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By Bud Starker

In 2005, Wheat Ridge embarked on a study called the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy (NRS). The report indicated that the city had not kept pace with its neighboring communities in the development of diverse housing options and vibrant commercial corridors. Our city was not attracting the strong households and the economic opportunities that comes with them. According to the NRS Report our neighboring communities had “…out-competed Wheat Ridge in attracting families and higher income households, resulting in these ‘strong households’ either leaving Wheat Ridge or simply not being attracted to Wheat Ridge in the first place.”

Over the course of about a year, city leaders and residents rolled up their sleeves to examine how the city found itself in that position and, more importantly, what strategies could be developed to move in a more positive direction. Working in conjunction with professional consultants, resident meetings were held as well as public forums, and listening and strategy sessions to understand the elements that promote strong civic values. The final report recommended useful tools and strategies to reverse these trends. Of the nine strategies, priorities were narrowed to five including: 1) the development of market-rate housing options throughout the city; 2) redevelopment of the Wadsworth corridor; 3) development of a Town Center; 4) the creation of identity signage and gateways to the city; and 5) improvements to existing multi-family rental property at key locations. Most of these recommendations have been implemented or are underway.

As Colorado and the Denver metropolitan area continue to experience a population influx and a wave of redevelopment activity, Wheat Ridge is seeing positive movement related to our NRS priorities. More than 800 apartments are being constructed at The Corners at Wheat Ridge, West End 38, Clear Creek Crossing and the transit-oriented development near the Wheat Ridge Ward Station for the G Line. Planning has begun on improvements to the Wadsworth corridor and we have new gateway signage at key intersections throughout the city. We have also created more of a Town Center along West 38th Avenue with improvements to The Green at the Ridge at 38 slated to begin this year.

With these opportunities also come challenges. We need to integrate the new developments into the fabric of our city life, capture the energy of new generations, and honor and preserve the essential qualities that make our city such a wonderful place to live.

With a planned update to the NRS, city council announced the formation of the NRS Steering Committee. The committee will provide guidance during a year-long study to listen to the community and provide recommendations on how best to address the challenges and opportunities we face. Members of the committee will represent new and long-term residents, renters and homeowners, business owners, and other critical community stakeholders.

To be considered for the Steering Committee, submit an application to the city by 5 p.m. on June 25. Applications are available on the city’s website, or by contacting Laura McAvoy at 303-235-2819 or lmacavoy@ci.wheatridge.co.us.

I look forward to seeing you around town.

Contact Wheat Ridge Mayor Bud Starker at bstarker@ci.wheatridge.co.us or 303-235-2800.