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    Go Big or Go Home — River Mile Development

    That’s what Denver’s saying as they become the next spot for being an urban magnet development zone (and one with magnitude at that).

    What is an urban magnet?  Urban magnet goes beyond some non-specific term and actually refers to an entire theory. This theory is based on a stream of thinking focused around building revitalized city centers strategically focused on the hallmark component of having ‘staying power’ — hence the word magnet. With this, the development design has to foster a community which lends to inclusiveness as well as economic success. In this community elements need to go beyond aesthetic appeal, and have to very tangibly include essences of vital ‘activity’. We all know even the nicest outdoor malls adorned with fountains, manicured storefronts, and meticulously landscaped common spaces do not generate the ‘feeling’ which are entrenched in a tangibly alive community. This is one of the main reasons people are so attracted to cities such as NYC and San Francisco, where entrenched diverse ecosystems of people exist and crucially, identify within. With that foundational premise in mind, other key elements which are present in the foundation of urban magnets are; outdoor space where communities can congregate, specialized retail which excludes box stores and instead focuses on shops unique to inhabiting cultures, places of education and learning such as schools and community centers, and lastly, housing, which provides for all socioeconomic classes.

    All this being said – this is what is poised to be with the new River Mile Development, Denver’s next behemoth of a development project. Located where the Elitch Gardens parking lot currently stands between Confluence Park and I-25, this development will encompass the movement ‘what if instead of parking lots… people’, and will eventually replace the amusement park itself. Design firm Dialogue, responsible for designing the blueprint for  this project, hopes to make this part of a carless urban sprawl which will host a variety of activities and life. Here are the list of key elements said to be included; Daycare, rec center, and school, 2 bike/and pedestrian bridges over the South Platte River (which lends beauty in itself), 3 riverfront parks, and a major focus on affordable housing.

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