EDITOR'S NOTE: In mid-month it was announced that the final Colfax bond project stakeholders' meeting will be held March 24, 5:30-7:30 pm at National Jewish Health, Colfax & Jackson, in room J103.
■ $4 million is available for streetscape improvements between Grant & St. Paul
BY RORY SEEBER
The Public Works division of the Denver Planning Department is seeking ideas for streetscape improvements on Colfax from Grant to St. Paul.
Two separate bonds were included as part of the “Building a Better Denver” bond package approved by voters in 2007: $3 million to be spent between Grant and Columbine and supervised by the Colfax Business Improvement District (C-BID), and $1 million for Columbine to St. Paul to be overseen by the Greektown Local Maintenance District (GLMD).
“Times have changed,” said City Council president and District 10 representative Jeanne Robb, noting that the new streetlights installed between Franklin and Downing were actually funded by a 1998 bond, passed 11 years ago, while the improvements under discussion were funded just over a year ago.
The bond funds are to be used for streetscaping that will improve pedestrian access and bus ridership. Although the improvements will be installed and constructed by Public Works, the two districts will have to agree to maintain the new features.
On Feb. 4 the first of at least two public meetings was held concerning the bonds. Held at Church in the City, 1530 Josephine, the forum was attended by 15 interested parties, including representatives from the GLMD and C-BID.
PHOTO BY JEFF HERSCH
PHOTOGRAPHER HAL GOULD, here seen at a retrospective of his work on display at RedLine Gallery, 2350 Arapahoe, until March 28, has operated the Camera Obscura Gallery at 1309 Bannock in the Golden Triangle for 30 years, The RedLine exhibit also includes photos by some of Camera Obscura’s most notable photographers. The Byers-Evans House Gallery, across Bannock from Obscura, is hosting a smaller, companion exhibit entitled ‘Hal Gould: His Vision of the West.’ The tireless Gould directs the gallery, where shows change monthly, with his long-time associate Loretta Young-Gautier. Call 303-623-4059 or visit cameraobscuragallery.com. RedLine can be reached at 303-296-4448 or redlineart.org.
Jennifer Hillhouse from Public Works’ Policy & Planning Department and Brendan Kelly, who is the Special District liaison for the city, presented information about past, ongoing and proposed future projects on Colfax, including Main Street Zoning, the East Colfax Corridor Plan (“Blueprint East Colfax”), a streetcar feasibility study, and a Colfax Avenue Transit Operations Enhancement project, among others.
At present the city is preparing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the streetcar study.
The Transit Enhancement program will be a joint pilot project with the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and the cities of Denver and Aurora participating. It will study traffic signal priorities, the use of “queue-jump lanes” (which allow buses to proceed along their route at stoplights before other traffic, such as the signal currently in use at 12th & Lincoln), and enhanced bus stop lighting and security.
Hillhouse detailed some of the possible improvements that could be made in the districts and estimated their approximate installation costs. If every block sees streetscape improvements, it would amount to approximately $135,000-$145,000 spent per block.
It is more likely that select “block pairs,” including both sides of the street, will be chosen, in which case an estimated $430,00-$740,000 could conceivably be spent on just one block.
Improvements could include trash recepticles, benches, street trees, pedestrian lights, and monuments.
Additional suggestions made and concerns raised by attendees included the mandatory use of one percent of the bond funds for public art, the possibility of “transparent” glass panel monuments and/or signs such as those used in parts of downtown, the need for more pedestrian crossings, and incorporating functionality into monuments or artworks by including lights or seats.
It was noted by several participants that continuity of improvements could pose problems, since not all blocks require trees or lighting, or the corresponding districts could prefer different improvements. It was decided that future meetings will include both groups as well as non-district members.
One attendee asked what it would take to allow the relighting of such neon signs as that in front of Pete’s Kitchen at Colfax & Race.
District 10 (south of Colfax) representative Robb, who attended along with District 8 (north) Councilwoman Carla Madison, responded that perhaps a change in the sign ordinance might not be necessary and allowance for such pre-existing signs could be added to Main Street zoning.
In mid-March it was announced that the final public stakeholders’ meeting to refine the scope of the work to be done will be held March 24, 5:30-7:30 pm in room J103 of National Jewish Health, Colfax & Jackson. After the projects are finalized an RFP will be issued and designs submitted. It is hoped that construction and/or installation of the improvements can begin next year.