The Outdoor Downtown

Outdoor Downtown Denver

As Denver continues its unprecedented transformation from a quiet, drive-by city to an urban landscape attracting international attention, urban planners are faced with a daunting task: how does the city encourage growth (i.e. residential and commercial structures) whilst preserving or better yet, expanding public parks and open space.

This is the principle initiative of the The Outdoor Downtown, a collaboration between the Downtown Denver Partnership and Denver Parks and Recreation. Their mission is to create an innovative master plan for Downtown’s outdoor spaces.

As Denver inches up on the scale of most desirable places to live in the nation, the demand for real estate in and around the metro area continues to increase. As we’ve witnessed over the past fifteen years, empty parking lots and once derelict warehouses have been converted into multi-use applications and small bungalows are being exchanged for hip, new rowhomes.

So while this infusion of culture has bestowed captivating architecture, a thriving art scene, innovative restaurants, engaging nightlife, and great shopping on our burgeoning city; how do we ensure that our greenspace isn’t engulfed by developers looking to capitalize on a hot real estate market?

The gold-standard for open space in urban planning is 10 acres per 10,000 residents.  Currently, Denver offers 6.2 acres of open space per 10,000 residents and our 10 year projection reduces the availability of space to 3 acres per 10,000 residents. As our city becomes more densely populated, our access and enjoyment of public space is set to diminish substantially.

Purchasing land to convert to park space is not only cost prohibitive but many would also consider the move to stray from the land’s highest and best use. Not to mention, vacant land is at a premium and will only become more precious with each passing year.

The Outdoor Downtown is focused on maximizing existing opportunities. Through their connections with Denver residents it’s clear that we all crave more outdoor space and in addition to public parks, we want space for engaging friends, neighbors, and community members through the implementation of formal and informal activities, live music, and public displays of art. Citizens have expressed that access to these parks needs to be improved and the parks need to be maintained and safe for their guests.  Many of these ideas have been implemented but are a continuous work in progress.

The allure of Riverfront Park resonates with many Denverites and I anticipate its desirability will only increase given its close proximity and quick access to public transportation and the Central Business District. Furthermore, a swath of the city’s most frequented parks, Commons, Confluence, City of Cuernavaca and the skate park, are omnipresent throughout the neighborhood. Riverfront Park is truly a gem in modern urban planning … another great reason why it’s the best place to live in Denver.

What are your thoughts? We’d like to know what you think of Riverfront Park and Denver’s growth.

Want to engage or learn more? Visit:

The Downtown Denver Partnership: http://www.downtowndenver.com/

The Outdoor Downtown: http://www.theoutdoordowntown.com/

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