As any regular reader of DenverInfill knows, we have no love for surface parking in our downtown core. Superficially we believe that they are eyesores, but more important than that, we believe that they are underutilized pieces of prime real estate that suck the vitality from what should be the most pedestrian-oriented part of the city. When you have large areas of parking, there is minimal foot traffic and nothing to engage the people on the streets. From the pedestrian’s perspective, it is essentially a wasteland.

Below are a series of images that show just how much land is consumed by surface parking lots and single-use garages. As DenverInfill’s newest contributor, I originally came up with the idea for our 3D Future Skyline feature. Now I have applied the same method to visualize just how much of our central city is consumed by parking.

Straight down and north oriented:


Tilted and looking southwest:


Wow, that’s a lot of parking! About 237 acres in fact, and 145 acres not counting the giant lots west of Speer. If it wasn’t clear before, it should now be truly apparent why we celebrate infill development here at DenverInfill. Just about every new building that goes up in downtown replaces a surface parking lot and, in turn, puts more feet on the street and draws more people to downtown. It is by every measure a higher and better use of the land.

While it is clear from these images that there are a ton of these parking craters in our downtown, the city has been making huge progress. Within only the past five years, dozens of surface parking lots have been converted to residences, stores, restaurants, offices, and hotels. DenverInfill is an advocate for this progress and we look forward to the day when all these holes in our urban fabric are repaired.


Ryan Keeney is a masters student at the University of Denver studying Geographic Information Science, urban form, and multi-modal transportation.