They say “getting there is half the journey.” That’s true in more ways than one for the people behind 303 ArtWay, a proposed urban trail throughout Park Hill that would promote culture, health and community. But getting to the point of the completed project is a journey in itself.
The 303 ArtWay would create a bike and pedestrian path using primarily existing right-of-ways, with public art installations along the way leading to area businesses, public transportation access, historical destinations and entertainment offerings—all while promoting physical activity.
The project, inspired by the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, is currently in the planning stages, garnering support and input from the community to make it a reality. The first phase would start at the A Line commuter rail station opening next spring at 40th and Colorado Blvd. and would end at Holly Square on 33rd and Holly. A second phase would extend through North Park Hill to South Park Hill, including the Denver Zoo and Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
The idea for the project started last year when the Urban Land Conservancy (ULC), a nonprofit real estate investor organization focused on community-based projects including affordable housing, nonprofit office space and charter schools, began talking to the community about their property at 40th and Colorado, adjacent to the light rail station. Neighbors expressed concern that they couldn’t walk or bike to the location because the infrastructure wasn’t there.
“We also heard concerns that with all the changes going on, the identity of the communities around the station would change and that they wouldn’t be represented,” says Tony Pickett, ULC’s vice president of master site development. “They were afraid new people would move in and ‘brand’ the neighborhood in a different way.” The ULC then began figuring out how to maintain and celebrate a sense of the local, multicultural identity of the residents.
For assistance and support in the community, ULC reached out to other organizations including Northeast Transportation Connections (NETC), located in the Community Hub at Northfield. With a mission to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality, they were interested in the project. “We want to make sure the residents of our neighborhoods have safe access to the rail line. If it’s easy for them to get to the train, they’ll be a lot more likely to use that option,” says Jesse Livingston, transportation program consultant with NETC. “We’re also very community-focused so we’re excited about the public art, heritage and history components of Park Hill.” They are also hoping the project will serve as a model for other areas of Denver.
The ULC is asking people to get involved by voting on possible routes and destinations, donating funds and attending community meetings. In the next year, concept images will be created and temporary installations placed to give the community an idea of what the final trail could look like. At that point, actual costs and a completion timeline will be determined. For more information about the 303 ArtWay project, visit www.303artway.org/.