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DENVER-What is known as the “2007 Denver Plan,” which will replace the plan first completed in 1986, is under way. The plan’s goal is to build on the area’s “existing natural, cultural, social and physical assets, while providing a foundation for strategic actions.” The plan is intended to not only shape Downtown’s future development for the next 20 years, but it is expected to “enhance connections to surrounding neighborhoods and strengthen Downtown’s role as the heart of the region.”

“As Denver prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2008, it is fitting that the Downtown business and civic community evaluate its history, assets and opportunities to develop a plan for the next 25 years,” says Mayor John Hickenlooper, who was a Downtown business owner for many years prior to his election. “The 2007 Downtown Area Plan will become the collective vision for Downtown Denver’s future, establishing a strategic roadmap for all of us to follow.”

The 2007 Downtown Area Plan will be the successor to a similar plan completed in 1986. The initial plan established key criteria for future plans, including an agreed upon constitution of shared values for Downtown, a framework establishing core concepts for the plan–including the study of Downtown’s spine, anchors, waterways and their connectedness. The plan also included an access overview incorporating Downtown’s transportation needs and a district plan that defined the character and special needs of each separate district in Downtown.

“The plan will be a vehicle for a broad community conversation about how to capitalize on Downtown’s strengths, make improvements, and strategically implement new opportunities,” says city attorney Cole Finegan, co-chair of the 40-person Downtown Area Plan steering committee selected to manage the process. Finegan notes that Downtown is much more vibrant today than it was when he moved to Denver in the mid-1980s, and initially lived in an apartment in the Uptown neighborhood just east of Downtown.

The 1986 Downtown Area Plan envisioned a significant number of projects that have come to fruition, including the recently constructed Colorado Convention Center, the establishment of a regional rapid transit system, the revitalization of LoDo, and the redevelopment of the Central Platte Valley, including Commons Park in the Valley.

“Downtown does not exist in isolation,” says Peter Park, manager of Denver’s Community Planning and Development department. “It is important in its own right, but also as the heart of the entire city and the core of the metropolitan region. We must not forget that Downtown is also a Denver neighborhood connected to other neighborhoods. We will look at goals and guiding principles on all of these scales.”

Today Downtown Denver has more than 9,000 residents, versus less than 2,000 in 1986. An explosion of entertainment and restaurant venues, as well as a number of public/private investment in the 16th Street Mall, has set the stage for a revised and updated Downtown Area Plan, notes Jim Basey, co-chair of the Downtown Area Plan Steering Committee.

“This plan provides a great opportunity to reach out to the entire community to establish a common vision and create our own legacy for Downtown Denver,” says Basey, a former banker and interim head of the Downtown Denver Partnership. Basey, a retired bank executive, has long lived in LoDo.

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