Revamp effort on Federal, between 52nd and 72nd avenues, to be one of four project across the U.S. highlighted at urban planning conference this fall
By John Aguilar
The Denver Post
ADAMS COUNTY — Among the pawn shops, the porn stores, the tattoo parlors and the auto lots that beckon drivers on Federal Boulevard just north of Denver, there are seeds of hope.
Two major commuter rail stops are set to open at either end of the stretch of Federal. Between West 52nd and West 72nd avenues, underperforming or vacant commercial properties await the right market conditions to make the leap from ramshackle to robust.
The potential for the gritty 2½-mile segment, which runs mostly through unincorporated Adams County between Denver and Westminster, has even caught the attention of top development professionals in the United States.
The Urban Land Institute this summer named the Federal corridor as one of four “demonstration corridors” in the country — the others are in Los Angeles; Nashville, Tenn.; and Boise, Idaho — ripe for reinvention as a healthy place with strong connections to surrounding communities.
“Where could we find a spot where some progress has been made and there’s some hope?” asked Michael Leccese, executive director of the Urban Land Institute Colorado.
The Federal corridor will be featured at the institute’s fall meeting in San Francisco in October, where planners, developers and commercial real estate professionals from all over the country will be present.
Abel Montoya, director of Long Range Strategic Planning for Adams County, said the national attention will be good for a major thoroughfare where sidewalks are largely missing, bike lanes are nonexistent and healthy food outlets are lacking.
“We’re excited to work directly with these groups and present in front of an audience that will provide unparalleled exposure for our Federal Boulevard Framework Plan and the vision for the southwest portion of Adams County,” Montoya said.
County leaders last year established the Federal Boulevard Framework Plan to encourage revitalization and improvement of the 20-block stretch.
Montoya said the basic elements for a brighter future along Federal Boulevard are taking shape. Already, $140,000 has been spent on landscape improvements, hard medians have been added to enhance safety, and the bridge over the rail tracks at West 69th Avenue is being widened.
Montoya envisions new transit-centered residential and commercial developments sprouting up around the Westminster Station on the Northwest Rail Line and the Clear Creek/Federal station on the Gold Line.