RiNo neighborhood is 'where the sidewalk ends'

Posted at 7:29 PM, Jan 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-08 22:30:55-05

Visitors to the River North neighborhood of Denver often have to play chicken to get from their cars to businesses.

The RiNo area of Denver is probably not what Shel Silverstein had in mind when he wrote, "Where The Sidewalk Ends."

The area north of Coors Field is growing with new development and converted warehouses, but many of the streets don't have consistent sidewalks.

"Annoying. There's no sidewalks. I had to walk down the middle of the road with snow and cars coming," said Dawn Bennett. "I was actually complaining as I walked up."

On Walnut Street at 26th Avenue, there is a sidewalk on the west side of the street in front of new businesses, Zephyr Brewing, Biju's Little Curry Shop, Osaka Ramen, Sweet Leaf and Park Burger, but half way up the block, there is no official sidewalk in front of an empty warehouse. At 27th Avenue, a new sidewalk was built in front of a new apartment complex.

"Yeah, there's no sidewalks in here, so when you have snow, you walk through the snow," said Amy Echleberger. "This is just a one-way street and most people wear black in the winter time, so if it's night, they're probably going to get hit by a car."

At the warehouse that is halfway between 26th and 27th Avenues on Walnut, there is a loading dock-type sidewalk, with stairs on each end. Cars can park right up to the loading dock, but unless you park on the end, you can't access the raised sidewalk.

"Looks a little shady," said Echleberger.

"Yeah, especially at night, I wouldn't want to walk up there. Doesn't look safe," said Bennett.

According to the city of Denver, new developments would need to add sidewalks, but the reuse of a warehouse would depend on what the warehouse becomes. If it stays a similar use, the city would not require the owner to improve the outside of the building. If the building becomes a restaurant or brewery and draws people to the area, the city likely would require improvements.

"What adds to the grit of RiNo is the not having sidewalks from place to place, but yes, we all want sidewalks," said Andrew Feinstein, board member for the RiNo Business Improvement District. "One of the reasons we formed a RiNo Improvement District is so that we could have advocacy to work hand-in-hand with the city and get sidewalks and make sure our neighborhood is more walkable, more bike-able, more connected."

Feinstein also owns multiple businesses in RiNo, including the EXDO Event Center, Tracks Denver and Jake's Sports and Spirits. When he converted a warehouse at 35th Avenue and Walnut Street into the EXDO Event Center, he had to install sidewalks, even though other warehouses around the building, don't have any.

"We changed the use. So when it changed from being a warehouse to an event center/nightclub, the obligation was then on us, as the landowner/developer, to add sidewalks."

On Brighton Boulevard, where popular destinations like The Source and Great Divide Barrel Bar have brought foot traffic to the area, the city of Denver is taking the lead in improving the area.

The city is spending $26 million, with another $3 million from the RiNo General Improvement District, to add sidewalks and reconstruct the area between 29th Street and I-70.


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