“The Right Way to Engage Residents in a Neighborhood Redesign
Kaid Benfield. June 7, 2012
Denver’s rejuvenated South Lincoln neighborhood, being redeveloped in phases, will be walkable, transit-oriented, equitable, green, and perfectly located in close proximity to downtown jobs and services. It’s a terrific new model-in-the-making of how to revitalize older, distressed public housing sites in an ambitious yet sensitive way. But what really sets the South Lincoln project apart from others is the outstanding predevelopment public engagement and analysis undertaken by the Denver Housing Authority to ensure that the new community will deliver maximum benefits to existing and new residents and neighbors.
Last month I wrote about the Denver Regional Equity Atlas, a compendium of maps and research showing how the city’s expanding transit system can be leveraged to bring opportunity to traditionally underserved populations. A couple of weeks later, my collaborator Lee Epstein wrote an article about how we can use emerging technology to facilitate citizen participation in the design of sustainable communities. Neither of us had the South Lincoln redevelopment in mind when we wrote those posts, but we certainly could have. Now that I have had an opportunity to research the project, it’s hard to imagine a better exemplar for both subjects.
Anticipating full redevelopment of the 17.5-acre site by 2018, DHA will replace 182 outmoded apartments in an area of “concentrated poverty and physical distress,” to use the phrase of the Housing Authority’s Kimball Crangle in a presentation to the Urban Land Institute last year. The new community will include 457 homes, including over 300 public housing residences, workforce homes and other affordable housing. There will be 147 units available at market rates, creating a mixed-income neighborhood.
Public and affordable housing will be available to households earning less than 80 percent of the area median income; workforce housing will be available to those earning 50 to 60 percent of the area median income. All homes will be within convenient walking distance of the neighborhood’s light rail station and expected nearby mixed uses. By coordinating demolition and construction in phases, all residents will maintain the ability to remain in the neighborhood during the redevelopment process.
The first new project to be completed in the neighborhood is a 100-unit, eight-story apartment building for seniors and the disabled, constructed on a remediated brownfield site. Expected to earn a LEED-platinum rating, the building features rooftop solar panels, an advanced green heating and cooling system, and graywater recycling; the landscaping in the adjacent right-of-way includes green infrastructure for stormwater management.
Apart from the green features, among the building’s tenants is a youth culinary academy providing job training. Denver artist Jolt and his company GuerillaGarden created a 5,000-square-foot mural symbolizing community pride that stretches the full 90-foot height of one wall of the building.”
Via: The Atlantic Cities
Image: Courtesy of Mithun