Susan Barnes-Gelt in Denver Post: Principles of New Urbanism are "Recipe for Survival"

With CNU 17 ready to kick off in Denver just over a week from now, Denver Post columnist Susan Barnes-Gelt introduced a great package of opinion essays in the paper's Sunday Perspectives section, highlighting how much has changed since the last time the Congress for the New Urbanism held its big annual gathering in Denver.

In 1998, Stapleton airport was 7 square miles of abandoned runways. Lakewood's Belmar neighborhood was a dead shopping center. The Central Platte Valley was an industrial floodplain behind downtown's historic Union Station. Barely 1,000 people lived downtown and a surfeit of surface parking lots — the detritus of failed urban renewal policies — defined downtown.

Now, far from being eschewed as elitist, the principles of new urbanism are not only widely accepted, they also have become a recipe for survival.

Next week, June 10-14, the CNU is convening in Denver for a second time. And in barely more than a decade, the realities of global warming, America's energy dependence and economic uncertainty have set in.

Projects that a decade ago were no more than visions are today's reality. Stapleton, Belmar, the Central Platte Valley, Lowry and various smaller infill developments are setting the standard for livable, sustainable and desirable development.

It's that kind of vision that has made fast-growing Denver a leader in rethinking sprawl as the default way to grow a region. We believe that CNU VI in 1998 helped to reinforce this civic vision. Eleven years later, CNU 17 will now offer Denver up as national model — while also critiquing the progress to see what we've learned and what can be done better — that offers cities a higher return (economically, environmentally and socially) on growth and development. (Sounds like you might want to be there, huh?)

More on the whole op-ed package later — including essays by CNU co-founder Peter Calthorpe, Retrofitting Suburbia co-author June Williamson, and leading reform-oriented transportation engineer Norman Garrick — but here's a link to begin exploring it now.

Photo via pbo31 at Flickr using Creative Commons license.


Looking forward to visit

It's great to see the Denver Post recognize the resurgence of urbanism and contributions of new urbanists to the city. I'm looking forward to seeing what's changed since last time I was in Denver!

Mary Vogel's picture

PBS Special Pans Denver AND field trips on June 9

I sent this to my regional Cascadia CNU pre-chapter awhile back. It's interesting that PBS had such a different take on Denver. . .

Hope you can catch the PBS special on transportation/land use "Blueprint America." It features Portland, OR and New York in a positive light--contrasted with the host city for CNU 17, Denver.

I saw it last night, but it airs again a couple more times on my local station and probably on yours.

It did make me want to add the town of Golden, CO to my field trip agenda during CNU 17. They are the last hold out preventing completion of an I-470 beltway around Denver. From the brief TV clip it seemed Golden was doing a
good job of urbanism. And they have converted Rocky Flats (former nuclear weapons site) to a wildlife sanctuary.

I plan to rent a car and do my field trips on June 9. If anyone wants to come with me, please let me know at
Mary Vogel, Principal
Toward a Sustainable Urban Ecosystem
A WBE/ESB in Oregon

Bringing ecosystem services to great urban design


Write your comments in the box below and share on your Facebook!