The vote is in! Thank you to all of you who participated. It was a close battle with Block 001-B, but Block 039, that embarrassing half block of wasteland in the heart of Lower Downtown, has been voted Downtown Denver’s Worst Parking Lot by DenverInfill readers, and a well-deserved title it is. The parking lot on Block 039 is a disgrace. Not only is the lot itself, owned by Blecker LLC and managed by Central Parking Systems, in appalling condition…

but the public right-of-way along Market Street doesn’t even have curb and gutter or a sidewalk:

I’m not sure if that’s ultimately the fault of the city or the property owner (according to city maps, the property line runs right along where the yellow poles are), but the fact that appropriate urban infrastructure, along a key block in the center of our most popular Downtown district, has been conspicuously missing for decades is unacceptable. There is some kind of temporary curb that was installed on top of the asphalt edge a few years ago, but that is now breaking up into big chunks of loose concrete–a pleasant pedestrian enhancement, no?

There are two fundamental, mutually-exclusive problems with parking lots in Downtown Denver: their existence, and their condition. We’re making good progress in removing them from existence through all the urban infill projects that this website purposefully identifies and promotes. But the reality is that even under the most optimistic real estate market scenarios, it will be at least another decade or two before all surface parking lots have been eradicated from the Downtown core. I can live with that as long as we’re making steady progress in getting rid of them. But the woeful condition of the overwhelming majority of these Downtown lots is something we can rectify today, not decades from now. We don’t have to tolerate the deplorable physical state of these parking lots if we don’t want to. As a community, we can–and we must–institute reasonable standards for the phyical and aesthetic quality of existing surface parking lots in Downtown. We already require new parking lots to meet various design requirements, so why not the existing ones too?

We have invested billions of public and private dollars into making Downtown Denver a vibrant and attractive place, yet we allow our existing surface parking lots–which, unfortunately, still permeate all sectors of Downtown–to be maintained in the most egregious of conditions. It doesn’t make any sense. My mission via DenverInfill is to not only celebrate the positive enhancements in Downtown Denver, of which there are many, but also to shine a public light on those areas where we must do better, and to promote effective change. If you feel likewise, please let your voice be heard.

We may be stuck with parking lots for a while longer, but there’s no reason why they can’t be good parking lots–at least in Downtown, where, of all places in our city, we should strive to present our best face to the world.