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A Denver Wish List

A CDOT rendering of a sunken I-70 in Elyria-Swansea, east of Globeville.

The ART's prow will jut out over Broadway.

From affordable housing to the Super Bowl, here are Confluence Denver's top wishes for our fair city for the year -- and years -- to come.
With the clock ticking on the calendar year and a certain bearded and bulbous guy getting ready to hand out some gifts, here are Confluence Denver's wishes for 2015 and beyond.

More affordable housing

Denver's rents jumped at a startling rate in 2014 -- the average two-bedroom is now about 7 percent more than it was a year ago. With the city's cost of living climbing a few rungs, the shine on the fabled "quality of life" intangible lost some luster. And if RiNo becomes the next Riverfront, how long before Denver becomes San Francisco? The news of a $24 million fund is a step in the right direction, but no panacea.

More education money

Colorado is notoriously low in per-capita education spending -- the state was in the bottom 10 at last count -- and Denver's high-school graduation rate is hovering just over 50 percent. Voters spurned the last notable attempts to boost spending via taxes, but something's got to give. We can't keep importing talent forever.

Better use of public transit

We've built it -- and keep building it -- but will they come? The multi-billion-dollar FasTracks transit expansion will link DIA and Boulder with Union Station by 2016, but the city's commuting rate remains abysmally low at 6.2 percent

Hipper hotels beyond downtown

The ART, a hotel, will open on Broadway and Zeppelin Development will break ground on a hotel at The Source in RiNo in spring 2015, but many of Denver's neighborhoods notably lack overnight lodgings of any kind. I'd love to see the Gates redevelopment have a hotel, and it would be super cool if an old motel in the city went the way of Hotel San Jose in Austin.

More density

Denver needs to truly embrace density. The city has gotten denser, yes, but with the coming arrival of light rail to numerous new stops in city limits, it's time to take it to another level. Every station has a chance to catalyze a commercial district, just like the trolley did on South Pearl Street a century ago, and density could and should follow.

A better I-70

The last of the 30 worst bridges in the state, the 50-year-old viaduct between Colorado and Brighton boulevards is slated for demolition or reconstruction. Let's hope we don't just widen it, but rethink it. Sink it below grade two miles for nearly $2 billion and crown it with a "lid" of parks? Privatize it and add express lanes? This is a huge opportunity for Denver to improve traffic and make a better first impression to anybody coming from the airport or points east.

More rail

Sure, we've got FasTracks, but we don't have commuter rail like Utah and New Mexico, and I-70 heading west can be a horror story, especially on weekends. How can we push these ideas from drawing board to reality? Some see a Denver Olympics, winter or summer, as a potential catalyst for these kind of massive investments, but I'm not yet sold on the wisdom of that plan.

Connecting Civic Center Park

With the renovation and repurposing of the McNichols Building and a nice slate of special events, Civic Center Park has come a long way in recent years, but it still feels unnecessarily disconnected from downtown. It's time to revisit some of the plans to activate the park that have emerged over the years, and dream up new ones.

Better connectivity and walkability

The pedestrian bridge at Colorado Boulevard and I-25 was just installed and RiNo has bridges in the works at 38th and Blake streets and over the South Platte River. But other parts of the city are in need of a boost in walkability and connectivity: the Overland neighborhood near Evans Station; Auraria along Speer Boulevard; and Globeville and Elyria-Swansea in north Denver, to name a few.

A Super Bowl championship (or an NBA title)

Everybody's looking at you, Peyton. You, not so much, JaVale.
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