Better Block Five Points Creates Long-Term Impact

by Jill Locantore on August 19, 2014

New playground and programming activates park

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More than a year after Better Block Five Points took place in May of 2013, the long-term impact of the event on the social and economic wellbeing of this historic African American community is clearly visible.  Along with numerous community partners, WalkDenver organized the event as a temporary demonstration of how to improve a public space with pedestrian-oriented infrastructure mixed with art, culture, pop-up businesses and street life.

Better Block Five Points focused specifically on 24th Street between California and Welton Streets and Sonny Lawson Park.  While designated as a Pedestrian Corridor in the North East Downtown Area Plan, 24th Street and the Park had been neglected and suffered from unsafe and substandard conditions. The event brought the street and park to life with music, a ballet performance, gardening demonstrations, story time, walking tours, bike rides, food trucks, tennis, yoga, dance walking, a youth marketplace, and more.

This demonstration of the community’s vision attracted new attention and resources to the area, including $250,000 in permanent improvements funded by the City and County of Denver.  Improvements and programming that have been added to Sonny Lawson Park since the Better Block event include:

  • New playground equipment and the first Denver playground to have a policy of “no adults allowed unless accompanied by a child”
  • Benches and picnic tables providing adults with places to sit other than the playground
  • Newly resurfaced basketball court
  • Lighting and electrical outlets for future events
  • Flowerbeds, trash receptacles, chess tables, ping-pong tables, fitness equipment and community bulletin board
  • Weekly Mo’ Betta Green MarketPlace
  • Plein Air Art Workshops

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We are so proud of the changes that have taken place following Better Block Five Points, and grateful to our partners who helped demonstrate the vision, includingDenver Arts and Venues, the Colorado Branch of Volunteers for America,Kentwood Properties and many others.  Click here to view a video about Better Block Five Points.

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