By Caitlin Blythe, Ryan Bender, and Kevin Larrabee
The Welton Street Corridor, a ten-block stretch running from the edge of the Central Business District through Five Points, once thrived as a center of jazz, nightclubs, and a variety of services. Now, a third of the corridor is considered blighted (primarily developed as surface parking) and only offers a smaller assortment of services that do not see the pedestrian traffic they need to thrive.
Welton Street can act as a focal point for a large and diverse population between the surrounding neighborhoods.
Several points along the corridor offer strong perpendicular access, encouraging connection between the neighborhoods. Additionally, Denver City Planning proposes a pedestrian experience along 21st Ave, a move that can be replicated along 24th – one block of which is already pedestrian. Various unique resources currently exist along the corridor that can be expanded upon, from the cultural and community services around 24th to the historic landmarks at Five Points.
Urban Design Scheme
Due to connections and existing resources, the corridor divides into three nodes with potentially distinct identities.
Welton Street can be studied as a series of three potential nodes, occurring at 21st, 24th, and Five Points. Each responds to different factors, from the level of current development (low at 21st and high at Five Points) to the character of the surrounding areas (dense high-rise of the business district around 21st, one to two story residential and retail around Five Points).
Concerned parties cite a lack of services and a transportation infrastructure ill-suited to the development of a thriving corridor as the most pressing problems, but Welton Street has a true potential that transcends even these concerns.
Welton Street offers unparalleled opportunities for sustainable revitalization
Connecting the city
Welton Street as a vehicle for connecting the city
The single rail line along Welton Street can potentially evolve into a larger network of public transportation (bus or streetcar) that moves beyond the corridor to connect to the Ballpark and RiNo neighborhoods, Colfax’s transportation routes, and the development to occur at the new rail hub at 38th and Blake. Not only will the immediate neighborhoods around Welton have ready access to its services and spaces, but the surrounding regions will be tied tightly to each other via the corridor.
Encouraging unique identities
Each node has different adjacencies, opportunities for development or infill, and existing services. Each has different pressures to respond to, different functions that can grow and evolve. With this in mind, each should offer a set of services to meet the node’s intentions, from Twenty-First supplying medium to high density residential supporting the business district to Five Points building upon its existing cultural heritage and future.
Planting for a sustainable Colorado
Planting appropriately for Colorado
Connecting people back to the processes that sustain them can help to ensure the vitality of a neighborhood. Expanding upon the growing urban agriculture scene in Denver, the open space along Welton between Park Ave and 24th can become a hub for such community growth, offering planters as well as farmer’s markets.
Integrating people and their environment
Pedestrian avenues and alleyways can serve more functions than human-scaled circulation and massing. Bioswales and permeable paving can turn them into integrated, multifunctional axes to sustain people as well as the environment, providing space for circulation, recreation, small-scale gathering, stormwater management, agriculture, and ecologically-sensitive planting.
Sustainable architecture can support and potentially drive a sustainable urban approach. The class has focused on the following projects: