Denver Wins Golden Crater Award, Parking Lot Owner Announces Development — Coincidence?

The Great Parking Sea of Auraria. As one Streetsblog commenter said, "Really, this is downtown Denver not 'close to downtown.' It's just that it is a gigantic parking lot, so nobody calls it 'downtown.'" Image: Zoom Earth
The Great Parking Sea of Auraria. As one Streetsblog commenter said, "Really, this is downtown Denver not 'close to downtown.' It's just that it is a gigantic parking lot, so nobody calls it 'downtown.'" Image: Zoom Earth

Denver’s a great place to live for a lot of reasons, but our tendency to elevate cheap, abundant car storage as an indispensable part of city life is not one of them.

So when the sea of parking lots around three RTD train stations next to downtown catapulted Denver to victory in Streetsblog’s Parking Madness tournament — bringing some much-deserved shame to our city — it was a relief. For once we weren’t getting pats on the back from the national press — we were getting called out for what Denverites know is true: A lot of the city is not walkable.

Especially not around the Auraria West, Pepsi Center, and Mile High light rail stations, which should be places for people, not cars. These soul-sucking parking lots hold the city back from becoming more walkable, lively, healthy, and affordable.

That’s why, following the Golden Crater announcement, Stan Kroenke, who owns the Great Parking Sea of Auraria, told the Denver Post he would develop one of the lots. Reports Emilie Rusch:

“We’ve got almost 17 acres of surface parking lots there that are used six months out of the year,” Revesco Properties CEO Rhys Duggan said. “That might not be the highest and best use of the land, especially when you look at where it’s located, the light-rail stops, the proximity to downtown.”

Long the subject of speculation and rumors, the current redevelopment talks are serious enough that Denver planning officials are taking steps to get out in front of any future proposals.

Denver Community Planning & Development this summer will begin to gather community input to help inform what might happen on the parking lots and surrounding properties in the Central Platte Valley near Auraria, a city spokeswoman said.

How sweet it will be to see this hollowed-out blacktop become a spirited and walkable place, hopefully with mixed-income homes, businesses, and other useful places for the community — and minimal parking spots that induce driving and exacerbate traffic congestion.

But this lot is a tiny fragment of the Great Parking Sea of Auraria. And even that desolate parking crater is just one example of a much larger problem.

The City Council is poised to force more parking and cars into neighborhoods as the city grows. Two of the city’s leading publications consistently proselytize for cars and driving at the expense of transit, walking, and biking.

They’re standing in the way of the progress Denver needs to make to become a walkable city. Progress looks like turning a parking mistake into a transit asset, like Kroenke plans to do.

  • Anthony

    “[Parking] might not be the highest and best use of the land…”

    I LOLed when I read this line in the Post, and I did again when I read it here.

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