The Colorado District Council
of the Urban Land Institute has selected two communities, including one in Denver, for its first Building Healthy Places workshops.
In a one-day event, leading ULI Colorado volunteers will work with the communities to find practical ways to improve the urban environment in ways that benefit the health of residents. The goal is to encourage active living, healthy buildings, access to nature and healthy food and public safety.
In Denver, ULI Colorado chose Elyria-Swansea, the birthplace of rail in Colorado and home to 6,400 residents who live close to intensive industrial uses, highways and railways. Just four miles from downtown, the neighborhood is 84 percent Latino, with many multi-generational households.
With an average household income of $44,700, compared to Denver's average of $73,000, the community faces a number of economic challenges. Disconnected streets and lack of convenient access to parks, healthy foods and other services contribute to higher-than-average rates of asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease among residents.
A planned FasTracks commuter rail transit stop at 40th and Colorado presents opportunities for neighborhood improvements and services in Elyria-Swansea, as well as the adjoining Clayton and Northeast Park Hill neighborhoods. The ULI panel will seek ways to create connections, neighborhood investment and opportunities for healthy living.
"The selection of the historic Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods for the Building Healthy Places Workshop is important, timely and relevant to the future of the constituents that I represent," says Judy Montero, Denver City Councilwoman for District 9.
The other neighborhood ULI Colorado selected for a workshop is Lake Creek Village Apartments, a 270-unit garden apartment complex on 30 acres in Edwards. Designed decades ago for ski resort and service workers, Lake Creek has evolved into a property that houses people of all income levels, including many low-income families.
"These two communities will get to work with the leading architects, developers and public health experts in Colorado on land-use strategies to improve the health of their citizens," says Kirk Monroe, Executive Vice President of Vectra Bank Colorado and chair of ULI Colorado. "With healthcare costs straining our GDP and draining family budgets, this has become a huge issue for our economy and quality of life."