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What is Protect Larimer Square?

Protect Larimer Square is an outreach effort started by Urban Villages, the group overseeing Larimer Square. Urban Villages is exploring options to restore and enhance Larimer Square through intensive preservation work, and the incorporation of mixed-income affordable housing, activated open space, and sustainable buildings adjacent to the Square. We are here to promote a conversation in the community about the project, and to amplify the voices of the people who live, work, and play Downtown. Protecting the historic essence of Larimer Square is as crucial to us as building an inclusive, sustainable, and thriving Downtown Denver. We seek to find a balance that can benefit Denverites for generations.

What is being done to preserve the history of Larimer Square?

We believe the historical essence of Larimer Square begins with the people who live at, work in, and visit Larimer Square. In a 1927 article in Municipal Facts Edith Sampson declared:

“This street had a capacity for replenishing itself – for it is not so much of buildings and shops, or politics and society that Larimer is composed of today – but of types. On Larimer Street you will see more kinds of people in five minutes than you will see in any other part of Denver in five weeks.”

A focus on historic preservation alone makes it nearly impossible to build for the needs of future generations of Denverites. The key to finding balance between preservation and future needs is two-fold. First, Protect Larimer Square is engaging in an inclusive and thorough conversation with the community to give voice and consideration to groups who work the hardest for positive change – community groups, historic preservation advocates, and individual residents. Second, we are focused on working with our planning teams to make sure any improvement adds to the long-term sustainability of Larimer Square so the historic character of the street will be enjoyed by all of Denver well into the future.

What is Protect Larimer Square doing to reach out to community groups interested in development?

Our mission is to bring information on the protection of Larimer Square and other land uses to the residents of Denver in a manner that’s easy to access, engage with and designed to enable residents to become part of the process. We will do that in a multitude of ways and in many forums – online, in group settings, individual meetings and at your doorstep or place of business. Protect Larimer Square is committed to bringing this dialogue to the community, and to elevating the voices of those who will continue to visit, live and benefit from a thriving and vital Larimer Square. If you are a member of a group who wishes to join the conversation, please contact us at outreach@protectlarimersquare.com.

The project is privately funded, why go through such a big effort to have a public conversation?

As stewards of this historic treasure, understanding the needs of the community, both now and in the future, is essential to ensuring the spirit of Larimer Square continues to ignite in the hearts of Denver’s diverse citizens. And, we believe understanding those needs through an inclusive community conversation is the right thing to do.

The efforts of Protect Larimer Square are designed to empower and connect community organizations with the means to continuously have a larger part in these types of conversations as they become more common. The possibilities for the future of Denver become much brighter as open and serious discussions about planning for the community become more common, especially when those plans are privately funded.

Aren’t there already people working to preserve historic buildings in Denver?

Absolutely, and Protect Larimer Square continues to actively engage with those groups in the discussion about the future of the neighborhood. However, protecting Larimer Square means more than just preserving historic buildings. For Larimer Square to retain its energy and vibrancy, it must also evolve to meet both current and future needs. By continuing conversations with a wide scope of people, we hope to find balance between preservation and adaptability.

What will happen with the businesses in the Square if there is future construction?

Any construction project has impacts on its immediate neighbors. Even if no new construction is planned, extensive restoration work needs to take place on Larimer Square. The first priority of the project team is ensuring the safety of workers, tenants, and visitors. It is also a goal of the project team to complete any work as expeditiously as possible – without taking shortcuts – in an effort to minimize disruption. While it will inevitably present some challenges, the resulting safety, sustainability, and increased activity that will flow from this once-in-a-generation opportunity to revitalize Larimer Square will benefit all who live, work, and play there.

Have you considered the impact and benefits of parking/traffic/pedestrians/rent/any other concerns?

Our goal is to consider all impacts of any improvements to Larimer Square. In some cases, the City will require detailed analysis of these factors as a component of the approval process for any new construction. The project team will engage qualified professionals in Denver to complete these analyses, but often the best insight on the day-to-day impacts come from those who use the space most often. If you are one of those people, or even if you just have ideas, we want to hear from you! If you are near Larimer Square, you can visit our community center at 1411 Larimer Street, or you can reach out to us at on Facebook or through our webpage, http://www.protectlarimersquare.com.

How can I have my voice heard about Larimer Square?

Protect Larimer Square’s main objective is to empower the people of Denver to be heard when it comes to the future of Downtown. Our website (http://www.protectlarimersquare.com), our Facebook page, and our community center at 1411 Larimer St all are ways you can reach out to be part of the discussion. Additionally, you can contact our outreach team through email at outreach@protectlarimersquare.com. No matter which way you connect with us, we will provide you with updated information about the plans for Larimer Square. We will also provide you with user-friendly ways to help keep your friends and family up-to-speed about Protect Larimer Square. Finally, our outreach team is here to help you reach out to the City Council member in your district to let them know how you feel about the benefits of bringing historic preservation plus affordable housing, open space, and sustainability to Larimer Square.

What is preventing the owners from building anything they want on their land?

The process for approval for any work in Historic Districts within the City and County of Denver is robust and involves many layers of review by various City agencies, including City Council. These meetings do provide for periods of public comment, however the significance of Larimer Square warrants a thorough discussion with the larger community. Urban Villages initiated the Protect Larimer Square outreach program in order to make sure that any consideration given to plans for Larimer Square is informed by robust public input and the diverse voices of Denverites. Even if zoning and Council approval were not factors, engaging the community before working to improve a place with as much significance as Larimer Square is the right thing to do.

What is so important about “Preservation Plus?”

The conversations involving new buildings and historic preservation often make it seem as though preservation and planning for the future are opposing forces. The core of our Preservation Plus philosophy is that Larimer Square is a living being, and sustaining that liveliness becomes more difficult if preservation is pitted against building for the needs of tomorrow. Larimer Square thrives because it hosts all walks of life with both its historic essence and new events and attractions.

Denverites care about issues like building housing Downtown that is affordable to people who work there, increasing open spaces, decreasing traffic congestion, and committing to more sustainable building practices. Preservation Plus means that we aim to bring benefits like these to Larimer Square, but in a way that will restore and reinforce the existing historic energy.

Who gets the final say on the future of Larimer Square?

Protect Larimer Square is working hard every day to make sure the people of Denver have a voice when it comes to Larimer Square. Denverites have expressed wide support for more affordable housing, open spaces, inclusivity, and sustainability, and the Protect Larimer Square outreach team is here to help you contact your City Council members to let them know those issues are important to you as well, and that they can be delivered in addition to historic preservation, not instead of it. To find out more about how you can help make sure the people of Denver help drive the future of Larimer Square, please check out the Get Informed/Get Involved tab on our webpage, http://www.protectlarimersquare.com.