Conference Tours

Several exciting tours of projects, communities and neighborhoods from throughout the greater Denver region will be included as part of the 2014 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference. Tours are scheduled on Thursday morning and afternoon (Feb. 13), and on Sunday morning (Feb. 16).

Please Note: Most tours will include walking and some time spent outdoors. Given the colder temperatures expected in Denver in February, warm attire is strongly recommended, along with comfortable walking shoes.

Thursday Morning Tours, February 13

Tour 1. Bus Rapid Transit in Colorado’s North Front Range: The MAX System and Its Potential Impact on Fort Collins

8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Cost: $39

Accredited by: CM 4.0

The City of Fort Collins, Colorado, is nearing completion of its MAX Bus Rapid Transit system linking its downtown with Colorado State University and other parts of the city.  Using an exclusive guideway and new high-tech stations, the MAX will be designed to provide fast and convenient mobility for Fort Collins and will also work in close harmony with the City’s network of bicycle and pedestrian facilities.  This mobile workshop will provide a tour of the corridor along with stops at key stations and briefings from local officials on the system, its multimodal connection opportunities, and its impact on development.  Participants will hear from the director of Transfort and his key staff on how the system is forecast to improve the overall image – and ridership – of the local transit system.  Key local multimodal planning staff will focus on opportunities to integrate walking and biking access into the system’s overall planning and design.  And local economic development staff – including those from CSU – will provide insight on how the MAX system is influencing local development trends and patterns for the better.

MAX offers a unique perspective on a major transit investment in that it is occurring in a mid-size city with a large university presence – not typical for most FTA funded capital investments.  The system is a blueprint for other cities of similar size with a major activity center such as a university and provides guidance on how those cities can plan and implement a significant upgrade to their local transit system while promoting good land use and development decisions. Transportation includes bus and walking. Light refreshments will be provided.

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Tour 2. Riding the Rail to Reinvention: Art, Business and Livability along the New W Line

8:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Cost: $15

Accredited by: CM 3.5

In a somewhat forgotten corner of Lakewood, Colorado, the community has come together to create an emerging arts district with a gallery, performance theater and public art inspired in part by the opening of the new W light rail line. Alongside the district is a new housing complex that will be home to an artist-in-residence and live-work units as well as affordable and market-rate apartments. Artspace, the leading national nonprofit for creating affordable art communities, also has picked this area to study for building a new project, and an innovative 20-minute neighborhood initiative for bicycle and walking access is launching around one of the light-rail stations. Further down the light rail line, work is underway on a 55-acre innovative district for businesses, shops and residences adjacent to the Federal Center, a major employment center in Lakewood and a medical campus.

Come hear this story from the artists, community members and city planners, and see firsthand through a tour how the newly opened W light-rail line has created momentum for reinventing long-established and historic neighborhoods for the 21st century. You’ll get an inside view of how dramatic public investment has served as a catalyst for business and other development and how it has inspired partnerships among government, nonprofit and art organizations, businesses and community members. You’ll undoubtedly learn from the community’s lessons and successes. Transportation includes light rail and walking. Light refreshments will be included.

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Tour 3. Old Is the New Workplace: Creative, Authentic and Green

8:30 am – 12:00 pm

Cost: $39

Accredited by: CM 3.5

3-emerson-schoolWant to learn more about the trend toward shared office space? Seeking ideas for how to reuse vacant buildings? Wondering how older structures can be made energy efficient? Join us on a tour of recent building “recycling” projects in neighborhoods near downtown Denver. We’ll go “back to the future” on our visits to three landmarks that have been re-purposed to serve the fast-growing market for multi-tenant workspaces. Stops will include a once-vacant 1882 horse barn that is now a state-of-the-art global center for international aid nonprofits, a former bank building that has become a lively hub for more than 60 start-up entrepreneurs, and an 1885 school that houses local, state and national preservation groups. Our hosts will explain how these architecturally distinctive spaces have been adapted to meet the needs of a diverse mix of tenants and provide opportunities for interaction and collaboration. Participants will also get a chance to see how these projects are bringing activity and vitality to three very different central Denver neighborhoods. Transportation includes bus and walking. Light refreshments will be included.

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Tour 4. Concentrated Creativity: Assets, Inspiration and Economic Potential in Creative Districts – SOLD OUT

8:30 am – 12:00 pm

Cost: $39

Accredited by: CM 3.5

This tour will showcase smart growth and explore a sample of Colorado’s creative economy in action through the lens of two state-certified Colorado Creative Districts: River North (RiNo) Arts District and the Art District on Santa Fe. Both are located minutes from Downtown Denver. Once filled with vacant and under-used buildings, these districts are now filled with vibrant cultural institutions, unique creative businesses and transit-oriented affordable housing. This excursion will look at residential life and small business activity in each district while exploring today’s implementation of smart-growth redevelopment such as mixed-use development, walkability, transit access, historic preservation and affordable housing. Communities worldwide are choosing to leverage creative industries to foster gains in livability entrepreneurs and cultural industries that generate jobs and income, spin off new products and services, and attract and retain unrelated businesses and skilled workers. Creative placemaking’s livability and economic development outcomes have the potential to radically change the future of American towns and cities.

The RiNo Art District focuses on community development and placemaking to foster the commercial value, social value and personal value of the creative sector. While retaining some of its historically industrial character, the District has come to include architectural firms, art galleries, design companies, furniture makers, decorative ironworkers, filmmakers, recording studios, glass artists, illustrators, painters, media artists, photographers and performing arts venues.

Founded in 2003, the Art District on Santa Fe is Denver’s nationally known art and cultural district with the largest concentration of galleries and artists in Colorado. There are nearly 70 art galleries, studios, restaurants, a theatre and other creative organizations. Transportation includes bus and walking. Light refreshments will be included.

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Tour 5. From the Roots to the Rooftop: Bringing Healthy Food to Denver’s Communities – SOLD OUT

8:30 am – 12:30 pm

Cost: $39

Accredited by: CM 4.0

This tour will feature just a few of the diverse partners operating in North Denver’s local food system. Participants will learn about a variety of innovative approaches to growing, processing, distributing and selling local food in an urban community. Some of these entities work in food deserts and increase access to affordable healthy food in underserved neighborhoods, while others aim to ensure that fresh local food can be enjoyed year-round. But healthy food is not the only outcome of these efforts; these partners contribute to community prosperity and sustainability in a number of other ways, such as building youth leadership and employment skills, stimulating nonprofit collaboration, fostering positive relationships between community members and growing the local economy.

Tour stops will include: Groundwork Greens, a rooftop hydroponic greenhouse; Denver Urban Gardens’ recently renovated nonprofit shared space; MM Local Food’s preservation facility sourcing fruits and vegetables from Colorado farms; and the GrowHaus, a nonprofit indoor urban farm, marketplace and educational center. Transportation includes bus and walking. Light refreshments will be included.

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Thursday Afternoon Tours, February 13

Tour 6. Denver’s Greatest Knitting Project: A Ten-Year Progress Report on an Airport Turned Neighborhood for All

2:00 – 5:30 pm

Cost: $39

Accredited by: CM 3.5

Healthy communities start with us! This tour will explore how public and private partners work together to create a seamless connection of economic, health and educational opportunities as part of a 4700-acre, infill redevelopment — the former Stapleton Airport site. Discover how the human and social aspects of the project are addressed to build viable equitable communities within and surrounding the development. Learn about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges directly from those who work on the project along with those impacted.

Ten years later, smart-growth transformation is still booming, roughly 35% complete including 5,300 homes supported by almost four million square feet of office, commercial and retail uses, eight K-12 schools and 700 acres of open space, parks and trails. Add to this a future transit station along Denver’s East Corridor commuter rail line to Downtown and Denver International Airport – the community is on the path of world-class connections.

Expectations are high for continued success, but while physical development is transformational, the people who live in and around Stapleton (many who were across the street from the old Stapleton Airport for decades) are working hard to address challenges posed by translating the promise of new physical development into opportunities for social, educational and economic development connections across neighborhood boundaries. Transportation includes bus and walking. Light refreshments will be included.

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Tour 7. Rhythm of the Rockies: Discover the Revitalization of a Historic African-American District

2:00 – 5:30 pm

Cost: $15 

Accredited by: CM 3.5

7-welton-light-rail

Photo by Arial Fried

Join us for a walk back in time to experience the historic Five Points neighborhood and take a look at today’s implementation of smart growth redevelopment. At the height of its most robust era, African American-owned businesses, restaurants, and entertainment venues lined Welton Street in the neighborhood once called the Harlem of the West. Booming from the 1920’s to the 1960’s, the community ultimately suffered decline. Designated a historic cultural district in 2003, a “Vision Plan Implementation and Revitalization Strategy” for the Welton Street Commercial Corridor was completed in 2013 to guide current development efforts.

Take the light rail for a quick ride from downtown to Welton Street, and hear from community leaders about the tools and programs they’re using to revitalize their community. Learn about the revitalization strategy that is repositioning the business district to capture its share of the urban market growth occurring in Denver. Recently, the business district partnered with the City to launch the Welton Street Challenge, a grant program to fund pre-development planning and design. Find out why this neighborhood – the first to receive light rail in Denver – is looking at the modern streetcar to return to its roots as the first “streetcar suburb” in Denver. Hear the stories of the historic buildings and cultural hotspots and the community’s effort to build momentum for change. Transportation includes light rail and walking. Light refreshments will be included.

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Tour 8. Transit and Neighborhood Organizing: A Case Study in Southwest Adams County

2:00 – 5:00 pm

Cost: $39

Accredited by: CM 3.0

With the build out of Denver’s light rail system underway, public and private developers are looking to revitalize communities through transit-oriented development. In Southwest Adams County, residents are taking a real and active role in ensuring these developments are equitable and lead to the creation of affordable housing, healthy neighborhoods and stronger communities. Join us for an on-the-ground-look at two neighborhoods in transition and the unique partnerships being created by local residents and development planners.

In La Alma, one of Denver’s oldest and most diverse neighborhoods, residents are working with the Denver Housing Authority to shape redevelopment efforts around a new light rail stop. You’ll hear from residents and planners about the crucial role that community input is playing in development plans. We’ll then travel to a manufactured housing community in unincorporated Adams County where mobile homeowners are partnering with the Tri County Health Department to conduct a Health Impact Assessment. Community members are working to ensure development around a new proposed stop is safe and promotes an active lifestyle. Lastly, you’ll hear from a panel of community organizers and residents on how old-fashioned community organizing is changing the way the Denver metro area looks at transit-oriented development. Transportation includes bus and walking. Light refreshments will be included.

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Tour 9.  Mariposa: Using Culturally Sensitive Tools to Turn Smart Growth TOD into Award-Winning Equitable Development

2:00 – 5:00 pm

Cost: $15

Accredited by: CM 3.0

Take a short ride on Denver’s light rail to the 10th and Osage Station to experience the transformation of an aging affordable housing complex into the Equitable Development Winner of the 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. Learn how the Denver Housing Authority used a wide variety of tools to assist in the planning process.  See how the results of a Cultural Audit, a Health Impact Assessment, a Pedestrian Environmental Quality Index, three environmental design charrettes and other tools have shaped the physical and social environment of the community.

You can make your own pedestrian assessment as we walk through the community and learn about its best management practices for walkability, energy sustainability and stormwater management. We’ll discuss how this project has helped revise city policies that were barriers to innovation. Have a snack at the Osage Café and learn how it provides healthy food options for the community and work experience to resident graduates of the Youth Culinary Institute, one of three on-site Job Readiness Academies.

Throughout the tour, we will learn about the extensive public process that the residents used to shape a green, healthy, distinctive community that they are proud of. In rebuilding the neighborhood, South Lincoln residents chose to rename their community Mariposa – Spanish for butterfly. Join us as we watch this butterfly emerge from its cocoon. Transportation includes light rail and walking. Light refreshments will be included.

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Tour 10. Historic LoDo: How One Denver Neighborhood Once Known as Skid Row Became a Vibrant, Urban Destination

2:00 – 5:00 pm

Cost: $39

Accredited by: CM 3.0

10-lodo-bldg-72dpiLoDo (Lower Downtown Denver) is a thriving historic district that 25 years ago was known as skid row – boarded up and blighted. Today, it is home to the Alliance Center, a high-performance building housing nonprofits working on sustainability issues, and Denver Union Station, a historic transportation facility built in 1914, that in its heyday saw as many as 80 trains per day and dignitaries, including U.S. presidents. Both facilities are undergoing major transformations.

LEED-certified since 2006 and home of the sustainability movement, the Alliance Center is being retrofitted using the latest space design and green building techniques. Similarly, Denver Union Station, purchased by the Regional Transportation District in 2001, is being transformed into a multimodal hub that will combine transit uses, including light rail, commuter rail, bus and shuttle services with Amtrak, taxi, bicycle and pedestrian uses. Further, through a collaborative partnership, a mixed-use redevelopment that includes offices, restaurants and a boutique hotel is also underway.

Come see these cornerstones of LoDo’s rebirth. The tour will begin with a visit to the Alliance Center, continue with a brief walking tour down Wynkoop Street, followed by a tour of the redeveloped Denver Union Station, and conclude at the historic Oxford Hotel (with a presentation on the partnership and financing that facilitated the Denver Union Station redevelopment). Transportation includes bus and walking. Light refreshments will be included.

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Sunday Morning Tours, February 16

Tour 11. Healthy Living by Design: Creating a Vibrant and Culturally Distinctive Westwood

8:00 – 11:30 am

Cost: $39

Accredited by: CM 3.5

11-westwood-walkWestwood is a far cry from the stereotype of a fit, active, affluent (and white) Denver. A largely Latino and working-class neighborhood in the southwest part of the city, Westwood faces fairly daunting challenges – lack of grocery stores to buy fresh foods, shortage of parks and other play spaces, shuttered and graffiti-covered storefronts, and a wide, busy traffic corridor cutting right through the heart of the community making it dangerous to walk or bike.

But great things are happening to make Westwood a healthier and more vibrant place. Westwood will serve as a case study in how struggling neighborhoods can transform themselves with urban planning and design strategies focused on healthy and active living. A meeting with local leaders and advocates will kick off the tour to set the scene and share inspiring stories. Participants will then walk along Westwood’s main thoroughfare, Morrison Road, to witness some of the neighborhood’s high-priority economic, aesthetic, and safety concerns, and then conclude with hands-on activities to demonstrate two tools for community change – a highly interactive method of gathering citizen input and a simple tool residents can use to assess and understand urban environments to advocate for change. The tour will include recommendations on increasing healthy and active living in Westwood, which capitalize on its cultural heritage and promote health equity. Transportation includes bus and walking.  Light refreshments will be provided.

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Tour 12. Downtown Denver Walk Audit with Walkability Guru Dan Burden

8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Cost: $15

Accredited by: CM 4.0

Having worked in over 3,000 communities and led over 4,000 walking audits throughout North America, Dan Burden is both the inventor of walking audits and the “Johnny Appleseed” for spreading the virtues of walkability around the continent. In 2001, “Time” magazine named Burden one of the world’s six most important civic innovators. He is currently director of innovation and inspiration at the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, and previously co-founded Walkable Communities, Inc., and the Bicycle Federation of America. This walking audit – also known as a “walking workshop” – will explore the technique and methods of discovery by foot, while trekking portions of Denver and other public realm features. The discoveries will include an interactive exploration by participants to use walking audits as a tool for empowering communities to change. This empowerment will be highlighted as the group discusses those things in the built environment that matter most, such as streetscapes, urban development, urban infill, public space, parking and traffic management principles and practice. Transportation includes walking. Light refreshments will be provided.

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Tour 13. Urban Walkshop: Strolling through Time from Streetcar Suburb to Urban Renaissance – ALMOST SOLD OUT!

8:30 am – 12:30 pm

Cost: $39

Accredited by: CM 4.0

13-streetscapeJefferson Park is one of Denver’s original “Streetcar Suburbs” – a once vibrant place with a rich history and notable architecture. Like many similar neighborhoods, Jefferson Park lost its splendor in the last half-century when attention shifted to more car-oriented development patterns. Recently, urban pioneers have returned to neighborhoods close to downtown, bringing with them urban infill development, a desire for active lifestyles, and revitalization of neighborhood commerce.

In 2012, WalkDenver, a local nonprofit dedicated to making Denver more pedestrian-friendly, chose Jefferson Park for “Better Block,” a complete streets demonstration project. Since then, Jefferson Park has become a laboratory for an urban renaissance led by community engagement and new businesses. Led by WalkDenver and PlaceMatters, this walking workshop, or “walkshop,” of the Jefferson Park neighborhood, will explore such urban revitalization challenges as improving walkability along high-volume arterials, using active transportation to connect residential areas with downtown, urban infill within a historical context, and the potential for neighborhood commercial districts. Participants will gain hands-on experience with innovative tools, such as mobile technologies and interactive online maps, that communities can use to engage citizens through data collection, create awareness of and support for the benefits of walkability, and empower community change. Transportation will include bus and walking. The tour will stop at a local coffee shop, where participants can enjoy light refreshments.

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Tour 14. Areas of Change, Areas of Stability – Making the Balancing Act Work – CANCELLED

9:30 am – 12:00 pm

Cost: $39

Just around the corner are two of Denver’s best-kept secret neighborhoods — Highland and West Highland – first established by settlers escaping floods in the lower Platte River Valley. In today’s times, each ‘hood’ scores high as walkable and bike-friendly places and being ‘cool’ destinations, with special pockets of mixed residential, business and community uses, blending culture, tradition and contemporary. This tour will visit both neighborhoods that have seen transformation and continue to be transformed through new forms of architecture, building and mixed land uses. Neighborhood advocates, architects, city planners and economic development specialists will share their perspectives about collaborating on best practices which have ensured stability among long-time, working-class residents while expanding social, cultural and income mixes.

We’ll visit the Highland Garden Village in the West Highlands neighborhood, our final destination. Once an amusement park, this village is now recognized by U.S. HUD, U.S. EPA and the Urban Land Institute as being an excellent example of mixed-income housing and mix of land uses, in a setting that offers choices in transportation, including walking, bicycle and public transportation travel. A walking tour of this village led by the developer and property management company (Jonathan Rose Companies), a national leader in offering mixed-housing choices in the communities they build, will offer discussions about effectively mixing housing types that result in income diversity to neighborhoods. Transportation includes bus and walking. Light refreshments will be included.

Conference Program

Sessions by Time

The main Conference Program will span three full days with optional pre-conference events scheduled for Wednesday, February 12, and Sunday, February 16.

Equitable Development

Healthy Food Systems

Networking Activities

Special Features