Downtown Denver Plan: Nix Vagrants and Parking Lots

The Downtown Denver Area Plan, which will be discussed tonight at a community forum at the Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., is the theoretical blueprint for what Denver should look like in the year 2027. Judging from the plan, the Mile High City is getting ready for an ambitious 20 years.

The last area plan, unveiled in 1986, highlighted the need to make 16th Street a vibrant central downtown corridor connecting the hubs of Union Station and Civic Center. With that now more or less in place, the new plan calls for second pedestrian-friendly and transit-lined avenue perpendicular to 16th Street located along Larimer Street. These two civic corridors would radiate out to four identified downtown hubs, future centers of activity and development: Union Station, Civil Center, Auraria campus and Arapahoe Triangle.

Redevelopment and revitalization plans are already in place or being actively developed for Union Station, Civic Center and Auraria campus. That just leaves Arapahoe Triangle. For those scratching their heads, wondering where the heck’s Arapahoe Triangle, it’s the area roughly delineated by Broadway, 20th and Blake streets. It’s an area that’s larger than LoDo, and with it’s forgettable parking lots and eyesore buildings, it’s ripe for large-scale infill development — theoretically. Even if the city could somehow convince the area’s ornery parking-lot owners to sell their debilitating surface lots, that still leaves the region’s most recognizable population: the homeless.

Drawn to the shelters and other services located at Park Avenue and Broadway, vagrants are a fact of life in Arapahoe Triangle. Moving them and their services somewhere else is a possibility, except what other Denver neighborhood would take them? Getting Denver to find an acceptable home for its least fortunate — that’s a challenge that may well take a lot longer than 20 years to overcome. – Joel Warner

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner