Whatever grand plan developer Evan Makovsky comes up with for Block 162, construction won't start for several years, at least. In the meantime, the Downtown Denver Partnership has launched the "Ultimate Urban Space" initiative. The non-profit organization is asking community members to e-mail suggestions for creative temporary uses — including during the all-important week next August when the Democratic National Convention is in town — for the 31,000-square-foot section once occupied by the Colonial Hotel and Standish Hotel/Bank of Denver buildings.
The public is ready to incorporate the downtrodden block "back into the downtown fabric," says Sarah McClean, public-relations manager for the Partnership. "At this point, the opportunities are endless. We as a community just have to get creative."
Makovsky won't reveal his master plan (and he may not yet know what it is). In the meantime, here are a few interim ideas from downtown boosters — realistic and otherwise.
· Ken Schroeppel, author of DenverInfill.com: "Block 162 is a great temporary site for a new, year-round downtown farmers' market — taking advantage of, and improving, the urban energy that already exists along that stretch of the mall."
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· Tom Noel, local historian: "Since we honor in Denver only politicians and rich people, why not make this a chance to honor great poets like Thomas Hornsby Ferril, Pulitzer prize-winning dramatists such as Mary Coyle Harvey' Chase, Allen Ginsberg, Ben Lindsey, Isabella Bird, LeRoy Hafen, Helen Hunt Jackson — nationally known figures who lived in and/or wrote about Denver but are all but forgotten here?"
· Brian Klipp, Denver architect and co-designer of Block 162's future master plan: "Denver's always been a very environmentally conscious community, and we are thinking about how we can apply that idea of sustainability to the block in a practical way. There are lots of interesting technologies being explored around the country. Or we could use the site to test ways to filter and cleanse water before it's discharged into the storm sewer."
· Richard Scharf, president of the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau: "Let's have a year-round Cirque du Soleil tent there. They work well in Vegas."
· Mykel Martinez, co-owner of the 15th Street Tavern: "Music or art festivals. Stuff like that would be cool."