Why Denver Health and other hospitals are getting into the housing business
Denver Health once used the shuttered 10-story building at 655 Broadway for office space but opted to sell it to the housing authority and grant a 99-year lease on the land for a minimal fee. “It really lowers the construction costs for us,” said Ismael Guerrero, Denver Housing Authority’s executive director. “It was a great opportunity to build additional housing in a location that’s obviously close to the hospital, close to public transit, near the city center.” Once the renovation is complete in late 2021, the housing group will hire a coordinator to assist tenants with housing-related issues, including helping those in the transitional units find permanent housing. The hospital will provide a case manager to help with their physical and behavioral health needs, preparing them for life on their own. Denver Health expects most patients will be able to move on from the transitional units within 90 days.
Denver City Council Member Amanda Sawyer reports Denver Public Works is re-engaging residents who live in neighborhoods along Quebec Street from East 13th Avenue to East 26th Avenue as they launch a new effort to implement pedestrian and transit improvements along the corridor. In September 2019, DPW officially halted a project that had been assessing the impact of widening Quebec Street to four lanes, as it was determined there was the potential for significant impacts to adjacent properties and preliminary cost estimates were well beyond available funding. The revised project will focus on meeting community priorities – including the addition of sidewalks, more reliable transit, and improved transit stops – with minimal impact to adjacent properties. Next steps will include a public process to define short-term and long-term recommendations, incorporate additional input from the community that reflects their values and priorities, align with community context to minimize impact, and move into project development and technical analysis. The project team is planning to work with the public beginning in winter 2019-2020 to share additional information and gather input to create a path forward toward improving the pedestrian and transit environment along Quebec Street. The project team will revisit the vision, values, and modal priorities for Quebec Street. Throughout 2020, recommendations will be identified and synergies will be identified with other projects. With the short and long term recommendations, a phased implementation plan will be developed. Where opportunities exist the City will design and implement improvements for Quebec Street.
The East Planning Area neighborhoods—South Park Hill, Montclair, Hale, and East Colfax—contain many great community assets, including historic parkways, the Rose Medical Center, Johnson and Wales University, and many unique, locally-owned businesses. The area is experiencing some significant changes, such as the 9th and Colorado mixed use project, as well as plans to add Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along Colfax Avenue. Two of the four neighborhoods, South Park Hill and East Colfax, have out of date plans, while Hale and Montclair have no plans at all. The Neighborhood Planning Initiative provides a great opportunity to establish the community’s vision for maintaining and enhancing the quality of life in these neighborhoods for decades to come.
The City and County of Denver has set an ambitious goal of having new construction achieve net-zero-energy by 2035. To help get to this goal, Denver Community Planning and Development is developing a unique-to-Denver, Denver Green Code, based on international standards for more sustainable construction. Buildings contribute 63% of Denver’s greenhouse gas emissions. In 2050, 40% of the buildings in Denver will have been constructed between now and then – which means that new buildings, and new building codes, are integral to reducing Denver’s greenhouse gas emissions. The team at Community Planning and Development looks forward to piloting the new Denver Green Code starting next year. Ultimately, this code will likely apply to all new commercial development.
National Western Center reports that Denver is seeking a partner to redevelop the southeast side of the campus, including key public buildings. The City and County of Denver’s Performance Based Infrastructure Office is taking the next step toward developing the southeast side of the National Western Center campus, known as the Triangle Project, with the initial release of a draft request for proposals (RFP). The Triangle refers to a triangle-shaped, 60-acre area on the southeast side of the National Western Center. The city is looking for a development partner to design, build, finance, operate and maintain public facilities, including:
- restoration of the 1909 Stadium Arena
- construction of an exposition hall
- construction of a new, mid-size arena for the National Western Stock Show rodeos, concerts and other year-round entertainment events
The project will also include environmental cleanup of parts of the site and construction of infrastructure to support and connect the campus to surrounding neighborhoods.
The National Western Stock Show is January 11-26.
RTD’s General Manager and CEO Announces Retirement
On November 21, after nearly 26 years of service to the agency, RTD’s General Manager and CEO, Dave Genova,announced his retirement from RTD. Genova began his career at RTD as a manager of safety and environmental compliance, moving up the ranks to assistant general manager of safety, security and facilities, and was ultimately named general manager and CEO in December 2015. Under Genova’s tenure, RTD opened the University of Colorado A Line, B Line, and R Line, and most recently RTD celebrated the openings of the G Line and E, F, and R extensions. Additionally, under his leadership the Flatiron Flyer, Civic Center Station and Boulder Junction at Depot Square Station were launched. Genova was a champion of exploring new technologies and innovations, like the 61AV autonomous vehicle project. Under his watch, RTD launched the Mobile Tickets app, collaborating with Uber, Transit and Lyft to sync trip planning. RTD is the only transit agency in the world offering riders the ability to plan trips in real-time and pay for them through Uber.
Colorado lawmaker writing bill to expand RTD board, increase oversight
A state senator plans to run a bill this year that would expand RTD’s board by two additional directors while increasing fiscal oversight of the sprawling transit agency, which has been struggling with declining ridership and the prospect of cuts to rail and bus service. “RTD needs a turn-around, not a Band-Aid, right now,” said Sen. Jack Tate, a Republican who represents a swath of Denver’s southern suburbs centered on Centennial. “If they get their fiscal house in order, they will not have to be making these cuts in the future.” Tate’s bill calls for the Regional Transportation District’s elected 15-member board of directors to grow by two new members, both of whom would be appointed by the governor. The new at-large directors would be tasked with advocating for disadvantaged communities in the district and riders with disabilities.
RTD Draft Service Reduction Plan
The Regional Transportation District (RTD) has been experiencing a bus and light rail operator shortage that has impacted its ability to deliver our current level of service. Surveys asked riders whether they would rather see temporary schedule cuts that would produce more reliable service or leave the schedule as is and continue to see last-minute cancellations. RTD operators discussed how mandatory overtime affects their lives, and they shared their thoughts about whether RTD should implement a temporary service reduction based on the operator shortage. A majority of riders and community leaders said they would favor service cuts with predictable times over the current unreliable state of commuting. Though many operators said they rely on mandated six-day weeks to provide income, many said nonstop weeks of required overtime were ruining family life and taking a toll on health. In January, staff will present the full proposed May service change plan that will include these reductions. Customers can provide their input during a public input process in January/February. In March, a revised plan will be presented to the Board and, if approved, will be implemented in May 2020.
REAL ESTATE AND MOBILITY
Is free public transport in cities the way forward?
Dunkirk joins Tallinn, in Estonia, Luxembourg and 23 smaller French cities in rolling out free transportation in what is clearly a trend in reinterpreting the idea of cities as a service, while the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has also been thinking about the idea for some time to help tackle the French capital’s worsening congestion and pollution, and has made public transportation free for kids under 11. Vilnius and Riga are also considering following Tallinn’s strategy. Other European cities, such as Helsinki, have launched models that group all modalities of urban transport in the form of monthly flat rates managed through an app, Whim, that seems to be encouraging people to leave their cars at home, part of its incipient and positive experiences with autonomous buses, which contribute to reducing costs.
16 shipping containers form this sleek new development
Each house comprises four lightly used containers—two on the ground floor and two on the top floor, which cantilever nearly ten feet to create a shaded front porch. In the back of the house, the overhang has been turned into a terrace on the top floor that’s right off the master bedroom, and covering another outdoor space on the ground floor looking out onto a shared backyard. Inside, the homes are compact but airy with modern fixtures, wood floors, and large windows that frame both ends of the containers. And in case you’re wondering about tornados (this being Oklahoma, after all)—the homes are reinforced with steel tubes and are welded to the foundation, but there’s also a shared tornado shelter underground that can fit eight people.
Los Angeles County Exploring Congestion Pricing Pilot Tests
In London, traffic volume dropped 15 percent in the congestion pricing zone, with congestion falling 30 percent, said Christina Calderato, head of delivery planning and transport in London and one of the architects behind the 2003 congestion pricing plan. In 2021, the congestion pricing zone will be significantly expanded beyond the original eight-square-mile central London zone…Los Angeles plans to have its congestion pricing feasibility study complete in the next 15 to 18 months, said Washington.
A Leg Up on the Last Mile
Where companies offer same-day delivery services, especially for perishable goods such as food, warehouses require both the ease of fast in-and-out delivery and storage space for on-demand e-commerce. The vertical urban warehouse has come back to town as part of a renewed infrastructure focused on meeting this demand for instant satisfaction — at least until companies such as Amazon, UPS, Walmart, and CVS complete plans for safe drone delivery airlines.
Why Car-Free Streets Will Soon Be the Norm
A key moment in this history took place in 1953, when the Dutch city of Rotterdam made a major thoroughfare, Lijnbaan St, a purpose-built pedestrian street that was completely car-free. The goal was to create a modern city center that would thrive—and thrive it did—by closing space to vehicles and opening more room to people. At first, area shopkeepers were concerned that customers wouldn’t be able to reach their shops without the ability to drive up to their storefronts. But as evidence continues to show, retail actually improves in pedestrian zones. Rotterdam and its local businesses ended up seeing great success after this policy change, and this showed early on the efficacy of closing streets to traffic and opening them to people.
Will AVs save the world?
History says it’s no sure thing electric autonomous vehicles will clear streets of the traffic jams and pollution and save lives, curing the ills wrought by private autos, right? Maybe not, history teaches. Believe it or not, the early automobile was proclaimed to be the “environmental savior” of a crisis caused by horses. Yes, horses.
Mobility, Robocars, EVs, Drones Sparking Radical Architectural Designs
The 15-story office tower features four above- grade levels that can convert [from parking] to two office floors with potential for mezzanines. Alternate floors have been designed for eventual removability and both levels are wired for all stalls to be electric. The rooftop has a mail facility to distribute drone-delivered packages and, on the other side of the roof, there is a lounge-lobby that designed to be a terminal for passenger drone flights.
How San Francisco’s Partial Car Ban Will Affect Properties
Among those changes is the banning of private cars — including ride-sharing, but excluding taxis — for a roughly 2-mile stretch, as the city tries to solve worsening congestion and an increasing number of traffic accidents, while simultaneously matching commercial growth. “There are at least two properties being developed on every block, so we’ve got the private investment in the area,” Olea said. “Now, the city is investing public money to completely redesign Market Street from building face to building face.”
‘This is Not 1975′: Here’s Why LA and Other Cities Are Ditching Parking
In 2017, Buffalo, New York, became the first major city to eliminate parking requirements for commercial and residential projects, according to CityLab. That same year, Santa Monica, a city about 15 miles west of Los Angeles, got rid of its minimum parking requirements on new development in its downtown. The following year, Cincinnati removed its parking requirements for new developments. In 2019, the city of Berkeley will discuss eliminating parking requirements on new residential construction, while Downtown Austin, Texas, is also looking to make changes to its parking requirements.
The Unmalling of America
Today’s malls, some say, are the wrong use for the right site. That is to say, they generally have good locations near major roadways and in some cases public transit, and the large parcel of land they occupy is already serviced with water, sewer, and electricity. “Malls as a property type are dead,” says Moffitt. “It is not if, it’s when they go under and are ready for redevelopment.” “What malls are worth right now is their dirt. Their structures have little to no value,” Moffitt adds. “Investors view malls as mixed-use redevelopment opportunities better able to serve the community, and they are going to provide a much more robust sales and property tax base.” Stories of successful mall transformations are emerging. “Mall properties may no longer be exclusively retail on a forward-going basis,” says Rakow. “To keep them economically viable and maintain the foot traffic that smaller retailers are so dependent on, other uses like museums, health clubs, and specialty food stores are coming into malls.”
First car-free neighborhood to be built in U.S.
Culdesac believes that real estate innovation has failed to keep up with fast-paced changes in mobility. Transportation has evolved beyond car dependency— real estate has not. Culdesac is changing this paradigm and today announced detailed plans for its first neighborhood, a $140 million project called Culdesac Tempe. The company also announced it has raised $10 million in venture capital funding. Because less land is needed to park vehicles, Culdesac Tempe will include a grocery store, coffee shop, coworking space, market hall, and other retail, in addition to rental apartments for 1,000 residents. To help bring this vision to life, the Culdesac team is working closely with renowned architect Dan Parolek, who popularized the term “Missing Middle Housing,” a concept for diverse housing options to create sustainable and walkable places.
Driverless and Electric, or Car-Free?
The Cities Cutting Out Cars, and Why It’s worth noting that the cities reducing car usage are almost all in Europe, where such measures are far more feasible than, say, the US, where outside of major urban areas, it’s hard to go anywhere without a car. American cities expanded into now-sprawling suburbs largely thanks to the invention of the car, and have a degree of dependence on driving that will be hard to scale back from. European cities, in contrast, were further developed by the time cars proliferated; they’d already largely been built around public transportation, and continued to expand train systems even as cars became more popular. Plus, European countries’ comparatively small size makes it much more practical to rely on public transit than in the US; many US states are larger than European countries.
The Death and Life of Great American Suburbs?
It’s evidently possible to re-create much of this economic synergy in today’s suburban environments—in their corporate campuses and conference centers, and all the other suburban places that are interconnected by cars and airplanes and digital technology. Indeed, this is how places like the Silicon Valley evidently produce such vast wealth even today. But it seems clear that this suburban connectivity also requires a huge—apparently unsustainable—injection of resources. Cities, by contrast, rely on a more natural form of connectivity, in their public spaces, and in the natural adjacencies and contacts they bring. Yet the current overheating of the urban cores also appears increasingly unsustainable. For their parts, both Glaeser and Florida have acknowledged a dark side to the “triumph of the city”—particularly in its runaway gentrification and displacement, and what Florida calls “winner-take-all urbanism.”
Quebec Street could get more and better sidewalks as the city rethinks its plan for the corridor
In September, Denver scrapped plans calling for two more traffic lanes on the major corridor, which currently has two lanes for most of its length. Principal Project Manager Brian Pinkerton said an environmental assessment for the project and public opinion revealed there would be major issues with the right-of-way affecting several homes along the corridor. Now, the city is taking a step back to reevaluate. Its budget is significantly smaller: $1 to $3 million, down from the original $23 million. Federal grant money allocated by the Denver Regional Council of Governments became unavailable because it wasn’t used within the required timeframe. Pinkerton said too many houses would be affected by the project if they continued adding additional northbound and southbound car lanes as initially planned. The impact would be “too great” to justify the improvement, Pinkerton added. It would have required the city taking bits of people’s properties, like driveways or even yards, to give the city space to make the infrastructure changes.
As robots take over warehousing, workers pushed to adapt
Much of the boom in warehouse robotics has its roots in Amazon’s $775 million purchase of Massachusetts startup Kiva Systems in 2012. The tech giant re-branded it as Amazon Robotics and transformed it into an in-house laboratory that for seven years has been designing and building Amazon’s robot armada. All of this is transforming warehouse work in a way that the head of Amazon Robotics says can “extend human capability” by shifting people to what they are best at: problem-solving, common sense and thinking on their feet. “The efficiencies we gain from our associates and robotics working together harmoniously — what I like to call a symphony of humans and machines working together — allows us to pass along a lower cost to our customer,” said Tye Brady, Amazon Robotics’ chief technologist.