Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Karle Seydel scored with Denver's Ballpark Neighborhood

I headed up to the 2000 block of Larimer Street last night -- an area dubbed "NoDo" two decades ago, not just because the map put it right above LoDo, but because of its distinct lack of funds compared to its more prosperous neighbor.

And there I raised a glass to Karle Seydel, an urban planner who coined the term "NoDo," and made sure the neighborhood's historic character survived from his office in the heart of what was then Denver's skid row. He survived economic downturns, and also survived the building boom that began when this area was chosen as the site for Denver's Major League ballpark, Coors Field. Thanks largely to his efforts, Denver has a true Ballpark Neighborhood -- one with bars and restaurants in restored Victorian buildings that were filled with people out enjoying the spring evening, even on a non-game day. Karle would have loved it.

But yesterday, I got the news that Karle Seydel had passed away Monday, his body found in the Capitol Hill apartment that, like his Urban Options office on Larimer, is filled with clippings and historic artifacts and evidence of Karle's endless ideas for making this part of the city even better.

The pack of postcards of legendary ballparks that he created when Coors Field opened, for example, and which he began marketing again last Christmas. The plans for beautifying the Larimer streetscape, even if the businesses that lined the street were mostly pawn shops back then. The posters for the chile festival that he and the late Eddie Maestas, who ran Johnny's Market, hosted in the days when there was truly no dough at all in that area -- just a lot of heart.

And Karle Seydel was at the heart of it all.

Raise a glass.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun