Denver Wants Ground Floor Retail, Sidewalk Extensions to Achieve Main Street 'Vibe'

The Arts District on Santa Fe Drive is considered one of Denver's final frontiers for revitalization. Local stakeholders are targeting zoning changes as a potential solution.

2 minute read

March 13, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

A view up Santa Fe Drive in Denver. Stores and construction are visible along the street, and Downtown Denver looms in the background.

Ground floor retail, narrow sidewalks, and construction—one quick glance is all it takes to see the factors contributing to a proposal for a design overlay district along Santa Fe Drive in Denver. | Google Streetview

The city of Denver is considering a design overlay district that would require ground floor retail on a ten-block section of the Arts District on Santa Fe Drive.

"Councilwoman Jamie Torres filed a pre-application last summer calling for a design overlay district — essentially a tweak to the area’s zoning — to be established for the stretch of Santa Fe Drive between 3rd and 13th avenues, as well as some additional areas along 8th Avenue," reports Eric Heinz for the Denver Post.

The stretch of Santa Fe Drive in question is "mostly one- to two-story buildings with numerous art galleries, as well as restaurants and small office users," according to Heinz, although recent years have seen larger-scale development pop up along and around the corridor. The goal of the proposed design overlay district is to "maintain the character" of the area, according to Ann Nguyen, a local landscape architect and planner, who is active with the neighborhood association. Nguyen adds that the goal of the district would be to encourage development and activate the corridor more in line with the 'vibe' of other "Main Streets" in the city.

The new design overlay district "would also allow new buildings to sit 10 feet back from the sidewalk to allow more room for pedestrians and outdoor dining," according to Heinz. "Denver is already working on a project that would extend the sidewalk to where there is currently a white stripe along the corridor with white markers."

Thursday, March 10, 2022 in The Denver Post

Aerial view of snowy single-family homes in suburban Long Island, New York

New York Governor Advances Housing Plan Amid Stiff Suburban Opposition

Governor Kathy Hochul’s ambitious proposal to create more housing has once again run into a brick wall of opposition in New York’s enormous suburbs, especially on Long Island. This year, however, the wall may have some cracks.

March 20, 2023 - Mark H. McNulty

Empty parking garage at night with yellow lines marking spots and fluorescent lighting

Rethinking the Role of Parking in the American City

In cities big and small, the tide is turning against sprawling parking lots, car-centric development, and minimum parking mandates.

March 16, 2023 - The New York Times

A futuristic version of New York City, with plants growing neatly on top of modern skycrapers.

Friday Eye Candy: 20 AI-Generated Cityscapes

AI-generated images are creating new landscapes and cityscapes, capable of inspiring awe or fear.

March 17, 2023 - Chris Steins via Medium

Aerial view of farmers' market with white booths in downtown Boise, Idaho

Planners Look to ‘Activity Centers’ for Sustainable Development

Existing hubs of ‘hyperlocal’ economic activity provide a model for urban density.

March 23 - Smart Cities Dive

Close-up of person sitting on electric bike

Federal E-Bike Rebate Bill Reintroduced

The bill, part of an effort to encourage active transportation for short trips and take cars off U.S. roads, would cover 30 percent of the cost of an electric bike.

March 23 - Congressman Jimmy Panetta

High Point, Seattle

Green Infrastructure Toolkit Launches on World Water Day

The Green Infrastructure Toolkit lists 25 actions local governments can take to transform crusty, impermeable urban landscapes into vibrant, spongy ecosystems that preserve water as a resource and protect against its potential destruction in floods.

March 23 - PlaceShakers and NewsMakers

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.