Noted developer has designs on Glenwood’s downtown

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Dana Crawford

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A Colorado legend in urban renewal is part of the team that’s leading the local effort to study redevelopment options for several downtown Glenwood Springs sites.

Dana Crawford, who in the mid-1960s pioneered the redevelopment of Denver’s historic Larimer Square, is one-third of Canyon Springs Development LLC, the design group contracted by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to look at options for a new Glenwood library location, a public parking structure and other amenities.

Over a career that has spanned five decades, Crawford has redeveloped such historic landmarks as Denver’s Oxford Hotel and has continued to be involved in the revitalization of the Denver Lower Downtown Historic District.

“I’m motivated by downtown areas and bringing vitality back to retail districts,” Crawford said during a kick-off party Friday at the newly renovated 812 Grand Avenue building in downtown Glenwood Springs.

“Our job right now is to listen,” she said. “A community this size has a lot of pride, and I hope everybody gets involved to try to get to a shared vision.”

Going by the name “Vitae – Lifestyle Glenwood Springs,” the project is intended to examine various development options in a two-block area of downtown Glenwood. It will focus on five primary sites, the two city-owned parking lots on Cooper Avenue, the private parking lot behind the U.S. Bank building, the old Holy Cross building on Grand Avenue, and the existing Glenwood Springs Branch Library site at Ninth and Blake.

Earlier this summer, the DDA partnered with the city of Glenwood Springs, the Garfield County Public Library District and Colorado Mountain College to seek out a design team that could look at the various development scenarios, as well as financing options.

In addition to helping determine the best location for a city parking structure and a new, larger branch library, the plans could also involve new classroom and office space for CMC, as well as some commercial and housing development.

“The idea is to come up with a concept plan, both physical and financial, to accomplish some of our goals,” DDA Executive Director Leslie Bethel said. “We’re trying to strategize on where these different uses are going to go and how to pay for them.”

The DDA had eight responses to a request for qualifications that went out in July, and narrowed that to a short list of four finalists, Bethel said.

The $100,000 first phase contract was awarded to Canyon Springs Development. In addition to Crawford’s firm, Urban Neighborhoods, the other partners are William T. Parkhill of Denver-based Parkhill Development Co., and E.J. Olbright, a Summit County architect who designed the Glenwood Springs Community Center.

A number of local architectural, engineering and planning firms are also involved, including SGM Engineers, CTL-Thompson Inc. and TG Malloy.

“Vitae is the Latin root for ‘life,'” Parkhill explained of the name given the Glenwood project. “We want to create an identity for the downtown area, to spark some new life into the area and give people a reason to visit and walk around.”

Added Crawford, “Glenwood Springs has so many assets, beginning with its setting. It’s one of the most beautiful sights in the world.”

A primary objective in the planning effort is to try to keep the library downtown. Library district officials have been in negotiations with the city to find a location to replace the existing Glenwood library, using funds from a district-wide mill levy approved by voters four years ago.

The district intends to build a new 14,000-square-foot library to replace the existing 4,500-square-foot library at Ninth and Blake. It is also considering a site at Glenwood Meadows, however, and in order to remain downtown, library officials have said they want additional public parking. A downtown parking structure has also been a goal of city officials for a number of years.

“It’s highly likely the library site may have other uses on it as well, which is how the relationship with CMC began,” Bethel said. “So, it may not be separate pieces, but more of a mix of uses.

“This first phase is going to be a pretty quick process,” Bethel said. “We hope to have a plan that we can look at as a roadmap put together in 30 days.

“But, it’s very important that we get to a consensus on what works best for everyone involved,” she said.


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