By Joel Warner
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Nonetheless, the Blueprint Colfax East committee has divided that four-mile stretch into "Capitol Village," "Midtown Village" and the "Colfax Promenade" to help achieve its vision of a "multi-modal and residential 'Main Street' that complements and sustains the nearby neighborhoods and encourages walking, biking and transit use." Sounds like a reasonable, innocuous goal, but we could have lived without the Shea Homes-esque rhetoric. This is not Reunion, after all. Hick's gung-ho on Richard Florida, and the author of Rise of the Creative Class is pretty clear that the key to a vibrant city is making it appealing to artists and other creative types -- not taming it and then expecting droves of suburbanites to come buy fake lofts in areas with dull names like "Midtown Village."
But if Colfax must be packaged up and parceled out, Off Limits has a few suggestions.
At a neighborhood meeting two weeks ago, senior city planner Katharine Cornwell suggested that the strip between Broadway and Downing be likened to a 24-hour marketplace or Greenwich Village -- thus, Capitol Village. This area will involve boutique hotels, mixed-use buildings and "activity extenders" and "activity inducers," as well as an adjustment in arcane zoning rules. But that doesn't take things far enough.
Why not rename this section "Pussy Galore" in honor of its biggest landmark -- Kitty's Pleasure -- and convert the Newhouse Hotel and other abandoned buildings into upscale hooker and homeless housing, thereby solving all the city's solicitation problems at once? Tourists and soccer moms now so fearful of the pesky panhandlers on the 16th Street Mall would be free to roam that corporate theme park without having to think about the less fortunate, and Hizzoner's goal of ending homelessness within ten years would be met in a mere ten months. Also, the Denver Police Department would save all the man-hours and expense squandered on its frequent panty raids, and no prostitute would again feel gentrified off of Colfax. Instead, we'd be honoring this marginalized group's vital contribution to the community! And by charging tax on hookers' services, the city could further increase the expected sales-tax revenue boon from the area's redevelopment.
For the next section, between Downing and York, city planners suggest residential and office use over first-floor retail for Midtown Colfax. Most important, however, is bringing "residents to the area that are able to support these businesses," Cornwell says. Well, if that's the case, it's time for Denver to have its very own "Crack Town." No more will pushers need to irritate Capitol Hill's Unsinkables and other neighbors with their irascible whisperings along 13th Avenue and Pearl Street. They can simply be relocated to Colfax, setting up shop in the first-floor retail. Then, when customers are completely bombed, they can go upstairs to a well-appointed come-down room.
The only remaining question is what to do with the final stretch to Colorado Boulevard, "designed to preserve and protect a balanced base of local owner/operator retailers. The emphasis in this area will be neighborhood-serving with higher density mixed-use projects integrating housing, office and retail uses." Does Colfax Promenade really capture that? We were thinking more along the lines of "Kentucky Fried Corner." If you have another idea, e-mail email@example.com
Alternative energizing:Littleton resident Marc Gaines owes the city an apology note. Last week he e-mailed Off Limits with the suggestion that Angela Baier be chastised for failing to check whether the line "An Energizing Place to Be," which proved to be the most popular branding message at the Denver360marketing summit she hosted on February 18, had been registered by anyone. Turns out it has -- by Gaines himself. On February 19, he registered both www.AnEnergizingPlacetoBe.com and www.EnergizingPlacetoBe.com through GoDaddy.com.
Now, that's sorry. Very, very sorry.