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Project in the works to transform concrete jungle into renewed Upper Downtown Denver

Posted at 5:53 PM, Dec 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-10 20:30:31-05

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DENVER -- More development is planned in our Colorado, this time in the beloved area near Denver's Brown Palace. The Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP) is in the beginning stages of a project called a “Renewed Focus” to transform upper downtown from a concrete jungle to a friendly neighborhood hangout.

“We want to put some renewed emphasis and renewed energy into this space and make it a more exciting and interesting place for the community,” said Randy Thelen, the Vice President of Economic Development for the DDP.

Upper Downtown Denver has the highest concentration of jobs in the market, with 53,000 people working there every day. The area also holds the highest number of hotel rooms and visitors.

The project aims to revamp the section of the city into a spot that offers more than just office space.

“One of the challenges is we have a lot of surface parking,” said Ray Bellucci, Co-Chair of the Upper Downtown Taskforce and TIAA Senior Managing Director. “There is so much opportunity there to build residential, commercial space and mixed use space.”

The project also plans to keep the history in the area alive while bringing in new growth.

“This is not a tear-down or rebuild. There is some great infrastructure there,” said Thelen. “We are looking at how do we infuse more local, more authentic, more local retail into the scene; more restaurants and dining options into the upper downtown [area].”

Current businesses in the area, including Superfruit Republic on N. Broadway, hope more shops will open to increase their customer base and allow them to stay open longer.

“It would be awesome if there was more clientele down here after 4 o’clock,” said Whitney Werts, Superfruit Republic employee. “Our other location is open until 7 o’clock but this location is only open until 4 because nobody is around after that. Everybody has gone home for the day.”

Renderings from the DDP outline transforming a downtown block into a stretch with added stores, outdoor seating and greenery on the street level. Another shows a surface parking lot turned into an area with grass, retail and restaurant space. The goal is to provide businesses, such as TIAA, with an inviting atmosphere to grow its product and its people.

“There's so much history between Republic Plaza and the 1670 building we are in,” said Bellucci. “There is great opportunity to take existing spaces and renew them versus take them down and put up new."

The strategic planning process just began for the Upper Downtown project. Organizers plan to reach out to residents, employees and business owners to collect feedback about how to plan out and execute the project.