Saturday, July 11, 2009

Could San Francisco's Folly Be Denver's Gain?

I love San Francisco and the Bay Area. Its an amazing region full of incredible people and extraordinary places and its where I lived for more than ten years. However, its also a place where the parochial interests of the few all too frequently trump the broad interests of the many. Case in point, the recent furor over the Fisher family's generous offer to build an art museum in the Presidio to house their world class collection of contemporary art and sculpture.

To make a long story short, it looks like its not going to happen and the city where the collection will be housed could be up for grabs.

Winning this collection would be a unique opportunity to pursue Mayor Hickenlooper's vision for making Denver a cultural hub for the west. Given the Denver Art Museum's recent expansion, the Museum of Contemporary Art's new building and the upcoming opening of the Clyfford Still Museum, Denver has made great progress. Capturing the Fisher Collection would be a cap stone.

However, winning the Fisher Collection will take grand strategy, superior salespersonship, dexterity and speed plus a healthy dose of luck. San Francisco is still not out of the running and many other cities are licking their collective chops. This is an opportunity the Denver Region's political and civic leadership should pursue vigorously.

Photo above of the proposed Museum in the Presidio in San Francisco which would have housed the Fisher Collection by WRNS Studio.

Friday, July 3, 2009

FasTracks Bringing National Attention to the Denver Story

FasTracks is bringing prestige and national media attention to Denver.
"This past week, Denver has been host to an annual gathering of the Congress for the New Urbanism, a nonprofit that promotes alternatives to sprawl. When it last held its conference in Denver a little more than a decade ago, few
people lived in the downtown core around the historic Union Station. Since then, Denver has embarked on a $4.7 billion expansion of its transit system, funded by a 0.4 percent sales tax increase approved by voters in 2004. The rogram,FasTracks, will add 122 miles of light rail, as well as new bus service, and is scheduled to be completed by 2017. The city is also overseeing a $1 billion redevelopment of Union Station.

Along the rail line, mixed-use communities have sprouted, such as Stapleton, a $5 billion development on the site of the former Stapleton International Airport, which closed in 1995. Shops and restaurants in downtown Denver are lively long after the workday has ended, and neighborhoods like Central Platte Valley, just northwest of downtown, are still being developed. “It’s been transformative,” said Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. He anticipates 50 transit-oriented developments to be built around FasTracks over the next

Photos from Matthew Staver for The New York Times.
See full article, "New Rail Lines Spur Urban Revival," in The New York Times, June 13, 2009.

See my previous blog entry about a recent article in Slate which also mentions FasTracks.

Also see recent Denver Post article, "FasTracks Seen as Key to Denver's Repuation," from June 25, 2009, echoing this theme.