ULI Examines Benefits of Creative Placemaking in Denver

Dairy Block Alley, December 2019, courtesy of Katie Rapone.

The benefits of creative placemaking, along with best practices and successful case studies in cities throughout the United States, is explored in the latest Urban Land Institute (ULI) report, Creative Placemaking: Sparking Development with Arts and Culture.

In short, Creative Placemaking integrates arts and culture with good design. It offers insights about how creative placemaking—leveraging arts and culture—can spark a creative culture in real estate projects, revitalize communities, and boost financial and other return on investment (ROI) measures for developers. It also provides best practices about how to plan, finance, implement, and manage projects.

The ULI report offers examples and case studies illustrating successful creative placemaking across diverse project types and in U.S. cities of various sizes, economic conditions, and geographic locations.

Denver’s Dairy Block

Creative Placemaking spotlights 19 different case studies across 16 different cities, each showing how creative placemaking can impact local communities and increase equity in their neighborhoods, such as Dairy Block. The project adaptively repurposes a whole block, including the former 1920 Windsor Dairy and a firehouse as well as parking lots. Dairy Block comprises a “micro district” with 250,000 square feet (23,200 sq m) of office space and event and meeting space, with the independent 172-room Maven Hotel, and with 392 underground parking spaces. It features the Milk Market, along with local artisan food and drink venues, a restaurant, a bar, coffee shop, an art gallery, and an activated pedestrian alley that features murals, interactive art, and maker shops. The developers worked with NINE dot ARTS, a local arts curation advisory firm, to curate an ongoing exhibit throughout the project and to feature more than 700 pieces of art created by Colorado artists.

“As cities struggle to rebuild and come back from pandemic devastation—economic, social and physical—creative placemaking is perhaps our most powerful tool for renewal,” said leading ULI member Marilee Utter, president, Citiventure Associates and one of the authors of the report. “Using culture as a foundation reinforces inclusivity, equity and authenticity to the local community, and the result is a highly marketable approach that naturally attracts both public and private partners. This publication speaks to private and community developers alike, focusing on the details and ‘how to’s’ of creating places that thrive and endure.”

Drawing on deep research and knowledge from ULI members and creative placemaking experts, the report identifies ten best practices that can be used in cities throughout the world. The practices address where and how to start creative placemaking in real estate development, who should be involved, when to engage artists, what skills are needed, and financing the project. This report provides guidance on planning, implementing, and financing creative placemaking projects, as well as on-going programming.

Read the full report HERE

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