East Central Area Plan

Overview

After three years of work and input by thousands of residents, neighborhood groups, local business owners and community leaders, the East Central Area Plan was adopted by City Council in 2020. This followed review by Council's Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Denver Planning Board and community members, who provided more than 10,000 comments over three years of collaboration, including 3,000 comments on three versions of the draft plan, helping refine and strengthen the vision for these neighborhoods. 

What does the plan do?

The plan addresses key neighborhood needs—supporting the local economy, housing affordability and services, safer streets, historic preservation and quality design, and the impacts of climate change—by providing policy recommendations that will guide city decision-making over the next 20 years.

East Area Central Plan and appendices

Key plan recommendations

  • Strengthen the local economy by providing training for jobs in local industries, improving access to employment, and supporting locally-owned, independent businesses.
  • Make housing more affordable and make more options available to a wide range of families and individuals.
  • Improve services for residents experiencing homelessness and take steps to prevent more people from losing their homes.
  • Make streets safer and more comfortable for everybody by improving walking, bicycling and public transit infrastructure.
  • Increase historic preservation by making it easier to reuse existing buildings, creating more historic districts, and ensuring new buildings fit in with surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Reduce carbon pollution and create more climate-resilient neighborhoods by providing more opportunities for people to live and work near transit, adding shade trees, and taking a green approach to storm water management.

Why the plan is needed

The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for our neighborhoods and further highlighted pre-existing inequities. More than ever, we need plans and policies that promote equity, support the health of our residents and our planet, keep community members connected to the services they need and help address the short- and long-term economic challenges the city and its residents will be facing in the wake of the pandemic. Several of the priority policy recommendations in the East Central draft plan-- such as assistance to small locally owned businesses, preventing involuntary displacement of low-income residents, enhanced social services for residents experiencing homelessness, access to quality jobs and job training, a strong healthcare sector and affordable housing for hospital employees--are now even more important. 

Additionally, current neighborhood plans in the East Central area do not prioritize affordable housing, or equitable and inclusive neighborhoods. Denver Public Schools cites a lack of affordable housing as a top factor driving declining enrollment in schools. The top priority of the East Central plan includes policies to create more affordable, diverse, and inclusive neighborhoods. Not moving forward with new and better policies maintains a status quo that is clearly not working for many under-represented residents and marginalized communities. 

Community engagement

  • 6 community-wide workshops
  • 14 focus group meetings with local subject matter experts on key issues, such as small business
  • 11 online surveys and activities
  • 27 steering committee meetings open to the public
  • 24 RNO and other community group meetings to which we were invited to present on the plan
  • 6 office-hours sessions
  • 11 field surveys with community members
  • 27 newsletters to the plan email list
  • 3 informational items presented to the Denver Planning Board and broadcast on Denver 8
  • 81 locations and pop-up events provided with fliers and other printed materials advertising how to get involved in the process

Throughout the planning process, planners sought to engage the community in each of the East Central Area neighborhoods in a way that offered multiple convenient and accessible avenues for participation—in person at traditional meetings, at events where community members congregate naturally, as well as online. We surveyed participants and conducted research to ensure we were reaching every corner of these neighborhoods in all their geographic and demographic diversity, and when we have noticed gaps, we took specific steps to address them. Outreach was done at senior living communities, supportive housing for residents experiencing homelessness, an independent living center, schools, resources fairs, libraries, rec centers and other common destinations in the area. Spanish language interpretation, food and childcare were provided at every community workshop.

We also sought to be responsive to the substance of community concerns. At each point that community members asked for more time and outreach to comment on the first draft of the plan, we provided it, lengthening this process by a total of a full year and culminating in more than 3,500 individual participants and more than 10,000 comments.   

 

 

Implementation

Adaptive Reuse

Through the East and East Central neighborhood planning efforts, community members identified adaptive reuse as an important piece of their community vision and priorities, particularly for older commercial buildings along East Colfax. Reusing an existing building, rather than demolishing the building, can help keep tenant rents lower than in a brand-new building, is more sustainable for the environment, and helps retain a neighborhood’s look and feel. The East and East Central area plans emphasized the need for dedicated technical assistance, among other tools, to support future adaptive reuse projects along Colfax. In response to this public input, Community Planning and Development began budgeting for an adaptive reuse program in 2022.

Download initial strategy report(PDF, 30MB)

About the Area

East Central MapThe East Central Planning Area includes the statistical neighborhoods adjacent to Colfax Avenue between Broadway and Colorado Boulevard, including Capitol Hill, North Capitol Hill, Cheesman Park, Congress Park, City Park and City Park West. The area contains a rich mix of amenities, jobs, and housing options, and remains one of the most dynamic places in the city. The area’s outdated plans coupled with additional changes on the horizon—including plans to improve City Park, add Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along Colfax Avenue, and new amenities such as Civic Center Transit Station and the Carla Madison Recreation Center—make East Central a top priority for engaging the community in a new plan.

Current Zoning Context

Currently, the East Central planning area is zoned according to the following breakdown:

32% Urban context
27% General urban context
19% Open space
11% Urban center context
11% Other(Former Chapter 59Downtown contextCampus context)

 

Planning Need Indicator Scores

To help inform the NPI Strategic Plan, the city developed data-based indicators of planning need at the neighborhood scale. Click here to read more about the indicators.

Additional Information

Statistics
  • Area: 3.89 square miles
  • Population: 46,488 people
  • Housing units: 32,684 units
Regional destinations
  • Denver Zoo
  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science
  • Botanic Gardens
  • Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center
  • St. Joseph Hospital
  • National Jewish Health
  • State Capitol
  • History Colorado Center
Natural features
  • Cheesman Park
  • City Park
  • Congress Park
Key corridors
  • Park Avenue
  • Colfax Avenue
  • 17th Avenue
  • 7th Avenue Parkway
  • Broadway Boulevard
  • Downing Street
  • Colorado Boulevard

Project Archive

Legislative Review

City Council Public Hearing 
5:30 p.m., Monday, October 5, 2020

 

Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Meeting
10:30 a.m., Tuesday, September 15, 2020

 

Planning Board Public Hearing
3 p.m., Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Community Meetings

Below are listed all the community meetings, workshops, office hours and pop-up events hosted by the planning team. Unlike traditional meetings and workshops, pop-up events are intended to reach hard-to-reach communities where they live and involve only paper materials and on-the-street interviews. 

Community Workshop #1 
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Scottish Rite Masonic Center
1370 Grant Street 

Community Workshop #2 – North Capitol Hill & City Park West 
Thursday, February 7, 2019
Colorado Health Foundation
1780 Pennsylvania Street

Community Workshop #3 – Capitol Hill & Cheesman Park
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Althea Center
1400 Williams Street

Community Workshop #4 – City Park & Congress Park
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Church in the City – Beth Abraham
1580 Gaylord Street

Community Workshop #5 - Draft plan recommendations
6-8 p.m., Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Church in the City – Beth Abraham
1580 N. Gaylord St.

Community Workshop #6 - Draft plan
6-8 p.m., Wednesday, November 13, 2019
East High School
1600 City Park Esplanade, Denver

Focus Groups

Listed below are focus groups hosted by the plan team for the purpose of topic-specific discussions with local stakeholders with subject-matter expertise and experience. 

Focus Group: Design Quality and Character Preservation Meeting 
October 18, 2018

Focus Group #1: Affordable housing, social services, & financial stability 
January 8, 2019
Carla Madison Recreation Center 

Focus Group #2: Small business retention, real estate/transit oriented development, & healthy food
January 9, 2019
Carla Madison Recreation Center 

Focus Group #3: Mobility & access
January 15, 2019
Art Gym Denver, 1460 Leyden Street

Focus Group #4: Green infrastructure, recreation, open space
January 17, 2019
Carla Madison Recreation Center

Focus Group #5: Design quality & character preservation
January 29, 2019
Carla Madison Recreation Center

Focus Group #6: Small business retention, real estate/transit oriented development, & healthy food 
6-8 p.m., April 2, 2019
Carla Madison Recreation Center

Focus Group #7: Green Infrastructure 
6-8 p.m., April 4, 2019 
Carla Madison Recreation Center

Focus Group #8: Mobility 
6-8 p.m., April 17, 2019 
Carla Madison Recreation Center

Focus Group #9: Design Quality and Character Preservation 
6-8 p.m., April 18, 2019 
Carla Madison Recreation Center

Focus Group #10: Affordable housing, social services, & financial stability 
6-8 p.m., April 23, 2019 
Carla Madison Recreation Center

Other Neighborhood Meetings and Events

Listed below are (1) meetings hosted by East Central Area neighborhood groups and organizations, or other City of Denver departments or teams that East Central Area Plan team members attended, (2) community events at which the plan had a booth/table or was part of a larger booth or table representing the City of Denver, and (3) stakeholder conversations convened or hosted by East Central Area organizations. 

  • 8/26/2017 - Mayor's Cabinet in the Community
  • 9/15/2017 – Seniors In September Educational & Resource Fair at Denver Botanic Gardens
  • 9/20/2017 - South City Park RNO meeting
  • 9/21/2017 -  Blueprint Denver Workshop
  • 9/26/2017 -  South City Park Neighborhood Association Summer Block Party
  • 10/18/2017 - Congress Park Neighbors, Inc.
  • 10/24/2017 - City Park Neighborhood Advisory Committee
  • 11/7/2017 - Capitol Hill United Neighbors
  • 11/14/2017 - Colfax BID
  • 11/14/2017 - Uptown on the Hill
  • 11/21/2017 - Bluebird BID
  • 12/4/2017 - WTF is BRT?
  • 3/20/2018 - Colfax Grit & Glory, Historic Denver
  • 8/28/2018 - Denveright Open House
  • 1/25/2019 - Atlantis Communities pop-up
  • 2/28/2019 - Triple Tree Café pop-up
  • 3/12/2019 - DC 21 pop-up
  • 3/19/2019 - Hospital Focus Group
  • 3/26/2019 - Carla Madison Rec Center pop-up
  • 4/9/2019 - Uptown on the Hill
  • 4/10/2019 – Development focus group
  • 4/17/2019 – Social service providers meeting
  • 4/17/2019 - City Park West Neighborhood Association Board Meeting
  • 4/17/2019 - Swallow Hill RNO
  • 4/25/2019 - Renaissance Uptown Lofts pop-up
  • 4/25/2019 - Residences at Franklin Park
  • 4/27/2019 - Mayor's Cabinet in the Community
  • 5/1/2019 - Persons Experiencing Homelessness Outreach pop-up
  • 5/1/2019 -  Capitol Hill United Neighbors
  • 5/8/2019 - Capitol Hill United Neighbors Zoning committee
  • 5/15/2019 - South City Park RNO
  • 5/15/2019 - Bluebird BID
  • 5/16/2019 - Congress Park RNO
  • 5/22/2019 - Small Business Focus Group             
  • 6/19/2019 - Congress Park RNO
  • 6/25/2019 - Uptown Urban Design Forum
  • 8/13/2019 - Congress Park RNO
  • 8/21/2019 - Congress Park RNO
  • 9/25/2019 - Congress Park RNO - Meeting notes(PDF, 64KB) 
  • 11/5/2019 - City Park Friends and Neighbors - Meeting notes(PDF, 58KB)
  • 11/14/2019 - Capitol Hill United Neighbors
  • 11/20/2019 - South City Park Neighborhood Association
  • 1/28/2020 - Teller Elementary School
  • 5/6/2020 - Urban Land Institute Transit Oriented Development Committee
  • 6/18/2020 - Capitol Hill United Neighbors
  • 7/24/2020 - Denver Classroom Teachers Association

Steering Committee

Name Affiliation
Jimmy Balafas Colfax Business Improvement District
Brad Cameron Cheesman Park
Megan Deffner City Park West
Buzz Geller Commercial property owner
Neil Goldblatt Commercial property owner
Bob Hampe North Capitol Hill
Frank Locantore Uptown on the Hill, Colfax Ave Business Improvement District
Don Novak Bluebird Business Improvement District
Heather O'Neil City Park West
Michelle Reichmuth City Park Neighborhood Advisory
Caroline Schomp Capitol Hill
Myles Tangalin Congress Park
Trent Thompson South City Park
Charlie Woolley Commercial property owner

Newsletters

2017

2018

2019

2020