Does Branding Play a Role in Redevelopment?

One Denver neighborhood’s massive redevelopment project includes a branding element. Is it necessary?

2 minute read

September 21, 2023, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Google street view of two-story brick and stucco apartment building in Sun Valley neighborhood of Denver, Colorado.

An apartment building in Sun Valley, Denver. | Google Maps / Sun Valley, Denver

Place branding, while controversial, is nothing new. Cities and neighborhoods frequently employ branding and marketing strategies to stimulate their economy, attract visitors and businesses, and generally boost their profile. Writing in Fast Company, Elissaveta M. Brandon describes the rebranding process occurring in one Denver neighborhood, questioning the utility of the project.

Denver’s Sun Valley, a formerly industrial zone, declined as the are was increasingly cut off from the rest of the city by railroads and freeways. “In 2010, about 27 homes remained, and five of them were vacant. Nearly 80% of Sun Valley residents lived below the poverty line.” Then, the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) “set out to redevelop the neighborhood by demolishing the almost hundred-year-old housing projects, building new subsidized and free-market housing units, and investing in a public park, a community garden, a community-operated supermarket, a job training center—and a visual identity for the renewed neighborhood.”

But the project came at a cost, which included displacing the 1,000 residents who lived in the apartments slated for demolition. As of May of this year, only 20 percent of former residents have returned to the neighborhood. “The residents have gained better housing and better public amenities, but according to Collective Colorado, they have lost the tight-knit community they had built.”

As for the branding aspect, the vision created by design firm Wunder Werkz, inspired by the cultural diversity of the neighborhood, is still a work in progress. “Wunder Werkz has essentially created an easy-to-use, flexible kit of parts with a clear hierarchy and set of rules that the community can reference and use when construction is complete, or whenever they need it.”

Tuesday, September 19, 2023 in Fast Company

Satalite image of a bright green lake surrounded by brownish-green land

California’s Largest Natural Lake Turns Green With … Algae

A potentially toxic algal bloom has turned Clear Lake in Northern California bright green, fed by increased runoff from human activity.

June 4, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Moving truck with open back door with furniture and a blue suitcase visible inside.

The 15 Fastest-Growing Cities in the US

The U.S. Census Bureau released new 2023 population estimates on May 16 showing a slew of data for cities of all sizes and regions. Do you know the population change last year for the 15 largest cities in your state?

June 3, 2024 - Irvin Dawid

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Line of cars at a McDonald's drive-thru at night.

St. Paul Considers Drive-Thru Restrictions

Limiting drive-thrus can make streets more dangerous for pedestrians and snarl traffic.

28 minutes ago - Axios

Pythian Building in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Permanent Affordability That Wasn't: Lessons from the Pythian Building

A high-stakes, high-profile community land trust project once hailed as a triumph in New Orleans ended in disaster for its residents, but it’s important to draw the right lessons about why.

1 hour ago - Shelterforce Magazine

Soldiers and Sailors Monument in traffic circle in Indianapolis at twilight.

Indianapolis Leaders Propose Vision Zero Plan

As of now, the city lacks a dedicated funding source for pedestrian safety efforts.

2 hours ago - The Indianapolis Star

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.