The City of Arvada has engaged Denver-based landscape architecture, urban planning and design firm Dig Studio on a Strategic Reinvestment Plan that includes the development of a shared 20-year vision for Olde Town Arvada, as well as a study into the feasibility of permanently maintaining street closures that have created a pedestrian experience on a three-block stretch of downtown.
“We’ve worked hard over the past 20 years to cultivate a vibrant downtown experience that supports thoughtful growth while maintaining the unique character and charm of Olde Town,” said Ryan Stachelski, director of community and economic development for the City of Arvada. “Our goal is to work with Dig Studio to build on those efforts with a comprehensive plan for our outdoor public spaces that takes into account the input of our community and our local businesses, and creates an actionable framework for future revitalization efforts.”
Over the past two years, the City of Arvada worked with the Olde Town Business Improvement District (BID) to close several of its downtown streets to vehicle traffic to accommodate additional outdoor dining and social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To determine public response to the closures, the City completed a community survey and virtual open house in 2021. The project received overwhelming support, with approximately 90 percent of respondents in favor of keeping the streets closed.
With that feedback in mind, last year the City moved to make the closures “semi-permanent,” extending them for five years and investing in a number of initial placemaking improvements, including redoing crosswalks, adding medians, and placing more planters. Three large street murals were also commissioned through a partnership with the Olde Town BID and the Arvada Arts and Culture Commission.
As part of the project’s scope, Dig Studio will study the impacts of the road closures and examine whether they should remain permanent, be adjusted in some way, or be removed altogether. Dig Studio will also examine implications for parking, accessibility, landscaping, and hardscaping. The plan will include recommendations for capital improvement projects that could be spread out over several years to align with the city’s budget and vision.
“While we know from listening to our community that there is strong support for keeping the street closures permanent, as with any major decision, we want to go in with the best information possible and ensure our efforts align with long-term goals for our downtown experience,” said Stachelski.
The project is one of several recent street-closure feasibility studies Dig Studio has been engaged in across the state over the last year, including a similar downtown reinvestment plan with StudioSeed for the City of Idaho Springs’ downtown that was adopted by the local city council last November.
“As communities across the country are considering the benefits of more pedestrian-oriented urban environments, it’s crucial to examine surrounding infrastructure to ensure such developments support the long-term success and vitality of the area,” said Paul Stewart, principal at Dig Studio. “Dig has a strong reputation for developing reinvestment plans that are sensitive to environmental and cultural context. We look forward to working with the City of Arvada and providing recommendations that support their vision for Olde Town.”