This e-newsletter is the third in a series introducing the Colfax & Federal Interchange Transformation project. In this newsletter you will learn about existing land use conditions and future development opportunities.

Please visit the project website to learn more about the study and to find out about upcoming engagement opportunities. Also, don't forget to check out newsletter #1  on mobility and newsletter #2 on stormwater.

Also, please take a moment to complete the Existing Conditions Land Use Questionnaire to let us know the type of future land uses you'd like to see in this area.

Rethinking the Cloverleaf

The Colfax Avenue and Federal Boulevard Transformation Project is studying opportunities to restructure the current interchange to see if a portion of the land can be used in the future for development that fits in with the Denver Plans and community needs.

This study is identifying community goals for possible development of land, is analyzing different transportation and stormwater options, is identifying land use options, and is providing scenarios of what a reconfigured intersection might look like.

Photo: Community members envision the future of the interchange during a pop-up event. Credit: Denver Post

The Colfax/Federal interchange occupies about 29-acres of land.

A typical intersection carrying a similar number of vehicles would only occupy 0.29 acres, similar to the Colfax and Colorado intersection, as demonstrated in the photo comparison below.

Rethinking the configuration of the Colfax/Federal interchange has the potential to free up land which can then be redeveloped with uses that better serve the neighborhood.

Did you know that the elevation changes over 100’ from Mile High Stadium Circle to Irving Street?

That's as tall as an 8-story building!

This change in elevation is unusual in Denver. Views from the interchange to the east (to downtown Denver), and south (to the mountains) are unique to this location and may enhance development. With increased pedestrian access to the site, more people would benefit from these views.

Did you know?

In 1917, the Colfax Bridge (or Viaduct) was constructed for both trolleys and automobiles to connect Downtown Denver with the west neighborhoods.

West Colfax Bridge at intersection of Larimer Viaduct (~1920).

US Highway 40 was created in 1926 to connect between San Francisco, California and Atlantic City, New Jersey. Highway 40 aligned with Colfax Avenue through the City of Denver. As west Denver grew and the trolley declined, businesses along Colfax developed to accommodate the car-travelling public.

To accommodate travelers and commerce through west Denver, there was a need to make car travel seamless. In response, the intersection of Colfax and Federal was designed as a cloverleaf interchange and constructed in 1959.

In the mid-1960s to early 1970s, Interstate 70 was built on the north edge of Denver, approximately 3 miles north of Colfax. The opening of this more efficient and faster east-west route through Denver began to siphon travelers from Colfax and shift the traffic and commerce to the north along I-70. As a result, Colfax began to see a lack of reinvestment along the corridor.

The neighborhoods surrounding the interchange have faced constant challenges and obstacles going back decades.

As the figure below shows, the residential neighborhoods surrounding the interchange were historically redlined, indicating that housing loans to purchase homes would not be allowed. As a result, the predominantly non-white households living in these areas could not obtain a loan, purchase a home and were therefore blocked from one of the ways that households accumulate wealth to pass on to future generations.

The figure also indicates that neighborhoods redlined in the 20th century have the highest neighborhood inequity today as measured by education, poverty, and access to services and amenities.

One of the significant land use challenges today is the rapid pace of change.

New housing types have been introduced to this area, resulting in changes to community character and households.

The aerials above compare 1933 to 2020. The interchange and surrounding landscape have changed drastically.

Blueprint Denver Future Land Uses

The City and County of Denver has anticipated changes for the area and has planned for what these areas might become in the most recent Blueprint Denver analysis.

According to Blueprint Denver, the Colfax & Federal interchange is anticipated to serve as an Urban Center/Corridor and General Urban Center/Corridor – the east side of Federal & Colfax is General Urban.

Urban Center:This context contains high intensity residential and significant employment areas. Development typically contains a substantial mix of uses, with good street activation and connectivity. Residents living in this context are well served by high-capacity transit and have access to ample amenities and entertainment options.

Urban Corridor: Corridors should be consistent with the character of the surrounding area in scale and design. They should have an active street level presence and provide a mix of uses.

General urban: neighborhoods are vibrant places with proximity to Denver’s major centers like Downtown and Cherry Creek. Homes in this context vary from multi-unit complexes to compact single-unit homes. Development should be sensitive to the existing neighborhood character and offer residents a mix of uses, with good street activation and connectivity. Residents living in this context are well served by transit and enjoy access to abundant amenities and entertainment options.

The area is changing once again with the re-development of the Sun Valley Eco District and the Mile High Stadium District Master Plan.

This Colfax and Federal Transformation Study is working with both developments to integrate with them as well as to create seamless connections to the existing neighborhoods.

Fun (not so fun) Fact!

In Denver’s Gameplan for a Healthy City, one of their goals is to provide easy access to parks, striving for everyone to be within a quarter mile to open space.

With redevelopment of the Cloverleaf, there is an opportunity to include parkland and/or pedestrian/bike connections. This would meet the goals of Gameplan to connect the neighborhoods west of Federal to the park space south and east of the Cloverleaf.

In order to provide a feasible plan for transformation, the land uses within the 29-acre site must be balanced with other considerations such as mobility needs and stormwater management.

We are very interested in your input on what you would like to see as future Land Uses for this site. Please take the Existing Land Use Conditions Questionnaire to share your opinion.

Also, please visit the project website to stay up to date and find out about future engagement opportunities.


Created with images by Hamed Daram - "Photo By : Hamed Daram" • Yann Lerjen - "Nervures"