Topic ID #24103 - posted 10/22/2012 2:02 AM

From Skid Row to LoDo: Historic Preservation’s Role in Denver’s Revitalization



Jennifer Palmer

Webmaster
From Skid Row to LoDo: Historic Preservation’s Role in Denver’s Revitalization
by Edward T. McMahon October 11, 2012

Historic preservation creates new jobs, provides affordable housing, brings diversified economic development, and efficiently maximizes private and public investment. Today, most elected officials and real estate professionals understand the benefits of historic district designation. However, this was not always the case, especially in Denver in the 1980s.

The oil boom of that decade heralded a huge construction boom in downtown office buildings and property values skyrocketed—only to crash with the subsequent oil bust. In the late 1980s, Denver’s Lower Downtown was boarded up and blighted, largely bypassed by the downtown construction boom; it was the city’s skid row. Despite the presence of the Rocky Mountain region’s largest collection of urban historic buildings, between 1981 and 1988 about 20 percent of the buildings in Lower Downtown were demolished, mostly to provide parking for office workers.

In response to the teardowns, a preservation organization called Historic Denver joined a group of business leaders called Downtown Denver Inc. to campaign for a moratorium on demolition in Lower Downtown and for designation of the area as a historic district. The groups were encouraged by Federico Peña, who was elected mayor in 1983 with an ambitious revitalization agenda for the city.


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