By Lloyd Levy
As Wheat Ridge revises its Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy this year and next, I’d like to reflect on one very important piece of planning imagination from the not too distant past. It’s the 38th Avenue Corridor Plan of 2011, a vision of the future that is already coming true and shouldn’t be abandoned.
I for one have never given up on this vision for 38th Avenue, and I hope I’m not alone.
As a reminder, here’s the vision statement from the 2011 corridor plan: “West 38th Avenue between Sheridan and Wadsworth is a safe, vibrant and diverse corridor in Wheat Ridge with a strong identity and robust commercial and residential markets. The corridor has identifiable sub-districts with its Main Street being a source of community pride and a primary destination for city residents and visitors. In the year 2030, people of all ages and abilities live, work, learn, shop, and play along 38th Avenue.”
I would urge the city to keep this vision front and center even if it takes longer than first planned for it to take shape as real development and activity on the ground.
Over time, realizing the vision should adapt to changing conditions, of course. However, I don’t see anything that has occurred along the corridor so far since 2011 that has negated the vision. In fact, what has occurred and continues to occur seems like substantial progress toward the realization of that vision. Plain and simple, what we are seeing is movement ever closer to the tipping point of success.
Just consider these elements.
First there’s the accumulation of new investment in existing and new business. The far-seeing commitment and longstanding investment by Wheat Ridge Cyclery is a cornerstone. Other committed business visionaries who have put money on a bright future through investments in their properties are too numerous to mention. But, we risk taking them for granted if they aren’t identified and rewarded for their bravery. To this end, I suggest the city comprehensively inventory these risk-takers and show how their commitments are building the vision through their capital, ingenuity, and sweat. (Note that these investments may be very large or very small. All should be included and may be grouped by type and categorized by level of investment. However, it’s the shared and cumulative commitment to and confidence in the future of the vision that counts.)
Second, new residential investment has contributed and will continue to contribute incrementally to creating the identifiable sub-district markets envisioned in 2011. The forerunner was the townhouse development at 38th and Depew. In the works is the apartment complex at 38th and Upham. Soon to come is the residential component of Wheat Ridge Corners. To repeat, what we are seeing an accumulation of market-driven facts on the ground that are totally consistent with the 2011 vision.
Third, the Wadsworth widening project will facilitate traffic movement on Wadsworth and on 38th and 44th on both sides of Wadsworth. The improvement to traffic flows at the 38th corner, in particular, can’t but promote prospects for the realization of the “Main Street” component of the 38th Avenue vision.
Fourth, and finally, the 38th Avenue corridor plan should be consolidated and reconciled with all of the other planning initiatives clustering around the 38th Avenue and Wadsworth corner. I can think of the following: Wadsworth widening (as already noted), 38th Avenue multi-modal transportation improvements west of Wadsworth, and the overall Wheat Ridge town center planning concept that stretches roughly from 35th to 48th along Wadsworth and goes (or should go) roughly from Sheridan to Dudley on 38th and 44th.
To conclude, I think the market-motivated actions of investors (from the very small to the industrial strength) in the areas I’m interested in do now and will increasingly reinforce the validity of the vision for 38th Avenue and for the larger area encompassed within the Wheat Ridge town center concept.
Yes, the vision can be updated. Yes, new data should be collected and forecasts refined. And most of all, yes, the vision is valid and Wheat Ridge will stay on the right track by keeping the vision alive.