Auditing the Asphalt Jungle

Development in Denver may be booming, but the downtown core still suffers from a nasty blight holding up potential development and fragmenting the urban environment: surface parking lots.

These desolate stretches of asphalt and pay stations are a remnant of the1980 Denver real-estate bust in which properties earmarked for skyscrapers were hastily retooled into bland surface lots. Since there's little aesthetic oversight over the properties, the majority are grotesque wastelands of sun-baked, shattered concrete, besmirching downtown like festering sores.

Developers would love to get their hands on these prime parcels of real estate, but the surface lots' owners are too content with their sizable hassle-free parking revenues -- or just too ornery and stubborn -- to sell. While a major victory against Denver's "Lot-istan" was achieved earlier this month with the announced redevelopment of the Bank of Denver block, there's still numerous parking pariahs left to kill off.

Thankfully there's one civic booster refusing to rest until every last lot has been replaced by positive development: Ken Schroeppel, the scribe behind DenverInfill.com. On his website and blog, Schroeppel has long railed against his city's surface lots. Now he's taking a new approach: locating the worst downtown parking lot of all, American Idol-style.

Last week he took nominations for "Downtown Denver's Worst Parking Lots." Readers responded with nearly 30 of their least favorite lots, and now he's profiling the five most-nominated eyesores on his blog, such as this one and this one. Once he’s listed all five, the public gets to vote on the worst of the worst. Don’t be left out of the fun – let Denver’s asphalt jungle feel your wrath.

The only problem with the competition: the grand prize doesn't come with an official demolition order. —Joel Warner

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