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Denver downtown redevelopment, 1970-1980

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Denver downtown redevelopment, 1970-1980 a review & evaluation
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Hoffmann, Phillip G
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English
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96 leaves : illustrations (some color), maps, color photographs ; 28 cm

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Central business districts -- Colorado -- Denver ( lcsh )
City planning -- Colorado -- Denver ( lcsh )
Central business districts ( fast )
City planning ( fast )
Colorado -- Denver ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 91-96).
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Urban and Regional Planning (presently Master of Planning and Community Development). College of Design and Planning.
Statement of Responsibility:
Phillip G. Hoffmann.

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University of Colorado Denver
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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ocm09459253
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LD1190.A78 1979 .H6227 ( lcc )

Full Text
MURP STUDENT THESIS
G. Hoffman Spring 1979
A Review & Evaluation


Bxdevelo^m^
A Review & Evaluation
PHILLIP G, HOFFMANN
URBAN & REGIONAL PLANNING/COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO MAY, 1979


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1 Downtown Denver Redevelopment: Introduction
THESIS..............................................................page 1
METHODOLOGY.............................................................. 2
INTRODUCTION............................................................. 3
Chapter 2 Downtown Denver Redevelopment: A Downtown Paradigm
INTRODUCTION............................................................. 7
A DOWNTOWN PARADIGM...................................................... 7
CONCLUSION...............................................................15
Chapter 3 Downtown Denver Redevelopment: Plans § Policies
INTRODUCTION.............................................................17
DENVER'S PLANS $ POLICIES................................................19
Denver Urban Renewal Authority....................................19
Evaluation........................................................22
"Development Guide for Downtown Denver"...........................23
Evaluation........................................................23
1967 Comprehensive Plan...........................................24
Evaluation........................................................25
"Policies for the Development of Downtown Denver".................26
Evaluation........................................................27
Economic Development Policies.....................................28
Evaluation........................................................29
1978 Comprehensive Plan...........................................30
Evaluation........................................................32
14th Street Pedestrian Way........................................34
"The Pedestrian in Downtown Denver".......................34
16th Street Transitway/Mall.......................................38
"The Bicycle in Downtown Denver"..................................40
Evaluation........................................................40
"Lower Downtown Development Guidelines"...........................43
Evaluation........................................................45
"Downtown Denver Development Plan"................................46
Evaluation........................................................47
CONCLUSION...............................................................47
Chapter 4 Downtown Denver Redevelopment: An Inventory
INTRODUCTION.............................................................50
DOWNTOWN DENVER REDEVELOPMENT INVENTORY..................................50
Land Use..........................................................50
Evaluation........................................................52
Economics.........................................................55
Evaluation........................................................56
Population........................................................57
Evaluation........................................................58
Cultural and Historical Aspects...................................59
Evaluation........................................................60
Urban Design......................................................61
Evaluation........................................................62
CONCLUSION...............................................................64


Chapter 5 Downtown Denver Redevelopment: Conclusions
CONCLUSIONS..........................................................page 69
Appendix A Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation...........75
Appendix B General Purpose and Description of Denver's Zone Districts........81
Appendix C Skyscraper Plaza Design Survey.....................................86
Appendix D Sample Survey Questionnaire........................................90
Selected References '
BOOKS.....................................................................91
GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS, PLANS 5 POLICIES.................................93
PERIODICALS...............................................................95
INTERVIEWS................................................................96


Downtown Denver


Introduction
mmmmmmmmMmammmmmmmmmmmaammmmmmmmmm


CHAPTER 1
DOWNTOWN DENVER REDEVELOPMENT: INTRODUCTION
THESIS
The purpose of this document is to examine the redevelopment efforts which have occurred in downtown Denver from 1970 to 1980. The intent is threefold: 1) to review and evaluate the plans and policies intended to guide the redevelopment of downtown Denver; 2) to review and evaluate the physical, social, and economic changes which have occurred during the past decade; and 3) to determine whether the planning and redevelopment efforts have resulted in an improved downtown.
My thesis is that urban activities revolve around the downtown, and a city's vitality is measured by the efficacy of its downtown. The central business district (CBD) is a critical element of the total purpose and function of the city. The CBD must be responsive to change flexible and dynamic in character. Over time, the downtown must assimilate innovation, yet remain resilient to blight and the destructive pressures of decentralization.
Change implies the need for planning. If the downtown is to be flexible and dynamic, yet stable, goals must define the desired final product. Goals are inherently normative: what should be the form and function of the CBD; what physical shape should it take; what resources should be expended there?
Plans can provide the guidelines to achieve those goals. Commitment to the plans can produce the desired product.
The goals addressing downtown have changed over time as the definition of its role has changed. Have the changing goals, plans, and commitments resulted in improvement in downtown Denver? The answer is contained within
this document.


METHODOLOGY
A review and evaluation denotes a description and a critical examination.
The terms imply a comparison with similar subjects of recognized quality. This document first defines in Chapter 2, the parameters of downtown quality; a model with which downtown Denver can be compared. The paradigm is a synthesis developed from a literature review of other's ideas and a composite of my own planning ideology. The terms "CBD" and "downtown" are used interchangeably; the intent is to identify the area as the focal point and "central activity district" of the city.'*' The term "redevelopment" includes land clearance and redevelopment by public or private agencies, as well as rehabilitation of existing properties.
Chapter 3 outlines the goals and objectives adopted by the City and County of Denver which define the desired results in downtown Denver. Many plans and policies have articulated guidelines to achieve those goals and objectives during the past decade. The chapter reviews and evaluates the quality of the various plans and policies with respect to the model offered in Chapter 2. Interviews of Denver planners, businessmen, elected officials, and residents were conducted to supplement my review and evaluation.
A wide range of redevelopment efforts have occurred in downtown Denver during the past decade. Chapter 4 reviews and evaluates the efforts since 1970 and proposed to 1980 by examining factors such as land use, economics, urban design, cultural and historical aspects, and population. The redevelopment efforts are evaluated in two respects: 1) how well the efforts have implemented the adopted plans and policies; and 2) whether these efforts have improved downtown Denver relative to the paradigm described in Chapter 2. Once again, interviews of Denver planners, businessmen, elected officials, and residents were conducted to supplement my review and evaluation.
*0306 Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Vintage Books, 1961), p. 165.
2


Chapter 5 offers conclusions and reflections on what has happened in downtown Denver during the past decade and suggests a prognosis for the CBD.
The cover photograph is from an aerial photo obtained from the Denver Planning Office and taken in July, 1978. The color photographs were produced from slides and are included as a partial inventory of the visual montage of downtown Denver.
INTRODUCTION 2
Prior to World War II, market place, central business district, and
downtown were names which described the economic center and focal point of
the city. Long recognized as the physical center of the city and the "place
2
of beginning," the CBD enjoyed a romantic ambiance. Downtown represented the vitality of the city: the transportation hub; the civic center; the shopping district; the financial headquarters; the cultural respite; and the entertainment mecca. A center of activity, the CBD was also a study in contrasts. Public and private buildings reflected the heroic scale, monumental design, and architectural style of past, great centers of urbanization. But the plethora of downtown activities reflected the most recent variety of society's ideas, fashions, and innovations.
Several of those innovations gradually transformed the CBD from an energetic trendsetter to a blighted bystander. Expanded usage of the automobile and the availability of cheap land outside of the city melded nicely with the American dream of a single family house in the suburbs. Population relocation in the suburbs, of course, was followed by a large commercial exodus from the central city, particularly from the CBD. As the financial base of the city eroded, the physical and economic structure of the city deteriorated. Before
2
Arthur B. Gallion and Simon Eisner, The Urban Pattern (New York: D. Van Nostrund and Company, 1975), p. 309.
3


the depression of the 1930's, more than 90% of general merchandise trade was concentrated in the central business districts. By 1958, trade volume
3
outside of the CBD was nearly 20% higher than trade volume in the downtown.
From 1910 to 1940, the City and County of Denver grew in population by 50% to 322,000; during the same period, the suburbs doubled in size from 64,000 to 123,000. Pent-up housing demand from the Depression, World War II, and the subsequent baby boom turned Denver into one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country. In 1950, Denver contained 66% of the total population in the metro area; by 1977, the proportion in the central
4
city had dropped to 38%.
A commercial exodus from the City and County of Denver was also apparent. Denver employment in 1951 totalled 149,100 jobs or 90% of total regional employment. By 1962, the number of jobs had increased to 202,000 but the proportion of regional employment had dropped to 73%. Subsequently, by 1976, Denver jobs totalled 351,000 but the proportion of regional employment was only 52%.3 The construction and retail trade industries experienced the most rapid suburbanization, but the loss of firms to the suburbs did not seriously affect Denver's economic base due to the increase in actual employment. In spite of the relative stability of Denver's economy, the oldest areas of the city were declining. By 1960, housing conditions in the CBD and all immediately surrounding neighborhoods were either blighted or endangered.^
Efforts to reverse the decline of the central city began with the federal Housing Act of 1949, making it possible for cities to clear slums
3Ibid., p. 310.
4
Denver Office of Policy Analysis, "Economic Development in Denver: Summary of Denver's Economic Condition." April, 1978, p. 2.
3Ibid., p. 13.
6Ibid., pp. 27-31.
4


Broomfield
Northglenn
Westminster,
Golden
DENVER
Lakewood
ngfiwoqd
Cherry, Hills Village
Commerce City
CSD
Morrison
Period of Urbanization
Through 1940
1941-1950
1951-1960
1961 -1970
1971 -1975
Cumulative Sq. Miles
Scale in Miles
| One
| Square Mile July 1975
The Denver Region Urbanized Area


Population Density: Denver Urbanized Area
1933 1970 1975
LESS THAN 100

100 1,000
Persons Per Square Mile

1,000 5,000
5.000 10,000
10,000-20,000
20,000 25,000
One Square Mile
Scale in Miles 16 5 10


and redevelop the land for new housing. Subsequent legislation expanded
city rebuilding efforts. Funding programs addressed comprehensive renewal
planning, rehabilitation, code enforcement, open space, urban parks, neigh-
7
borhood facilities, historic preservation, and urban beautification.
Through these, and more recent plans, policies, and programs, the process of rebuilding cities continued. Parallel efforts to control growth, decentralization, and urban sprawl were supported by civic leaders in business and government. Some programs proved, through trial-and-error, to be more successful than others. In any case, the need to revitalize and maintain our central cities, and particularly the central business districts, was clear.
In most cities, revitalization meant renewal and redevelopment, the goals during the 1950's and 1960's were to: replace the old, blighted structures with shiny, new ones; construct huge parking facilities; clear slums; and reactivate downtown activities. Unfortunately, the human element was inadequately addressed with these goals. The social upheaval during that period resulted from misplaced or inadequate emphasis on urban redevelopment as well as the well-known racial tension which had been mounting for decades. Government funding programs merely replaced one ghetto with a newer one, without significant improvement to the human environment. Government legislation, such as the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964, did little to curb the flow of funds for streets and highways. Decentralization continued, public transportation floundered, traffic congestion burgeoned, and air quality plummetted. In the suburbs around Denver, retail sales were still increasing at a faster rate than in the city. The neighborhood conditions in and around downtown Denver worsened, in spite
7
William I. Goodman and Eric C. Freund, ed., Principles and Practice of Urban Planning (Washington, D.C.: International City Managers' Association, 1968), pp. 494-495.
5


g
of the Skyline Urban Renewal Project. Was this revitalization of our cities By 1970, civic and business leaders realized some of the past mistakes and became more aware of human and environmental concerns in the redevelopment of our cities, particularly in the CBD. Denver's economic activity between 1960 and 1976 increased primarily in the various service industries as Denver began to emerge as the energy capital of the nation. Downtown Denver employment increased from approximately 50,000 jobs in 1965, to
9
60,000 jobs in 1970, to 80,000 jobs in 1975. However, urban sprawl and central city decline continued. The basic questions formulated earlier could no longer be ignored: what are the necessary elements of a vital, dynamic downtown; how can those elements be maintained in order to avoid future decline; how can we attract people back to the heart of the city?^ Chapter 2 addresses these questions from the standpoint of an ideal concept. Chapters 3 and 4 address the reality of answering these questions for downtown Denver.
g
"Summary of Denver's Economic Condition," op. cit., pp. 27-31.
9
Denver Urban Renewal Authority, "Housing Market Study for the Skyline Project." June, 1978, p. 38.
10
Victor Gruen, The Heart of our Cities (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964), p. 299.


Chapter 2
A Downtown Paradigm


CHAPTER 2
DOWNTOWN DENVER REDEVELOPMENT: A DOWNTOWN PARADIGM
INTRODUCTION
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" asked Alice.
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
In our efforts to redevelop and revitalize the downtown, we must first decide "where (we) want to get to" i.e., what the ideal downtown would be like. Although in reality the downtown, and the city in general, are products of social, political, and economic pressures, a downtown paradigm can provide direction for those pressures. The object is to develop concepts for the downtown, rather than a rigid, pre-established overall design.
With such a model, we can structure plans and policies which are flexible, but which guide redevelopment toward the ideal.
What would the ideal downtown be like? The following description is a composite of my own ideas and those of others gleaned from a literature review.
A DOWNTOWN PARADIGM
In a word, the ideal downtown is cosmopolitan. Diversity and variety are evident in all of its forms and functions. But throughout it runs a common thread of design and purpose that offers a stabilizing sense of the central place. Although it is not always centrally located, the CBD is usually, and should be, the most accessible area of the city. ^
The downtown "ideally should contain a complete range of the highest productive uses and most significant urban functions not only in the fields
*^Raymond E. Murphy, The Central Business District (Chicago, Illinois: Aldine-Atherton, Inc., 1972), p. 2.
7


of business and civic administration, but also in cultural, recreational,
social, and spiritual activities as well, and residential quarters of high
12
quality and density."
13
Since our cities are what we are, i.e., personifications, perhaps we
should "view them more as laboratories. We should experiment and evaluate
the impacts of things like new urban design, downtown people movers, and 14
mixed land use."
If the downtown is to be accessible, we must provide a means of access that is appropriate to the environment. The automobile, an inducement to urban sprawl, has also impacted the downtown with congestion, noise, and air pollution. The ideal CBD is essentially auto-free. Transit from outlying park-n-ride lots provides access along major corridors to the downtown by means of central transit facilities and interchanges. Mobility within the CBD is facilitated by malls, walkway systems, greenbelts, bicycle paths, plazas, and skyway bridges for pedestrians, as well as free-fare electric vehicles or people mover systems which interconnect all sectors of the downtown. Limited parking is available along the periphery of the CBD in parking structures rather than lots. Thus, the air quality in the CBD is maintained at a high level, the auto-pedestrian conflict is alleviated, and the downtown offers a quiet, pleasant environment for shoppers, tourists, businessmen, and employees.
Such a scenario allows the CBD to offer public street life and to be a place primarily for people rather than automobiles.^ The mall, as men-
12
Gruen, op. cit., p. 47.
13
Laurence and Sherrie Cutler, Recycling Cities for People: The Urban Design Process (Boston, Mass.: Cahners Books International, Inc., 1976), p. 71.
14
Shirley Weiss and Raymond Burby, City Centers in Transition (Chapel Hill: Center for Urban $ Regional Studies, 1976), p. 55.
^Jacobs, op. cit., p. 144.
8


. Ride the Bus to Downtown .
9


but it
tioned above, is not "a panacea for the ills that beset downtown," ^ can offer amenities which attract people to the CBD. Other advantages of malls have been cited such as: 1) malls build business; 2) malls give downtowns a fresh, symbolic focus; 3) malls result in environmental improvements such as reductions in noise and auto emissions; 4) malls can function as
"people movers" to channel people from one place to another; and 5) malls
17
offer places for a variety of activities. The malls, walkway systems,
greenbelts, bicycle paths, plazas, and skyway bridges are integral parts
of the downtown fabric. A variety of considerations are addressed in their
design and construction: special paving, lighting, graphic design, sculpture,
fountains, seating, bollards, trees, planters, telephones, kiosks, shelters,
18
clocks, trash containers, and drinking fountains. These elements provide unifying interconnections among the various sectors of the CBD. Through these means, the downtown is set apart and distinguished from the rest of the city as the area with the highest sense of place and activity, wherein urban design, people, and their environment are foremost concerns.
The ideal downtown consists of several sectors, all of which incorporate diversity. Jane Jacobs cites the lack of diversity as the principal fault of our existing downtowns, and enumerates four generators of diversity:
1) mixed primary uses; 2) small blocks; 3) good mixture of ages and types
19
of buildings; and 4) dense concentrations of people. Several identifiable
20
sectors in the CBD serve to consolidate related activities and services,
^Gallion and Eisner, op. cit., p. 317.
17
Laurence Alexander, ed., Downtown Mall Annual § Urban Design Report (New York: Downtown Research § Development Center, 1978), pp. 4-5.
18
Harvey Rubenstein, Central City Malls (New York: John Wiley § Sons, 1978), pp. 38-70.
19
Jacobs, op. cit., p. 346.
20
Melville Branch, Planning:Aspects and Applications (New York: John Wiley § Sons, 1966), p. 135.
10


n


but do not restrict the mixture of land uses or the variety of buildings,
spaces, and designs. Just as "architecture should define man-made environ-
21
ments as appropriate to the natural environment," urban design should
define and distinguish the various sectors (e.g., financial sector, cultural
sector, residential sector) as constituent elements of the downtown. Urban
design involves the creation of improved urban aesthetics, improvements in
economic arid social conditions, and the creation of order, convenience, and 22
beauty. Physical, cultural, and recreational amenities are necessary in
our cities to maintain a high quality of urban life, and the epitome of
23
these amenities are ideally located in downtown sectors. Such "recentralization" is the appropriate response to the decline of central cities caused by urban sprawl.^
Edmund Bacon describes the ideal downtown as the "vital center and focal
point of the entire city and the region; a place that people can identify
25
with and find meaningful." Large-scale integration of a wide variety of
activities attracts people to the ideal downtown, and it "pulsates with life
26
day and night, weekend and weekday, spring, summer, fall, and winter."
The variety of activities includes those found in the traditional CBD, such as large retail centers, banks, office buildings, hotels, and government functions. But the ideal downtown also integrates these primary activities with others which manifest a high quality of life, such as restaurants,
21
"Five Experts Describe their Concept of the Ideal City." Planning, December, 1978, p. 33.
22
Gruen, op. cit., p.299.
23
Ely Chinoy, The Urban Future (New York: Lieber-Atherton, Inc., 1972), p. 97.
24
Scott Greer, The Emerging City (New York: The Free Press, 1962), p. 203.
25
"Five Experts Describe their Concept of the Ideal City," op. cit., p. 32.
26
Gruen, op. cit., p. 86.
12


specialty shops, educational facilities, museums, galleries, libraries, cultural centers, theaters, historic areas, parks, medium and high density residential areas, and the malls, plazas, bicycle paths, and pedestrian ways previously mentioned. Thus, the ideal downtown blends many functions in one CBD, and maintains a viable, diverse center for the city. Large metropolitan
areas can maintain the concept of the primary, central activity center by
27
employing a variation of the multiple nuclei concept. Subordinate activity centers can be planned around the CBD and connected by transit corridors to establish a coordinated city pattern. Places of employment, and limited retail and service facilities are located in the subordinate activity centers to serve the immediate needs of the population. Thus, the subcenters support the CBD, rather than compete with it, and the entire land use pattern focuses on the central activity center in the downtown.
A properly balanced partnership between the public and private sectors
28
is required to effect the ideal downtown. For example, private developers
have been accused of "creating city centers dominated by faceless concrete 29
and glass towers." The interests and economics of private development are
combined with the public interest in the ideal downtown. Goals are developed
with citizen input and backed by politicians; planners and designers create
the concepts which meet those goals; and private enterprise joins with local
government in implementing the concepts and maintaining aesthetic balance
30
with the historic fabric of the CBD through preservation. Dialogue among these main urban actors ensures dynamic flexibility in the development of
27
Stuart Chapin, Urban Land Use Planning (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1965), pp. 19-21.
28
Weiss and Burby, op. cit., p.ll.
29
Ian Alexander, City Centre Redevelopment: An Evaluation of Alternative Approaches (New York: Pergamon Press, 1974), p.5.
30
"Five Experts Describe their Concept of the Ideal City," op. cit., p.31.
13


n


the ideal downtown. Such democracy does not result in architectural banality 31
and chaos. Rather, the mixture of old and new building designs as suggested earlier by Jane Jacobs, avoids the homogeneity of stark, individualistic structures such as those found in many existing CBD's. Open, attractive buildings, spaces, and landscaping designed at the human scale allow the ideal downtown to be the crossroads of human activity, rather than a lifeless, empty shell of cold facades.
The CBD must maintain continuity with the rest of the city. The ideal downtown provides good transition from the CBD into the surrounding residential neighborhoods; there are no expressways around the center city, and
32
ongoing redevelopment eliminates blight. Supporting land uses are located around the CBD which provide the transition into the predominantly residential areas and support the more intense downtown activities. The compactness of the CBD suggested earlier facilitates human interaction and pedestrian activity which expand into the surrounding residential neighborhoods. The medium- to high-density character of these residential areas supports the recentralization of the city. However, the mechanistic superblocks of high
density residences proposed by Le Corbusier are not appropriate in or around
33
the ideal downtown. The diversity of low, medium, and high density housing in small blocks throughout the city is essential to meet human needs, as well as to contribute to an urban environment that provides a high quality of life. CONCLUSION
The word "cosmopolitan" was used to describe the ideal downtown at the beginning of this chapter. It implies an international flavor, a communitarian perspective, and a heterogeneous character. The ideal downtown displays these
31
Gallion and Eisner, op. cit., p. 439.
32
"Five Experts Describe their Concept of the Ideal City," op. cit., p. 32.
33
Greer, op. cit., p. 203.
15


qualities, and offers the highest challenge and the greatest experience to the people it attracts. In essence, the downtown is simply the medium or structure through which people make urban living ideal. The downtown offers the opportunity to be creative, the environment in which to appreciate aesthetic quality, and the instrument with which to experience urban life to the highest degree.
In summary, the essential elements of the ideal downtown as detailed
above are: 1) Diversity and variety as the focal point of the city
2) Accessibility to the CBD with transit and within the CBD by means of auto-free zones, pedestrian ways, etc.
3) Intense human activity and street life
4) Cultural opportunities and historic preservation
5) High quality urban design and aesthetics
6) High quality physical, social, and economic environments
7) Continuity with the rest of the city
8) Public/private partnership which maintains downtown quality This downtown paradigm describes "where (we) want to get to." As indicated above, the literature of the recognized experts in the field is literally filled with concepts for our downtowns. Have Denver's plans and policies reflected these concepts? Chapter 3 reviews the plans and policies intended to guide downtown Denver's redevelopment efforts and evaluates them to determine how well they are guiding us toward a realization of the downtown paradigm.
16




CHAPTER 3
DOWNTOWN DENVER REDEVELOPMENT: PLANS & POLICIES
INTRODUCTION
"Any city planning worthy to be called organic must bring some measure of
beauty and order into the poorest neighborhood."
- Lewis Mumford, Techniques and Civilization
Downtown redevelopment must be guided by comprehensive plans and policies. The purpose of these plans and policies is to assist in achieving the desired product, i.e., the ideal downtown. However, due to a variety of forces which impact the political, economic, and social environments within which downtown redevelopment occurs, the plans and policies must be organic and responsive to change.
Downtown Denver is located near the center of an urbanized region of Colorado with a population of 1,500,000 people. In addition to the 80,000 persons employed in the CBD, 82,000 people go downtown daily for business, shopping, conventions, entertainment, education, and other purposes.As articulated by the Denver Planning Office in 1978, "... the major issue in downtown Denver's future is how to coordinate or influence (the on-going decision-making and development process) to build a city center more responsive to the needs of the people who work, visit, live, shop, or invest in downtown."
This chapter examines the plans and policies adopted to guide redevelopment in downtown Denver from 1970 to 1980, and evaluates them in terms of appropriateness to achieve the ideal downtown described in Chapter 2.
^Denver Planning Office and Downtown Denver, Inc., "Downtown Denver Development Plan", (March, 1978), p. 1.
35Ibid., p. 2.
17


23|4CO,<
BUILD
,co
0
SQ. FT.
NG
30 610,0 DO ^ ^ SQ. FT.

35pOO,QOO ! ; SQ. FT.
FLOORSPACE
1970 1975* 1980*
ei.ocn
83,0<
5,0< 0 I
JVISI
:' r
91,000
MFLOYEES
,
! i
V----j----1
94,0(30
*Above figures include Lower Downtown and Auraria Center
The term "Downtown Core" refers to the area within the CBD having the most intense commercial activity, bounded by 14th Street, the alley line between Larimer and Market Streets, 18th Street, 18th Avenue, Lincoln Street, and Colfax Avenue.
SKYLINE URBAN RENEWAL PROJECT
The Downtown District boundaries are on the street lines shown. This area is a commonly held definition of Denver's Central Business District, overlapping zone districts and neighborhood boundaries. This defined area includes the blocks with high intensity of land use and provides a statistical area for employment, floorspace, and transportation inventories. The terms "Central Business District", "CBD", and "Downtown" are used interchangeably. Lower Downtown and the Auraria Campus are included in all Downtown data as of January, 1977.
DOWNTOWN DISTRICT MAP
13


DENVER'S PLANS § POLICIES
Planning involves change; change requires time. Denver's plans and policies have changed over time as physical, social, economic and political realities have changed.
Denver Urban Renewal Authority
In 1958, the Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA) was created by city ordinance. In accordance with the Workable Program requirements qf the 1954 Housing Act, DURA's objectives included the following:
1) Adequate, enforceable building and housing codes;
2) Comprehensive community plan for the city's future physical environment;
3) Neighborhood analysis to identify the location and extent of blight;
4) Adequate administrative organization to address blight on a city-wide scale;
5) Financial plan outlining the city's financial resources to address blight;
6) Relocation assistance program for all families displaced by renewal; and
7) Citizen participation program to obtain public input concerning renewal.^ The major emphasis of urban renewal was directed toward keeping middle-
class families, industries, hospitals, universities, and downtown business concerns in the city. Several urban renewal programs, such as the Model Cities Program of the 1966 Demonstration Cities Metropolitan Development Act addressed the needs of low-income families and neighborhood slums.
Beginning in 1958, DURA undertook eleven projects around the City and County
of Denver which involved slum clearance, industrial redevelopment, commercial expansion, and neighborhood rehabilitation. The 27-block Skyline Project in
^Goodman and Freund, p. 509.
19


downtown Denver was DURA's largest project in terms of cost and in value of redevelopment. Contemplated as early as 1955, the Skyline Project entered the planning stage in the fall of 1964 and the execution stage in 1968; completion is expected in 1982. The Skyline Project primarily involves clearance, with redevelopment to include major office buildings, retail space, at least one major hotel, and a series of residential structures. The area includes the expansion of the University of Colorado Denver Center and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
The Auraria Project, just west of downtown Denver, was planned to clear a blighted mixture of residential, commercial, industrial, and vacant land to provide land for the Auraria Higher Education Center. The State of Colorado was
responsible for purchase of the land and development of the education complex.
38
Begun in 1972, the Auraria Project should be completed by 1980.
"The principle objectives (of the Skyline Urban Renewal Plan were) to
encourage and control the development of land uses, building densities, open
spaces, pedestrian and vehicular accommodations, and other related facilities so
as to create the best possible living and working environment commensurate with
39
high quality urban design and desirable, economic commercial development."
DURA's plans supported the goals outlined in Denver's 1967 Comprehensive Plan, particularly to maintain a strong CBD as a focus for community and regional activity.4^ DURA specified land use and building requirements, renovation of
37
Interview with Galen McFadyen, Denver Urban Renewal Authority.
38Ibid.
^Denver Urban Renewal Authority, "Skyline Urban Renewal Plan", (August 10, 1967, as amended* February, 1969), p. C-l.
4City and County of Denver Planning Office, "Denver, 1985: A Comprehensive Plan for Community Excellence", (January, 1967), p. 135.
20


MAP NO. 1 PROPOSED LAND USE PLAN iaWiima General Commercial
iiiiliiiiiliiii:! CBD Supporting Commercial and/or General Commercial Park
Project Boundary
SKYLINE URBAN RENEWAL PROJECT/COLO R-15
Denver Urban Renewel Authority
910 Sixteenth Street, Denver, Colo 80202 303/623-7114
EXISTING DEVELOPMENT TO REMAIN OR PROPOSED FOR REHABILITATION
(Refers to Circled numbers 0)
1. Larimer Square North
2. Latfiles
$ 3. Larimer Square South
4. Granite Hotel
5. Parking Lot
* 6. Parking Lol (City)
* 7. Parking Lot (C.B. A T.)
8. Tramway Power Plant
9. Dunn Shoe A Leather
10. United Distributing
11. Okners
12. M L. Foss
13.
14.
15. 16. *17.
18. 18. 20. *21. *22. *23.
Baker Electric
Isbell-Kent-Oakes
D A F Tower
Central Bank A Trust
Colorado University Denver Center
Frontier Hotel
Brooks Towers
Cochran Building
Federal Reserve Bank
Police Block (City)
City and County of Denver


existing structures, floor area ratios, off-street parking and loading facilities, signs, setbacks, and design criteria. The plans also encouraged open space walkways, plazas, arcades, landscaping, and facilities for general pedestrian utilization and circulation.
Evaluation of Denver Urban Renewal Authority
The Skyline Urban Renewal Plan addressed only a portion of downtown Denver and provided fairly general guidelines for developers. The plan attempted to alleviate symptoms of the CBD's decline, rather than to directly attack the underlying problems. For example, the plan attempted: 1) to improve the ecomony of the area by stabilizing and upgrading property values; 2) to eliminate blight by removing deteriorated, deficient, and functionally obsolete structures; 3) to eliminate "skid row" from the area; and 4) to relieve vehicular and pedestrian traffic congestion and improve access to the area.
As indicated in Chapter 1, the renewal plan failed to adequately include human and environmental concerns. To be viable and dynamic, the downtown requires a comprehensive philosophy upon which it can function. The replacement of old structures with new ones, the relocation of "skid row" from one area to another, and the continued reliance on the automobile for downtown access represent myopic solutions which can provide temporary "improvement" at best.
Fortunately, the time lag between the clearance of blighted areas and actual redevelopment has been fairly long. The redevelopment efforts initiated by the Skyline Urban Renewal Plan did not result in irreversible, negative impacts on downtown Denver. Rather, the plan established the first step toward building a foundation for redevelopment and improvement of the CBD. The plan defined an area for renewal from which adjoining areas could eventually draw new economic strength. The Skyline Plan was to have the largest impact on redevelopment in downtown Denver during the 1970's.
22


"Development Guide for Downtown Denver"
A parallel effort to direct CBD redevelopment in the early 1960's was offered by the "Development Guide for Downtown Denver," which was developed by the Downtown Denver Master Plan Committee in July, 1963. The Guide primarily offered suggestions to: 1) maintain the compactness of the CBD; 2) encourage a mixture
of functions; 3) provide good pedestrian circulation within the core area; and
41
4) increase open space and landscaping in the downtown.
Evaluation of "Development Guide for Downtown Denver" 43 *
Although the Development Guide offered several notable insights to achive
a high-quality downtown, its implementation was thwarted by several factors.
First, the economic climate in the early 1960's was encouraging decentralization
and urban sprawl, based on the availability of automobiles, inexpensive fuel,
cheap land outside of the central city, and expanded road and highway programs.
The Guide attempted to fit into that scenario by proposing "freeway loops as
close as possible to the core area that would carry as much commuter traffic as
possible."4^ Rather than promoting transit in place of automobile as the major
mode of access to the CBD, the Guide unilaterally dismissed transit because of
43
the low population densities in the Denver Metro area.
Secondly, the social climate of that period was such that the concept of mixed functions (e.g., residential and commercial land use) in the CBD and the provision of amenities such as open space in order to attract more people to downtown Denver was incongruous and impractical. Increased affluence and mobility in the early 1960's resulted in an exodus by the population and
4 'Downtown Denver Master Plan Committee, "Development Guide for Downtown Denver", (July, 1963), pp. 66-68.
42Ibid., p. 67.
4^Ibid., p. 54.
23


1
commercial sectors to the suburbs, away from the blighted deteriorated neighborhoods in the central city, particularly those neighborhoods in or near the CBD as described in Chapter 1. Growth management techniques had not yet been recognized as necessary to control urban growth,and expansion was considered healthy.
Thus, although the "Development Guide for Downtown Denver" offered several valid concepts for achieving a dynamic downtown, the political, social and -1 economic environments within which it was proposed prevented its implementation. 1967 Comprehensive Plan
In 1967, the City and County of Denver developed a Comprehensive Plan entitled "Denver, 1985: A Comprehensive Plan for Community Excellence", which evolved from the 1958 Comprehensive Plan. The overall objectives for the urban setting were: 1) to prevent and eliminate all blight; 2) to provide a safe, rapid, economic system for transporting people and goods; 3) to establish and promote a specific character and identity for functional areas of the city, such as the downtown area; and 4) to preserve and improve the environment of all areas of the city.44
The plan endorsed the existing "star pattern" of metropolitan growth along major traffic corridors as "compatible with trends toward decentralization."
A balanced system of transportation was suggested, but the plan placed heavy emphasis on the automobile and proposed a "Skyline Freeway" adjacent to Market Street, to provide better automobile access to the CBD, in spite of the fact the "air pollution (had) become noticeable" in the city.^ The "Development Guide for Downtown Denver" described above was included in the 1967 Comprehensive Plan.
44
"Denver 1985: A Comprehensive Plan for Community Excelence", p. 29. 45
45Ibid., pp. 50, 72, 145, and 274.
24


The plan stressed the need to maintain a strong CBD. Downtown Denver did not experience drastic decline because most of the city's growth was in concentric circles around the CBD. Much of the blight and deterioration in the downtown was localized and could therefore be more easily addressed.
The plan "... expected downtown to continue to be a strong base of employ ment and source of tax revenue; to provide a human, pleasant environment; (and) to serve increasingly as a cultural, civic, recreational, social center for the community. These qualities would be effected by additional open space and landscaping, an improved streetscape, effective urban renewal, high to very high density residential areas in the CBD, increased employment, and establishment of a design character for each of the major downtown sectors.
Evaluation of 1967 Comprehensive Plan
Like the "Development Guide" which it incorporated, the 1967 Comprehensive Plan reflected existing conditions to a greater extent than it provided direction for the future. Fuel prices were still low in 1967, and the City and County of Denver was attempting to be "compatible with trends toward decentralization." Use of the automobile was encouraged by the plan, and congestion and air pollution were still considered to be at tolerable levels. Was Denver really attempting to "preserve and improve the environment of all areas of the city?"
The plan did stress the importance of a strong downtown, but primarily from an economic standpoint, i.e., the need for an employment base and source of revenue. In supporting the CBD, the plan outlined the various, major sectors but only generally addressed the interrelationships among them, and ignored Lower Downtown altogether.
^"Denver 1985: A Comprehensive Plan for Community Excellence", p. 135.
47Ibid., pp. 112, 139, and 148.
25


The plan's major strength was its support of other related plans and policies which addressed various aspects of downtown Denver in more detail, such as those discussed below.
"Policies for the Development of Downtown Denver"
In 1971, Downtown Denver, Inc. and the Denver Planning Office developed "Policies for the Development of Downtown Denver and Adjacent Areas." The policies addressed issues listed in the 1967 Comprehensive Plan at a more specific level. Revised in 1976, the policies address five major areas of concern: 1) the central city; 2) the central area (of the central city); 3) accessibility and internal circulation; 4) land use; and 5) design environment. The policies are intended to enhance downtown Denver through the redevelopment process.
The policies range from the general to the specific. For example, coordination among governmental agencies and private investment decisions is cited as an essential element in the comprehensive improvement of the CBD. The policies suggest the need for mixed land uses in the neighborhoods around the CBD which would not compete with the downtown but support it. More and better housing, architectural variety, and amenities to attract middle and upper income groups to the surrounding neighborhoods would be needed to improve the CBD.4**
In terms of accessibility, the policies indicate that transportation planning should be comprehensive: transit to and from the CBD should be improved; all modes should be accommodating; and all major traffic should be routed to the periphery of the CBD where most parking facilities should be located. Within downtown Denver, the policies suggest internal transit to link all major districts, bikeways and storage facilities, pedestrian walkways and bridges, street furnishings, plantings, surfacing, plazas, and arcades.49
^Denver Planning Office and Downtown Denver, Inc., "Policies for the Development of Downtown Denver and Adjacent Areas", (August, 1971, Revised January, 1976), pp. 2-4.
49Ibid., pp. 6-13.
26


The policies are clear in citing the existing land uses and amenities of downtown Denver; the only element noted as lacking in the CBD is adequate residential areas. Compactness has always been an advantage for downtown Denver, and the variety of land use mixes should support each other. For example,
Lower Downtown should encourage preservation and attract new retail, office, and residential areas, the civic center area should be maintained and its use encouraged, and the CBD core area should be made more attractive.^
Concerning design and environment, the policies indicate that the CBD should provide a strong sense of place, with a rational arrangement of functions and good linkages between them. Human scale activities are needed with good relationships between pedestrians, buildings, and open space. Sound, older buildings should be preserved and restored in order to add interest and variety to downtown streets. Air quality should be improved by many of the means listed above; the 1974 Noise Control Ordinance should be enforced; public and private signs should fit into the total visual environment of the CBD according to the 1971 Denver Sign Ordinance; and a coordinated streetscape design program would enhance the downtown environment.^
Evaluation of "Policies for the Development of Downtown Denver"
The "Policies" developed in 1971 and revised in 1976 reflect the evolution of the thinking on the part of civic and business leaders toward redevelopment of the downtown. Whereas earlier plans and policies were more limited in their purview, these "Policies" provide a comprehensive, "broad brush" approach to the improvement of downtown Denver rather than its mere redevelopment. These policies address the human and environmental concerns which earlier plans did not.
^"Policies for the Development of Downtown Denver and Adjacent Areas", pp. 14-18.
51Ibid., pp. 19-25.
27


The policies strongly support transit, which is the largest determining factor in land use patterns, and which, therefore, can most directly influence the future quality and vitality of the downtown. Emphasis on the pedestrian, downtown residential areas, and 24-hour human activity also contribute to a downtown which is livable, attractive, and dynamic. These policies represent the first attempt to guide downtown Denver toward emulating the downtown paradigm described in Chapter 2.
Economic Development Policies
In 1976, the Mayor's Economic Development Policy Advisory Committee was formed to examine Denver's economy and to recommend policies which would promote the continued health and growth of that economy. The research of the committee resulted in five technical reports and an "Agenda for Action" which suggests various strategies to guide the economic development of Denver. A summary of the committee's findings that are relevant to downtown Denver are reviewed and evaluated below.
Land with potential for economic development or redevelopment is classified as vacant, potentially underutilized, or inappropriately used. The majority of vacant land is zoned for commercial and industrial uses; potentially underutilized land is that with a low Floor Area Ratio (F.A.R.) or is not utilized for the "highest and best use"; inappropriately used land typically involves residential use in a non-residential zone district. The land in downtown Denver
n
does not, for the most part, fall into any of these categories.
The core city does not have a growth problem to defend against, but a decline problem to reverse. A policy approach to land use is more appropriate than a site-by-site prescription. The revised Municipal Code preserves mountain views, particularly in downtown Denver, by regulating building heights and setbacks .
^Denver Planning Office, "Economic Development in Denver: Land Resources for Economic Development", (December, 1977), pp. 5-7.
28


The Denver Landmark Preservation Ordinance of 1967 contained no mechanism
to prevent demolition, but the "historic structures use exception" allows mixed land use (e.g., offices in designated land marks in residential districts) so the owners would not raze the structure and redevelop according to existing zoning. There are over twenty designated landmarks in downtown Denver such as: the Daniels S, Fisher Tower, 9th Street Park District, St. Elizabeth's Church, Tivoli Brewery, Equitable Building, Tramway Cable Building, United States Post
r *7
Office, and Larimer Square.
The "Agenda for Action" proposes the following strategies of an economic development program: 1) facilitate the retension and expansion of Denver firms;
2) work with promotional groups (e.g., Chamber of Commerce) to attract desirable new firms to Denver; 3) help Denver's un- and under-employed residents capture productive jobs; 4) conserve and revitalize Denver's neighborhoods; and 5) strengthen the financial stability of the city.^ A strong CBD is recognized as an essential element in the economic health of the entire city. Evaluation of Economic Development Policies
Economic development is fundamental to the maintenance of downtown vitality. Contrary to the experience in many cities affected by decentralization and suburbanization, Denver has not been left with an extremely degenerated core city. Policies such as those listed above have resulted in the attraction of new firms, and jobs within the City and County of Denver have increased by four to six percent per year since 1950. The Denver Landmark Preservation Ordinance has saved numerous historic structures for conversion to new uses and added significantly to the variety of building ages and styles, particularly in downtown Denver.
r 7
Denver Office of Policy Analysis, "Economic Development in Denver:
Denver's Physical Environment", (April, 1978), pp. 27-32.
^Economic Development Policy Advisory Committee of the City and County of Denver, "Economic Development in Denver: Agenda for Action", fDecember,
1977), pp. 10-25.
29


Revitalization of Denver's neighborhoods, including the CBD, has been slowed by the unavailability of adequate revenue sources. However, the policies suggested above will serve to provide guidance in the future. Involvement by the private sector was demonstrated even prior to these policies in significant area revitalization such as Larimer Square in the early 1960's. The cooperative relationship between the public and private sectors will likely continue. 1978 Comprehensive Plan
In 1978, the City and County of Denver revised and updated the 1967 Comprehensive Plan. Appropriately titled "Planning Toward the Future", the plan identifies six basic goals for Denver:
1) Viability To foster a city of quality that sustains itself through effective and mutually supportive physical, economic and social systems; and that rewards its citizens by fulfilling their common aspirations while maximizing individual growth potential and freedom of choice;
2) Stability To maintain the present physical, economic and social assets of the city as a basis on which to build the future;
3) Adaptability To be responsive to potentially constructive changes in the physical, economic and social conditions of the city;
4) Diversity To provide for a variety of community activities and services, and to provide for a wide range of choice in life styles;
5) Opportunity To provide every member of the community with the chance to participate equitably in the life, rewards and responsibilities of the community; and
6) Amenity To support community activities with a desirable, convenient, attractive, comfortable, healthful and enjoyable environment.^
The plan sets forth numerous objectives for the future improvement of the city to meet the goals listed above. The objectives most relevant to downtown Denver are reviewed and evaluated below.
^Denver Planning Office, "Planning Toward the Future: A Comprehensive Plan for Denver", (May, 1978), p. 7.
30


The general land use suggested by the plan encourages a concentration of commercial uses in downtown Denver which extends outward along major transportation routes, and residential areas in concentric patterns around the CBD, with lower densities at the greater distances from the downtown.^6 The intent is to reduce dependence on the private automobile, encourage the use
of transit, increase the vitality of downtown with residential development,
57
and attract middle and upper income families to the CBD.
In addition to improved transit service to the CBD and park-n-ride lots in outlying areas, the plan encourages adequate intermodal transfer facilities within downtown Denver. Within the CBD, the plan emphasizes a high quality environment conducive to the pedestrian and bicyclist. Suggestions include a transit mall, walkways, lighting, street furnishings, bike paths and storage facilities, linkages between major sectors, and landscaping.^
The plan addresses urban design as a necessary element in the overall quality of the city. Parks, open space, and landscaping are supported, along with the preservation of mountain views and historically or architecturally significant structures and districts. The sign code and its enforcement, as part of the Denver Zoning Ordinance, are strongly supported. Improved air quality and noise reduction are included as factors which contribute to overall city quality and are vigorously encouraged.
Although the plan supports the concentration of commercial activity and mixed land uses in and adjacent to the CBD, the need for outlying, regional
^"Planning Toward the Future: A Comprehensive Plan for Denver", pp. 8-9.
57Ibid., pp. 12-20.
58Ibid., pp. 45-52.
59ibid., pp. 83-88.
31


activity centers is also recognized. These activity centers have individual and unique identities, encourage the grouping of many commercial land uses, and should reduce linear, "strip" commercial developments concentrated along major streets. The dispersed, regional activity centers allow a greater number of people to live closer to their places of employment and thus reduce energy consumption and air pollution with shorter work-trip distances.
Evaluation of 1978 Comprehensive Plan
Denver's 1978 Comprehensive Plan reflects the latest concepts of good design, planning, and high quality urban living. The plan provides a good foundation for more specific policies which guide the development, rehabilitation, and redevelopment of the city, and particularly the CBD. The land use pattern proposed by the plan is logical and resembles the model offered in Chapter 2. The emphasis on transit is timely, although perhaps somewhat late considering the extent of urban sprawl in the Denver Metro area. The plan provides a significant list of amenities which should be offered in downtown Denver in order to increase its attractiveness and vitality. Specific laws supported by the plan, such as the sign code, allow specific enforcement to a greater degree than policies, which typically only "suggest" specific actions. The plan, in supporting regional activity centers, does not indicate that these centers should be secondary or subordinate to the CBD. However, in terms of the metropolitan area, they are recognized as such, and they can reduce strip commercial developments which impact residential areas as well as the downtown.
Several plans and policies have evolved during the past decade which address personal mobility in downtown Denver, and these are reviewed and evaluated below.
^"Planning Toward the Future: A Comprehensive Plan for Denver", pp. 30-34.


Proposed 14th St. Pedestrian Way


14th Street Pedestrian Way
The 14th Street Mapped Street Ordinance was established in 1968 as part of the Revised Municipal Code. The ordinance reserved 25 feet of private property on the southwest side of 14th Street between Colfax and Stout Streets for an improved pedestrian way to link the Civic Center and Currigan Hall. With later extensions, the pedestrian way was planned to eventually link these two downtown sectors with Auraria, Skyline Park, and other activity centers.61 The reserved property along 14th Street consisted primarily of surface parking lots, and essentially represented a deeper setback from the street than previously required. However, property owners along 14th Street threatened litigation in
1978 in order to retain their rights to use the reserved property. Subsequently, the Denver City Council allowed the 14th Street Ordinance to expire January 1,
1979 and postponed development of the pedestrian way. Future efforts will be made to revive the 14th Street Pedestrian Way.^
"The Pedestrian in Downtown Denver"
Other plans for pedestrian facilities are included in "The Pedestrian in Downtown Denver." The objectives are to: reduce congestion and energy use; improve facilities for non-motorized modes; maintain accessibility; reduce parking requirements; improve air, noise, and visual qualities; increase use of public areas; and improve personal mobility in the CBD. The facilities built to achieve these objectives to date include: adequate sidewalks, curb ramps for the handicapped throughout the CBD, pre-timed traffic signals with exclusive pedestrian phases primarily in the core area, skyway bridges between buildings,
^Denver Planning Office, "14th Street Pedestrian Way", (September, 1978),
p. 2.
^interview with Bill Wells, Denver Office of Policy Analysis.
^Denver Planning Office, "The Pedestrian in Downtown Denver", (April, 1978),
p. 2.
34


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and auto restricted zones (ARZ's). The plan suggests major improvements m
the downtown streetscape such as walkway surfacing, lighting, public signs,
seating areas, trees, plantings, and coordination of street furniture. The
street design should be upgraded to higher standards, and plazas, sidewalks,
and walkways should be designed with attention to detail, human scale, and
interest for people. The plan suggests that the downtown core area should be
"pedestrianized" by means of additional ARZ's and major pedestrian linkages
among the various sectors of the CBD.^
16th Street Transitway/Mall
One major pedestrian link planned for downtown Denver is the Transitway/ Mall on 16th Street between the Civic Center and Market Street. First discussed in 1955, construction on the mall is expected to begin in 1980.^6 The proposal was developed by Downtown Denver, Inc., the Regional Transportation District, and private consultants. The mall is intended to provide a pleasant pedestrian environment and to reduce traffic congestion within the downtown core area.
Plans include small, electrically-powered transit vehicles which would provide shuttle service between transit centers at each end of the mall. The transit centers would provide transfer facilities for express bus routes coming into downtown Denver. The street transformation would include special paving, light-ing, a double row of honey locust trees, benches, and other street furniture. Recent modifications to the proposal suggest larger, diesel-powered shuttle vehicles due to the unavailability of a manufacturer of electric vehicles. Downtown Denver merchants recently accepted responsibility for maintenance of the mall.
64"The Pedestrian in Downtown Denver", pp. 3-12.
65Ibid., pp. 16-17.
^interview with Phil Milstein, Downtown Denver, Inc.
^"Downtown Mall is Longtime Dream", RTD's Frontier newsletter, (December, 1977], pp. 1-6.
38


PROPOSED 16th STREET TRANSITIVAY/MALL
39


"The Bicycle in Downtown Denver"
In addition to pedestrian and transit facilities in downtown Denver, the city is planning bicycle facilities. "The Bicycle in Downtown Denver" establishes policies which encourage additional bikeways and bike lanes to downtown, and storage facilities within the area. The policies were developed in conformance with the 1972 citywide "Bicycle Plan," which recommended development of a 164 mile bikeway system. The policies recommended: 1) that pedestrians and bicyclists should be kept separate in the downtown core area, such as along the 16th Street Mall; 2) circulation within the CBD should continue to operate by mixing bicycles with motorized vehicles on full traffic lanes; 3) additional storage space should be provided through both public and private efforts (e.g., one space for every 100 employees); and 4) public and private entities should promote safe bicycling within the CBD by means of educational brochures. Evaluation of Plans for Downtown Linkages
The plans and policies which address personal mobility in downtown Denver are aimed at the human scale as suggested in Chapter 2. Street life requires human activity not automobile traffic congestion. The proposed mall and walkway would link several major sectors and provide continuity with the CBD. However, it must be recognized that these plans are only a beginning. The mall and walkway would be parallel to each other; there is an obvious need for links between them. Unfortunately, the 14th Street Pedestrian Way itself will be delayed indefinitely, which emphasizes the need for open communication and cooperation in the partnership between the public and private sectors. It is very

clear that considerable time and effort are required between the concept and its fruition.
^Denver Planning Office, "The Bicycle in Downtown Denver", (July, 1978),
p. 3.
69Ibid., pp. 10-12
40


41


The plans and policies described above propose several of the best design strategies for personal mobility in the CBD. The attention to detail and human interest should result in real amenities which will attract people to the downtown area, and not only during peak, work hours. Such amenities should also increase the interest in and demand for residential areas within downtown. The area will become a place that people can identify with and enjoy as a center of high quality urban living.
"Lower Downtown Development Guidelines"
The issues of improving the oldest area of downtown Denver are addressed in the "Lower Downtown Development Guidelines." Bounded by Speer Boulevard, the railyards, 20th Street, and the alley between Market and Larimer Streets, Lower Downtown has a unique character and image. The guidelines attempt to maintain that character and provide suggestions for improvement of the area's physical and economic conditions, through historic preservation, renovation, and adaptive reuse of existing structures.
In 1974, the Denver City Council established the B-7 zone in Lower Downtown. The B-7 zone encourages preservation and permits a wide variety of land uses in order to promote and facilitate the adaptive reuse of existing structures (see Appendix B). The allowable Floor Area Ratio (F.A.R.) for new buildings is minimized to keep new construction in scale with the existing buildings. Premiums for additional floor area are provided to encourage new buildings to conform to the style and character of the area.7^
A revision to the Denver Building Code (Chapter 31) in 1976 was entitled "Rehabilitation of Older Buildings," which allowed exceptions to the code. The
^Denver Planning Office, "Lower Downtown Development Guidelines", (April, 1978), p. 1.
71Ibid., p. 9.
43


44


revision was particularly relevant to the historic structures being renovated
in Lower Downtown. The "Lower Downtown Development Guidelines" include the
Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation (see Appendix A).
The standards address the environment, building site, structural and mechanical
systems, interior and exterior features, safety and code requirements, and new 73
construction.
Evaluation of "Lower Downtown Development Guidelines"
Lower Downtown can be considered a major district of downtown Denver. In that respect, the area's unique character should be enhanced as suggested by the development guidelines. The historic structures should be preserved and reused, and the mix of land uses allowed by the B-7 zone should be pursued. However, the guidelines are not very specific in describing the area's relationship with the rest of downtovm Denver. Although the need for improved pedestrian ways within the area are noted in the guidelines, there are no suggested links between the area and other downtown sectors.
In spite of the B-7 zone which allows residential land use, there are few residential units in Lower Dovmtown, and the guidelines do not specifically encourage their construction. The area may be destined to remain a peak-hour activity center if residences are not promoted and street life is maintained at a low profile. The skid row subculture has moved successively from Larimer Square to Skyline to Lower Dovmtown. Plans for renovation of that area may force relocation of that subculture; no plans directly address the problem.
The overall environment of Lower Downtown has been neglected in terms of public capital improvements and has deteriorated. The guidelines suggest the need for significant improvements to the street and sewer system in the area.
72"Lower Downtown Development Guidelines", p. 14.
73ibid., pp. 20-25.
45


These suggestions must be pursued and implemented before Lower Downtown can achieve a viable, attractive environment as an integral part of downtown Denver. "Downtown Denver Development Plan"
The most recently developed plan for the CBD is the "Downtown Denver Development Plan," created jointly by the Denver Planning Office and Downtown Denver, Inc. The plan suggests that rather than a pre-established overall design, "development concepts for land use, building density, transportation, pedestrian
movement, and street design can guide and influence on-going decisions toward
74
achieving" an improved downtown.
The general land use concept suggested by the plan is based on the B-5
zone for most of downtown, the R-5 zone for public use in Auraria, and the B-7
zone for Lower Downtown which was described above. The B-5 zone permits the
highest density of building development with a Floor Area Ratio of 10:1, and
premiums for building designs which include plazas, arcades, or upper-level 75
setbacks (see Appendix B). The plan suggests maintaining the compact core of high density commercial activity which is bounded by 14th Street, Larimer Street, 18th Street, Lincoln Street, and Colfax Avenue, as the foundation for development of the entire CBD.
The plan encourages broad integration of transportation modes automobiles and parking facilities, bus transit, pedestrian walkways, delivery trucks, bicycles, and internal bus service each serving a certain function. ^ Street-scape design is addressed by the plan through the promotion of major linkages between downtown areas and greater attention to detail, human scale, and interest
^Denver Planning Office and Downtown Denver, Inc., "Downtown Denver Development Plan", (March, 1978), p. 2.
^Ibid., pp. 4-6.
76ibid., p. 12.
46


for people. The means of accomplishing these concepts include walkway surfacing, lighting, public and business signs, seating areas, trees and plantings, and the coordination of all these items of street furniture. In addition, the plan calls for coordination of the public and private sectors to achieve collaborative design in the overall redevelopment of downtown Denver."
Evaluation of "Downtown Denver Development Plan"
This plan for overall development of downtown Denver reflects many of the concepts proposed for the downtown paradigm in Chapter 2. Appropriate attention is focused on the need for the downtown to be a "people place," rather than merely a cluster of high density buildings. The plan is comprehensive in addressing land use, transportation, pedestrian movement, and street design, as well as promoting integration of the CBD with the surrounding neighborhoods and the overall scheme of the city.
The plan indicates that downtown Denver has the essential qualities of a good city center. However, in addition to a strong economic framework, the CBD must provide an attractive environment which encourages intense human activity. The plan specifies mechanisms to accomplish those goals and accurately defines the need for excellent communication and cooperation between the public and private sectors. Finally, the plan provides high standards for the continued redevelopment of downtown Denver.
CONCLUSION
Denver's plans and policies for the redevelopment of the downtown area have evolved and responded to changing goals and economic and social conditions. Although early plans were rather myopic and addressed short-term needs with conventional or widely accepted concepts, they provided a basis for improvement.
77"Downtown Denver Development Plan", pp. 13-14.
47


The natures of the political and development processes dictate a considerable time lag between concept development and implementation. Unfortunately, that time lag may delay implementation of good plans and concepts. However, the benefit of that time lag is the opportunity to modify plans and designs; to make changes and improvements before unforeseen problems can develop and become detrimental to the downtown environment. Emphasis on the automobile in the early 1960's, for example, fortunately was not manifested in major detrimental changes to the street patterns in and around the CBD. Recent commitments to transit and energy conservation have superseded the earlier auto-oriented plans.
Plans and policies cannot cause the downtown area to achieve the quality of the downtown paradigm. But plans and policies must address the elements of the ideal downtown listed in Chapter 2 in order to effectively guide redevelopment efforts toward the realization of the paradigm. Although some modifications and improvements will be necessary as indicated above, Denver's plans and policies provide adequate direction to achieve the following essential elements of the paradigm:
1) Diversity and variety as the focal point and vital center of the city
2) Accessibility to the CBD in terms of transit
4) Cultural opportunities and historic preservation
6) High quality physical, social, and economic environments
7) Continuity with the rest of the city
8) Public/private partnership which maintains downtown quality
However, as indicated above in the plan evaluations, Denver's plans
and policies require expansion in scope and specificity if they are to adequately address the following elements of the downtown paradigm:
2) Accessibility within the CBD by means of auto-free zones, pedestrian ways, open space, bicycle paths, etc.
3) Intense human activity and street life
5) High quality urban design and aesthetics
These elements must be addressed in future plans and policies.
48


Significant redevelopment efforts have occurred in downtown Denver since 1970. To what extent have those efforts reflected implementation of Denver's plans and policies? How close is Denver to achieving the downtown paradigm? Chapter 4 reviews and evaluates the redevelopment efforts of the last decade in terms of land use, economics, population, cultural and historical aspects, and urban design. The redevelopment efforts are evaluated in two respects: 1) how well the efforts have implemented Denver's plans and policies; and 2) whether those efforts have improved downtown Denver relative to the paradigm described in Chapter 2.
49


Chanter 4
An Inventory


CHAPTER A
DOWNTOWN DENVER REDEVELOPMENT: AN INVENTORY
INTRODUCTION
As indicated in Chapter 3, plans and policies can provide guidance to the redevelopment of the downtown. In order to be implemented, plans and policies for downtown redevelopment must be supported by a partnership between the public and private sectors. Without that coordination and cooperation, redevelopment efforts may be unorganized and contradictory. Rooms within a building cannot be planned, designed, and constructed without an overall concept of the entire structure. Similarly, commercial sectors, residential areas, and cultural centers cannot be integrated in the downtown without a conceptual scheme of the relationships and interaction among them. As indicated in Chapter 3, Denver's plans and policies, with some modifications, provide an adequate framework to guide redevelopment efforts toward achieving the downtown paradigm.
This chapter reviews the redevelopment efforts which have occurred since 1970 and those planned to 1980, and evaluates them in two respects:
1) how well the efforts have implemented the plans and policies; and
2) whether these efforts have improved downtown Denver relative to the paradigm described in Chapter 2.
DOWNTOWN DENVER REDEVELOPMENT INVENTORY
Denver's redevelopment efforts will be reviewed and evaluated in terms of: 1) land use; 2) economics; 3) population; 4) cultural and historical aspects; and 5) urban design.
Land Use
Downtown Denver's land use pattern was essentially established around the turn of the century. However, several significant changes have occurred during the last decade. The map on the next page illustrates the various
50


17th Street Financial District


>
51


sectors in downtown Denver's land use pattern. As indicated by the map, the entire CBD is structured around the core area of high density commercial activity, which is comprised of the office, retail, and financial sectors.
The federal offices and Civic Center house most of the governmental functions typically associated with downtown. Larimer Square and Lower Downtown offer an historic perspective along with office, retail, and entertainment opportunities which broaden and support the core area activities.
The Auraria Higher Education Center provides a wide range of educational facilities with evening and weekend activities which contribute to the downtown street life. Similarly, the Art Museum, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and the Currigan Hall convention center add a cosmopolitan, cultural flavor to the CBD. These centers are well integrated with Larimer Square, the high activity core area, and the surrounding hotels and lower density commercial areas.
Within each of these downtown sectors, numerous redevelopment projects have occurred since 1970 or are planned to 1980. The major projects are pictured and summarized on following pages. The results of these redevelopment efforts since 1970 include: 1) an 11% increase in retail space in the CBD; 2) a 104% increase in office space; 3) a 700% increase in residential units; and 4) a 44% increase in overall developed space. Other
changes include a 40% increase in CBD employment and a 130% increase in
78
transit service to downtown Denver since 1970.
Evaluation of Downtown Land Use
As indicated earlier, Denver's downtown area is located in the center of the metropolitan region. Its proximity to Interstate 25 and the railroad terminal, its wide boulevards which radiate outward from it, and its recently expanded transit service make downtown Denver the most accessible 78
Interviews with Phil Milstein, Downtown Denver, Inc. and Doug Goedert, Denver Planning Office.
52


Anaconda Tower
Fairmont Hotel


area of the city.
The downtown land use pattern presently includes (or will in the near future) all of the necessary elements of a vital, dynamic "central place," as defined in Chapter 2. The key missing factor that has been addressed only recently is residential areas in the CBD. Human activity and street life will increase rapidly when a larger number of persons are in the downtown area day and night, weekdays and weekends. The existing and proposed dwelling units for the elderly allow that segment of the population to remain in the mainstream of urban life in the city's largest activity center. The proposed luxury condominiums may attract only those persons affluent enough to afford them. However, those persons are typically the trendsetters for the rest of society. Their influence, and the threat of an impending energy shortage, may provide the requisite psychological impact on other segments of the population to demand affordable housing in or near downtown Denver. Such a market may induce developers to meet the demand, and the American dream of a single-family house in the suburbs may be transformed to a condominium in a medium to high density residential area of the central city* specifically in the CBD.
Such a transformation would result in adequate population densities to support and justify improved fixed guideway transit. The existing Regional Transportation District (RTD) service is based on a 622 bus fleet with an average age of only three years. The service has been improved substantially during the 1970's. Many of the cross-town and regional bus routes traverse the CBD; six radial routes from the CBD to outlying activity centers were recently established with fully-accessible buses for the elderly and handicapped. Thus, existing transit focuses on downtown Denver. Improved fixed guideway transit could establish that focus more permanently and encourage centripetal city growth. The
53




SUMMARY OF MAJOR DOWNTOWN DENVER REDEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
1970-1980
Development Cost (millions)
Project Type Floor Area
(excl. parking)
*Prudential Plaza Office, retail 600,000 sq.ft. $23
*Skyline Park Apts. 144 units-elderly 121,500 $ 2
*Brooks Towers Office, hotel, apts. 365,000
*Park Central Banking, office 560,000 $23
*Sakura Square Cultural, retail, 204 apt .211,700 $ 4
*Sunset Park Apts. 242 units-elderly 181,000 $ 4.9
*Denver Bus Center Terminal, restaurant 150,000 $ 7
*Skyline Park Park, fountains 120,000 $ 1.7
*Mountain Bell Service center offices 750,000 $37
*Denver Center for the Concert hall, theaters, 860,000 $40.4
Performing Arts retail, galleria
*Dravo Plaza Office, retail 120,000 $12
*Tramway Cable Building Office, restaurant 38,000 $ .6
Denver Art Museum Cultural
Colorado State Bank Banking, office 450,000
Market Center Office, retail, restaurant175,000
Market Street Mall Office retail
*0ne Denver Place Office tower, retail 655,000 $55
*Energy Plaza Office tower, restaurant 490,000 $38
Fairmont Hotel (Denver 550 rooms 460,000 $36
Anaconda Tower Square) Office tower, retail 865,000 $45
Colorado National Bank Banking, office 508,000
Holiday Inn Motel 400 rooms 319,000
1st National Bank Banking, office 715,000
Lincoln Center Office tower 290,000
Metrobank Banking, office 155,000
Amoco (Columbia) Plaza Office, restaurant 530,000 $50
Great West Plaza (Phase 1) Office, retail 400,000 $50
Energy Center One Office 760,000 $40
Denver Athletic Club Sports, restaurant 100,000 $ 5
Colorado Heritage Center Cultural, office 330,000
Champa Centre Office, retail $ 4.8
Police headquarters Office headquarters 386,000
*D § F Tower Office, restaurant 20,000 $ 2
*Barclay Towers 240 condos., office, retail $20
*The Windsor 164 condominiums $22
*Larimer Place 168 condominiums $15.8
*Barcel Plaza 208 condos., office, retail $48
*Writer Square 42 condos., office, retail $20
*17th Street Plaza Office tower, restaurant 585,000sq.ft. $50
*Sunset Towers 100 units-elderly $ 4
*16th Street Mall Transitway/mall 12 blocks $30
*Within Skyline Urban Renewal Project
DOWNTOWN DENVER LAND USE PATTERN
1970 1980 1985
Retail Space 2,200,000 sq.ft. 2,452,000 sq.ft. 2,737,000 sq.ft.
Office Space 7,770,000 sq.ft. 15,860,350 sq.ft. 19,575,350 sq.ft.
Hotels § Motels N/A 2,639 rooms 3,189 rooms
Housing units N/A 1,500 units 2,425 units
Employment 60,850 persons 85,000 persons 110,000 persons
Parking (1977) 34,090 spaces 35,090 spaces 40,000 spaces
Total CBD Dev. Space 23,422,400 sq.ft. 33,772,330 sq.ft. 38,000,000 sq.ft.
Sources: Denver Planning Office, Downtown Denver Inc., and DURA
54


Skyline Park Apartments
Denver Bus Center
Skyline Fire Stat ion


Planned transit centers and 16th Street Transitway/Mall represent significant steps toward improving the land use pattern by means of transit.
The land use pattern in downtown Denver does not conflict with any of Denver's plans and policies. Through improvements in the various downtown sectors during the last decade, downtown Denver has made considerable progress toward achieving the downtown paradigm. A large part of the reason for that progress has been Denver's economic environment.
Economics
The Denver Metropolitan Area economy is "relatively recession proof."balanced with diverse industries and a large government sector. The ten largest employers, as identified by the Denver Chamber of Commerce, are: 1) Mountain Bell (12,000 employees); 2) Coors (8,600); 3) Storage Technology (5,500);
4)Gates Rubber (5,000); 5) Public Service (5,000); 6) Martin Marietta (4,800);
7) Western Electric (4,600); 8) Samsonite (2,700); 9) Stearns-Roger (2,200);
79
and 10) Johns-Manville (2,000 employees). Although many of the top ten and smaller employers are located outside of the central city, employment within the CBD is expected to grow by 20% in the next five years. The energy boom is causing many energy firms and related businesses to establish major offices in Denver, particularly in the CBD. Denver's proportion of the total metro area employment may stabilize and begin to increase at a slow rate, but in terms of actual numbers of employees, the increase will be rapid.
Retail sales in the CBD have grown steadily during the 1970's, and projects such as the 16th Street Mall are expected to further increase retail sales by 7-10%. Redevelopment investment during the last decade has been encouraged and financed by local as well as out-of-state banking institutions. Investments since 1970 have exceeded $700 million, and combined with the resulting higher real estate taxes, have contributed to the city's economic
79
Rudeen, Michael H. "Denver: Boom Town '79," Denver Monthly, February,
1979, pp. 24-35.
55


Prudential Plaza
Skyline Park (left)
Public Plaza at Sakura Square
Interior of the Old Spaghetti Factory (left)


health. Redevelopment efforts within the Skyline Urban Renewal Project alone have increased real estate taxes by more than 1200% since 1967. Downtown provides about 12% of the taxable property valuation of the City and County of Denver on less than 1% of Denver's land area.^
Evaluation of Downtown Economics
Downtown Denver was able to avoid most of the economic blight and decline experienced by many large cities after World War II because of its diverse economy. Even decentralization and sprawl did not destroy the CBD. Rather, the central city continued to grow and attract new firms which replaced those that had left. Although the major retailers have branch stores in the suburbs, the 16th Street retail district is financially strong. Recent development in Southeast Denver has not adversely affected the office and financial districts in the downtown area. New firms in the metro-area, particularly the energy companies, are choosing to locate in the CBD, which is still recognized as the center of the regional economy. Denver's recent economic development program has encouraged and supported the strengthening of the downtown economy.
The amenities offered by the mountains, climate, and attractive metropolitan area have also contributed to the stability of Denver's economy through the tourist industry. The recent variety of recreational, educational, cultural, and entertainment opportunities offered in downtown Denver have allowed the CBD to emergy as the major sector of the metropolitan area economy. Thus, downtown Denver's economic stability has resulted in flexibility to change and a dynamic approach to redevelopment efforts. Downtown Denver's economy has fulfilled most plans and policies and has essentially achieved the economy of the downtown paradigm.
^Interview with Galen McFadyen, Denver Urban Renewal Authority.
56


Tramway Cable Building


Population
As previously mentioned in the section on land use, the key element missing in downtown Denver has been residential areas. The population prior to 1970 consisted of the skid row subculture, transient hotel and motel guests, and employees and visitors who commuted to the CBD daily. The latter two groups spent time downtown primarily during the weekday morning and afternoon hours. Consequently, the skid row subculture represented the only ''residents'' of the downtown area. Few activities were offered to attract visitors to the CBD during "off-peak hours," e.g., evenings and weekends. Denver's downtown streets were essentially deserted and the CBD's vitality temporarily faded during the off-peak hours.
The private redevelopment efforts in Larimer Square during the early 1960's offered new attractions that were available in the evenings and on weekends. The redevelopment also caused the relocation of the skid row subculture to the blighted Skyline area, but no residential areas were created to accommodate this or other segments of the population.
During the late 1960's, the Skyline Urban Renewal Plan proposed residential areas in the CBD for a more permanent population. During the early 1970's, those proposals were implemented. The Skyline Park Apartments, Sakura Square, and Sunset Park Apartments offered nearly 600 residential units for elderly, low and moderate income persons. In addition, 500 moderate- and high-rent apartments were constructed in the Brooks Towers complex. The population in downtown Denver slowly began to increase, but the skid row subculture was merely relocated to the Lower Downtown area, where redevelopment efforts were progressing more slowly and the only new residential units were located in the Blake Street Bath and Racquet Club above commercial land uses.
57


;<7>5875
f- *1 1
I 1 i
jPf
& \
: ?i. m 1
9 i
Market Center


The "Housing Market Study for the Skyline Project" was completed in June, 1978. Through the use of surveys, the study concludes that there was an unmet demand for 300 to 1,000 dwelling units in downtown Denver in 1977. Further, the study projects that from 400 to 1,250 new dwelling units could be absorbed by the market demand in downtown Denver by the end of the year 1980, and 200-
O 1
250 units annually between 1980 and 1985.
Redevelopment efforts in the late 1970's and planned to 1980 include the construction of 825 medium- and high-priced condominiums in addition to 100 new dwelling units for elderly persons in downtown Denver (see Summary of Major Projects on page 54). Redevelopment efforts are also increasing the variety of activities and opportunities which attract and encourage intense human activity. Evaluation of Downtown Population
The redevelopment efforts to increase downtown residential areas have undergone the greatest time lag between concept development and implementation. Unfortunately, that time lag has delayed the influx of permanent residents to the downtown area and therefore has delayed achievement of the downtown paradigm.
The efforts in the late 1970's and planned to 1980 will result in substantial downtown residential expansion. However, the demand projected above for downtown dwelling units beyond 1980 must also be addressed. As previously mentioned in the section on land use, residential development in the near future may combine with concerns about the impending energy shortage, and the result may be increased demand for affordable housing in or near the CBD. The availability of land for additional residential areas is somewhat limited, and the Skyline plans have required twelve years for implementation. Perhaps the increased demand for residential areas will quicken the pace of redevelopment efforts in Lower Downtown, particularly in the provision of residential units.
81
"Housing Market Study for the Skyline Project", pp. 67-74.
58


Denver Center for the Performing Arts


The downtown paradigm offers no provision for a skid row subculture; unfortunately, neither do Denver's plans and policies for the downtown area. Coordination among social welfare agencies, the Denver Planning Office, and the private sector will most likely be required to adequately address and resolve the problems of the "final" relocation of that segment of the population.
Only through ongoing planning and redevelopment efforts which address the permanent population in downtown residential areas will Denver achieve the downtown paradigm. Several important factors which influence the attraction of a permanent population to the CBD are the activities and other amenities offered there.
Cultural and Historical Aspects
As indicated in Chapter 1, the downtown historically offered a variety of intellectual, cultural, architectural, and aesthetic activities and opportunities. Denver's plans and policies support the provision of these activities as well as historic preservation in the downtown area. Many cultural and historical redevelopment efforts have implemented Denver's plans and policies during the last decade.
The emphasis in Lower Downtown has been historic preservation and reuse of significant areas such as Market Center and Union Station primarily through implementation of the B-7 zone district. Similar preservation efforts are evidenced by the various designated landmarks such as the Daniels § Fisher Tower, 9th Street Park District, Tramway Cable Building, and Larimer Square.
The government sectors in downtown Denver contribute to the cultural and historical aspects with the Civic Center, art museum, public library, Judicial and Heritage Centers, and the Auraria Higher Education Center. Other cultural and historical aspects of downtown Denver include the Denver Center for the
59


% F Twwer aim2 Sky 1 iume* s aurk (Damttmal (CxmqpJlex


Performing Arts (DCPA) and the Japanese cultural center at Sakura Square. The DCPA blends the historical with the cultural by effectively mixing the modern architecture of the theaters and concert hall with the 1910 style of the auditorium.
All of the cultural and historical aspects of downtown Denver provide various levels of intense human activity. The Civic Center, art museum, cultural centers, Auraria Higher Education Center, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts are located only in the CBD and therefore represent the central meeting places for the respective activities they provide. They attract people to daily activities (library, art museum, Civic Center, Auraria Center) as well as evening and weekend activities (DCPA, Larimer Square, Sakura Square). Evaluation of Downtown Cultural and Historical Aspects
As indicated above, Denver's plans and policies support cultural and historical opportunities in the downtown area; the downtown paradigm also provides these opportunities. Downtown Denver has essentially implemented the plans and policies, and achieved the cultural and historical aspects of the downtown paradigm.
The redevelopment of cultural and historical aspects in downtown Denver has increased the variety of activities which attract and encourage intense human activity. For example, street life has been directly increased by tours of historic areas, the annual Octoberfest in Larimer Square, and the Cherry Blossom Festival in Sakura Square. The Folklife Festival, the Denver Symphony's fund-raising Marathon, concerts, plays, parades, and a wide variety of other activities regularly draw large numbers of people to the CBD. Daily activities offered by the art museum, library, and Auraria Higher Education Center have been extended to evenings and weekends.
Consequently, the cultural and historical aspects of downtown Denver provide adequate amenities for a permanent population in the CBD as well as for
60




the metropolitan area. Other amenities which should be offered by the downtown area are addressed in the next section.
Urban Design
The primary factors addressed by urban design are: 1) the overall environment; 2) buildings, spaces, and linkages; 3) the quality of each; and 4) the interrelationships among them. The intense activity in the downtown area prescribes an overall compactness as indicated in Denver's plans and policies. Redevelopment efforts during the last decade have maintained the compactness of downtown Denver.
Numerous buildings have been constructed or rehabilitated in each of the downtown sectors, as previously indicated in the section on land use. Some of the structures have contributed impressive architectural styles to the downtown area or blended well with existing architecture.
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Sakura Square, Art Museum, Anaconda Tower/ Fairmont Hotel, Champa Centre, D 5 F Tower, Market Center, and Tramway Cable Building are notable examples. The designs of other structures such as Dravo Plaza, Skyline and Sunset Park Apartments, Energy Center One, and Mountain Bell were dictated by economics to a larger extent than by aesthetic quality. Fortunately, the activities offered in the new structures tend to diminish some of the design shortcomings.
The quality of a building is also measured by the spaces created within or near the structure. For example, the plazas built near United Bank, Mountain Bell, May D 5 F (Zeckendorf), 1st of Denver, Dravo Plaza, Park Central, and Prudential Plaza contribute significantly to the overall quality of the structures (See Appendix C). Similarly, skyway bridges between buildings add diversity to the design and provide linkages among various activities. The skyways at Prudential Plaza/Mountain Bell, Sakura
61


Square, May D § F/Hilton Hotel, and the Brown Palace Hotel are the first of several skyways planned for downtown Denver.
Skyline Park represents the major redeveloped open space in downtown Denver. The Civic Center, created during the City Beautiful movement near the turn of the century, also contributes significant open space and a monumentality appropriate to government structures. Smaller "vest pocket" parks such as the 9th Street Park and those near Dravo Plaza, Energy Center One, and Currigan Hall provide attractive, landscaped areas that offer a brief respite from the intense activities in downtown Denver.
Parks, greenbelts, and open spaces can also serve as linkages between buildings or between downtown sectors. The plazas and skyway bridges mentioned above can combine with bicycle paths, malls, and pedestrian ways (including auto restricted zones) to provide an integrated system of linkages throughout the downtown area. Currently, an integrated system of linkages for downtown Denver is still in the planning and design phases. Little implementation of those plans has occurred during the 1970's, but significant efforts, such as the 16th Street Mall, are planned for the near future.
Existing and proposed spaces and linkages integrate good design elements of the downtown paradigm, such as special paving, lighting, graphic design, sculpture, fountains, seating, bollards, trees, and planters. The rehabilitated historic buildings in Larimer Square and Lower Downtown combine with the design elements of the spaces and linkages throughout the CBD to maintain a human scale and high level of interest for people.
Evaluation of Downtown Urban Design
As indicated in Chapter 3, Denver's plans and policies, particularly those developed in the late 1970's, address downtown urban design. Although
62


Proposed 16th Street Transitway/Mal1


() MAJOR DOWNTOWN ----- FUNCTIONAL AREAS
III! INTENSIVE PEDESTRIAN SYSTEM WITHIN FUNCTIONAL AREAS
PEDESTRIAN LINKAGES BETWEEN MAJOR FUNCTIONAL AREAS
SECONDARY PEDESTRIAN LINKAGES BETWEEN ACTIVITY CENTERS
PEDESTRIAN GATEWAYS TO ADJACENT NEIGHBORHOODS
63


I


improvements to the plans are necessary, downtown Denver's urban design has been changed and improved during the last decade. However, considerable redevelopment efforts will be required in the future to implement the plans and to achieve the urban design of the downtown paradigm.
The current delay is primarily caused by the time lag between concept development and implementation. An important cause of delay in implementation of the 14th Street Pedestrian Way is an apparent breakdown in the partnership between the public and private sectors, in which economics is prevailing over improvements in urban design.
The variety of building design quality in downtown Denver will likely continue as independent designs are developed according to diverse criteria. An architectural review board has been proposed several times during the past decade, but remains to be established. Such a review board may contribute to a higher quality of design and to a better sense of continuity among the various downtown sectors.
As defined in Chapter 2, urban design involves the creation of improved urban aesthetics, order, convenience, and beauty. Downtown Denver is being redeveloped into clean, aesthetically attractive sectors, but has only begun to achieve the urban design of the downtown paradigm.
CONCLUSION
"All of this urban renaissance in Denver represents investments of well over $500 million, a markedly changing skyline and ambiance, and the advent of
OO
a bustling metropolitan Denver. Urban living is clearly having a revival."
82
"Denver: Boom Town 79", p. 30.
64


A shop on Blake Street in Lower Downtown
Auraria Higher education Center (above)
Currigan exhibition Hall (above)


Indeed, redevelopment efforts during the last decade have significantly improved downtown Denver. Private investment in Larimer Square led the redevelopment, and the efforts of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority literally cleared the way for improvements throughout the CBD. As indicated in Chapter 3, Denver's plans and policies for downtown redevelopment have responded to changing goals as well as changing political and economic conditions. Similarly, downtown Denver's redevelopment efforts have evolved during the last decade, resulting in improved implementation of the plans and policies.
Because of the redevelopment efforts since 1970, the economics, and cultural and historical aspects of downtown Denver are essentially those of the downtown paradigm. Considerable progress has also been made toward achieving the land use pattern of the paradigm, but additional improvements will be required in the future. Downtown Denver's population and urban design fall short of the downtown paradigm by a substantial margin. Recent plans for expanded residential areas are not adequate to meet future demand and further housing redevelopment will be necessary in the near future.
Denver's urban design plans are comprehensive but restrained; expansion of the proposed concepts and further redevelopment efforts are required.
Thus, downtown Denver redevelopment efforts from 1970 to 1980 have made significant progress toward achieving the following essential elements of the downtown paradigm:
1) Diversity and variety as the focal point and vital center of the city
2) Accessibility to the CBD in terms of transit
4) Cultural opportunities and historic preservation
6) High quality physical, social, and economic environments
8) Public/private partnership which maintains downtown quality
However, as indicated above in the evaluations, redevelopment efforts must be expanded to fully implement Denver's plans and policies, and to achieve the following elements of the paradigm:
65


2) Accessibility within the CBD by means of auto-free zones, pedestrian ways, open space, bicycle paths, etc.
3) Intense human activity and street life
5) High quality urban design and aesthetics
7) Continuity with the rest of the city
The ideal downtown Denver is evolving, but it has not yet been achieved. Chapter 5 summarizes the progress that has been made in terms of plans, policies, and redevelopment efforts, and offers a prognosis for downtown Denver.
66


*******





1 in *-(v
Legend
1. 16th Street Transitway/Mali
2. Northwest Terrrunal and Future RTD Headquarters
3. Southeast Terminal and Joint Development
4. Lincoln Court Building
5. Amoco Tower At Columbia Plaza
6. Cosmopolitan Place
7. Great West Life Towers
8. 1641 California Building
9. 410 Building
10. Anaconda Tower At Denver Square
11. Fairmont Hotel At Denver Square
12. Energy Center One
13. Mountain Bell Service Center
14. One Denver Place
15. Bus Terminal
16. Barcel Plaza (208 condominiums plus office and retail)
17. Energy Plaza Building
18. Realty Investment Inc. Protect
19. VO A Residence (100 condominiums)
20. Blake Street Bath& Racquet Club
21. Union Station
22. Market Center
23. The Windsor (164 condominiums)
24. Lanmer Towers (244 condominiums)
25. Lanmer Place (168 condominiums)
26. Wnter Square (42 condominiums plus office and retail)
27. Lanmer Square
28. Dravo Plaza
29. D&F Tower
30. Champa Center
31. Denver Center For The Performing Ants
32. Cherry Creek Park
33. Aurana Higher Education Center
34. Den ver A tnletic Club Expansion
35. Paramount Theater Rehabilitation
36. International Athletic Club
67


68




CHAPTER 5
DOWNTOWN DENVER REDEVELOPMENT: CONCLUSIONS
"Men come together in cities in order to live. They remain together in order to live the good life."
- Aristotle, Politics
Cities offer high quality urban living the good life by providing for the needs of the residents. Needs change, and so must cities. By nature, human beings seek an identity or focus. Cities must provide a focus for urban living, and the ideal focus is the downtown. Thus, the downtown is the critical element of the total purpose and function of the city.
In the evolution of the city, recent changes caused significant decline of the CBD. The greatest impacts occurred after World War II as a result of proliferation of the automobile, federal subsidies for suburban housing, and the resulting urban sprawl. After a period of considerable blight and deterioration, the importance of the CBD as the central, primary activity center of the city is once again being recognized and downtown redevelopment is being addressed. Downtown Denver did not experience blight and deterioration to the extent endured by other cities. However, in spite of the diverse economy of the CBD and its role as a regional center, some decline became evident in downtown Denver during the 1950's.
Although the structure of the downtown is the product of complex political, social, and economic pressures, flexible plans and design concepts can define the desired structure. The desired structure of the ideal downtown is described by the paradigm in Chapter 2. The diverse, cosmopolitan downtown suggested by the paradigm is a contemporary version
69


of the Greek agora and the Roman forum. An environment in which to express creativity and to appreciate aesthetic quality, the ideal downtown is based on a communitarian perspective and intense human activity. The essential elements of the ideal downtown as detailed in the paradigm are:
1) Diversity and variety as the focal point and vital center of the city
2) Accessibility to the CBD in terms of transit and within the CBD by means of auto-free zones, pedestrian ways, etc.
3) Intense human activity and street life
4) Cultural opportunities and historic preservation
5) High quality urban design and aesthetics
6) High quality physical, social, and economic environments
7) Continuity with the rest of the city
8) Public/private partnership which maintains downtown quality
Early plans, such as those developed by the Denver Urban Renewal
Authority, addressed clearance of the blighted areas of downtown Denver and suggested redevelopment criteria. However, the plans and policies of the 1960's furthered previous emphasis on the automobile and did not propose redevelopment of the CBD as the central, primary activity center for the city as suggested by the downtown paradigm. Private efforts during the 1960's, such as the redevelopment of Larimer Square in 1963, offered a glimpse of quality improvements but remained isolated, independent actions that did not substantially achieve the elements of the downtown paradigm.
During the 1970's, plans and policies for downtown Denver redevelopment improved significantly. Energy consumption, traffic congestion, air pollution, and urban sprawl became issues which influenced downtown redevelopment, and the quality of urban living became the appropriate basis for planning and design in the CBD. "Policies for the Development of Downtown Denver," "Lower Downtown Development Guidelines," and the "Downtown Denver Development Plan" offer comprehensive and substantive direction for redevelopment efforts, although improvements are necessary as indicated in Chapter 3.
Actual redevelopment efforts during the last decade have reflected
70


VMMj&TTi
lULLLLUL^LLi.c.
T T r \ v yxt: in i t-TT^ rm


the plans and policies for downtown Denver. However, some of the redevelopment efforts have achieved more than others in terms of the downtown paradigm as indicated in Chapter 4. Economics, and cultural and historical aspects of the CBD have improved since 1970 and have begun to reflect the paradigm. But work remains in the enhancement of the downtown land use pattern, and substantial efforts will be required before the population and urban design of downtown Denver can display the quality of the downtown paradigm.
In summary, plans, policies, and redevelopment efforts since 1970 have made substantial inroads toward achieving the following essential elements of the downtown paradigm in Denver:
1) Diversity and variety as the focal point and vital center of the city
2) Accessibility to the CBD in terms of transit
4) Cultural opportunities and historic preservation
6) High quality physical, social, and economic environments
8) Public/private partnership which maintains downtown quality
However, the plans, policies, and redevelopment efforts since 1970 fall substantially short of achieving the following elements of the paradigm in downtown Denver:
2) Accessibility within the CBD by means of auto-free zones, pedestrian ways, open space, bicycle paths, etc.
3) Intense human activity and street life
5) High quality urban design and aesthetics
7) Continuity with the rest of the city
These elements of the ideal downtown must be addressed in the future if downtown Denver is to achieve the quality of the paradigm. Hopefully the partnership of the public and private sectors will continue to cooperatively strive for the achievement of the ideal downtown. Good relationships have been fostered during the last decade among the Denver Planning Office, the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, Downtown Denver, Inc., the
72


73


Denver Chamber of Commerce, the Regional Transportation District, downtown merchants and businessmen, and private developers. The cooperative efforts of these public and private groups will continue to be a critical element of Denver's achievement of the downtown paradigm.
In conclusion, the political and economic environments of the 1970's have been suitable for substantial improvements in downtown Denver. In my estimation, Denver has progressed more than halfway during the last decade toward achieving the downtown paradigm. However, ongoing plans, policies, and redevelopment efforts must evolve in order to achieve and maintain the downtown paradigm. Phil Milstein of Downtown Denver, Inc., Doug Goedert of the Denver Planning Office, and others agree that five to ten years of additional efforts will be required before Denver achieves the ideal downtown. Attainment of the paradigm can be assisted and monitored by means of the sample survey questionnaire in Appendix D, which can be used as one mechanism to obtain citizen input and encourage public participation in the redevelopment of downtown Denver.
Ideal, diverse, and cosmopolitan are relative terms. The paradigm itself must evolve and be responsive to changing needs of the city's residents. Responsible leadership by the public and private sectors will improve downtown plans, policies, and redevelopment, and the quality of urban living will reach the highest level of excellence. Downtown Denver will provide the focal point of that achievement.
74


THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIORS STANDARDS FOR REHABILITATION
AND
Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings
The following "Standards for Rehabilitation" shall be used by the Secretary of the Interior when determining if a rehabilitation project qualifies as "certified rehabilitation" pursuant to the Tax Reform Act of 1976. These standards appear in Section 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 67.
1. Every reasonable effort shall be made to provide a compatible use for
a property which requires minimal alteration of the building, structure, or site and its environment, or to use a property for its originally Intended
purpose.
2. The distinguishing original qualities or character of a building, structure, or site and its environment shall not be destroyed. The removal or alteration of any historic material or distinctive architectural features should be avoided when possible.
3. All buildings, structures, and sites shall be recognized as products of their own time. Alterations that have no historical basis and which seek to create an earlier appearance shall be discouraged.
4. Changes which may have taken place in the course of time are evidence of the history and development of a building, structure, or site and its environment. These changes may have acquired significance in their own right, and this significance shall be recognized and respected.
3. Distinctive stylistic features or examples of skilled craftsmanship which characterize a building, structure, or site shall be treated with sensitivity.
6. Deteriorated architectural features shall be repaired rather than replaced, wherever possible. In the event replacement is necessary, the new material should match the material being replaced in composition, design, color, texture and other visual qualities. Repair or replacement of missing architectural features should be based on accurate duplications of features, substantiated
by historic, physical, or pictorial evidence rather than on conjectural designs or the availability of different architectural elements from other buildings or structures.
7. The surface cleaning of structures shall be undertaken with the gentlest means possible. Sandblasting and other cleaning methods that will damage the historic building materials shall not be undertaken.
8. Every reasonable effort shall be made to protect and preserve archeological resources affected by, or adjacent to any project.
APPENDIX A
9. Contemporary design for alterations and additions to existing properties shall not be discouraged when such alterations and additions do not destroy sifnificant historical, architectural or cultural material, and such design is compatible with the size, scale, color, material, and character of the property, neighborhood or environment.
10. Wherever possible, new additions or alterations to structures shall be done in such a manner that if such additions or alterations were to be removed in the future, the essential form and Integrity of the structure would be unimpaired.
GUIDELINES FOR APPLYING THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR'S STANDARDS FOR REHABILITATION
The following guidelines are designed to help individual property owners formulate plans for the rehabilitation, preservation, and continued use of old buildings consistent with the intent of the Secretary of the Interior's "Standards for Rehabilitation." The guidelines pertain to buildings of all occupancy and construction types, sizes, and materials. They apply to permanent and temporary construction on the exterior and interior of historic buildings as well as new attached or adjacent construction, although not all work implied in the Standards and guidelines is required for each rehabilitation project.
Techniques, treatments, and methods consistent with the Secretary's "Standards for Rehabilitation" are listed in the "recommended" column on the left. Those techniques, treatments, and methods which may adversely affect a building's architectural and historic qualltites are listed in the "not recommended" column on the right. Every effort will be made to update and expand the guidelines as additional techniques and treatments become known.
Specific information on rehabilitation and preservation technology may be obtained by writing to the Technical Preservation Services Division, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. 20240, or the appropriate State Historic Preservation Officer. Advice should also be sought from qualified professionals, including architects, architectural historians, and archeologists, skilled in the preservation, restoration, and rehabilitation of old buildings.
THE ENVIRONMENT
l\eaormorj[o.ii
Hot Feeorrmendcd
Retaining distinctive features such as the size, scale, mass, color, and materials of buildings, Including roofs, porches, and stairways that give a neighborhood its distinguishing character .
Introducting new construction into neighborhoods which is incompatible with the character of the district because of size, scale, color, and materials.


Retaining landscape features such as parks, gardens, street lights, signs, benches, walkways, streets, alleys and building setbacks which have traditionally linked buildings to their environment .
Using new plant materials, fencing, walkways, street lights, signs, and benches which are compatible with the character of the neighborhood in size, scale, materia] and color.
Destroying the relationship of buildings and their environment by widening existing streets, changing paving material, or by introducing inappropriately located new streets and parking lots incompatible with the character of the neighborhood.
Introducing signs, street lighting, benches, new plant materials, fencing, walkways, and paving materials which are out of scale or inappropriate to the neighborhood.
BUILDING SITE
Recommended
Identifying plants, trees, fencing, walkways, outbuildings, and other elements which might be an impor-^ tant part of the property's history
qs and development.
Retaining plants, trees, fencing, walkways, street lights, signs, and benches which reflect the property's history and development.
Basing decisions for new site work on actual knowledge of the past appearance of the property found in photographs, drawings, newspapers, and tax records. If changes are made they should be carefully evaluated in light of the past appearance of the site.
Providing proper site and roof drainage to assure that water does not splash against building or foundation walls, nor drain toward the building.
Not Recormended
Making changes to the appearance of the site by removing old plants, trees, fencing, walkways, outbuildings, and other elements before evaluating their importance in the property's history and development .
Leaving plant materials and trees in close proximity to the building that may be causing deterioration of the historic fabric.
Archeological features
Recommended
Not Recormended
Leaving known archeological resources intact. Installing underground utilities, pavements, and other modern features that disturb archeological resources.
Minimizing disturbance of terrain around the structure, thus reducing the possibility of destroying unknown archeological resources. Introducing heavy machinery or equipment into areas where their presence may disturb archeological resources.
Arranging for archeological survey by a professional archeologist of all terrain that roust be disturbed during the rehabilitation program.
BUILDING: STRUCTURAL SYSTEMS
Recommended Not Recommended
Recognizing the special problems inherent in the structural systems of historic buildings, especially where there are visible signs of cracking, deflection, or failure. Disturbing existing foundations with new excavations that undermine the structural stability of the building.
Undertaking stabilization and repair of weakened structural members and systems. Replacing historically important structural members only when necessary. Supplementing existing structural systems when damaged or Inadequate. Leaving known structural problems untreated which will cause continuing deterioration and will shorten the life of the structure.