two distinct buildings, a break in a portion of the facade with a different function (such as a door or passageway), a change of wall plane (such as recessing part of a segment), a change of column spacing, or a change of materials, color, texture, or detailing. Mechanical penthouse See Penthouse Minimum parking. For those structures subject to parking requirements, minimum parking is: One space per 750 square feet for commercial uses One space per unit for residential uses Mixed use Mixed use buildings are buildings with more than one use. Noncontributing buildings See Contributing buildings Part 1 approval, Part 1 decision A decision made by the LDD/DRB in the process of reviewing and approving alterations to existing buildings or construction of new buildings. A decision that approves or denies an applicants proposal for a projects building envelope, (defined as the buildings height, mass, form, stepbacks, site plan, contextual fit, etc.) and the concept of the basic exterior facade appearances, including identification of major materials. Part 2 approval, Part 2 decision A decision made by the LDD/DRB in the process of reviewing and approving alterations to existing buildings or construction of new buildings. A

PAGE 19

I-11 decision that approves or denies an applicants proposal for a projects building details. Such building details shall include materials, color, windows, entrances, scaling devices and other exterior details. Pedestrian friendly Pedestrian friendly is a measure of the quality of an environment from the perspective of a person on foot. A pedestrian friendly environment is a place where people can enjoy public life in a comfortable setting. The Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan seeks to foster this kind of an environment by recommending several community development strategies, including approaches to land use, building design, historic preservation, streetscape design, transportation, mobility, traffic management, parking and economic development. For example, the Plans design guidelines advance pedestrian friendliness through such things as build-topropertyline requirements, minimum and maximum heights and human scale development, all of which serve to enclose and define public space and to create a pedestrian environment people understand and to which they can relate. Mixed-use development puts people and eyes on the street at all hours, helping to reduce crime and increase a feeling of security. Historic preservation adds interest to streets and a sense of place that, in turn, promotes use and enjoyment of the public realm. Streetscape elements provide amenities and convenience. Use of alternative modes of transportation reduces traffic entering the District. Parking strategies encourage a park-once environment where, upon arrival, it is possible to do a variety of things by walking between them. Taken together these elements and others in the Neighborhood Plan, shape the Districts urban structure to support pedestrian use, safety, comfort and enjoyment. Penthouse residential penthouse and mechanical penthouse A structure or portion of a structure located on the roof of a building (a penthouse usually has its own roof as well). It is generally a roof element and may or may not contain habitable space. Often it contains or hides building equipment. It is generally set back from the roof edge of the main part of the building and covers only a small portion of that roof. For purposes of this document, a residential penthouse is any rooftop penthouse containing habitable space; a mechanical penthouse does not. Note, however, that not all mechanical equipment is placed inside a penthouse Period of significance Lower Downtowns period of significance is established on the National Register of Historic Places to be from 1860 through 1941. Primary elevation See Elevation Residential penthouse See Penthouse Scale human scale and scaling elements A visual concept regard ing the relative size of a buildings architectural parts compared to the whole or to the human figure, created by introducing into the design some unit that acts as a visual measuring rod.

PAGE 20

I-12 There are many types of scale human scale being most commonly us ed; even when a different scale is referred to, it always refers back to the human scale For example, a cathedral or governmental building may have a seemingly biggerthanlife, or monumental, scale : its scale is altogether larger than the human figure and is intended to be so as this results in a humbling effect on the observer. In a smaller-thanlife, or miniature, scale everyday things shrink down to less than what the observer would expect. A scale model an architectural design tool that represents a building prior to its construction is an extreme example of miniature scale In our physical environment, miniature scale can be seen when, for example, a threestory building is squeezed into the height of what otherwise would have been a twostory building. This effort of a developer or designer to pick up an extra story can result in unsettling visual consequences. A building will have scale (i.e., human scale ) if there are elements of it which can be (metaphorically) used as steps, through which the observer will intellectually reach, grasp, or comprehend the building. The steps in that sense are the elements of a building that are known to the observer, the elements with which he is familiar and whose dimensions one knows in relationship to oneself. (A. C. Antoniades, Architecture and Allied Design 3rd ed., Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., 1992). Scaling elements range from small items recognizable close-up, such as a unit of masonry, doorknob, or window muntin, to larger ones such as doors, windows, awnings, balconies, railings and signs. The division of a building vertically (by expressing the floor lines in the construction) and horizontally (through column spacing) adds enormously to a viewers ability to get a sense of how the building stacks up, how tall or wide it is and how comfortable he or she feels with it. A building without scaling elements can take on whole new meanings and create unsettling feelings. The more difficult it is to relate to a building as a human being, the m ore uncomfortable it makes the viewer to be near it. At worst, such a building may feel threatening or unfriendly and thus be avoided. At best, the observer will be visually confused by the building and its relationship to him or her. Scaling elements See Scale Screen, screening To screen cars or parking means to visually obscure to a degree what is behind the screen. The intent is not to hide or make disappear the subject of the screening, but to diminish its prominence or push it visually into the background. The screen becomes the dominant focus instead of the subject behind it. A screen can be mostly solid or mostly transparent depending on the purpose it is to serve and the subject behind it.

PAGE 21

I-13 Acronyms and Abbreviations ADA Americans with Disabilities Act AIA American Institute of Architects BID Business Improvement District CBD Central Business District CHAFA Colorado Housing and Finance Authority CHS Colorado Historical Society CPV Central Platte Valley DDBID Downtown Denver Business Improvement District District, the The Lower Downtown Historic District DHA Denver Housing Authority DRCOG Denver Regional Council of Governments DUT Denver Union Terminal (Union Station) DURA Denver Urban Renewal Authority Editorial Committee Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan Editorial Committee FAR Floor Area Ratio HOV High Occupancy Vehicle LDD/DRB Lower Downtown Design/Demolition Review Board LDDI Lower Downtown District, Inc. LPC Landmark Preservation Commission Management Committee Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan Management Committee Neighborhood Committee Lower Downtown Neighborhood Committee Plan Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan RTD Regional Transportation District SRD Special Review District SRP Special Review Project Stre etscape Plan Streetscape Design Guidelines for Lower Downtown

PAGE 22

I-14 E. Acknowledgments None of the ordinances and plans which guided the development of todays Lower Downtown would have been possible without strong continued support from Historic Denver, the Landmark Preservation Commission, the Downtown Denver Partnership, the Colorado Historical Society, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Mayors Federico Pea and Wellington Webb, Denver City Council members and city staff members. And none of these plans would have been realized without the acceptance and implementation by Lower Downtowns developers, investors, residents, business owners, galleries and artists, property owners and employees. Without these people those who dreamed it, enabled it and made it happen Lower Downtowns redevelopment would surely have been inhibited. In preparation of this plan Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan, the consultant team was aided by many people having a strong interest and concern for the future of Lower Downtown. In particular, the following groups should be acknowledged: the Management Committee the LDDI Board of Directors, LDDI s policy committees (Urban Design, Transportation, Community Development), the Editorial Committee and the Neighborhood Committee consisting of 28 members representing major interests in the community. Staff members from the Denver Planning Office, Zoning Department, City Attorneys Office and the Transportation Department provided many hours of review and discussion to ensure that what is proposed is consistent with city-wide policies and is legally and administratively achievable. In addition to funds provided by the State Historical Fund, LDDI and the DDBID significant inkind contributions were made, including facilitating services by the Vector Group and meeting space by JohnstonWells, Gorsuch Kirgis, BRW and the Wynkoop Brewing Company. Photography was provided courtesy of Ronald A. Straka, FAIA. BRW, Inc. and Tim Berland at LoDo & Downtown Denver News provided graphic layouts. Professionals of all types lawyers, engineers, economists, architects, developers, construction contractors, traffic planners, realtors gave freely of their time and expertise. Other volunteers conducted surveys, monitored traffic movement, distributed literature, stuffed envelopes and manned tables. Not the least of the in-kind contributors were the local members of the consulting team who continued to play an important role in the development of the Plan long after their contract had expired. This is truly a neighborhoodgenerated Plan The work of obtaining funding, selecting consultants, monitoring progress, organizing citizen input and distributing informational materials all happened through the leadership of LDDI s Board and staff, representing the variety of interests found in the neighborhood. To all who helped, sincere thanks for being a part of the Lower Downtown planning process.

PAGE 23

I-15 The Management Committee John Anderson Anderson Mason Dale Diane D. Blackman Blackman & Darling Kathleen Brooker Historic Denver Bar Chadwick Planning and Community Development City and County of Denver Phillip E. Flores Landmark Preservation Commission Barbara Gibson Resident Lane Ittelson, Deputy SHPO Colorado Historical Society Carrie Kramlich (19951997) Gorsuch Kirgis Larry Gibson BRW, Inc. William E. Mosher, President Downtown Denver Partnership Deborah Ortega Denver City Council Barbara Pahl National Trust for Historic Preservation Cathy Reynolds Denver City Council Joanne Salzman Resident Roberta Smith Lower Downtown Arts District Tom Sprung Sprung Construction

PAGE 24

I-16 The Neighborhood Committee Robert Allman Attorney Diane Bla ckman Blackman & Darling Charles Callaway Real Estate Developer Tee Cowperthwaite Architect Dana Crawford Urban Neighborhoods Joe Dolan Dolan & Associates Mark Gallegos CHAFA Barbara Gibson Resident Larry Gibson BRW, Inc. Jerry Glick Columbia Group Gail Godbey Resident Larry Griewisch Jacksons Hole Kris Hoen Historic Architect Jack Houser Resident Lillian Kaufman Dia Star Carrie Kramlich (19951997) Gorsuch, Kirgis Joyce Meskis Tattered Cover Deborah Ortega Denver City Council Julie Muse McCormicks Larry Nelson 620 Corp. Bob Rynerson RTD Joanne Salzman Resident Chris Shears Shears + Leese Roberta Smith Artist Tom Sprung Sprung Construction Marilee Utter Trillium

PAGE 25

I-17 LDDIs Policy Committees Community Development Committee Larry Gibson, CoChair BRW, Inc. Gerry Erlich, CoChair (deceased) Hanover Erlich Urban Design Committee Tom Sprung, Chair (1995 1996) Sprung Construction James Leese, Chair (19971998) Shears + Leese Transportation and Parking Committee Joe Dolan, CoChair Dolan & Associates Steve Weinstein, CoChair Gorsuch Kirgis David Clamage, CoChair Saulsbury Hill Financial Services

PAGE 26

I-18 The Editorial Committee Karen Aviles Denver City Attorney Diane Blackman Blackman & Darling Bar Chadwick Planning and Community Development Office City and County of Denver Joe Dolan Dolan & Associates Larry Gibson BRW, Inc. Ellen Ittelson Planning and Community Development City and County of Denver Bob Kelly (deceased) Denver City Attorney Bill Lamont Murray Lamont & Associates James Leese Shears + Leese Barbara Pahl National Trust for Historic Preservation Everett Shigeta Planning and Community Development City and County of Denver Ron Straka Ronald A. Straka, FAIA

PAGE 27

I-19 The Consultant Team William Lamont, Jr., AICP Murray Lamont & Associates, Inc. Denver, Colorado David Dixon, FAIA David Dixon/Goody, Clancy Boston, Massachusetts David Leahy, PE TDA Colorado, Inc. Denver, Colorado Dean Macris, AICP San Francisco, California James Murray, Ph. D. Murray Lamont & Associates, Inc. Denver, Colorado Ronald A. Straka Ronald S. Straka, FAIA Denver, Colorado Charles H. Wooley St. Charles Town Company Denver, Colorado F. Recap of Planning Activity The table that follows is a summary of the various activities undertaken by the Consultants, LDDI, the Management Committee, the Neighborhood Committee and the Editorial Commit tee from inception of the planning process to the date of issue of this Plan Recap of Planning Activity 3/22/95 Management Committee Meeting Review RFP 4/1/595 Newsletter #1 4/20/95 Management Committee meeting Role of Management Committee going forward 4/26/95 Presubmission Conference 15+ potential respondents participated 5/11/95 Management Committee meeting Review RFP submissions 5/19/95 Management Committee meeting Short List presentations 5/26/95 Management Committee me eting Selection of consultants 5/31/95 Management Committee meeting Joint meeting with consulting team

PAGE 28

I-20 Recap of Planning Activity 6/26/95 Consulting Team Focus group meetings 6/27/95 Consulting Team Focus group meetings 6/27/95 Public Meeting #1 Introduce team; kick off process 7/7/95 Newsletter #2 7/17/95 Management/Consultants meeting Recap focus group discussions 7/27/95 Public Meeting #2 Report research findings 8/5/95 Newsletter #3 8/8/95 Management/Consultants meeting Commence Concept Phase of planning 8/16/95 Management/Consultants meeting Review draft vision statement 9/11/95 Public Meeting #3 Present vision statement 9/22/95 Management/Consultants meeting Commence Guidelines Phase of planning 10/1/95 Newsletter #4 10/10/95 Management/Consultants meeting Presentation of Draft Plan #1 10/16/95 Public Meeting #4 Presentation of Draft Plan #1 11/17/95 Management/Consultants meeting Presentation of Revisions to Draft Plan #1 12/1/95 Management; Consultants; C ity Planning; Zoning; City Attorneys; LDD/DRB meeting LDD/DRB legal issues 12/5/95 Public Meeting #5 Public comment on revisions to Draft Plan #1 1/5/96 Newsletter #5 1/11/96 Management/Consultants meeting Presentation of Draft Plan #2 1/16/96 Public Meeting #6 Presentation of Draft Plan #2 1/22/96 Press briefing Denver Post; Rocky Mountain News; Denver Business Journal; Westword 1/31/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting The role of the committee

PAGE 29

I-21 Recap of Planning Activity 2/4/96 Newsletter #6 2/7/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting Neighborhood issues 2/11/96 Newsletter #7 2/14/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting Neighborhood issues 2/18/96 Newsletter #8 2/21/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting Neighborhood issues 2/25/96 Newsletter #9 2/28/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting Neighborhood issues 3/3/96 Newsletter #10 3/6/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting Neighborhood issues 3/10/96 Newsletter #11 3/13/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting Neighborhood issues 3/17/96 Newsletter #12 3/20/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting Discuss report of Neighborhood Committee 3/28/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting Discuss report of Neighborhood Committee 4/3/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting Discuss r eport of Neighborhood Committee 4/10/96 Management Committee meeting Discuss report of Neighborhood Committee 4/10/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting Discuss report of Neighborhood Committee 4/24/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting Discuss report of Neighborhood Committee 5/3/96 Management; Consultants; City Planning; City Attorneys; LDD/DRB meeting LDD/DRB legal issues

PAGE 30

I-22 Recap of Planning Activity 5/7/96 Neighborhood Committee meeting LDD/DRB legal issues 5/8/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting LDD/DRB legal issues 7/17/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting Review Draft Plan #3 7/19/96 Management Committee meeting Review Draft Plan #3 8/7/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting Review Draft Plan #3 10/31/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting Report on Citys review of Draft Plan #3 11/15/96 Management; Consultants; City Planning; City Attorneys meeting Discuss Citys comments on Draft Plan #3 11/22/96 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting Discuss Citys comments on Draft Plan #3 2/28/97 Neighborhood/Management Committees meeting Review Draft Plan #4; refer to Editorial Committee 5/16/97 Editorial Committee meeting Rework Draft Plan #4 5/23/97 Editorial Committee meet ing Rework Draft Plan #4 6/20/97 Editorial Committee meeting Rework Draft Plan #4 8/4/97 Editorial Committee meeting Rework Draft Plan #4 9/3/97 Meeting with Editor 9/17/97 Meeting with Editor 1/6/98 Editorial Committee meeting Review of Draft Plan #5 1/9/98 Editorial Committee meeting Revisions to Draft Plan #5 1/22/98 Editorial Committee meeting Revisions to Draft Plan #5 2/20/98 Editorial Committee meeting Revisions to Draft Plan #5 3/12/98 Draft Plan #6 issued

PAGE 31

I-23 Recap of Planning Activity 3/25/98 Joint Committees meeting Review Draft #6 4/16/98 Joint Committees meeting Review Draft #6 5/6/98 Joint Committees meeting Review Draft #6 5/27/98 Joint Committees meeting Review Draft #6 7/08/98 Joint Committees meeting Review Draft #6 11/12/98 Neighborhood Transportation Taskforce Discussion of transportation issues 11/23/98 Transportation/Planning meeting Discussion of transportation issues 11/30/98 Transportati on/Planning meeting Discussion of transportation issues 12/09/98 Joint Committees meeting Review Draft #6, approve all revisions 01/15/99 Plan Available for Public Review 04/28/99 Public Presentation & Comment 04/28/00 Commence City adoption process Draft of April 28, 2000 06/06/00 Presentation to Landmark Preservation Commission Draft of April 28, 2000 06/07/00 Presentation to Lower Downtown Denver Design Review Board Draft of April 28, 2000 06/07/00 Denver Planning Board work session Draft of April 28, 2000 06/21/00 Denver Planning Board approval Draft of April 28, 2000 07/25/00 Council Land Use Committee Draft of April 28, 2000 (Revised) 08/28/00 City Council Approval/Incorporation into Comprehensive Plan Draft of August 7, 2000

PAGE 32

LOWER DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN Historic Preservation

PAGE 33

Historic Preservation Contents of this Section Introductory Comments .........................................................................................................HP-1 Neighborhood Concerns .........................................................................................................HP-3 A. Lower Downtowns Historic Architecture and Design Vocabulary................................HP-3 B. Context and Height..........................................................................................................HP-8 C. The Lower Downtown Design/Demolition Review Board (LDD/DRB)......................HP-14 D. Incentives.................................................................................................................. .....HP-15 E. Heritage Education.........................................................................................................H P-16 F. Design Principles for Contributing Buildings and Buildings Built Between 1860 and 1941................................................................................................................H P-16 Goals ............................................................................................................................... ......HP-18 Principles, Policies And Recommendations ........................................................................HP-19 Principle HP1 Protect Lower Downtowns historic architecture and use its design vocabulary to guide renovations, additions and new construction..............HP-19 Principle HP2 Additions and new construction must be in context....................................HP-20 Principle HP3 The LDD/DRB is a critical link in preservation in Lower Downtown ........HP-20 Principle HP4 Continue to utilize incentives that encourage reuse of historic buildings...HP-24 Principle HP5 Tell Lower Downtowns story.....................................................................HP-24 Principle HP6 Develop, enact, and utilize supplemental guidelines for the Lower Downtown Historic District that deal specifically with contributing buildings and additions thereto................................................HP-25 Principle HP7 Develop, enact, and utilize guidelines for the Lower Downtown Historic District that deal specifically with noncontributing buildings.......HP-25 Implementation .....................................................................................................................HP-26

PAGE 34

HP-1 Introductory Comments Because it is the last significant, intact collection of late nineteenthand early twentieth-century commercial and industrial structures in the American West, Denvers Lower Downtown is worthy of preservation. Lower Downtown was part of the original townsite of Denver that grew in the 1860s near the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, where gold was discovered in 1858. The arrival of the Denver Pacific, Kansas Pacific, and Rio Grande Railroads in 1870 triggered a citywide building boom, and over the next decade Lower Downtown evolved into a manufacturing and warehouse center for businesses seeking to locate next to the rail yards. The area experi enced its greatest expansion during the great Silver Boom (1881-93), when warehouse, factories, several hotels, and Denver Union Depot were constructed. A redlight district prospered along Holladay Street (now Market) from Nineteenth to Twenty-first stre ets until authorities intervened in 1915. The construction of large warehouses continued into the 1910s, followed by development on a much smaller scale in the 1920s. The area saw very little construction during the Great Depression, and most major building activity came to an end in the 1940s with the onset of World War II. Changes in manufacturing, coupled with the development of the federal interstate highway system and the demise of railroading, ended Lower Downtowns growth as Denvers manufacturing and warehouse center. The District fell into decline and disrepair until the oil boom of the 1970s, when many buildings were renovated for office use. But many other historic buildings were lost during this period as a result of the construction of seven large office buildings and demolition for surface parking lots. Although interest in preserving, rehabilitating, and reusing individual buildings began in the late 1970s, it was not until the mid-1980s that serious discussions about preserving the District took place. Key zoning actions have influenced preservation and redevelopment in Lower Downtown: 1974: zoning changed from I-1 (industrial) to B-7 (mixed use) 1982: B-7 amended to provide density bonuses for preservation of historic buildings 1988: B-7 amended and Ordinance 109 passed, creating the Lower Downtown Historic District and Lower Downtown Design and Demolition Review Board Ordinance 109 designates Lower Downtown as a District for Preservation. On the basis of the local designation, the District was certified by the National Park Service, the equivalent of a listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

PAGE 35

HP-2 Beginning in the mid1980s, the City and County of Denver approved a series of major plans, code changes, and investments in and around Lower Downtown, spurring private sector investment and development in the area. Major infrastructure changes included: the consolidation of railroad tracks in the Central Platte Valley, the removal of viaducts passing over and into Lower Downtown, and the construction of new roadways providing direct access to downtown and Lower Downtown from I-25. The Sixteenth Street Mall was extended from Market Street Station in the heart of Lower Downtown to Wewatta. In the private sector, historic buildings were renovated to accommodate offices, art galleries, restaurants, bars, housing, and retail uses. Lower Downtowns housing stock grew from fewer than 100 units to more than 600 within eight years. Vehicular and pedestrian traffic increased dramatically. Land and building values climbed. Today, new construction is either under way or being considered for many properties that contain parking lots or marginal, noncontributing buildings Over 50 percent of the area is ripe for new development once the market justifies such an investment. Denvers largest concentration of historic commercial and industrial buildings is in Lower Downtown. While a significant number have been demolished over the years, the recent trend has been toward restoration and renovat ion. The majority of the buildings still standing were constructed between 1870 (when the railroads reached Denver) and 1940. While they vary in architectural detail and size, from two-story commercial storefront structures built in the 1870s and 1880s to fiveand six-story manufacturing buildings and warehouses, the buildings are homogeneous in their use of brick, extensive fenestration, and rectangular shape. The areas dependence on the railroads for its development and financial success is still evi denced by the railroad tracks embedded under some streets and alleys and the loading docks that remain attached to many buildings.

PAGE 36

HP-3 Neighborhood Concerns A. Lower Downtowns Historic Architecture and Design Vocabulary Background: A rich variety of nineteenthand early twentieth-century architectural elements can be found in Lower Downtown. Walking along the best preserved and most pedestrianfriendly streets Wynkoop, Wazee, Blake, Market, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth one discovers elegant brick and metal cornices, interesting signage and graphics, and articulated windows and doors. Lower Downtowns alleys are equally appealing and historically significant, with their back door accumulations of equipment, docks, recessed doorways, lighting and other elements. (See Figure 2.) Together, the following features define Lower Downtowns historic architecture: Massing Buildings in Lower Downtown are simple rectangular forms that, except for the largest warehouses, tend to be taller than they are wide. Consistent street wall Lower Downtowns structures were built on a twentyfivefoot lot pattern without setbacks. Most have twoto four-lot facades without a major break on street frontage. There is a recognized distinction among individual buildings within the street wall of any block. Facade division Facades are even and consistent and feature vertical elements such as windows, doors, columns, and piers. Facade composition Facades are made up of a variety of planes, window treatments, and elements, all of which give a facade an articulated, three-dimensional quality. Entrances are typically centered. Articulation Buildings are well articulated, with a distinct and detailed cornice or top, a middle and a base that is strong, expressive, and inviting to pedestrian passersby. Windows Windows have vertical proportions, but are often grouped to form larger compositions. Windows are typically organized by function denoted by size, shape, and operation. Richness Buildings display a richness and formality of details, materials, and colors.

PAGE 38

HP-5 Consistent building materials Exterior building materials are primarily brick. Other characteristic materials include stone bases, sills, and lintels and metal or brick cornices. Subtle distinctions in the color of materials between buildings and the occasional use of a different material such as stone or terra cotta underscore the consistency. Roof lines Roofs are predominantly flat and hidden behind cornices and parapets. Many have exposed and visible water towers and utility stacks. (See Figures 3 and 4). Although the historic buildings in the District have great similarities and use many of the same elements, historic buildings tend to fall into one of three categories: Storefront, Factory/Warehouse, and 20th Century Commercial. Each of these building types represents a different aspect and time of the District s development. Storefront buildings were the most common types of commercial buildings constructed in the late 19th and early 20th century. These structures are typically two or more stories tall with large display windows and inset door on the first level, rows of windows above for office or housing, and a cornice at the top. In Lower Downtown, Storefront buildings are the earliest, dating from the 1870s through the early 1900s. They tend to be located in the south corner of the District along Market, Blake and Wazee. These buildings reflect Lower Downtowns roots as the commercial center of Denver. Factory/Warehouse is a large utilitarian structure used for manufacturing and warehousing. Factory buildings tend to have large expanses of glass, industrial sash windows for light, while warehouse buildings have small windows to maximize wall space. Factory/Warehouse buildings in Lower Downtown date from Lower Downtowns railroad era and are primarily located along Wynkoop and Wazee. 20th Century Commercial is a transitional style that carries forward some of the storefront character with simplified detailing typical of the 20th century. These buildings are small, one or two stories, and often have docks as well as some kind of storefront. These buildings tend to be located between 19th and 20th streets and were used by small manufacturing and warehousing establishments. Each block contains its own unique collection of buildings in one or more of these types. The specific combination of types, sizes, and detailing are what provide the visual and historical interest from block to block. Issues: The general consensus in public meetings and interviews was that Lower Downtowns historic buildings and traditional character must be preserved. The majority believes that new buildings should not be allowed to overwhelm or change the existing historic character of the District In addition, most felt that the context for each buildable site needed to be determined individually.

PAGE 41

HP-8 B. Context and Height Background: Ordinance 109, Series of 1988, created the Lower Downtown Historic District through the authority of the Landmark Preservation Ordinance (Chapter 30, R.M.C., as amended). It contains guidelines for development in Lower Downtown. Lower Downtowns preservation challenges are highly unusual as compared to other historic districts around the country. Research on the District s historic buildings revealed the following: There are 170 buildings in Lower Downtown, of which 131 are contributing buildings Of the 131 contributing buildings none are in excess of eightyfive feet tall; nineteen are fifty-five to eighty-five feet tall; and the remainder (85 percent) is less than fiftyfive feet tall. (See Figure 5.) Fifty percent of the historic built fabric remains, and the balance is likely to be filled in with major new buildings over time. (See Figure 6.) 13,000 linear feet of the more than 30,000 linear feet of potential building street frontage along named streets is developed. Of the 104 corner sites within the District sites that contribute most visibly to the District s character more than 50 percent are vacant and available for redevelopment. These data point out that, if and when the Historic District is built-out, more than half the buildings would be outside the Districts period of significance Issues: With more than fifty percent of the Historic District available for redevelopment, concern was expressed by planning participants over the impact of growth on Lower Downtowns historic character. Current regulations, urban design standards, and guidelines are perceived to lack the clarity and direction to ensure that new construction is compatible with that character. Participants in public meetings and interviews complained that the design standards in Ordinance 109 do not provide enough guidance to review and act on applications for large buildings, and particularly new construction, allowed by the B-7 Zone District. This comment was heard in all sectors of the community including project proposers, community stakeholders, and the LDD/DRB itself.

PAGE 44

HP-11 Of particular concern to planning participants is the definition and application of the term context While Ordinance 109 uses the word, it does not define it, saying only that new construction must fit into its The Ordinances lack of specificity about context has led to confusion about what can be built, and participants comments reflected two sides of the discussion about new construction in Lower Downtown. To project proposers, if the definition of context limits building size, then context may have a direct bearing on the economics, and hence the profitability, of a project. Certain fixed costs must be met by every project. In theory, a larger project spreads those costs over more product (in this case, space), reducing the cost of each unit, making the product more affordable for the buyer and the project more profitable for the seller. Reducing the cost per unit is particularly important where low cost housing and small retail uses are desired. Increased margins also permit more flexibility in the quality of the product that is offered and in the availability of funds for streetscape improvements. To others, if the definition of context does not limit building size, then Lower Downtowns historic character is at risk. Projects that are much larger than historic neighbors, that ignore the patterns found in the immediate area, or that introduce conflicting materials, shapes or elevations may overwhelm historic buildings, dwarfing them and reducing their significance. In addition, they believe, there is the potential to disrupt the historic fabric, and/or compromise the authenticity of the streetscape. After considerable discussion by all planning participants, and compromise on all sides, the definition this Plan uses for context is: Context Context consists of the condi tions that form the setting within which a building is experienced. It derives from a Middle English word that meant coherence, and there is an implication of disparate elements harmoniously woven together. As used here, context consists of all the external factors that have a formative influence on the appearance of an area, including height, mass, massing scaling elements design, materials, location on site, and so forth. Context applies to all sites. In Lower Downtown the contributing buildings in a proposed sites vicinity establish context There are three types of context : primary, secondary and district-wide. Primary context is applied to Part 1 decisions in the design review process. Secondary context is used in Part 2 decisions District -wide context is used when the LDD/DRB determines that there are no contributing buildings in a sites primary or secondary context Primary context is used to determine the general height and massing -the envelope -of a proposed building. It is established by the contributing building s located within 300 feet in all directions from any point on the property line of a proposed site.

PAGE 45

HP-12 Secondary context is used to determine the finer grain details of a proposed building. The geographic parameters used to determine secondary context are as follows: For sites on named streets, context is established by contributing buildings located on the face block on which the project is located, the face block immediately across the street and the face block across the alley. For corner buildings, context is established by contributing buildings located one-half block in each direction from the corner, including both sides of each half block. For sites on numbered streets, context is established by contributing buildings located the face block on which a project is located, the face block immediately across the street, and both face blocks on each of the blocks that abut the block of the proposed project. For sites in which context is not provided due to the absence of proximate contributing building s, context is the historic architectural character of the entire District The influence that each element of context has on the whole context of an area varies from block to block in Lower Downtown. For example, on the block from Wynkoop to Wazee on 17th Street, the richness of the materials and formality of design have a profound impact on context By contrast, this same elegance of design would be out of place among the simple, utilitarian buildings along Blake or Market from 19th to 20th Streets. Similarly, the degree to which height as an element of context must be considered in evaluating a project is specific to the projects site. Generally speaking, height weighs heavily in determining if a project fits compatibly into its context ; it may even be a determining factor. An exception to this general rule is buildings below 55 feet. Because 55 feet is height -by-right, height is not considered as an element of context for projects below that plane. Another e xception to a heavy weighting of height is Special Review Projects ( SRPs ). SRPs must address contributing buildings in their primary context which is defined as context established by the contributing buildings located within 300 feet in all directions from any point on the property line of a proposed site." In the Special Review Districts the LDD/DRB should consider height but height alone will not be as decisive a factor as it might be in other parts of Lower Downtown. The SRDs were specifically identified because they largely lack historic context and hence can support height and density. (See Figure 7).

PAGE 47

HP-14 For new construction in the Historic District, participants in the planning process recommended the principles found in the Design of New Buildings Section of this Plan They believe the principles encourage both preservation and mixed use development. To adopt the principles will require amendment of several City Ordinances, most particularly Ordinance 109. C. The Lower Downtown Design/Demolition Review Board (LDD/DRB) Background: The Lower Downtown Design/Demolition Review Bo ard ( LDD/DRB ), created by Ordinance 109, currently has five members, one of whom is a member of the Landmark Preservation Commission ( LPC ); the mayor appoints the other four based on nominations made by Lower Downtowns City Council representative, residents, and business organizations. The role of the LDD/DRB is to approve, approve with conditions, or deny applications for alterations to existing buildings or new construction in Lower Downtown. Its decisions are based on general design standards contained in Ordinance 109, the Design Guidelines for Denver Landmarks and Landmark Districts and other applicable documents. The current role of the LPC is to adopt guidelines applicable to Lower Downtown and to hear appeals of applicants of decisions made by the LDD/DRB Ordinance 109 specifies that only applicants may appeal any decision of the LDD/DRB to the LPC Issues: The LDD/DRB is a critical link in the application of the design guidelines that manage development in Lower Downtown. As such, the LDD/DRB helps projects meet the intent of the guidelines; helps developers design more compatible buildings and additions; and helps District residents, business owners, property owners, and others appreciate, understand and comment on the nature of the proposed work. Participants felt that the LDD/DRB together with proponents for specific projects, public agency staff, interested members of the community, and others, should be able to freely articulate positions and viewpoints in LDD/DRB hearings. Given the unique nature of each project and of each parcel of real property, it should be understood that the comments and decisions of the LDD/DRB and of all participants in LDD/DRB hearings, apply to the particular project and parcel in question, and not generally to all projects and parcels in Lower Downtown. Composition and qualification of LDD/DRB members was discussed by planning participants. There was general agreement that the Board should be expanded to seven members, to provide both greater expertise and relief from quorum problems.

PAGE 48

HP-15 Meeting and interview participants also raised a number of procedural questions and requested that these be clarified. One such question asked for clarification of the submission process for project proposers, including identification of the types of approvals available and the requirements to obtain each. Meeting participants also recommended that review procedures, submission requirements, mechanics of meetings, parliamentary authority, and so forth, be embodied in a set of by-laws or operating procedures and made available to the public. The Neighborhood Committee, especially, spent a great deal of time discussing the nature of decision making in the design review process. In the end, every decision of the LDD/DRB is an exercise of the Boards discretion in the application of the design principles and guidelines to the unique facts of each individual application. Importantly, the design principles and guidelines, LDD/DRB s procedural safeguards, the special expertise of LDD/DRB s members, and proposers right to appeal unfavorable decisions will all serve as safeguards to limit the s discretion and help ensure that applicants will be treated in a fair and consistent manner. If a decision could be rendered simply by application of fixed and inflexible rules, without reference to the discretion of the LDD/DRB or to the potential to negotiate alternative approaches that meet the proposers needs and serve the public interest, then there would be no need for an expert design review board. The ability to bypass the LDD/DRB by adhering to prescribed and inflexible requirements has been available to proposers in Lower Downtown since 1988, but it has never been used. Instead proposers have opted to make the case in a public forum. The Neighborhood and the Management Committees recommend that, to the extent permitted by law, the LDD/DRB be authorized to exercise reasonable discretion in weighing the elements that make good projects as the Board applies adopted guidelines to the facts of each application. Finally, planning participants felt it is important that all interested parties, as defined by Denver City ordinance, have standing to appeal a decision of the LDD/DRB to the LPC D. Incentives Background: There are a number of preservation incentive programs that are available for qualifying projects in Lower Downtown. These include state income tax credits, federal investment tax credits, grants-in-aid from the Colorado Historical Fund ( CHS ), and charitable deductions for facade easements. Lower Downtown is also located in an Enterprise Zone and state income tax credits are available for employment, investment in capital assets, and the payment of employee benefits, among other more specialized credits. In addition to preservation incentives, specific programs for housing may be available in the form of the low income housing credit; low interest rate loans from agencies like HUD, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority ( CHAFA ), and the Denver Ho using Authority ( DHA ); and tax increment financing from the Denver Urban Renewal Authority ( DURA ). This Plan also recommends permitting additional height for the provision of housing. Finally, the cost of preservation of historic buildings may be managed through the use of reduced parking

PAGE 49

HP-16 requirements or use of Chapter 61 to provide flexible approaches to meeting current health and safety requirements. Issues: Because every historic building is important, incentives should be made available to developers to make the economics of preservation work better. Meeting and interview participants urged the consolidation of materials that explain the incentives available in Lower Downtown into a handbook and its subsequent distribution to interested parties. E. Heritage Education Background: Lower Downtown has an historic interpretive signage program and thirtyfive of the District s buildings and important sites are marked with plaques containing lively details about the archit ecture, buildings, sites and people who inhabited these streets before us. There is a companion map to guide visitors to the plaques. In addition, various non-profits sponsor walking tours of the District from June through September, LDDI holds an annual Loft Tour in the fall, and there are several guidebooks of the District most notably Barbara Gibsons The Lower Downtown Historic District. Issues: There are actually two stories to tell about Lower Downtown. The first, and most frequently told, is the story of Denvers birth and growth. The second story is preservations success story in Lower Downtown. The "crystal ball gazing" done in the 1980s and the investment made by the City and the private sector yielded a rehabilitated and revitalized area. Sparse as they may be, Lower Downtowns current heritage education programs are well received. Most rely on volunteer labor and contributions. Meeting participants suggested a pooling of resources in the preservation community to produce new programs to appeal to a broad range of ages and interests. F. Design Principles for Contributing Buildings and Buildings Built Between 1860 and 1941 Background: The guiding principles for minor additions and alterations to, and rehabilitation and preservation of, contributing buildings in the Lower Downtown Historic District are found in the Design Guidelines for Landmark Structures and Districts. These guidelines were adopted by the LPC on March 21, 1995. Additionally, there are guidelines in Ordinance 109.

PAGE 50

HP-17 Issues: For the most part, the guidance provided in design guidelines applicable to Lower Downtown has served the LDD/DRB well when reviewing alterations to contributing buildings and noncontributing buildings However, new materials, construction processes, and, particularly uses for which the buildings were never built, have raised questions unforeseen by the Ordinance. Additions to historic buildings, like balconies and roof top structures, are particularly troublesome. Furthermore, the LPC 's Guidelines examine more closely residential preservation needs, and while most of the principles are applicable in Lower Downtown, there are some unique aspects of commercial districts that are not covered.

PAGE 51

HP-18 Goals Lower Downtowns goals for historic preservation include: Preservation of all the historic structures in the District New buildings that reflect, in a contemporary way, Lower Downtowns design voca bulary New buildings that fit comfortably into their context A community where preserving historic buildings is valued and rewarded. A design review board that is fair and consistent, and whose decisions are made in the public interest based upon facts in the record and the codified design review principles and guidelines. Administrative policies and procedures that clearly define the review process. The ability of all parties with standing to appeal decisions of the LDD/DRB to the LPC A neighborhood where a broad heritage education program tells the story of early Denver and the story of its ongoing preservation. Revised design guidelines for contributing buildings for noncontributing buildings for contemporary buildings and for buildings as yet unbuilt.

PAGE 52

HP-19 Principles, Policies And Recommendations Principle HP1 Protect Lower Downtowns historic architecture and use its design vocabulary to guide renovations, additions and new construction Policy HP1.1 Every historic building contributes to the character of Lower Downtown. Recommendations: HP1.1.1 Maintain protection from demolition for every contributing building HP1.1.2 U tilize the authority to deny demolition to the greatest extent possible where appropriate and in keeping with laws, regulations and guidelines. HP1.1.3 Carefully evaluate exterior alterations to maintain and enhance the integrity of every contributing building HP1.1.4 Balance historic integrity with contemporary use by continuing the careful consideration of exterior alterations that has been exhibited by the LDD/DRB HP1.1.5 Periodically resurvey Lower Downtown to assess its structures contributing and noncontributing status in light of alterations, restorations, rehabilitations, and changing perceptions of more recent styles. Policy HP1.2 Use the characteristics of historic buildings traditional size, massing height organization of features, masonry materials, articulation of facades and clear entries as a basis for proposed construction. Policy HP1.3 Recognize that, collectively, Lower Downtowns historic b uildings form the basis of many of the District s most valued attributes, including a nationally recognized collection of historic commercial structures, walkable streets, pedestrian friendly building facades an interesting mix of uses, and industrial elements. Recommendations: HP1.3.1 Maintain edge of buildings along sidewalks. HP1.3.2 Maintain Lower Downtowns historic industrial look and feel by preserving such elements as fire escapes, water towers, loading docks, alleys and alley facades and other ev idences of the District s past.

PAGE 53

HP-20 Policy HP1.4 B ecause historic wall signs hold intrinsic value for both their history and their ability to inspire curiosity, they should be preserved where possible. Principle HP2 Additions and new construction must be in context Policy HP2.1 Use new construction to reinforce the historic qualities of Lower Downtown. Policy HP2.2 Respect the unique character of each block. Policy HP2.3 Clarify the word context Recommendations: HP2.3.1 Define context to refer to a specific geographic area, not the District as a whole. HP2.3.2 Define context to include only historic buildings. Principle HP3 The LDD/DRB is a critical link in preservation in Lower Downtown Policy HP3.1 Utilize the Design Guidelines for Denver Landmarks and Landmark Districts in making design review decisions about historic buildings. Policy HP3.2 Utilize the design standards to be contained in a revised ordinance and rules and regulations. Policy HP3.3 Because each site is unique, comments and decisions made by the LDD/DRB, although consistent with the Plan and the Guidelines do not set precedents for future projects. Policy HP3.4 Maintain the recommending and appointing of knowledgeable and interested people to the LDD/DRB Recommendations: HP3.4.1 Expand the LDD/DRB to a seven-member Board. HP3.4.2 Appoint a cross section of interests to the Board, including a: Real estate developer Practicing architect Historic preservatio nist Preservation architect Resident of Lower Downtown Property owner in Lower Downtown Owner or operator of a business in Lower Downtown

PAGE 54

HP-21 HP3.4.3 M ake all appointments to the LDD/DRB by soliciting recommendations from the following organizations: For the practicing architect, seek recommendations from AIA -Denver. For the developer, seek recommendations from Lower Downtown's City Council representative. For the preservationist, seek recommendations from Historic Denver. For the preservation architect, seek recommendations from CHS and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Mountain and Plains Region. For all others, seek recommendations from neighborhood organizations registered with the city that identify Lower Downtown as being within their bounda ries. HP3.4.4 Appoint disinterested parties to two of the four Board positions not specifically required to be Lower Downtown constituents. A disinterested party is one who does not live, own property, own or operate a business, practice professionally, or represent interests in Lower Downtown. HP3.4.5 Members of the LPC should not also serve on the LDD/DRB Policy HP3.5 Ensure due process. Recommendations: HP3.5.1 Adopt bylaws and a parliamentary authority. HP3.5.1.1 Provide for a majority vote of the quorum on general matters that come before the Board. HP3.5.1.2 Provide for a 5 out of 7 vote of the en tire Board on all special review projects. HP3.5.1.3 Adopt Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised as parliamentary authority. HP3.5.2 Develop and disseminate administrative and regulatory procedures that include procedures for giving appropriate notice of all meetings. HP3.5.3 Provide continuous training to LDD/DRB and LPC members related to design review decision-making and due process in quasi-jud icial meetings HP3.5.4 Clarify the appeals process. HP3.5.4.1 Permit any interested party to appeal de novo a decision of the LDD/DRB to the LPC. HP3.5.4.2 Require that such appeals be made within 15 days of a Part 1 or Part 2 decision. (See HP3.7.1, below)

PAGE 55

HP-22 Hp3.5.4.3 On appeal to the LPC require that any decision of the LDD/DRB be presumed to be correct until sufficient evidence is introduced to support a contrary finding. HP3.5.4.4 Require that elements of a project that are the subject of an appeal be presented to the LPC in the same form as those presented to the LDD/DRB Policy HP3.6 To the extent permitted by law, authorize the LDD/DRB to exercise reasonable discretion, consistent with the Plan design principles and guidelines, in weighing the eleme nts that comprise compatible projects. Policy HP3.7 Revise the review process for projects proposed in Lower Downtown. Recommendations: HP3.7.1 Revise the design review process as follows: Each project, whether for an existing building or new construction, shall be reviewed by the LDD/DRB in the following sequence: Part 1 of the review process will address the building envelope, (defined as the buildings height, mass, form, stepbacks, site plan, contextual fit, etc.), and the concept of the basic exter ior facade appearances, including identification of major materials. The Board will make a decision on the building envelope and the concept of the basic exterior facade. Such decision can be appealed by any interested party to the LPC within 15 days of the Boards decision. If such decision is not appealed to the LPC within 15 days, that decision is final. Part 2 of the review process will address building details beyond the previously approved concept of the basic exterior facade Such building details shall include materials, color, windows, entrances, scaling devices, and other exterior details. The Board will make a decision concerning such building details. Such decision is appealable by any interested party to the LPC within 15 days of the Boards decision. If such decision is not appealed to the LPC within 15 days, that decision is final. In the alternative, except for proponents of SRPs the applicant may request a Board decision on an entire project at a single meeting. The applicant may request that the Board review/reopen any of its decisions. If the Board does so, its reconsideration may include other relevant decisions it has made regarding the project. However, such reopening shall not be allowed if the Boards decision has been appealed to the LPC

PAGE 56

HP-23 HP3.7.2 Create an application form for projects which come before the LDD/DRB Policy HP3.8 Establish review procedures and criteria for Special Review Projects ( SRPs ). Recommendations: HP3.8.1 Apply the same review procedures described in Policy HP3.7 to Special Review Projects except that SRPs may not request a Board decision on an entire project at a single meeting. HP3.8.2 Require an affirmative vote of five out of the seven members of the Board to approve an SRP If seven members are not eligible to vote, then approval shall require a favorable vote of 75% of the eligible members. Eligible voters are duly appointed LDD/DRB members, who are present at the meeting and who have not otherwise recused themselves from voting (e.g., conflicts of interest). HP3.8.3 Employ models extensively to illustrate the proposed SRP HP3.8.3.1 Require that a model exhibiting all of the elements required for Part 1 approval accompany an application for an SRP review. HP3.8.3.2 Prior to the commencement of Part 2 of an SRP review, update the model to reflect decisions made regarding Part 1 and the new elements to be reviewed in Part 2 HP3.8.3.3 Make the models available for public inspection in Lower Downtown while the SRP is under consideration by the LDD/DRB HP3.8.4 Provide notice of any meetings where an SRP is to be considered by the LDD/DRB Notice requirements are met by mailing written notice to registered Lower Downtown neighborhood organizations 14 days prior to the scheduled meeting. HP3.8.5 Create an application form for SRPs Policy HP3.9 Allow de minimus changes to be approved by the Boards staff after the Board has made decisions. Recommendations: HP3.9.1 The staff may not approve any changes to elements of a project taken up by the Board in Part 1 of the review process. HP3.9.2 The staff may approve de minimus changes to elements of a project taken up by the Board in Part 2 of the review process.

PAGE 57

HP-24 HP3.9.2.1 A de minimus change is a change that has little impact on the visual appearance on a project. It is unnoticeable to the casual viewer. HP3.9.2.2 In determining if a change is de minimus staff must consider not only the impact of the change being proposed, but also the aggregate affect on a project of all de minimus changes previously approved. HP3.9.2.3 De minimus changes granted under this provision must be noted as an information item on the LDD/DRBs consent calendar. Principle HP4 Continue to utilize incentives that encourage reuse of historic buildings Policy HP4.1. Continue to make incentives available as long as they prove effective in encouraging reuse of historic buildings. Recommendations: HP4.1.1 Keep parking requirements as they are now, as provided in the B-7 Zone District, to eliminate the parking requirement for historic buildings. HP4.1.2 Maintain and continue to improve the Chapter 61 process to provide relief from building codes for older buildings. HP4.1.3. Promote existing incentives such as the State Income Tax Credit, Federal Investment Tax Credit, and State Historical Fund. HP4.1.4 Promote other housing and retail incentive programs ( DURA CHAFA DHA ) where they also serve preservation. Policy HP4.2 Evaluate the need for the addition, elimination or substitution of incentives based on changing market conditions and development pressures. Principle HP5 Tell Lower Downtowns story Policy HP5.1 Use the built environment to educate and to promote an interest in Denvers late nineteenthand early twentiethcentury heritage; its industrial and transportation roots; and its linkages to the South Platte River, Cherry Creek, the railroad, adjacent historic neighborhoods, and the Central Business District ( CBD ). Recommendations: HP5.1.1 Provide yearround walking tours jointly promoted and carried out by AIA -Denver, LDDI Historic Denver, CHS the CUDenver School of Architecture and Planning, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

PAGE 58

HP-25 HP5.1.2 Market the guidebook, The Lower Downtown Historic District HP5.1.3 Hold an annual childrens event in Lower Downtown, sponsored by Historic Denver, CU-Denver, LDDI and Denver Public Schools. HP5.1.4 Sponsor an annual workshop/celebration for the owners of historic lofts in Lower Downtown and downtown. HP5.1.5 Work with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Convention and Visitors Bureau to develop a heritage tourism program for Lower Downtown, downtown, and other historic central Denver neighborhoods. Policy HP5.2 Tell the history of Lower Downtowns preservation and revitalization Principle HP6 Develop, enact, and utilize supplemental guidelines for the Lower Downtown Historic District that deal specifically with contributing buildings and additions thereto Policy HP6.1 Additions, alterations, and rehabilitation of contributing buildings must retain and preserve the historic character of the building Principle HP7 Develop, enact, and utilize guidelines for the Lower Downtown Historic District that deal specifically with noncontributing buildings Policy HP7.1 Alte rations to noncontributing buildings must be designed to help the building better fit its context

PAGE 59

HP-26 Implementation Amend the 1989 Denver Comprehensive Plan to include the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan as a detailed component. Amend City Ordinances to be consistent with one another as they apply to Lower Downtown and to reflect the principles in the Preservation section of the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan. To supplement the Design Guidelines for Denver Landmarks and Landm ark Districts adopt guidelines specifically for Lower Downtown that address new construction and alterations and additions to contributing and noncontributing buildings Specifically define the context area to be used in evaluating new construction. Revise the composition of the LDD/DRB to provide for a seven-member Board. Clarify the appeals process from LDD/DRB to the LPC Revise the review process for projects proposed in Lower Downtown to provide for two distinct approvals. Establish review procedures and criteria for Special Review Projects ( SRPs ). Allow any interested party to appeal a decision of the LDD/DRB to the LPC Promote preservation incentive programs. Monitor the effectiveness of incentives and the need for new incentives. Create, p roduce and disseminate heritage education programs.

PAGE 60

LOWER DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN Design of New Buildings

PAGE 61

Design of New Buildings Contents of this Section Introductory Comments ...........................................................................................................D-1 A. Proposed Design Guidelines and Their Use......................................................................D-1 B. Requirements vs. Preferences............................................................................................D-1 C. Definitions ..........................................................................................................................D-1 Neighborhood Concerns ...........................................................................................................D-2 A. Building Height and Massing............................................................................................D-2 B. Other Design Considerations.............................................................................................D-4 Goals .............................................................................................................................. ...........D-7 Principles, Policies And Recommendations ............................................................................D-8 Principle D1 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to contemporary buildings................................................................................... D-8 Principle D2 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to new buildings...............D-8 Principle D3 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to all buildings..................D-8 Implementation .........................................................................................................................D-9

PAGE 62

D 1Introductory Comments A. Proposed Design Guidelines and Their Use As a part of the neighborhood planning process, design guidelines were created which are recommended for adoption by the Landmark Preservation Commission and the LDD/DRB The guidelines are designed to supplement the Design Guidelines for Landmark Structures and Districts and deal with Lower Downtowns specific architectural and urban design issues. The basic purposes of the guidelines are: to reinforce the key characteristics of Lower Downtowns traditional architectural charactermost importantly, height massing and articulation of building facades ; to encourage high-quality approaches to new architectural and urban design elements contributing to Lower Downtowns physical character. The general principles that underlie the proposed design guidelines are presented in this Plan B. Requirements vs. Preferences The proposed guidelines are divided into two levels: Requirements These are mandatory; they must be met in order for a project to be approved. Preferences These are the guidelines that a projects applicants must consider in the design of the project. Preferences should be viewed as ideas to be encouraged rather than as prescriptive. They are suggestions of ways to make projects more appropriate to Lower Downtown and to spark lively responses to Lower Downtowns historic setting. If an applicant does not follow a given preference, the applicant must demonstrate that s/he is otherwise responding appropriately to the preference. C. Definitions Through the course of the planning process, terminology frequently caused problems. In some cases, confusion resulted because of differences between professional and lay usage. In others, even the professionals disagreed. To ease the interpretation of the recommended guidelines, several terms are specifically defined. (See Introduction to the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan, Item D.) These definitions represent the only applicable interpretations for use with this Plan and the Design Guidelines.

PAGE 63

D 2Neighborhood Concerns A. Building Height and Massing Background: The B-7 Zone District Ordinance and Ordinance 109, which created the Historic District and its urban design guidelines, conflict with regard to the matter of height B-7 calls for maximum building heights of one hundred and thirty feet. Ordinance 109, on the other hand, calls for projects to be in context Lower Downtowns historic context consists of 131 contributing buildings of which 85% are under fifty-five feet tall, 15% are between fifty-five and eightyfive feet tall and none exceed ei ghty-five feet. (See Figure 5) During the early 1990s, when the historic inventory was plentiful and rehabilitation was more profitable than new construction, the interplay of the zoning and preservation ordinances was not apparent. However, as new construction became cost effective, projects were proposed which tested the conflicting provisions of the two ordinances. Related to height is building mass The B-7 Zone District Ordinance provides a formulaic approach to the arrangement of a buildings volume on a site. It employs a bonus system that permits a maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 7.4:1 and manages massing by way of stepback requirements. Issues: Meeting and interview participants expressed concern over the conflicts between the two ordin ances. Developers, property owners and project proposers called for resolution of the question in the interest of maintaining predictability and stability in the development environment. Residents and the preservation community also want resolution, expressing concern about the potential for large projects to overwhelm the historic character of the District Ordinance 109 omits the definition of context For purposes of application in Lower Downtown, it is defined in this Plan (See Introduction, Item D; see also, Historic Preservation, Item B) Context considers only historic structures. It requires the designer to understand and employ an intrinsic design vocabulary and it requires a project to respond sensitively to its neighbors. (See Historic Preservation, Item A) But there are places in the District where context is weak where little exists to guide the designer (e. g., 18th to 19th on Market) or where existing uses have established important development patterns (16th Street Mall). In these circumstances, more height and mass is supportable, especially when there is a resulting increase in the residential or regional retail base. In fact, throughout the District height incentives are offered for the inclusion in projects of residential uses. (See Figure 8) (See Design Guidelines, Policy 4.1)

PAGE 65

D 4 Meeting and interview participants also commented that computation of FARs was confusing, both to those who sought to use them and those who sought to measure compliance. Others felt that the FAR formula permitted massing which was out of character with the largely rectilinear, blocky nature of the historic context. B. Other Design Considerations Background: Ordinance 109 is largely silent about guidelines for new building design. Still, many new buildings are being proposed for sites in Lower Downtown and many new questions are raised about building design. Issues: Building placement along property lines create street walls in Lower Downtown which, because of their human scale are a unique feature of the historic commercial District Maintenance and enhancement of this feature is desirable. Continuity of the street wall facade is also desirable. The sense of enclosure, created by continuous building fronts of human scale is both historic and conducive to community. Buildings can be and should be designed to enhance streetlevel liveliness. Providing re tail uses on the ground floor creates a synergy that fosters both business and community. Corner buildings have a greater presence and tend to be more defined. Because multiple facades are visible, they have a three-dimensional look and may be larger than their neighbors. Still, all buildings must fit comfortably in their site and respond to their neighbors. Among other features, facade composition includes building articulation and definition; the size, shape and orientation of windows, doors and balconies; the exterior expression of floor-tofloor heights ; and the scale of a building. New buildings that incorporate features of Lower Downtowns design vocabulary do so with a modern interpretation the objective is to create buildings that reflect their own time, understanding and responding to patterns in their immediate environment. (See Figure 9.) A buildings details, materials, color, signs, awnings and lighting help it fit into its context (See Figure 10.) Mechanical structures, exposed equipment, stair towers and other appurtenances have traditionally been located on rooftops in Lower Downtown. Historically, they were not screened because they were located behind cornices among buildings of similar height Today, as building heights vary and rooftops become outdoor living space for District residents, such elements are more visible. Rooftop structures and mechanical elements should be neutral and integrated into the overall design of the building they append.

PAGE 68

D 7Goals Lower Downtowns goals for the design of contemporary and new b uildings include: A design framework shaped by historic architectural precedent conveying the spirit of each successive era. New construction and alterations that are compatible with their context Building facades that visually respect and respond to each other. Buildings with a base, middle and top. Artfully composed, expressive facades displaying a consistent rhythm, vertical composition and articulation of elements. Facades that contribute to the Districts pedestrian scale and character. A variety of architectural elements and textures, details, signs, graphics. High quality craftsmanship. Reliance on traditional building materials. Continuous street walls with a variety of compositions.

PAGE 69

D 8Principles, Policies And Recommendations Principle D1 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to contemporary buildings Policy D1.1 A contemporary building shall remain an expression of its time. Policy D1.2 Additions and alterations should be sympathetic and subordinate to the original building and to their context Policy D1.3 Alterations to contemporary buildings shall be reviewed by the LDD/DRB as new buildings and are subject to the Guidelines for New Buildings. Principle D2 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to new buildings Policy D2.1 Height and massing are important determinants of compatibility. Policy D2.2 The placement of architectural elements is important to building in continuity and to the Lower Downtown physical experience. Recommendations: D2.2.1 To articulate these elements and to be compatible with the Districts historic context the design of new building facades needs to employ Lower Downtowns design vocabulary D2.2.2 Other visible elevations, such as walls found in alleys or sidewalls of buildings, contribute significantly to the overall impression of the built environment. Policy D2.3 A buildings materials, details and colors are important factors in establishing its compatibility with its context Principle D3 Adopt supplemental design guidelines applicable to all buildings Policy D3.1 Building signs, awnings and lighting help establish the perceived liveliness and safety of Lower Downtown street life. Policy D3.2 Roof structures and appurtenances must work within the overall design of the building. They also offer opportunities to enhance the buildings architectural effect.

PAGE 70

D 9Implementation Amend the 1989 Denver Comprehensive Plan to include the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan as a detailed component. Amend City ordinances to be consistent with one another as they apply to Lower Downtown and to reflect the principles in the Design of New Buildings section of the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan. Amend City ordinances to enable the LDD/DRBs review of projects pursuant to the Design Gui delines recommended by this Plan for adoption by the LPC To supplement the Design Guidelines for Denver Landmarks and Landmark Districts adopt guidelines that address the design of new buildings, contemporary buildings and all buildings in Lower Downtown.

PAGE 71

LOWER DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN Uses

PAGE 72

U 1Uses Contents of this Section Neighborhood Concerns ...........................................................................................................U-1 A. Diversity of Uses........................................................................................................... .....U-1 B. Neighborhood Livability....................................................................................................U -2 C. Open Space........................................................................................................................U-3 D. Inter-N eighborhood Connections.......................................................................................U-4 E. Retailing.............................................................................................................................U-4 F. New Housing Development...............................................................................................U-5 G. New Office Development..................................................................................................U-6 H. Preserving Art and Cultural Uses......................................................................................U-7 I. Street Liveliness........................................................................................................... ......U-7 J. Zoning Changes.............................................................................................................. ...U-8 K. Application of Ordinance 109............................................................................................U-9 Goals .......................................................................................................................................U-10 Principles, Policies And Recommenda tions ..........................................................................U-11 Principle U1 Enhance the attraction of Lower Downtown to a broad range of uses..........U-11 Principle U2 Enhance livability among residential, business/office, commercial and retail uses. .......................................................................................................U-11 Principle U3 Enhance connections to adjacent neighbors and nearby open space.............U-11 Principle U4 Enhance the attraction of Lower Downtown to both neighborhood serving and one-of-a-kind regional retail. ......................................................U-12 Principle U5 Increase residential use in Lower Downtown................................................U-12 Principle U6 Preserve existing employment opportunities and enhance a wide range of new business and office uses...........................................................U-12 Principle U7 Explore ways to retain and enhance art and cultural uses in Lower Downtown. .....................................................................................................U-13 Principle U8 Develop lively street-level uses and activities to enhance Lower Downtowns streets........................................................................................U-13 Principle U9 Change existing ordinances to apply co-terminus boundaries to Ordinance 109 and the B-7 zone district........................................................U-13 Implementation .......................................................................................................................U-14

PAGE 73

U 1Neighborhood Concerns A. Diversity of Uses Background: With the official designation of the Lower Downtown Historic District in 1988, emphasis shifted from preserving individual buildings to preserving the areas general character as a turn-of-the-century commercial district. At the same time, the District was transforming into an urban mixeduse neighborhood with a substantial number of residents. New restaurants and bars, nearby major attractions such as Coors Field and the new Pepsi Center and development or proposed development of more than 600 residential lofts, in addition to proposed new development on vacant and underutilized building sites, have combined within a decade to change Lower Downtown from a historic neighborhood into a vital, mixed-use historic district. Land Use in Lower Downtown Total Square Feet (mil) Percent Office 2.54 35 Parking 1.61 22 Retail 0.98 14 Industrial 0.81 11 Residential 0.63 9 Open Space 0.34 5 Transportation 0.15 2 Vacant 0.13 2 Total 7.19 100 Source: Lower Downtown Land Use Study The Levi Company, 1994. Issues: The consensus reached in public meetings and interviews was that Lower Downtown should serve as a live/work/play/learn environment for people with a range of incomes. Participants expressed a desire that Lower Downtown provide urban residential units everywhere people care to live. So that no single use dominates and drives out other uses through failure in the management of potentially negative side effects, good neighbor policies were suggested to assure a balance among the various uses.

PAGE 74

U 2 Participants in neighborhood meetings and interviews singled out the neighborhoods mixed use character as one of their main reasons for choosing to locate in Lower Downtown, citing particularly the range of activities available, proximity to the downtown business core, the variety of lifestyle opportunities, the ability to walk to work or business meetings and the uniqueness of the Historic District. The variety and intensity of uses function compatibly for the most part and, taken together, distinguish Lower Downtown as a successful urban area: Denvers most diverse, 'round the clock' neighborhood. Presently, over 50 percent of the area is available for new development, and approximately 57 percent (17,000 of 30,000 total linear feet) of potential building street frontage along named streets is available. As development progresses, a balance of uses must be maintained a balance that meets the functional needs of an urban neighborhood and preserves valuable historic buildings while realizing the potential for new uses and new buildings. Uses should be encouraged that support and capitalize on the stable, year-round market associated with the expanding residential, specialty retail and office/employment opportunities in the neighborhood. Participants in neighborhood meetings and interviews expressed a desire for mixed uses along with additional residential development. For example, there is the desire to preserve the remaining manufacturing and employment uses that add diversity to Lower Downtown: there is no interest in seeing business and employment driven out of the neighborhood to accommodate any single use. Participants also highly desire the continued encouragement of mixed use buildings; there was virtually no support for segregating uses or otherwise limiting their location in the District Looking at other cities approaches, meeting and interview participants identified useful guidelines to consider in managing Lower Downtowns uses, specifically: recognition that built-up older sections of major cities should be regarded as unique neighborhoods, that are complex and varied in purpose and intensity and that are not well served by blanket, generalized controls, and Recognition that uses inappropriately located, too numerous, managed without regard to neighbors, or too concentrated can become serious detractions, requiring some form of management to ensure a balance of uses. B. Neighborhood Livability Background: Lower Downtowns evolution from a primarily commercial district to a mixed-use neighborhood with more and more housing has sparked a variety of livability issues concerning the adjacency of residential and commercial uses. With greater numbers of residents and visitors, and as nighttime entertainment and bar and restaurant uses increase, the potential for conflict increases.

PAGE 75

U 3 Issues: Residences and businesses need a compatible environment to flourish in Lower Downtown. This includes clean air; open space; reduced noise; clean streets, sidewalks and alleys; and a sense of safety. Some residents, for example, are finding that noise, such as latenight music from outdoor bars and patios, loud talking on the street and exhaust noise from rooftop equipment, interferes with the enjoyment of living in Lower Downtown. C. Open Space Background: The increasing numbers of people who live and work in Lower Downtown create a greater need for open space where people can congregate and interact. Within the Historic District, the Cherry Creek corridor, the 16th Street Mall and Market Street Station plaza offer recreational and open space opportunities. The Cherry Creek trail is used primarily for bicycling, w alking, jogging and rollerblading. Market Street Station plaza is used primarily for sitting and (from spring through fall) a farmers market and the 16th Street Mall accommodates both sitting and strolling. Just outside Lower Downtown are the playfields at the Auraria Higher Education Center and the South Platte River. The proposed thirty-acre Commons Open Space and Recreation Area and Rockmont Park in the Central Platte Valley will provide added recreational opportunities within a ten-minute walk from Lower Downtown. Within Lower Downtown, open space takes on a unique definition. Open space in the Historic District, because of its traditional commercial nature, consists of a network of streets (including the 16th Street Mall extension), sidewalks, alleys and small spaces between buildings. (See Streetscape, Item B) Issues: Because recreation facilities are limited in Lower Downtown, convenient and easy access to parks, attractions and open space outside the District is important to both residents and workers. Meeting and interview participants urged careful design of the new Wewatta ring road and the pedestrian connections to the Pepsi Center. They also supported shuttle service on the Lower Downtown extension of the 16th Street Mall. Meeting and interview participants also stressed that, once the Market Street bus facilities are relocated to the proposed intermodal center, preservation of some open space on the Market Street Station site or another site in Lower Downtown is desirable. Small vacant areas, spaces between buildings and increased use of alleys and rooftops represent other openspace possibilities.

PAGE 76

U 4 D. Inter-Neighborhood Connections Background: Access to adjoining neighborhoods ranges from seamless to non-existent. For example, the rectilinear pattern of streets in Lower Downtown is continued without disruption as it enters the CBD The pattern is also continued into the Ballpark Neighborhood, but 20th Street has been improved to accommodate regional bus transit and baseball needs and is busy with vehicles. Access to the Auraria Higher Education Center requires crossing Speer Boulevard and/or Auraria Parkway. Although the streetscape is developed and there are trees and well-marked pedestrian crosswalks, it is nonetheless daunting on foot. Still to be determined is Lower Downtowns access to the Central Platte Valley ( CPV ). Denver Union Terminal and railroad tracks in the CPV form physical barriers to both pedestrians and vehicles. The roadbed for Wewatta, in the CPV has been determined. Access from Lower Downtown to the Pepsi Center will be primarily across Speer at Auraria Parkway, with some pedestrian connection provided by the new Wewatta Street, also across Speer. Issues: Convenient links between neighborhoods means, among other things, that each can draw on the others services and amenities, without the need for duplication. Participants urged careful design of the new Wewatta ring road and pedestrian connections to Lower Downtowns newest neighbor, the Commons Neighborhood. E. Retailing Background: The Lower Downtown retail market is interlocked with the downtown market in all segments, except entertainment and art galleries. Whereas metro Denvers retail market continues to improve at among the fastest rates in the country and the downtown submarket has the regions highest square footage of leased retail, new neighborhood serving retail businesses are unable to justify locating in Lower Downtown because of the limited market and high development costs. In addition, with the exception of the Tattered Cover Book Store, there is no regional retail along the 16th Street Mall Extension Downtowns retail spine and only a sprinkling of specialty and boutique retailing in other areas of the District Lower Downtown does, however, serve as a strong anchor and attraction for the Central Business District and abutting neighbors and connects downtown with a complementary suite of activities and uses. Residential and business development in Lower Downtown has created new demand for neighborhood serving retail and personal services. Lower Downtown, by virtue of its wholesale and warehousing past, has never provided neighborhood services such as grocery, hardware, or household supply stores. With the future development of a mixed use neighborhood in the Central Platte Valley, however, an overall downtown residential and business critical mass

PAGE 77

U 5 should be available to support new neighborhood retail and personal services. Continued expansion of Lower Downtowns housing market and improvements in office occupancies also has the potential to increase this demand. Once the market justifies such an investment, approximately 150,000 square feet of vacant, street-level space in Lower Downtown could be converted to retail and service uses. Issues: Meeting and interview participants expressed an interest in attracting more retail uses to Lower Downtown. Particularly important were uses that capitalize on the stable year-round markets associated with residential and office uses, and specialty markets such as those tied to art galleries and design offices. Attracting and keeping smallto mediumscale retailers, whose products are unique to the regional market, were also viewed as important components of a healthy retail mix in Lower Downtown. Strategies for attracting these uses and taking advantage of surrounding developments are seen as key issues in creating a vibrant mix of uses. The cost and availability of parking in Lower Downtown affect the Districts ability to attract retail and service uses to the area. Perceptions of the high cost of parking, the lack of convenient and available spaces, and safety must be overcome. Current zoning regulations require that reduced amounts of parking be required for projects in Lower Downtown than is required in other districts in the city. No parking is required if development commits to joining a parking district, when formed. When new development occurs on existing surface parking lots in Lower Downtown, the loss of spaces and increased demand for those remaining spaces adversely affect the areas attractiveness to retailers. (See Mobility and Parking, Item G) Lastly, the ability to attract retail uses and affect the timing of development is often beyond Lower Downtowns control. Examples are the extension of mall shuttle service to Wewatta Street and the development of the Union Station intermodal center. Both these projects have the potential to generate considerable pedestrian traffic and retail demand in the neighborhood while reducing the demand for parking spaces. F. New Housing Development Background: Denvers Comprehensive Plan, the Downtown Area Plan and the Denver Partnership have identified the desirability of and created programs to increase the number of housing units in and around downtown, including Lower Downtown. These programs are proving to be successful. Most housing has either been developed with subsidies or marketed at higher-end price points. Between 1980 and 1996, the population of Denvers central business district, including Lower Downtown, increased 28 percent (from 2,639 to 3,369). Whereas growth between 1980 to 1990 was small (6 percent), growth between 1990 and 1996 increased dramatically to 22 percent (DRCOG, 1996). Compared with other large cities, however, Denvers downtown population

PAGE 78

U 6 five percent of the downtown work force is very low. In other large American cities, the percentage of workers who live downtown is typically 20 percent or higher. According to the DRCOG survey, Lower Downtowns population in 1996 was 1,775, with an average household size of 1.42 persons (census tract 17.01). The housing stock currently includes more than 600 units. Included in that number are 151 affordable/non-market rental units in the Barth Hotel, Mercantile Square and Studebaker Apartments. Within two blocks of Lower Downtown are 2,418 existing or proposed housing units. This development activity indicates a strong market for housing in Lower Downtown. Issues: Meeting and interview participants agreed that housing in Lower Downtown should be encouraged, essentially anywhere people want to live the more the better. Additional housing is fundamental to achieving a primary City objective: the increasing focus on downtown as a center for culture, entertainment and business. This emphasis, in turn, will contribute greatly to Lower Downtowns housing market, and vice versa. Participants expressed the desire for new housing units at a broad range of costs, including affordable housing, which gives a greater variety of people the opportunity to live and work in Lower D owntown. Currently, primarily upper-income housing is being developed and proposed. Loft condominiums are rapidly sold at escalating prices with very few units priced below $200,000. Few resale units are available. While housing rents in Lower Downtown are climbing to over $1.00 per square foot per month, high land and building costs limit the profitable construction of new rental units. Whereas a large amount of land in Lower Downtown is presently utilized for surface parking, the cost of the land and development for new housing on these sites is high. A major contributor to this high cost is the need to provide onsite parking in order to obtain project financing. The biggest challenge in the sustained development of housing, particularly affordable housing, is whether it can be financed conventionally (e.g., FHA, Fannie Mae). In addition, only enlightened developers and mortgage lenders are willing to support mixed use buildings and projects that include market-rate and affordable residential with retail and office uses. G. New Office Development Background: Lower Downtowns popularity has increased demand in the office sector of the market. Office is the predominant use in Lower Downtown (35 percent of all us es), because of the areas proximity to downtown, lower rental rates than the CBD smaller and more varied building floor plates, and unique historic environment.

PAGE 79

U 7 This demand has raised rents (to an average $11.59 per square foot in 1995), which threatens smaller businesses and offices and encourages their relocation outside of Lower Downtown. From 1989 to 1994, the amount of office space in Lower Downtown increased by 18 percent, while the vacancy rate fell by 23 percent. Recent surveys indicate that Lower Downtowns office vacancy rate reached a ten-year low of 11.89 percent in 1995. In comparison, the CBD vacancy rate at the same time was 14.2 percent (Woolley, Fuller). Large blocks of office space are only rarely available. Issues: It appears likely that the strong demand for office space will continue, prices and rents will rise, and conversions and new construction can be anticipated. Neighborhood participants indicated, as with other uses, it is important that office use be spread throughout the District and particularly along the major streets and the 16th Street Mall extension. Finally, because a lively pedestrian environment is an objective of the Plan, eight-tofive groundlevel office uses are less desirable than round-the-clock active uses, such as retail and art galleries. Continued improvement in office occupancy has the potential to contribute to the increased demand for both residential and retail development in Lower Downtown. H. Preserving Art and Cultural Uses Background: Galleries, studios and workshops are key to the sensory experience of the neighborhood, and are an integral part of its modern character. But their continued presence in Lower Downtown is threatened by increasing rents that may force them to relocate outside the neighborhood. Issues: Meeting and interview participants confirmed that retaining and preserving the art community as a major component of Lower Downtown is a shared goal of all constituencies in the neighbo rhood. In response to the effect of increased rents, however, there was some concurrence that the type of art and cultural uses might change and reflect a different arts focus (performance arts, graphic arts, culinary arts.) I. Street Liveliness Background: Lower Downtown has become a heavily pedestrian district, particularly since the development of housing, the opening of restaurants, art galleries and retail stores, and the construction of Coors Field. The neighborhood is known for its lively and active street life. The major factor in creating Lower Downtowns lively streets and increased pedestrianization is the areas active

PAGE 80

U 8 streetlevel focus. New developments and rehabilitation projects residential, office and retail provide exciting ground-floor activities and lively fronts and streetscapes. At street level, inactive uses, like parking or residential use, create gaps in activity. Surface parking lots and vacant land interrupt not only activity, but also the street wall and its sense of enclosure. Sometimes these gaps provide relief a view of the sky, a different perspective but when experienced in quantity, gaps appear as missing teeth in a smile. Issues: Meeting and interview participants encouraged the commercial use of street-level frontage to screen inactive uses. Participants recommended wrapping the ground level of parking structures in retail space. They felt the resulting small retail floor plates have the added advantage of offering afford able spaces that attract a variety of desirable uses uses which otherwise might not be able to afford rent in Lower Downtown. Where residential use is found at ground level, live/work spaces are preferable to live-only spaces. Ground floor, service-related office components with active foot traffic provide spaces and displays of interest for passing pedestrians. Alleys also offer opportunities for street-level uses and activities, particularly where they are enhanced by adjacent lower-cost retail spaces and uses that do not require on-street frontage and access. Participants urged developers and lessees alike to maintain alleys and develop small, inexpensive retail uses. However, a concentration of alley retailing that compromises retailing along Lower Downtowns streets is not desirable. J. Zoning Changes Background Currently, the Lower Downtown Historic District, defined in Ordinance 109, consists of three zone districts. The B-7 zone district comprises the bulk of Lower Downtown and is located north of Cherry Creek and west of Wazee Street. The properties located south of Cherry Creek and east of Wazee Street are zoned either B-5 or I-1 and are owned by the City and County of Denver and the Colorado Department of Transportation. Issues Planning participants expressed concern that as properties in the B-5 and I-1 districts are developed there arises a potential for conflicts between the zoning ordinances and the preservation ordinance. In order to avoid such conflict and to simplify the review of projects that come before the LDD/DRB participants urged rezoning of the B-5 and I-1 parcels to B-7. Affected property owners expressed no objection to the proposed zoning changes.

PAGE 81

U 9 K. Application of Ordinance 109 Background: Currently, projects that span both the B-7 zone district and another zone district may, by virtue of their contiguity, be subject to the provision of another zoning ordinance. An example of this might be a free standing parking structure, which is not a use-by-right in Lower Downtown, but which may be constructed as an adjunct to a larger project located in a abutting district. Issues: Planning participants expressed concern that uses deemed by ordinance as unsuitable, or only marginally suitable, for the Historic District might nonetheless be permitted where an assemblage of land crossed over the B-7 zone district. Participants felt this was unfair and in contravention of the spirit of the Landmark Ordinance. As a result, participants recommen ded that ordinances be clarified to provide that regardless of any overlap of ownership between zone districts, that portion of a project located in the B-7 zone will be subject to both the B-7 Zoning Ordinance and Ordinance 109.

PAGE 82

U 1 0Goals Lower Downtowns goals for uses and development include: A balanced and broad range of uses to foster a vibrant urban neighborhood with live/work/play opportunities. Compatibility among the variety of uses that contributes to the neighborhoods livability and ambience. New codes, regulations and procedures that reflect the neighborhoods unique, complex and historic character. Clean, well-lit streets. Neighborhood retail and personal services that support residential, office and commercial uses. Regio nal specialty and boutique retail that complements existing retail and other uses found in the District Housing opportunities for a broad range of people. Employment opportunities for a broad range of workers. A vibrant and healthy art and cultural community including fine arts, performance, galleries and studios. Lively, active sidewalks and alleys with adjacent street-level uses. A variety of open spaces to support neighborhood interaction.

PAGE 83

U 1 1Principles, Policies And Recommendations Principle U1 Enhance the attraction of Lower Downtown to a broad range of uses Policy U1.1 Identify alternative ways to resolve perceived parking shortage and other parking problems in Lower Downtown. Policy U1.2 Use tax increment financing, where available, and other financing sources to provide infrastructure improvements as an attraction to development. Policy U1.3 Educate lenders and underwriters to support financing of mixed use projects with greater than 20 percent commercial use. Principle U2 Enhance livability among residential, business/office, commercial and retail uses Policy U2.1 Provide for voluntary, communitybased resolution of nuisances. Create and administer a Good Neighbor Policy for issues pertaining to security, noise, management of patrons in public areas and trash pickup. Policy U2.2 Provide for resolution of nuisances or potentially conflicting uses by enforcement of city codes and regulations. Recommendations: U2.2.1 Reduce or eliminate outdoor noise and odors. U2.2.2 Establish criteria for planning, execution and location of outdoor special events. U2.2.3 Amend B-7 Zone District to eliminate certain adult and obsolete uses presently permitted in Lower Downtown. U2.2.4 Amend B-7 Zone District to restrict outdoor patio space to 25 percent of total permitted floor area. Policy U2.3 Vigorously enforce existing noise and odor emissions ordinances. Principle U3 Enhance connections to adjacent neighbors and nearby open space Policy U3.1 Provide linkage to parks, attractions and open space outside the District Recommendations: U3.1.1 Provide enhanced connections to the Cherry Creek corridor. U3.1.2 Facilitate access to the proposed Commons Open Space and Recreation

PAGE 84

U 1 2 Area and Rockmont Park U3.1.3 Ensure that the design of Wewatta, in the CPV facilitates pedest rian access between the communities. U3.1.4 Provide safe and easy pedestrian access to the Pepsi Center. Policy U3.2 Provide linkage to nearby neighborhoods. Policy U3.3 Provide shuttle service the length of the 16th Street Mall. Policy U3.4 Preserve some open space on the Market Street Station site or another site in Lower Downtown. Principle U4 Enhance the attraction of Lower Downtown to both neighborhood serving and one-of-akind regional retail Policy U4.1 Develop a retail marketing program for Lower Downtown. Policy U4.2 Support and advocate the extension of shuttle service on the 16th Street Mall and the development of the Union Station intermodal center. Policy U4.3 Advocate additional residential and office development in downtown, the CPV and Lower Downtown. PolicyU4.4 Support completion of the Streetscape Plan. Principle U5 Increase residential use in Lower Downtown Policy U5.1 Achieve a mix of housing types in projects to accommodate a full range of residents. Policy U5.2 Enact residential bonuses for buildings over fiftyfive feet tall. Policy U5.3 Utilize DURA CHAFA CDBG and DHA programs to support a full range of housing opportunities. Policy U5.4 Educate lending institutions and underwriters to support financing of mixed use projects, including residential, office and commercial use. Principle U6 Preserve existing employment opportunities and enhance a wide range of new business and office uses Policy U6.1 Emphasize transit-oriented development. Policy U6.2 Use tax increment financing, where available, to provide infrastructure improvements as an attraction to office and employment development. Policy U6.3 Support new residential and retail development in Lower Downtown.

PAGE 85

U 1 3 Principle U7 Explore ways to retain and enhance art and cultural uses in Lower Downtown Policy U7.1 Promote the arts in Lower Downtown. Policy U7.2 Encourage the development of small, inexpensive spaces for gallery use. Policy U7.3 Support cultural activities and events in the Historic District. Principle U8 Develop lively street-level uses and activities to enhance Lower Downtowns streets Policy U8.1 Encourage active street-level uses such as retail, art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants and live/work spaces. Recommendations: U8.1.1 Where parking is the primary ground level use, wrap parking uses with small floorplate active retail uses. U8.1.2 Where residential is the primary ground level use, encourage live/work uses. U8.1.3 Where service-related office uses are the primary ground level use, encourage those with active foot traffic. U8.1.4 For retail uses that do not require on-street frontage and access, consider lower-cost retail spaces in alleys. Policy U8.2 Prohibit drivethrough uses. Policy U8.3 Establish specific performance criteria for sidewalk vending and special event activities. Policy U8.4 Maintain the network of sidewalks, alleys and small open spaces for congregation and interaction. Principle U9 Change existing ordinances to apply co-terminus boundaries to Ordinance 109 and the B-7 zone district

PAGE 86

U 1 4IMPLEMENTATION Amend the 1989 Denver Comprehensive Plan to include the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan as a detailed component. Amend City Ordinances to be consistent with one another as they apply to Lower Downtown and to reflect the principles in the Uses section of the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan. Create and administer a Good Neighbor Policy. Facilitate access to the proposed Commons Open Space and Recreation Area and Rockmont Park Commission a study and develop a retail marketing program for Lower Downtown. Create and promote a package of materials for lending institutions and underwriters to support financing of mixed-use projects. Identify a program to retain and support Lower Downtowns arts and cultural community. Advocate for extension of shuttle service on the 16th Street Mall Advocate for the creation of an intermodal facility at Denver Union Terminal.

PAGE 87

LOWER DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN Mobility and Parking

PAGE 88

Mobility and Parking Contents of this Section Neighborhood Concerns ........................................................................................................MP-1 A. Streets..................................................................................................................... ............MP-1 B. Street and Alley Closures................................................................................................... MP-3 C. Buses and Mass Transit.....................................................................................................M P-3 D. Calming Traffic ..................................................................................................................MP-4 E. Accessibility............................................................................................................... ........MP-4 F. Pedestrian/Vehicular Conflicts Resulting from Parking Uses...........................................MP-5 G. Parking..................................................................................................................... ..........MP-5 H. Excess Parking.............................................................................................................. .....MP-8 I. Design Considerations for Parking Uses General...........................................................MP-8 J. Design Considerations for Parking Uses Adjacent to Existing Residential Uses..............MP-9 Goals ............................................................................................................................... .......MP-11 Principles, Policies And Recommendations .......................................................................MP-12 Principle MP1 Enhance the pedestrian experience on Lower Downtowns streets............MP-12 Principle MP2 Maintain the historic grid of Lower Downtowns streets, sidewalks and alleys .....................................................................................................MP-12 Principle MP3 Give top priority to pedestrian movement and safety when resolving pedestrian/vehicular conflict.......................................................................MP-12 Principle MP4 Minimize negative effects of traffic............................................................MP-12 Principle MP5 Optimize public transportation opportunities.............................................MP-14 Principle MP6 Ensure, to the extent feasible, that Lower Downtowns public and private circulation network is made up of accessible routes...............MP-14 Principle MP7 Adopt new design guidelines for parking structures and parking located in other buildings............................................................................MP-15 Principle MP8 Revise parking requirements in Lower Downtown....................................MP-15 Principle MP9 Establish a procedure and criteria for the review of structures with excess parking.....................................................................................MP-16 Principle MP10 Work collaboratively to find a downtown-wide parking solution..............MP-17 Principle MP11 Better manage the existing parking inventory............................................MP-17 Principle MP12 Advocate and support a variety of alternative transportation modes s erving Lower Downtown...............................................................MP-18 Principle MP13 Educate city center users about alternative transportation and parking options............................................................................................MP-18 Implementation ....................................................................................................................MP-19

PAGE 89

MP 1 Neighborhood Concerns A. Streets Background: Lower Downtowns current street hierarchy is as follows: Wynkoop Street is classified as a local street; Wazee Street is a collector street; and Market and Blake are arterial streets. The arterials carry traffic that passes through Lower Downtown enroute to and from other areas, including other parts of downtown. The numbered streets northwest of Blake, with the exception of 15th Street and all of 16th Street, also serve as collector streets, distributing traffic from local generators in Lower Downtown to the arterial system. Particularly important for access between the CBD and I-25 are Market and Blake Streets, a oneway pair, which connects the city and the highway by way of Auraria Parkway and Speer Boulevard. 20th Street, on the north of Lower Downtown, is a component of the I-25 HOV system, and Speer Boulevard on the south, in addition to connecting to I-25, provides diagonal access to northwest and southeast Denver. (See Figure 11) Since the passage of the Landmark Ordinance in 1988 and the subsequent creation of the Lower Downtown Historic District, development in and adjacent to Lower Downtown has caused changes in the patterns, volume, and character of street use. The citys traffic engineering department has worked with LDDI on various adjustments to the circulation pattern as regional and local transportation improvements occurred. An example of this joint effort is the Memorandum of Understanding dated October 1992. Issues: Lower Downtowns streets are unique to Denver. On the one hand, they are a part of a broader network of ingress and egress to the CBD As such, they are expected to move traffic efficiently, considering vehicular and pedestrian safety, ease of mobility, and air quality. On the other h and, because Lower Downtown is a pedestrian oriented neighborhood, the community wants them to also perform as neighborhood streets. Planning participants and interviewees expressed concern that some of the functions Lower Downtowns sidewalks should provide are made difficult by traffic. For example, automobiles and buses, even at moderately low speeds, can be noisy and make even a casual greeting difficult to hear. Yet residents and workers need to be able to meet on the sidewalks. There are also areas in Lower Downtown where, to improve traffic efficiency, street parking is not permitted, but the layer of real or perceived protection provided by the parking buffer is lost to the pedestrian.

PAGE 91

MP 3 Many of the participants in meetings and interviews felt some streets in the neighborhood have been pressed into service to the am/pm commute. They specifically point out 15th Street, as it enters Lower Downtown from the Central Platte Valley, and Wazee Street, which funnels traffic across Lower Downtown and up 17th Street to parking and businesses in the CBD. Planning participants and LDDIs Transportation Committee felt that it is desirable to establish a revised hierarchy of streets in Lower Downtown, with Market, Blake, Speer and 20th the primary carriers of through-traffic. The other streets should be calmed to slow traffic, to discourage it when it is not Lower Downtown-destined, and to serve primarily adjoining businesses and residents. The objective is to create a more pedestrianfriendly environment. B. Street and Alley Closures Background : In the last several years, a few projects have been advanced calling for closure of streets and alleys. In 1994, the Taubman Company proposed a shopping mall parall eling and covering the 16th Street Mall from Blake Street to Arapahoe Street. Initially, the proposal called for the closing of Market Street and dead ending of all alleys between Larimer and Blake. Community stakeholders vigorously objected to this aspect of the proposal. A more recent example is a request for closure of 14th Street, between Blake and Market. Issues : Participants and interviewees expressed concern over proposed projects that requested closure of streets and alleys and their conversion to private use. They felt such closings create discontinuities in the historic grid pattern, confusing and intimidating visitors. In addition, street closures may increase traffic on the remaining streets, often moving it onto local streets not intended as major traffic carriers. Discontinuity of pedestrian pathways may also result. Participants cautioned against disruption of the grid. C. Buses and Mass Transit Background: Currently, a steady number of RTD express and regional buses travel to and from Market Street Station in the weekday morning and afternoon peak hours along the portion of the 16th Street Mall in Lower Downtown. The proposal for an intermodal transportation center at Union Station calls for the relocation of this bus service from Market Street Station. The center would also provide connections to a range of intercity and regional transportation modes, including light rail, charter and tour buses, Amtrak, commuter and passenger rail, and the proposed AirTrain to Denver International Ai rport. Daily local bus service will continue in the neighborhood. Regular shuttle service on the mall, the extension of the historic trolley, the Cultural Connection Trolley, and privately and publicly

PAGE 92

MP 4 operated vehicles may provide local access as well. To reduce the traffic generated in the neighborhood by the intermodal center, the centers front door for drop-offs and pickups, parking access, and curbside queuing will be located on Wewatta Street in the Central Platte Valley. Limited access will c ontinue to be provided at Union Station from Wynkoop Street. Presently, there is no shuttle service on the extended portion of the Sixteenth Street Mall. This is due, in part, to a lack of ridership in the neighborhood. With the relocation of the RTD express and regional bus service and the extension of light rail to the intermodal center, mall shuttle service will be extended through the neighborhood. Issues: The intermodal center offers Lower Downtown the opportunity to address many of the goals of this neighborhood plan, including those related to traffic, parking, and increased pedestrian activity. It is critical to removing express and regional buses from neighborhood streets, reducing traffic and the demand for parking, and extending local access and distribution services, including service on the 16th Street Mall. The center will also improve downtown and regional accessibility. Securing the means to implement it will call upon the resources of all beneficiaries of the improved access. D. Calming Traffic Background: Streetscape elements can contribute to pedestrian safety and traffic calming efforts. Techniques such as widening sidewalks and providing on-street parking separate pedestrians from vehicles and create both the sense and reality of safety. Stop signs and two-way streets, in addition to serving other regulatory functions, also slow traffic as it moves to and through an area. Issues: Planning participants agreed that Lower Downtown should be a pedestrian friendly environment and that when traffic and pedestrian conflicts occur, the safety of the pedestrian and the continued enhancement of a pedestrian friendly environment should be preserved, including, but not limited to, the use of traffic calming techniques. E. Accessibility Background: The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ( ADA ) requires that all new and existing facilities open to the public, with the exception of religious facilities and most residential facilities, provide equal access to all individuals, including the disabled. The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. This prohibition includes: a failure to remove architectural barriers which are "readily achievable" or easily accomplished with little difficulty or expense; and, where the removal of architectural barriers is not readily achievable, a failure to provide

PAGE 93

MP 5 alternative means to accommodate individuals with disabilities. The ADA established standards and guidelines for compliance. Alterations to historic properties must comply, to the maximum extent feasible, with specific provisions governing historic properties. Under those provisions, alterations should be done using standards for nonhistoric buildings. However, if following the usual standards threatens to destroy the signifi cance of an historic feature, alternative standards may be used. The decision to use alternative standards for that feature must be made in consultation with the appropriate historic advisory group. The City of Denver and State of Colorado also have laws and ordinances that prohibit discrimination and promote accessibility. For the most part, these ordinances are similar to the ADA Issues: Participants in public meetings and interviews stressed the importance of making Lower Downtown accessible to all as a place to work, live, play and learn. F. Pedestrian/Vehicular Conflicts Resulting from Parking Uses Background : In order to access parking, vehicles must pull across the sidewalks as they enter and exit lots and structures. In Lower Downtown, the frequency of the pedestrian/vehicle encounter is amplified by the intensity of use of the sidewalks and, especially at peak hours, the number of entering and exiting vehicles. Issues: For ingress and egress to parking lots and structures with parking uses, participants recommended using the street with the least foot-traffic. G. Parking Background: Landmark designation, changes in zoning, and changes in the marketplace have assisted Lower Downtown in its current burst of growth and development. As development encompasses existing parking lots and leads to building renovations, the need to address parking availability becomes more acute. There are more than 4,300 parking spaces in Lower Downtown, with more than 33,000 spaces in the 120block Downtown Business Improvement District. The B-7 zoning code governing Lower Downtown requires the provision of parking by all new construction and expansion projects. Generally, a per-squarefoot calculation determines the amount of parking that will be

PAGE 94

MP 6 required. Proposals may include construction of parking onsite, or leasing of parking at existing facilities. Developers may also satisfy the parking obligation by agreeing to participate in a parking district if one is formed. Since parking is not a use by right in Lower Downtown, a project that meets its requirements on-site is precluded from adding more spaces unless approved for excess parking Existing ordinances are largely silent on the circumstances in which excess parking would be approved. A joint meeting of LDD/DRB and the LPC recently heard the only proposal in Lower Downtown that included excess parking Issues: The parking market in Lower Downtown is very diverse. With peak utilization during multiple events and development shrinking the parking supply, requiring developers to satisfy parking requirements and perhaps permitting excess parking are one of many strategies that could be implemented to balance the needs for parking in Lower Downtown. But, meeting demand is just one of the many issues involved in adding parking. Inclusion of parking in a project is a key factor in determining its final size and configuration. The larger size needed to include parking has a direct impact on the ability of a project to fit into Lower Downtowns historic context Generally speaking, the larger the project, the harder it is to fit it into the Lower Downtown context Additionally, the design of parking is unique among building types. This uniqueness, driven by the building use, introduces new architectural patterns into the historic fabric of Lower Downtown. For example, floor-tofloor height, ramping, wall systems, ventilation, and the crossing of pedestrian zones by automobiles are all unique to parking structures. Consequently, when reviewing proposed parking structures or mixed use projects that include parking, design and use cannot be separated. One strategy may be to encourage new development to consider underground parking. To respond to the parking situation in Lower Downtown will require an agreement by all involved first on the issues then on the optimal number of parking spaces for Lower Downtown. The optimal number must consider the impact of parking on transit usage, the environment, and Lower Downtowns historic character. Then, community consensus will be necessary to determine the means to achieve the optimal number of parking spaces and the best method for efficiently utilizing all available parking at all hours. Community consensus must also determine the cost of achieving optimal conditions and who will pay for that achievement. Continuing education about parking is necessary to achieve optimal conditions. Visitors may perceive there is a parking shortage, when what they are really conveying is that there may not be inexp ensive parking located at their destination. Clearly, Lower Downtown experiences peak periods of utilization baseball days, summer events, weekends and evenings -when parking prices in the historic district increase as the demand increases. However, within the Downtown Business Improvement District are more than 33,000 parking spaces, most of which are empty during Lower Downtowns peak periods.

PAGE 95

MP 7 Members of various committees involved in the Lower Downtown neighborhood planning process considered the parking situation. They agreed that the goal of parking responses should continue to promote a mixed use pedestrian friendly environment. The committees reached five broad conclusions: Responses to Lower Downtown parking must be part of a collaborative Downtown effort. Visitors do not clearly distinguish boundaries between Lower Downtown and Downtown. New construction projects are more flexible than renovations. New construction projects should meet parking requirements on-site and new construction in some locations may be eligible to provide excess parking In all cases, maximization of underground parking should be encouraged first. Management of the existing parking inventory should be a high priority. This will help to ensure adequate parking in response to times of peak demand. Priority should be given to providing parking for visitors and tourists, while encouraging employees to utilize transit and other alternative modes. Lower Downtown should continue to support the use of transit and alternative modes of transportation by employees and visitors. Additionally, Lower Downtown should continue to strive for pedestrian and bicycle amenities to promote a mixed-use pedestrianfriendly environment. Education programs geared toward both visitors and employees will help to manage the parking supply in Lower Downtown. Programs that promote alternative modes of travel, in addition to access and parking locations, will help educate both employees and visitors, resulting in an efficient use of parking resources. In addition, Lower Downtown should continue to work with other regional constituents to further the role of Denver Union Terminal as a regional, inter-modal facility. Lower Downtown should continue to be an active participant in planning for transportation management activities in the Central Platte Valley, ensuring the CPV is developed to compliment Lower Downtown, Downtown and the adjacent neighborhoods. In the course of their discussion, Committee members realized that parking in Lower Downtown is diverse, misunderstood, and complex. Questions about the actual inventory, patterns of usage, the impact of proposed transit patterns, and the economic implications of sub-surface parking continued to plague Committee members as they searched for a parking solution. Committee members realized that it would take a large community consensus with participation by a variety of groups and individuals to draft meaningful responses to the parking situation. Therefore, Committee members did not propose a comprehensive parking program for the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan. However, Committee members have made recommendations in the Plan that will help Lower Downtown respond to parking challenges on an interim basis, and have included a recommendation that stakeholders in the community work collaboratively to find a downtown-wide parking solution.

PAGE 96

MP 8 H. Excess Parking Background: During the fall and winter of 1998, a proposed mixed-use building to be located on a surface parking lot in Lower Do wntown caused considerable discord. The issue focused on the additional height of the structure caused by inclusion of parking in excess of that required by zoning. The excess parking was to be available for public use, but it added an additional floor to the proposed structure. Opponents of the proposed structure argued that the building was too tall, it blocked residential views, and it concentrated too much parking in a single structure. Since parking is not a use-by-right in Lower Downtown, a joint mee ting of the LPC and the LDD/DRB was convened to address the question of excess parking Together, the LPC and the LDD/DRB reconfirmed a previous approval of the height and mass of the building, but stipulated that the excess parking spaces be removed from the building program. This resolution neither established a precedent for considering subsequent proposals of buildings with excess parking nor did it stipulate how similar projects would be reviewed in the future and by whom. Issues: Although the example cited above is the first project that proposed excess parking it is clear that there will be similar proposals in the future. Planning participants expressed concern over the height and mass of buildings driven by parking in excess of that required by the uses contained in a project. At the same time, they also felt that under certain circumstances excess parking might be desirable and might serve a community need. As a result, planning participants reviewed existing zoning regulations and recommend some minor changes in minimum parking requirements. They further recommend permitting limited additional parking that, at the applicants option, can be included in projects without special approval. However, if a project proposes to include parking over the minimum required amount and over the additional permitted amount, the project includes excess parking The Plan provides a mechanism and criteria for approving excess parking The intent of the recommendations is to balance an increasing demand for parking, a decreasing inventory, and the need to preserve the historic character of the District I. Design Considerations for Parking Uses General Background: Parking uses require a specialized structure circulation, floor-to-floor heights, openings, gl azing, lighting, and access are all geared to serve vehicles rather than people. Issues: Because parking uses are not generally designed for pedestrians and because Lower Downtown

PAGE 97

MP 9 aims to be pedestrian friendly planning participants felt that parking structures, like other buildings in the Historic District, should be contextually appropriate and should contribute to a pleasant pedestrian experience along the Districts streets. (See Figure 12.) The Plan recommends the adoption of design guidelines that address parking in all buildings, freestanding parking structures, mixed use buildings with parking uses, and any structure with parking uses that abuts residential uses. The objective of the guidelines is to integrate parking uses into the streetscape and to help them be good neighbors. J. Design Considerations for Parking Uses Adjacent to Existing Residential Uses Background : The question of excess parking, discussed in H above, raised considerable discussion about the design of structures containing a significant parking program that were to be located near or could affect an existing residential structure. A number of factors increase the likelihood that in the future structures with parking will be considered adjacent to or near residential us es. These factors include the availability of approximately fiftypercent of the property in Lower Downtown for redevelopment, significant demand for residential development in new and renovated structures, and zoning that encourages mixed-use projects. Issues : In order to provide protection for existing residential developments, specific guidelines are recommended by the Plan for parking uses adjacent to residential uses. When viewed in conjunction with design guidelines for all parking uses, the objective is to preserve and enhance quality of life and to mitigate any impacts of proximity.

PAGE 99

MP 11 Goals Lower Downtowns goals for transportation and mobility include: Streets that enhance the pedestrian experience. A hierarchy of streets to channel traffic and calm its impact, slowing traffic as it moves through Lower Downtown and discouraging non-destination traffic from traversing the neighborhood. Streets and buildings that are accessible to all. Parking that is sized, located, and managed to meet Lower Downtowns needs. Parking uses that compliment the pedestrian friendly environment and that are good neighbors to residential uses. Efficient and comfortable internal and external circulation for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Strong pedestrian connections to adjacent neighborhoods and attractions. A neighborhood that optimizes the benefit of its location as a regional transit hub.

PAGE 100

MP 12 Principles, Policies And Recommendations Principle MP1 Enhance the pedestrian experience on Lower Downtowns streets Policy MP1.1 Create a sense of safety, intimacy, and separation from traffic on Lower Downtowns streets. Recommendations: MP1.1.1 The goal of the Neighborhood Plan is to convert Wazee Street to two-way, 15th to 20th Streets, no later than the year 2000, subject to funding. MP1.1.2 Extend 17th to two-way from Blake to Larimer MP1.1.3 Extend Blake to two lanes, 18th to 20th MP1.1.4 Extend Market to two lanes, 17th to 20th Principle MP2 Maintain the historic grid of Lower Downtowns streets, sidewalks and alleys Principle MP3 Give top priority to pedestrian movement and safety when resolving pedestrian/vehicular conflict Policy MP3.1. Install an All Walk pedestrian phase on: Wazee at 17th, 18th, and 19th 17th and Market 18th and Blake Policy MP3.2 An All Walk pedestrian phase at Wazee and 15th will be modeled beginning in March of 1999 to determine if a pedestrian friendly and safe environment will be enhanced. The modeling of the 15th and Wazee intersection will be developed in cooperation with LDDI. The conclusions reached between LDDI and the City as a result of the modeling will be supported by both parties. Efforts will be made to make changes, if any, within the nearest practical budget cycle. Principle MP4 Minimize negative effects of traffic Policy MP4.1 Channel and contain non-destination traffic into streets designated as arterials Recommendations:

PAGE 101

MP 13 MP4.1.1 Revise the classification of certain streets in Lower Downtowns current street hierarchy. Wazee should be reclassified as a local street and Wynkoop retained as a local street. All numbered streets, including 14th Court, should be classified as collector streets. MP4.1.2 If a left turn signal is to be installed from southbound Speer onto Wewatta, it could be installed when Wewatta is complete to Park Avenue and to 9th Street. MP4.1.3 Complete Wewatta as an arterial around Lower Downtown. Policy MP4.2 Calm traffic as it moves into and through Lower Downtown. Recommendations: MP4.2.1 Analyze and implement various traffic calming techniques. MP4.2.2. Traffic calming techniques are aimed at slowing traffic and may include, but are not limited to, such things as: Widening sidewalks Creating on-street parking Conversion of one-way streets to two-way streets and twoway streets to one-way streets Use of stop signs, four-way stops, and traffic signals Enforcement of traffic laws Installation of All Walk pedestrian phase traffic signals Use of sidewalk bulbouts, neck-downs, and chokers Creation of traffic circles Use of speed humps Construction of raised pedestrian crossings Variation of street surfaces, such as restoration of cobblestones Elimination of right and left turn lanes Installation of pedestrian controlled crosswalk signals Planting trees along streets Defining crosswalks with striping and installing crosswalk signage Use of diverters and chicanes Street closures Policy MP4.2.3 Endorse the Citys continued effort toward ci tywide traffic calming Policy MP4.3 Reduce regional buses traversing Lower Downtown.

PAGE 102

MP 14 Principle MP5 Optimize public transportation opportunities Policy MP5.1 Capitalize on regional transportation opportunities. Recommendations: MP5.1.1 Support relocation of RTDs Market Street Station into the Central Platte Valley or the proposed multimodal center. MP5.1.2 Support and advocate on behalf of the Union Station multimodal center. Policy MP5.2 Ext end shuttle service the entire length of the 16th Street Mall. Principle MP6 Ensure, to the extent feasible, that Lower Downtowns public and private circulation network is made up of accessible routes Policy MP6.1 Interior accessible routes to consider may include corridors, floors, ramps, elevators, lifts, and clear floor space at fixtures. Policy MP6.2 Exterior accessible routes to consider may include parking access aisles, curb ramps, walks, ramps, and lifts. Recommendations: MP6.2.1 M ake buildings accessible by sharing access on loading docks, where feasib le. MP6.2.2 Make buildings accessible by sharing access from ramping parallel to the facade on widened sidewalks, where feasible. MP6.2.3 M ake buildings accessible using other innovative approaches. Policy MP6.3 When following standards for non-historic buildings threatens to destroy the significance of an historic feature, alternative standards may be used. Recommendations: MP6.3.1 Consider permitting only one accessible route on the site. MP6.3.2 Consider permitting a slightly steeper ramp than is ordinarily permitted. MP6.3.3 Consider permitting an accessible entrance other than the one used by the general public. MP6.3.4 Consider permitting only one accessible toilet which is unisex. MP6.3.5 Consider permitting accessible routes only on the level of the accessible entrance.

PAGE 103

MP 15 Principle MP7 Adopt new design guidelines for parking structures and parking located in other buildings Policy MP7.1 The objective of parking in Lower Downtown is to meet the needs of the neighborhoods users without causing the pr ofile of buildings to negatively impact the historic character of the District Policy MP7.2 It is important that parking garages and parking located in mixed use buildings be compatible with their context. Policy MP7.3 Space devoted to automobiles should contribute to a pleasant pedestrian experience along Lower Downtowns streets. Policy MP7.4 As a general rule, structured parking is subject to the same guidelines as other types of buildings. Policy MP7.5 In buildings whose primary use is not parking, the design of parking areas must be an integral element of the structure. Policy MP7.6 Where parking uses abut residential uses, special care must be taken to ensure quality of life for residents. Principle MP8 Revise parking requirements in Lower Downtown Policy MP8.1 E stablish minimum parking requirements as follows: Recommendations: MP8.1.1 Contributing buildings shall have no minimum parking requirement. MP8.1.2 Residential additions to contributing buildings shall have no parking requirement. MP8.1.3 All other additions to contributing buildings shall have a parking requirement of one on-site parking space for each 750 feet of gross floor area constructed. MP8.1.4 New commercial buildings and commercial additions to noncontributing buildings shall be required to provide one on-site parking space for each 750 feet of gross floor area constructed. MP8.1.5 New residential buildings and residential additions to any building except contributing buildings shall be required to provide one on-site parking space for each unit constructed. MP8.1.6 New mixed use buildings and mixed use additions to noncontributing buildings shall provide parking based on the requirements above in proportion to the uses in the building. MP8.1.7 When use cannot be determined in advance, the parking requirement for commercial use shall be applied.

PAGE 104

MP 16 Policy MP8.2 Establish additional parking permitted as follows: Recommendations: MP8.2.1 In addition to minimum parking any project, whether new construction or renovation of, addition to, or a change of use in an existing building, whether contributing or non-contributing may provide up to the following additional offstreet parking: Residential uses: one half (.5) space per unit Commercial uses: 1 space per 1500 feet of gross floor area Policy MP8.3 Without the approval of the LDD/DRB no project shall include excess parking. Recommendations: MP8.3.1 In the event that a project proposes to include parking in an amount greater than the sum of (i) the minimum parking required in MP8.1, and (ii) the allowed additional parking in MP8.2, the LDD/DRB shall call a special meeting to consider whether excess parking should be permitted. MP8.3.2 The special meeting may be held immediately before or after a regular meeting. Principle MP9 Establish a procedure and criteria for the review of structures with excess parking Policy MP9.1 Revise Ordinance 109 to designate the LDD/DRB as the body which reviews and approves proposals for excess parking Recommendations: MP9.1.1 Establish a process for requests for excess parking MP9.1.1.1 Create an application form for requests for excess parking MP9.1.1.2 Require that proposers first seek a Part 1 approval from the LDD/DRB for the project. MP9.1.1.3 Upon completion of Part 1 of the design review process, convene a special meeting of the LDD/DRB to consider the request for excess parking MP9.1.1.4 Create a process which provides for input from all interested parties, as defined by statute. MP9.1.1.5 Provide for appeals of decisions of the LDD/DRB to the LPC MP9.1.1.6 Require that appeals be made by interested parties within 15 days of a decision by the LDD/DRB.

PAGE 105

MP 17 MP9.1.2 Establish procedural rules and authorities. MP9.1.2.1 R equire that a request for excess parking be heard no less than 20 days and no more than 30 days following the receipt of a complete application. MP9.1.2.2 Provide notice of any meetings where structures containing excess parking are to be considered by the LDD/DRB Notice requirements are met by mailing written notice to registered Lower Downtown neighborhood organizations no less than 14 days prior to the scheduled meeting. MP9.1.2.3 Adopt Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised as parliamentary authority. Policy MP9.2 Establish criteria for approving excess parking Recommendations: MP9.2.1 The siting of excess parking within the District shall be carefully considered. MP9.2.2 Excess parking is appropriate where the project will have a minimal impact on the context and social fabric of the neighborhood. MP9.2.3 Excess parking may be appropriate in those areas of the District where proposers demonstrate high parking demand and where parking inventory is scarce or fully utilized. MP9.2.4 Excess parking should be encouraged in the Market Street and Postal Annex SRD s. MP9.2.5 Excess parking that threatens to disrupt street liveliness should be mitigated or denied. MP9.2.6 Excess parking that threatens to disrupt established traffic patterns should be mitigated or denied. MP9.2.7 Excess parking that threatens to create congestion should be mitigated or denied. MP9.2.8 Excess parking is appropriate only if the environmental impact of noise, air, and light pollution is adequately mitigated. MP9.2.9 Excess parking may be appropriate where proposers demonstrate a commitment to serving the parking needs of Lower Downtown, as discussed in the Neighborhood Plan. Principle MP10 Work collaboratively to find a downtown-wide parking solution Principle MP11 Better manage the existing parking inventory

PAGE 106

MP 18 Policy MP11.1 Encourage operators of idle parking to make their facilities available during periods of peak demand. Policy MP11.2 Consider funding a free-of-charge or nominal-charge internal circulator. Policy MP11.3 Consider the creation of an entity to coordinate and manage parking, alternative transportation, and promotional programs. Principle MP12 Advocate and support a variety of alternative transportation modes serving Lower Downtown Policy MP12.1 Establish a Lower Downtown EcoPass-type program. Policy MP12.2 Advocate and support a light rail s pur into Lower Downtown. Policy MP12.3 Advocate and support AirTrain. Policy MP12.4 Advocate and support an intermodal facility at DUT Principle MP13 Educate city center users about alternative transportation and parking options Policy MP13.1 Create and disseminate information for employees about the variety of alternative methods of accessing the city center. Policy MP13.2 Create and disseminate information for visitors about the availability and siting of parking and the variety of alternative meth ods of accessing the city center.

PAGE 107

MP 19 Implementation Amend City Ordinances, as required, to reflect the principles of the Mobility and Parking section of the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan. Amend the B-7 Zone District to revise parking regulations. Provide input to the Citys Capital Improvements Plan, through the Planning Office, in order to carry out traffic calming and other recommendations of the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan. In conjunction with RTD establish an EcoPass-type program. Poll the district for interest in creating an entity to construct and/or manage parking. If interest warrants, create the entity. Advocate for shuttle service on the entire length of the 16th Street Mall. Advocate for development of the Union Station intermodal facility. Investigate and, if the community approves, initiate the creation of a privately funded Lower Downtown shuttle. Commence the process of seeking a downtownwide parking solution.

PAGE 108

LOWER DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN Streetscape

PAGE 109

Streetscape Contents of this Section Neighborhood Concerns ............................................................................................................S-1 A. Streetscape Design and Redevelopment................................................................................S-1 B. Modern Uses................................................................................................................. .........S-2 C. Authentic Streets and Alleys................................................................................................ ..S-2 D. Clean Streets............................................................................................................... ...........S-7 Goals ............................................................................................................................... ...........S-9 Principles, Policies And Recommendations ...........................................................................S-10 Principle S1 Preserve and enhance Lower Downtowns streetscape..................................S-10 Principle S2 Design the sidewalks and alleys to create urban places for congregation, interaction, recreation and the conduct of commerce.....................................S-10 Principle S3 Retain Lower Downtowns "gritty-ness"........................................................S-11 Principle S4 Maintain the sidewalks, streets and alleys......................................................S-11 Principle S5 Adopt the Design Guidelines for the public realm as an interim measure until new design guidelines for the streetscape are approved.........................S-11 Implementation ........................................................................................................................S-12

PAGE 110

S-1 Neighborhood Concerns A. Streetscape Design and Redevelopment Background: In 1988, in conjunction with recommendations in the Downtown Area Plan, the City of Denver adopted Streetscape Design Guidelines for Lower Downtown (the Streetscape Plan ). The Streetscape Plan includes a master plan for curb-to-curb street widths and the widths of sidewalks, as well as for street furniture, lighting and trees. The City also funded demonstration projects, including the gateway (Mizpah) signs and the extension of the 16th Street Mall. Individual property owners or project proposers have, as their properties were developed, entered into agreements with the City for street-side redevelopment. The result is various degrees of buildout of the streetscape throughout Lower Downtown. The historic defining elements of Lower Downtowns streetscape are: Geometry of the Grid : The District is made up of a regular grid of streets that defines blocks measuring 266 by 400 feet. Blocks are longitudinally bisected by alleys opening onto numbered streets. Simple Design : In contrast to Lower Downtowns buildings, the streetscape is simple, reflecting early warehousing and distribution needs. Utility : The streets, sidewalks, and alleys are functional. Streets accommodate traffic. Sidewalks provide pedestrian mobility, safety and places for interaction. Alleys satisfy commercial and residential back-of-the-house functions, including services and utilities. Issues: To ensure the liveliness, predictability, sense of safety, and intimacy of the streets, participants recommended near-term redevelopment of the streetscape. They expressed the desire to explore with business and property owners their interest in community-wide build out of a revi sed Streetscape Plan A longterm, low-interest source of funds for capital improvements would need to be identified, and some entity would need to be created to manage construction and ongoing maintenance. If communitywide redevelopment occurs, some participants voiced the fear that helter-skelter redevelopment could disrupt the infrastructure and they urged coordinated scheduling to manage construction. Finally, participants suggested that managed build-out efforts should be considered along side district-wide maintenance, because they may require similar management (e.g., a BID sub-district.)

PAGE 111

S-2 Participants also expressed concern that when streetscape redevelopment is complete, and taken as a whole, the District might take on an undesirable uniformity. T here was also concern about over doing redevelopment of the streetscape. After all, if its design is simple, what place is there for chairs, benches, planters, trees, vendors, art and other street-side clutter? The Neighborhood/ Management Committees felt it was timely to review the Streetscape Design Guidelines for Lower Downtown They recommended that the historic defining elements of the streetscape should be preserved and the lessons they teach about simplicity, navigability, and utility should be the basis for future redevelopment. B. Modern Uses Background: The network created by the streets, alleys and sidewalks constitutes Lower Downtowns public open space. In the absence of traditional settings, like parks and yards, this network is the place for interaction and personal contact. (See Figure 13) (See Uses, Item C) Issues: One question raised during the planning process was how to integrate preservation of the historic elements of the streetscape with the changing requirements of modern usage. Trees and plants, for example, are not traditionally found in commercial, downtown districts, but they provide elements of livability for residents, visitors and workers. The Neighborhood/Management Committees recommended that design guidelines for the streetscape be revised to encourage accommodating modern needs while supporting its historic character. (See Figures 14 & 15) C. Authentic Streets and Alleys Background: In addition to buildings, there remains in Lower Downtown glimpses of past commercial activity found in the streetscape. Included are such things as railroad tracks in the alleys, street and alley loading docks, shipping and receiving functions, cobblestones, historic wall signs, and so forth. Collectively these remnants are referred to as Lower Downtowns gritty-ness. (See Figure 16) Issues: Planning participants cautioned against tarting up the Historic District. By this they meant Lower Downtown should not look like a movie set, a theme park, a suburban shopping mall, a museum, or anything else it is not. Lower Downtowns gritty-ness and authenticity as a reflection of its historic past is highly valued.

PAGE 116

S-7 D. Clean Streets Background: A clean, safe, well-maintained streetscape encourages development. It attracts residents, office users, shop pers, diners, and visitors. These, in turn, attract: retailers; hospitality providers; cultural entities; other owners and lessees of residential, commercial and office space; and outdoor activities and events. Lower Downtown has periods of heavy pedestrian use. It is a popular thoroughfare for baseball fans on their way to Coors Field and, while Blake, Market and Wazee Streets carry much of the pregame traffic, the District as a whole sees postgame foot traffic. On spring, summer, and fall evenings, especially Wednesdays through Saturdays, Lower Downtown is also heavily trafficked by diners, bar hoppers, gallery goers, people watchers, and sightseers. Currently, in Lower Downtown, the 16th Street Mall is maintained from the alley between Market and Lari mer to Blake Street jointly by the Regional Transportation District ( RTD ) and the DDBID Maintenance includes cleaning, trash collection, snow removal, etc. Individual property owners along the Mall from Blake Street to the Central Mainline tracks in the Central Platte Valley must maintain their own properties while RTD maintains the transitway. Subject to annual appropriation, the DDBID has for the past two years funded limited trash collection, tree maintenance, and the semi-annual planting of flowers on the Mall from Blake Street to Wynkoop Street. When Mall shuttle service is extended from Market Street Station into Lower Downtown, or when B-7 voters otherwise approve it, the DDBID will maintain the entire length of the 16th Street Mall under one set of maintenance standards, and Lower Downtowns assessment will increase approximately twenty percent. Only commercial real property is assessed by the DDBID After baseball games, the Denver Baseball Stadium District picks up trash in the area bounded by 19th and 20th Streets from Wynkoop to Larimer, as well as in parts of other neighborhoods. Issues: Participants in the planning process believe the appearance of the streetscape has a direct impact on economic development and quality of life in the Historic District. They expressed concern about overflowing trashcans, broken beer bottles, vomit, excrement, and other debris on the streets and sidewalks after periods of heavy pedestrian use. Such conditions are health and safety hazards and impair livability and development. Sometimes these conditions are the result of failure of the streetscape to provide for users needs (e.g., inadequate number of trash receptacles, long waits for toilet facilities), and sometimes they result from abuse. Whether by failure or abuse or both, maintenance of Lower Downtowns streets, alleys, and sidewalks is clearly a problem and its solution can be either individual or collective. Because so

PAGE 117

S-8 many complaints were voiced by planning participants, it seems that neither ind ividual voluntary nor public maintenance efforts, to date, are able to satisfy the requirements of heavy pedestrian usage. To fund and manage communitywide maintenance, some participants expressed the desire to explore with business and property owners the creation of a sub-district of the DDBID Furthermore, if there is to be an entity providing maintenance services for Lower Downtown, some participants urged finding a way to include residential property owners in decision making, management, and funding.

PAGE 118

S-9 Goals Lower Downtowns goals for the streetscape include: A revised Streetscape Plan that reflects, in a contemporary way, Lower Downtowns historic patterns. fully redeveloped streetscape. A streetscape that attracts both commerce and community. Urban places that meet the needs of its users. Authenticity and preservation of Lower Downtowns remaining "grittyness." Clean, safe, well maintained streets, sidewalks and alleys. Ease of mobility.

PAGE 119

S-10 Principles, Policies And Recommendations Principle S1 Preserve and enhance Lower Downtowns streetscape Policy S1.1 Incorporate the principles, policies and recommendations of the Streetscape Section of the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan in a revised set of streetscape design guidelines. Policy S1.2 Ensure that a revised Streetscape Plan is sensitive to the authenticity of the Districts historic commercial uses. Policy S1.3 Require LDD/DRB approval for streetscape modifications as part of the Citys process for approving design. Policy S1.4 Explore communitywide redevelopment of Lower Downtowns unfinished streetscape, pursuant to a revised Streetscape Plan Policy S1.5 Secure long term, low-cost funding as an incentive for property owners to redevelop incomplete sections of the streetscape. Recommendations: S1.5.1 Consider asking the DDBID or other governmental agency, to issue tax preferred local improvement bonds for redevelopment of incomplete sections of the streetscape. S1.5.2 Consider other programs to aid sub-districts in Lower Downtown in undertaking streetscape improvements. Policy S1.6 Seek to use tax increment financing, where available, and other f inancing alternatives for preservation of the historic streetscape and redevelopment of the unfinished streetscape. Principle S2 Design the sidewalks and alleys to create urban places for congregation, interaction, recreation and the conduct of commerce Policy S2.1 Streetscape redevelopment should be pedestrian friendly and accommodate the requirements of multiple users. Policy S2.2 Alleys are a critical thread in the District s fabric and must be preserved, enhanced, and used. Policy S2.3 To create well used outdoor places, open space design needs to consider both the historic urban fabric and environmental opportunities. Policy S2.4 Public art enlivens the urban experience and should be encouraged.

PAGE 120

S-11 Principle S3 Retain Lower Downtowns gritty-ness Principle S4 Maintain the sidewalks, streets and alleys Policy S4.1 Provide the infrastructure to help users selfmaintain the District Policy S4.2 Create and disseminate voluntary maintenance st andards. Policy S4.3 Consider the creation of a subdistrict of the DDBID to provide communitywide maintenance services. Policy S4.4 Find a way to include residents if a maintenance entity is to be formed to provide communitywide services. Principle S5 Adopt the Design Guidelines for the public realm as an interim measure until new design guidelines for the streetscape are approved

PAGE 121

S-12 Implementation Amend City Ordinances, as required, to reflect the principles in the Streetscape section of the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan. Review, update, and implement the Streetscape Design Guidelines for Lower Downtown Investigate, poll business and property owners, and if desired, promote the creation of a sub-district of the DDBID to fund communitywide maintenance efforts and capital improvements. Complete buildout of undeveloped portions of the streetscape.

PAGE 122

LOWER DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN Appendix