Historic Downtown Golden: New Urbanism the Old Fashioned Way (Event Recap)

Clear Creek Square in Downtown Golden (Image Courtesy of Bing)

Last night’s CNU Colorado presentation in Golden was about the Urban Renewal efforts that have taken place over the last 10 years in downtown Golden. There were two exemplary projects that were showcased including Gateway Station and Clear Creek Square. Len McBroom from the McBroom Company was in attendance and explained the difficulities of the Clear Creek Square project typical with urban infill. Mr. McBroom, along with the other speakers, also stated that the project would not have been feasible and would not have happened without the use of TIF from the Golden Urban Renewal Authority (or GURA).

Another presentation was given by Bob West of Oz Architecture on the Gateway Station project recently completed on Golden’s main street downtown, Washington Street. This building is a 5-story building nicely detailed to fit into the context of the typical 2-story buildings in downtown Golden. Details were used such as a cornice above the second floor and change of architectural materials assisted in fitting the larger building into the fabric of downtown Golden. A 15-ft stepback was also used for the 5th floor to make the 5th floor nearly invisible from across Washington and to the east of the intersection.

As a Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority (or CSURA) member, I was interested in the structure of GURA.
Mark Heller, the executive director of GURA and now a member of the CNU-CO advisory board, stated that the downtown URA district is the only urban renewal district in Golden. In Colorado Springs, we currently have six urban renewal districts with the prospect of a seventh pending with Copper Ridge. My question for Mr. Heller was why Golden only has one urban renewal district, in comparison to Colorado Springs and other cities in the state. He stated that it had to do with Golden having a lot of lawsuits in the early 90’s that he feels has developers and citizens afraid of chasing tax dollars. It is concerning that GURA only has the one district and the clock for that district will be up in 4 years. There is a strong chance that GURA will not be in existence in four years, which is unfortunate.

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