West Area Plan Could Shape the Future of West Colfax and Westside Neighborhoods

While Blueprint Denver sets overarching planning and development goals for the city, small area and neighborhood plans are more focused efforts in specific communities. The city split Denver into 19 regions; one of the current priorities is the West Area Plan, including the West Colfax, Sun Valley, Villa Park, Valverde, Barnum and Barnum West neighborhoods. 

The planning process often takes 18 months to two years, according to Senior City Planner Eugene Howard. While the city began its research for the West Area Plan in March 2019, the public launch was last October. The city will do in-depth analysis, hold community meetings to receive feedback throughout, and then present recommendations. Planners said those recommendations could be in front of city council for review in Spring 2021. 

Still in the earlier planning stages, the city has held two large community meetings and presented at a dozen smaller ones. There are also monthly meetings with community members on a steering committee that are open to the public. 

“We’re asking very broad, general questions” at this stage, said Alexandra Foster, the communications program manager for Community Planning and Development, adding that they are seeking more community input.

Within the West Area Plan, the West Colfax and Sun Valley areas are specifically highlighted in a green to red priority system. “Red is not necessarily bad — it means there’s a lot happening,” Howard stressed, noting that the redevelopment of the former St. Anthony’s Hospital brought more rapid changes to those neighborhoods than those farther south. 

The majority of the area is represented by District 3 City Councilwoman Jamie Torres. District 1 City Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval and City Council President Jolon Clark also represent smaller portions of the area. Torres said her office is actively seeking community feedback and believes the process can be positive in shaping the future of an area. 

Jamie Torres

When asked about her vision for West Colfax, Torres said her goal is for it to be “full of places people want to be,” adding that “all my life it’s been oriented to cars. I would like it to be more about human access.” 

Torres is encouraged by some of the changes in the area, such as new delis and other local businesses. She also joked she’s seen more films than ever before since the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema opened. Alamo and much of the nearby residential and commercial development was part of a large infill project when the St. Anthony’s Hospital campus closed.

Regarding current and future housing development in the area, Torres said, “it’s positive if it’s accessible,” noting that some of the rapid changes have priced out some of her constituents. “Growth, yes — if it’s affordable. Density, yes — if it’s affordable.”

Torres said she wants to see better pedestrian and bicycle transportation opportunities along West Colfax Avenue and is watching to see how the new Department of Transportation & Infrastructure (DOTI) differs from previous agencies in that regard.

North and West Denver residents interested in giving feedback are encouraged to review information online or attend a community meeting. Community members can sign up for email updates on the West Area Plan page, and city planners are expecting their next large community meeting at the end of April. The city is also surveying the community online; the current survey is about transportation and mobility in the area. Watch for upcoming community meetings listed in The Denver North Star.

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Looking to give specific feedback? 

  • Senior City Planner Eugene Howard, eugene.howard@denvergov.org
  • District 1 City Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval, 720-337-7701, districtone@denvergov.org
  • District 3 City Councilwoman Jamie Torres, 720-337-3333, Jamie.Torres@denvergov.org

Photos courtesy of the City and County of Denver.


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