The city wants to hire a City Urban Designer for Denver, like other cities have done. What could go wrong here? Or is it just confusing?

Last week, the magazine Modern in Denver (and other outlets) posted a press release said: “The department (i.e., the city’s Department of Community Planning and Development) will hire a City Urban Designer to lead and champion this effort.”

The new person will report directly to and work with the Executive Director of Community Planning and Development, i.e., Laura Aldrete.

Don’t give up on this blandness – yet: “As Denver’s recovery moves forward, the city’s Department of Community Planning and Development is looking to elevate the role of urban design in preparing Denver for the future while preserving our historic buildings and staying true to Denver’s heritage.”

That’s when I almost fell out of my chair while reading that sentence.

Preserving what? 

So much is gone, and preservation is a tough time to save things when the money bag group can buy what it wants. It also doesn’t make much sense to do this when a member of Denver City Council – District 4 council member Kendra Black – wants to make it much more difficult for those who want to pay their hard cash to try to save something while creating a designation that probably will sink. 

Oh, those rascals: Tom’s Diner? Yes, saved, but it looks like it went through the Blitz, and it is an absolute mess. Yeah, those small-scale restaurants at 7th and Grant were saved because those who thought about rounding up their funds, then noted it wasn’t time yet to call in their chips. And, well, just don’t even mention the ridiculous money-grabbers waving cash in front of those in charge who were happy to get it out of their hair…. You remember the Denver7 Building, but that will be flushed down the toilet for an apartment building called Society Denver.

But what really opened my eyes this week is a list of projects Denver’s mayor wanted to build more things. I am all in for libraries and sidewalks and cultural projects that are truly necessary and needed, because the general obligation bonds will rely on federal money, and the mayor wants to put it on the November 2 ballot. Now a new mid-sized arena? Sure, the Denver Coliseum is ancient…. No air conditioning, apparently?  

But the caption in the rendering attached to this post was sort of a surprise: “A conceptual drawing of the renovated historic 1909 Building in the National Western Center, though the renovation may still go through a design process that could change  its look.” 

What look? Says who? The new City Urban Designer (which will take some time to settle in)? Or will it be a CAD jockey who likes the color blue? The concept of a food market is great, but why does it need to be tarted up?

So much for preservation. And our history.

Below are some links to stories about the bond issue that the mayor wants, and a link to the press release about the new City Urban Designer.

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