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City creates urban design position to preserve and develop Denver as population grows

Posted at 8:42 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 01:22:10-04

DENVER — The population in Denver County is growing rapidly, and as new housing and business go up to meet the demand, the city wants to ensure Denver’s history is preserved while meeting the community's needs.

On Tuesday, the city posted a job listing for a city urban designer. The candidate will work with the government, the community and the private sector across Denver County to help shape smart growth and develop thoughtful designs to ensure they stay true to Denver's heritage.

This position is the first of its kind in Denver; similar positions were created in three other major cities: New York, Chicago and L.A.

“Denver is going to continue to grow, but we have an opportunity to do it in a way that works for all of Denver, not just some Denver residents,” said Laura Aldrete, executive director of community planning and development.

Aldrete's goal is to help create spaces with sustainability, equity and design in mind.

“Working with the community to understand what does authenticity mean to them, and then how do we support that through regulatory framework, through guidelines, urban design and guidelines to help support their [residents'] vision,” Aldrete said.

She will be working directly with the urban designer hired.

Blueprint Denver, a city-wide land use plan, will be used as a roadmap to identify community priorities and recommendations.

Last October, Jason Ingalls and Karine Noel moved just off Pearl Street in the Platt Park neighborhood. They said they love getting to know the small shop owners and being able to walk to restaurants and nearby parks.

“It’s nice having the nicer, newer homes, but I think it would be a shame if we lost some of the old 1920s bungalows and the Victorians,” Ingalls said. “I think that would just be a crime.”

Ingalls, a Denver native, said he feels like Denver is losing its authenticity and hopes the developer will make sure new buildings don’t replace entire communities full of history.

The planner hired will work on a project similar to the recently adopted changes to Denver’s Golden Triangle neighborhood to create a design that incorporates more walkable communities and with an emphasis on art. They will also help ensure new buildings and housing units fit the neighborhood feel. Other major projects they will help shape include 16th Street Mall and The River Mile, where parking lots will be turned into mixed-use spaces.

If you would like to apply to become the head of urban design for Denver, click here.