In the aftermath of an earlier and greatly criticized proposal to upgrade the famous Larimer Square in downtown Denver, public input is again being sought on the unique public space’s future.
With roots reaching back to the 1850s, Larimer Square emerged as a treasured local neighborhood in the 1960s after a move to demolish the block entirely was defeated.
In the wake of that move, the block, populated with one- and two-story brick buildings housing shops, restaurants, and taverns built in the 1870s and ‘80s, comprised Denver’s first officially defined local historic district.
Just over a year ago, a plan was announced to restore certain aspects of the district, whose main thoroughfare is Larimer Street and is bounded by 14th and 15th Streets.
That plan by the Denver-based Urban Village, a real estate development and property firm, included the construction of two structures in Larimer Square’s alleyways that would have been anywhere from eight to twelve stories tall.
Local response to the plan proved mostly negative, with city officials, community activists, and residents objecting the most to the new high-rises, deeming them structurally inappropriate for the larger square space.
A subsequent advisory committee, composed of many of the critics of the original plan, met for several months last year but ended its work in December without agreeing on a new plan.
Now Urban Villages has opened a community center at 1411 Larimer Center that will serve as a place where discussions about Larimer Square’s future can be held.
It is hoped that those discussions will lead to a new plan that may include some redevelopment and possible new construction.
Because of their age, many of Larimer Square’s buildings are in need of restoration, particularly with load-bearing walls that have been holding up the weight of the structures for decades.
Although a time plan for the completion of a new plan has not yet been announced, whatever plan is finally drawn up will have to be approved by the Denver City Council.
By Garry Boulard
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