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In Aurora, meanwhile, Weil's job will be to encourage arts outposts that have hung on and thrived, like Downtown Aurora Visual Arts and the Aurora Fox, and to keep others from shutting down, like The Other Side Arts did.

Aurora's already done a bang-up job encouraging public art along the corridor, such as Susan Cooper's recent lighting installation, which switched on last fall in the district's Fletcher Plaza. And the success of Vintage Theatre's move to Aurora is catching, as other performance groups begin to look to the area for affordable rents and community camaraderie, raising the possibility of an Aurora-centric theater district that might draw audiences from Denver's Lowry and Stapleton neighborhoods.

Fletcher Plaza will also host the Aurora Arts Festival on June 29 to showcase what's working in the Colfax arts enclave.

Can Sprouts and Chick-fil-A co-exist on East Colfax?
Christopher Morgan
Can Sprouts and Chick-fil-A co-exist on East Colfax?
The State Capitol Building is being refreshed.
Christopher Morgan
The State Capitol Building is being refreshed.

Susan Froyd

Lowenstein Theater Complex

East Colfax Avenue and Elizabeth Street

Early on the morning of February 27, sixteen-year-old Deyondrah Bridgeman waited with her black-and-neon Hello Kitty backpack to cross East Colfax at Elizabeth Street on her way to class at East High School. Bridgeman was about halfway across the street when a gray sedan blew through a red light and struck her so hard that a witness said she flew through the air. The driver didn't slow down. Instead, a video captured by a nearby HALO camera shows the sedan driving away as Bridgeman lay bleeding in the street with a severe head injury. Three months later, the now-seventeen-year-old is still in the hospital, struggling to recover and unable to walk.

At 4:30 a.m. the next morning, a thirty-year-old teacher at a charter school in Aurora walked into a police station and told the police she had been behind the wheel.

The intersection where Bridgeman was hit is a busy one. Several times a day, a massive migration occurs as long-haired girls and shaggy-banged boys stream across Colfax in herds. The high-school students spend their lunch money at Chipotle and post up inside the Tattered Cover's cafe, both located inside the Lowenstein Theater Complex, which was rehabbed in 2006 as a retail and cultural center after years of being a nearly vacant eyesore. On one recent afternoon, two freshman girls hurried across the street after school, bound for the Twist & Shout record store, where they spent $18.28 each on a just-released, limited-edition Vampire Weekend LP.

"They are our one true love," the girls explained. "The best band in the world."

And despite the accident, students say they don't hesitate to criss-cross Colfax — sometimes even darting through traffic when they don't have the right-of-way.

Adults have taken things more seriously. In the wake of the hit-and-run and another, less-serious accident involving a student on Colfax that same day, East High's school resource officers met with students "about traffic safety and taking care of each other," says Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson. Those officers have since done at least six so-called speed-enforcement operations around the school, he adds, and increased patrols in the mornings and afternoons, circling the campus in the hopes of slowing traffic.

The city's Department of Public Works hung neon-yellow "School Zone" signs around East, while the intersection at Elizabeth is slated for a new traffic signal this summer that includes two red-yellow-and-green stoplights hanging over the street instead of just one, as well as a new countdown pedestrian walk signal.

The signal changes are a joint venture of the city and the Colorado Department of Transportation, which is footing the bill since Colfax is also a state highway. They were planned before the accident, and Public Works spokeswoman Emily Williams says the new signal will be in place before school starts.

The city has also launched a new campaign called "Heads Up" that encourages drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to pay more attention and take responsibility for their actions. Spurred by an increase in auto-pedestrian accidents — six pedestrians, including two young refugee boys, died in the first three months of this year — the campaign will include billboards, increased warnings and enforcement and radio ads, including one that reportedly features Mayor Michael Hancock singing with the Flobots.

These efforts are exactly the kind that the Capitol Hill United Neighbors group has been suggesting for years. Ever since the old Lowenstein Theater was rehabbed to house the Tattered Cover and other businesses, the stretch of Colfax across from East High has become a hot spot. The complex recently welcomed the new Udi's Pizza Cafe & Bar in the space vacated by Encore restaurant and is now the permanent home of the renamed Sie FilmCenter.

After Bridgeman's accident, the film center hosted a meeting to discuss safety improvements, a conversation that CHUN executive director Roger Armstrong says is continuing. "It's a matter of getting drivers to slow down and...understand that the whole area should be treated as a school zone," he says. Melanie Asmar

The Zephyr Lounge

11940 East Colfax Avenue

Myron Melnick is a working artist. Though he hasn't been able to devote as much time to his craft as he used to since taking over the Zephyr Lounge from his father nearly a decade ago, he still has a studio, and he's still creating pieces and selling them.

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10 comments
From_Denver
From_Denver

Man, I guess I never thought I would see the day people would be so  up in arms about a fried chicken joint being built on Colfax.

Colfax, you've changed. 

ljhliesl
ljhliesl

Sean Mandel deliberately lies when he "insists" he has received "only two complaints" about Chick-Fil-A. I attended a neighborhood meeting in February with about two dozen neighbors, all of whom opposed the restaurant and pointed out the disadvantages and harm it would inflict on the neighborhood. That was just one meeting that people bothered to attend. He might have "received" two complaints by formal business letter, but he has heard and seen and been exposed to many, many more complaints about the restaurant (and about his duplicity). 

Mandel_Ruins_Colfax
Mandel_Ruins_Colfax

Sean Mandel is lying again.  The entire South City Park Association has complained about Chick-a-Fil.  The drive thru does not meet the city's Colfax Plan and was snuck in on lies by him.  The writers need to contact the association and see all he has done to avoid working with us.  He has stated to us that Sprouts is non-viable on it's own as a tenant and they MUST have a drive thru...  We do not trust, nor like him!

Sean, you are not welcome in SCP! Keep coming here on dates and I will harrass you in front of them!

berniedan
berniedan

I was surprised that the article failed to mention Duman's Custom Tailors. It has been right around the corner from the Capitol forever, and if anything demonstrated the eclectic nature of East Colfax Avenue, it was that shop.

Johnny Genova
Johnny Genova

I was gonna say, isn't it the longest street in the country? Cause if its not I've been lying to my out of town peps.

Conor Tewell
Conor Tewell

Fuck that, the longest avenue in the country! Represent

Ariel Amirinoor
Ariel Amirinoor

Savanna Sailas Tashina Morsulus Garett W. McKee COLFAX!!!

jtcolfax
jtcolfax

interesting.  one other thing that should be mentioned is the latter day phenomenon of calling the street, "the Fax".  that is appalling and must cease.

 
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