Imagining 20 years into central Denver’s future, council sees a new high-density neighborhood — and “ripple” effects

Elitch Gardens has been a Denver mainstay since 1890 and has been a huge part of Denverites' lives since then. However, the owners are interested in a redevelopment of the area and the city just approved the plans.

This year, the owners of Elitch Gardens finally confirmed that they are interested in redeveloping the amusement park near downtown Denver.

They laid out a vision of thousands of new apartment units and condos in skyscrapers along the South Platte River. Eventually, that plan could see Elitch’s moved to another location.

That plan is years from reality — but it gained an important endorsement on Monday as the Denver City Council discussed the broad idea of a new urban center near downtown, including the tough questions of flooding, affordability and the future of Elitch Gardens.

Ultimately, they approved an overall plan for the area in an 11-0 vote.

Here’s what they actually did.

The city’s leaders approved a new area plan. Basically, it’s a broad set of ideals and ideas for the area between Interstate 25, Auraria Parkway and Speer Boulevard.

Those borders surround not just Elitch’s but also the Pepsi Center and a whole lot of parking, plus a couple rail stations, and the plan covers a period of up to 20 years.

The new plan is not set in stone, but it sets the path for the city’s planners and leaders in the decades ahead — especially as developer Rhys Duggan works on his own plans for the amusement park area.

Duggan could bring skyscrapers and thousands of people, though that could take decades


A proposed area plan for the South Platte River area. (City and County of Denver)

Among other recommendations, the new plan suggests:

  • New public spaces, plus a mix of building sizes and land uses
  • A revitalized riverfront, with public access and activity along the South Platte
  • A focus on transit, with parking maximums that limit the number of spots, rather than parking minimums
  • Improved connections to neighboring areas, potentially including new pedestrian/bike bridges over the river and I-25, plus new bike/pedestrian infrastructure for the East 37th Avenue bridge over I-25

The plan also emphasizes the idea of economic diversity. It suggests that the city will encourage developers to build units with lower rents and price points within the neighborhood.

One strategy could be to allow developers to build larger buildings if they include lower-cost housing — similar to its approach near 38th and Blake. Duggan also has said he wants to bring workforce housing to his potential development.

For more information on the development plans and to hear what Denver city council members said visit The Denverite.





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