The cartoon on the cover of this week’s New Yorker is called “Towering Wealth.” The artist is Mark Ulriksen. A blurb at the front of the magazine notes that he will be speaking about his work on October 24 at The Big Draw Festival in San Francisco. He’ll see some new towers there, and if he ventures to Denver, he certainly can relate here.
That’s because this cover seems apropos of what’s going on in Denver. Denver’s mayor this week appointed a new director of the Community Planning and Development agency, which has had two interim chiefs since Brad Buchanan left the post about a year ago to lead the National Western Center. Laura Aldrete now has the title, and she also is the first Latina – or Latinx – to run that department, which is a major step forward.
Those who are devoted city-watchers seem to have mixed thoughts on this choice. Like many who live in the metro area, I’ve watched development explode over the past few years – and it is still happening. I think it would be a good idea to slow it down, and to put more emphasis on better design and materials, and to rework the city’s zoning code.
But others – and those who are making a lot of money on this city – are happy to cruise along into the future. The city has grown dramatically, but the fallout has not been beneficial to all, especially those who have been pushed out of their neighborhoods or those who no longer can buy a home or pay the ever-escalating rent.
Aldrete’s previous job was working at DIA, eventually developing a real estate division, and it will be interesting to see how her new view of planning here evolves. A request for her: Really listen to those who attend meetings for various area plans. The city may need them, but they also can lead to gentrification when developers zero in on areas that need help or a building seems too “old” to save — but maybe not a tower.
There are only two links. Westword takes a comprehensive view of the new planning director and her views about the ongoing growth in Denver. At Denverite, the story is a little more supportive, if that’s the right word.