How many projects does it take before you can say your downtown’s experiencing a building boom? Five? Ten? Pick a number, but Downtown Denver is getting pretty darn close to that point. By my count, there are over twenty projects under construction or proposed in the Downtown Denver area. That’s pretty remarkable considering the severity of the Great Recession of 2008.
This time around, there aren’t too many high-rise towers being proposed (yet). Instead, it’s mostly mid-rise buildings, which is terrific news if you believe (and you should!) that great cities are comprised of a tight-knit fabric of pedestrian-friendly buildings that frame public spaces used for mobility, access, and social interaction. Nothing kills the cohesiveness of an urban environment more than a surface parking lot. Surface parking lots interrupt the continuity of the intensive human-oriented downtown environment and they suck the sense of character out of a place. They are a blight on the cityscape. Surface parking lots are, simply, the antithesis of what urban means. We have too many surface parking lots in and around Downtown Denver, but the good news is that over the past 20 years we have eliminated dozens of parking black-holes in the city center and, lucky for us, this current development boom happens to feature building forms that consume good-sized swaths of asphalt. At this stage in the progression of our city’s urban core, we’ll benefit substantially more from ten 5-story buildings than we would from one 50-story building.
Therefore, this is the first in a series of posts highlighting many of the new Downtown-area infill projects that I’ve been overdue in covering. Since January, my new job with the College of Architecture and Planning at UCD, where I teach full-time in the Master of Urban & Regional Planning program, has kept me exceptionally busy. But, with the Spring semester drawing to a close, now’s the time to catch up on what is really an amazing number of new development projects in central Denver.
So, let’s proceed… on with the infill!