WalkDenver’s Better Block event in 2012 was just the beginning
At one time, the corner of 25th and Elliot in Jefferson Park was a thriving neighborhood center built along a streetcar line. Like many such neighborhoods, however, after the streetcar stopped running and attention shifted to auto-oriented commercial districts, the area gradually declined. Commercial spaces in the beautiful historic buildings sat vacant for 50 years or more.
In recent years, a groundswell of renewed interest in transit, walking, and biking brought together local neighbors determined to revitalize the area. Led by Marshall Vanderburg, the Federal Boulevard Partnership facilitated a Streetscape Design Project that included community outreach and design charrettes. The newly-founded WalkDenver organized a Better Block Jefferson Park event in May 2012 that demonstrated the potential of this neighborhood commercial district through pop-up businesses, a temporary outdoor cafe, trees, flowers, benches, street art and music. Fifteen hundred people attended the event, including Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock.
Since the Better Block event several new businesses have moved into the area, including 2914 Coffee, the Jefferson Park Pub, Sarto’s, Sexy Pizza, Crossfit Jefferson Park, and others. Today, every commercial space along the block is occupied. These new businesses offer local employment opportunities and walkable destinations for neighborhood residents, and foot traffic is on the rise.
Other signs of neighborhood revitalization include a summer concert series in the park, organized by Jefferson Park United Neighbors, a new bike lane on 23rd avenue, and a new B-cycle station located just three blocks from the site of the Better Block event. Last month the WalkDenver Board of Directors met for happy hour at the Jefferson Park Pub to celebrate the urban renaissance taking place in the neighborhood. We are thrilled to see how our one-day demonstration helped shift the focus from vehicular access back to the district’s roots as a walkable, living street.
The WalkDenver Board gathered at the Jefferson Park Pub in August 2014.