Tag Archives: Urban Development

Transit Alliance_Daniel Jennings

MURP Students Participate in The Transit Alliance’s Citizens’ Academy

March 30, 2017

While MURP students have much to learn in the classroom about urban and regional planning, Denver itself also offers a vast network of resources, organizations and opportunities for students to engage in real-life planning scenarios.

The Transit Alliance, a local non-profit organization dedicated to empowering citizens to transform Colorado’s mobility future, provides such occasions through its Citizens’ Academy, which is a seven-week workshop that brings together Denver-based transit advocates. The academy serves to educate and motivate community stakeholders by encouraging their involvement to advance transit, active transportation and increased freedom of mobility.

Daniel Jennings, current MURP student, participated in the academy in Spring 2016. “I had just applied to the MURP program and was eager to get involved in the world of urban planning…participating in the academy allowed for me to be introduced to other planning advocates, and got me excited about the program,” Jennings said.

As part of The Transit Alliance, which focuses on policy and advocacy through its work, the Citizens’ Academy is an avenue for community members interested in Colorado’s transportation and mobility options to build leadership capacity, participate in forums of constructive dialogue about transit, and meet others who share similar and different viewpoints about where they see Colorado’s mobility future.

For Jennings, the Citizens’ Academy—which took place one night a week for seven-weeks—introduced him to different topics tied to transit, with the program often featuring speakers working in greater Denver’s transportation arena, including representatives from Denver Regional Council of Governments, Regional Transportation District and Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. The academy also featured field trips to experience mobility options in Denver, including a trip to Denver International Airport to ride the University of Colorado A Line that recently opened to the public.

“Overall, the goal of the program was to connect you with other people that had similar interests related to transit, and to get participants thinking about how they could become transit advocates in their own community,” Jennings said. For instance, each participant created an action plan for their own community, which could range in ambition from simply taking your family for a ride on the light rail to investigating how to promote bus rapid transit in Denver.

Given his specific interest in increasing walkability within communities, Jennings’ project focused on improving walking conditions in Denver’s Lincoln Park-La Alma neighborhood. Through The Transit Alliance and work on his action plan, Jennings was also introduced to other transit and mobility-related organizations in Denver, such as WalkDenver and the Community Active Living Coalition.

“The Transit Alliance was a great introduction for me to the world I was about to enter with the MURP program,” Jennings said. “I was able to talk with and learn first-hand from planners, architects and other community members. Since a big part of graduate school is meeting people who are working in your desired profession, the Citizens’ Academy gave me a head start.”

Since beginning in 2007, The Transit Alliance’s Citizens’ Academy has graduated more than 800 community members interested in improving mobility throughout Colorado.

To learn more about The Transit Alliance, visit:  http://www.transitalliance.org/.


Urban Designer and Author Julie Campoli Speaks at CAP Lecture Series

October 18, 2016

As part of the Fall 2016 College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) lecture series, urban designer and author Julie Campoli spoke at a brown bag lunch event and an evening lecture—each which drew several dozen attendees—during her day-long visit to the college.

Campoli, who owns Burlington, Vermont-based practice, Terra Firma Urban Design, is author or co-author of three books addressing the urban form and its changing landscape, including her most recent title, Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form, which explores sustainable transportation in the built environment through use of photographs, montages, maps and diagrams of North American neighborhoods. In addition to her writing and work as a consultant through her design firm—which specializes in town design, land use analysis and site planning for affordable housing—Campoli conducts lectures and workshops throughout the United States on walkability, density, housing, sustainable transportation and green infrastructure.

Campoli’s afternoon lecture, Solvitur Ambulando: It Is Solved by Walking, explored how changes in transportation speed over the past century—such as through the evolution of the carriage, train, and finally, the automobile—has altered the urban landscape and its form. As a result, Campoli argues for a resurgence in walking as a primary mode of transportation, so as to lead to more humane cities and a higher quality of life

During her talk, Campoli noted two significant challenges to our health and built environment—the fact that people are no longer moving, and that they are separated from one another. At best, Campoli labels walking in our cities’ built environments as inconvenient; at worst, it can be dangerous. As a result, Campoli discussed how urban designers and planners have the opportunity to promote increased physical and social connection by retrofitting places to be denser and more compact. By redefining a place’s physical boundaries, and placing less focus on the needs of the automobile as it relates to land use and transportation decisions, Campoli advocates for attending to the needs of people who travel on foot. By doing so, our cities have occasion to serve as catalysts for increased social encounters that lead to a greater sense of happiness.

Campoli’s evening lecture, There Will Be Cupcakes: Gentrification and Displacement in Walkable Places, looked at how placing restored value in many of our inner-city neighborhoods via place-making and public investments has led to improved physical form and connectivity, but has also ushered in higher property values and the threat of cultural and economic displacement. Campoli asked some difficult questions—including how a neighborhood can be transformed while remaining home to its original residents, and how cities can address the growing need for increased affordable housing—by using the revitalization of Columbus, Ohio as a case study.

While answers to these questions are not easy to come by, Campoli examined several strategies to promote “development without displacement,” including strengthening the existing community through advocacy and representation; actively protecting a city’s most vulnerable citizens; protecting and preserving affordable housing; and enacting an inclusive planning process, including inclusionary zoning practices that require a certain percentage of housing units be kept at affordable rates.

For more information on Julie Campoli and her work, visit http://www.juliecampoli.com/.

Photo credit: http://www.juliecampoli.com/

RiNo Studio Project

Fall 2016 Planning Project Studio Explores RiNo Art District

September 7, 2016

This fall, Assistant Professor Carrie Makarewicz’s Planning Project Studio—a class that focuses on teaching second-year Master of Urban and Regional Planning students how to design plans for real-world clients—are working in Denver’s River North (RiNo) Art District, a quickly developing neighborhood northeast of downtown that has long been home to the residences and studios of working artists.

Though an area originally utilized for industrial purposes, the creation of the arts district in 2005, coupled with its designation as a Colorado Creative District by the State of Colorado, has quickly made RiNo an area of fast-paced commercial, business and residential urban growth.

In the studio, students’ objective is to create a quality-of-life plan for RiNo and its surrounding neighborhoods, including developing design and zoning strategies, financing tools, developer incentives, accessibility improvements, employment diversification and the identification of essential missing uses.

To meet these ends, students are working with two clients, including Create Denver—a division of the City and County of Denver’s Arts and Venues, which focuses on supporting Denver’s creative economy— as well as the non-profit organization RiNo Art District, which serves to keep RiNo a sustainable arts district for artists and creative businesses.

Create Denver is seeking a plan from the students that promotes the City of Denver’s Imagine2020 cultural strategic plan, including using the arts as method for social change. Similarly, RiNo Art District seeks assistance in adapting to the new, higher density residential development through a plan that provides a high quality of life for the residents and workers in the area while sustaining the area as a vibrant arts district.

“This studio is of particular interest and importance to our students because it touches on so many issues,” Makarewicz says. “It gives them the ability to think about how to be creative with planning designs and tools, given RiNo’s desire to try cutting-edge and innovative ideas.”

The studio is being conducted in conjunction with an environmental and market research project the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) is managing for RiNo Art District, which is exploring the business, commercial, residential and artistic landscapes of the area. CAP professors are frequently engaged in community-based research, and the introduction of this studio was an additional opportunity for the college to align with the University of Colorado Denver’s goals of providing an energetic, collaborative and creative learning environment where community application is encouraged.

Through the planning studio process, students receive hands-on learning experience in infrastructure plans, financing sources and challenges, integrating the area’s long-time industrial uses with new residents and commercial activity, understanding access to and uses within RiNo’s future park, river clean-up, and ensuring the arts are an accessible commodity to all of Denver’s residents.

Makarewicz also notes RiNo’s proximity to Globeville and Elyria Swansea, historic Denver neighborhoods that are struggling with chronic issues such as health and lack of proximity to resources such as grocery stores and parks.

“Students want to explore how to make RiNo more accessible to these neighborhoods,” Makarewicz says. “This is also in line with their clients’ desire to both increase accessibility for all people, which will lend itself to the district’s enrichment, as well as ensure it remains a sustainable area to live and work for artists.”

Students pictured above getting a tour of RiNo with River North Art District Directors Jamie Licko and Alye Sharpe.


Developer Leads Students on Tour of Former Rocky Mountain Seed Company Building

February 5, 2016

Denver, CO – Students in Carrie Makarewicz’s Urban Development class had an opportunity to tour the recently renovated former Rocky Mountain Seed Company building with the developer, Fred Glick. The building, located at 1520 Market Street in Lower Downtown (LoDo), was originally constructed as a grain and produce warehouse, but its current tenants include an IT company, an insurance company, and the flagship showroom for a commercial carpet company. Glick reviewed the process of infill development with the students. He touched on working with the LoDo historic design review board, public works, and utilities and also discussed the process of selecting and working with architects, engineers, general contractors, and, finally, securing and managing tenants. The photo shows the group in the subterranean parking garage.


February 24, 2016: CAP Lecture Series: Karen Umemoto, Chair, DURP at University of Hawai’i

“Community Engagement in the Context of Growth: Lessons from the Kaka’ako Urban Planning Academy”
Karen Umemoto, Professor and Chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
6:00 pm
CAP Building, 1250 14th Street Denver, CO 80202
Room 2005

**Click here to watch Karen’s full lecture online.

Construction cranes fill the skyline of a Honolulu neighborhood, raising anxiety and prompting questions among locals. Who can afford to live in these expensive highrises? In 2015, the University of Hawai’i organized a “public planning academy” in the heart of this redevelopment district. The purpose was to even the playing field of knowledge between citizens, small businesses and developers and encourage more productive public dialogue. Dr. Karen Umemoto, Professor and Chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawai’I at Manoa discussed this experiment in bringing planning education to the public, and how the lessons learned might be useful for planning in Denver.

Dr. Karen Umemoto is co-author of the books Jacked Up and Unjust: Pacific Islander Teens Confront Violent Legacies (2016) and Being Fearless and Fearsome: Colonial Legacies, Racial Constructions, and Male Adolescent Violence (2012), and the chapter “Cultural Diversity” in Rachel Weber and Randall Crane, Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning(Oxford University Press, 2012), and author of The Truce: Lessons from an LA Gang War (Cornell University Press, 2006). She serves on the editorial boards of Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of Planning Education and Research, and Planning Theory, and has been Chair of the Diversity Committee of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. Umemoto holds a Ph.D. in Urban Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, M.A. in Asian American Studies from the University of California at Los Angeles, and B.A. in Interdisciplinary Social Science from San Francisco State University. Her research centers on issues of democracy and social justice in multicultural societies with a focus on U.S. cities; her interests are primarily in planning and governance in multicultural societies, race and ethnic relations, youth and urban violence, and community building.

Kaka‘ako Our Kuleana: A Free Urban Planning Academy for Everyone was a free six-week series of public workshops in October and November 2015 to learn about development issues in the Kaka‘ako neighborhood in Honolulu and to engage in innovative placemaking ideas for Kaka‘ako’s future.

Click here to download the event flyer.


Development at 1401 Lawrence Providing Context for Urban Classroom

March 3, 2015

Denver, CO – New construction is moving along quickly at 1401 Lawrence, directly across the street from the College of Architecture and Planning building where MURP is housed in downtown Denver. For MURP students, this means seeing urban development in action on a daily basis. It also provides context for classroom dialogue; Carrie Makarewicz’s Urban Development class, for example, only had to go as far as the window in its 4th floor classroom to observe the site while discussing the primary stages of real estate development on the first day of class.

Construction broke ground on October 1, 2014 for the 22-story, 298,000 square foot office tower, located on the corner of 14th Street and Lawrence Street. The development was originally slated to be a 55-story condominium tower, but the project was cancelled by Canadian developer Great Gulf Group in May 2008 due to the looming economic crisis. The project changed hands, and is now being developed by Great Gulf Group’s sister company, First Gulf Corporation.

When completed, 1401 Lawrence will feature ground-floor retail, six levels of parking (floors 2 through 7), an outdoor terrace on the 8th floor, and office space on floors 8 through 22.

MURP instructor Ken Schroeppel has been following the tower’s development trajectory closely over the past several years and has provided frequent updates on his DenverInfill Blog. Check out the blog link for a more complete history of the project, additional development photos and renderings of the full project.