Out With the Old

TOD view of Olde TownEffective March 4, 2013, Arvada’s City Council unanimously approved an ordinance vacating Teller Street,  clearing the way for construction of a proposed five-story, 153 unit apartment bordering McElvoy City Park. The City, in conjunction with RTD, the Federal Transportation Department, and U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development are prepared to push their Transportation Oriented Development ‘master plan’ on Olde Town Arvada, “to redevelop an 8.79-acre site that is directly across the tracks from the future Olde Town Arvada commuter rail station.” http://oldetowntod.org/

The City published a photo of its vision for Historic Olde Town Arvada in its transit station development plan. Many well-known local buildings have been replaced, and Olde Town looks like a modern office park.  The charming, visually appealing streetscape is gone.

This attack on Historic Olde Town Arvada first surfaced last November, when a developer held a public meeting to propose a 5-story, 152-unit rental apartment building bordering historic McIlvoy Park.  At the time of this meeting, the City-wide height limit for buildings was just 2-stories.  Shortly afterward, on February 4, 2013, the City Council voted unanimously to allow 5-story  buildings in the historic district. Planning Council has approved, and the City Council has already heard the first reading of an ordinance that will grant this developer substantial financial benefits. Council will vote on this ordinance soon.

The City has held many public meetings regarding the design of the transit station and the area around Olde Town, but key features of their plans were not part of these meetings. Quietly, with limited public comment, Arvada has made seemingly small changes to zoning and other ordinances that enable the wholesale reconstruction of the Historic District.

Despite a public outcry against these changes, Council has ignored citizens. Our local newspaper, The Arvada Press, gives us glowing reports of the benefits of Council actions, and almost never highlights or discusses grave concerns of residents.  Concerned citizens are organizing to stop this madness and are seeking assistance from resources throughout the state.  Anyone who treasures Colorado’s western heritage needs to get involved now.

2 comments to Out With the Old

  • Cyrus T. Pyle

    Here is the scoop on AURA:
    The Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (the Authority) was created in 1981 by the City of Arvada (the City) pursuant to the Urban Renewal Law of the State of Colorado. The Authority was
    created for the development, redevelopment and rehabilitation of identified blighted areas within the City, and to provide necessary, greater and reasonable economic utilization of such areas.
    Specifically, the Authority promotes adequate public facilities and improved traffic patterns to eliminate traffic and pedestrian hazards within the areas; ensures sound social, physical and
    economic growth within the City; and provides a sound economic base for the community. The Authority is governed by a seven-member Board of Commissioners whose members are appointed by the Mayor of the City.

    Important things to note here:

    The last line. All 7 members of the AURA Board are appointed by the Mayor. They answer to the Mayor but not to Council or the voters other than through the Mayor’s Office.

    Their purpose is purely economic, not quality of life: “…to provide necessary, greater and reasonable economic utilization of such areas.” This is why the head of AURA thinks he can condemn property and toss out owners or tenants because they are not collecting enough tax dollars for the coffers. They are not interested in owner occupied housing. Therefore they want to build the Soviet style apartment block on Wadsworth as a rental property in conjunction with their promises to provide fodder to RTD’s FasTracks program.

    “… the Authority promotes adequate public facilities and improved traffic patterns to eliminate traffic and pedestrian hazards within the areas.” They are not following through on this part with the Wal-Mart proposal, particularly on the traffic part but Planning is giving the project a pass on this one. The public facilities for the Arvada Plaza area are considered to already be suitable for the project site and require no further action.

    The only reasons Arvada Plaza is blighted is because the City does not have property maintenance requirements and has allowed a succession of owners let it slide downhill and because the Planning Commission has allow more and more outward growth. New and shinier developments have sprung up drawing shoppers outward. Growth of this nature is much like a virus. As the virus spreads outward the core often dies. You don’t see this in Denver as much since they have nowhere to grow, hemmed in by neighboring cities. Boulder created an artificial growth boundary which had the same effect. Imagine how much the Arvada Plaza property would be worth if Arvada had some growth controls on its borders! Then Whole Foods would be interested.

  • Greg Thomason

    “…the concentration of power and the subjugation of individuals will increase amongst democratic nations … in the same proportion as their ignorance.”
    -Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1840

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