In 2011, the City of Lakewood, with assistance from RNL Design and Tracy Weil, worked with interested residents, students, businesses and community members in northeast Lakewood to explore opportunities for creating an arts district in the vicinity of the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design (RMCAD) and the Lamar Street light rail station (Lamar Station). The idea for creating an arts district in this area evolved from community input received while creating the West Colfax Avenue Action Plan and the Lamar Street Station Area Plan. The arts district is viewed as another element to continue the revitalization of the West Colfax Avenue corridor and to implement the vision for the Lamar Station area.
As part of the planning process for an arts district, opportunities to enhance the environmental, social and economic health of the community were considered. Recommendations for mobility improvements in the area along with concepts to enhance the arts district vision, are included in the 40 West Arts District Urban Design and Mobility Concepts plan.
The planning effort was funded by a brownfields assessment grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part of its initiative to help support livable communities.
An extensive public involvement process was a key part of the planning effort. Five public open houses were held to gain community input. In addition, a task force comprised of representatives from the Two Creeks and Northeast Lakewood neighborhood organizations, RMCAD, Residences at Creekside, Lakewood-West Colfax Business Improvement District, Lakewood Arts Council and Lakewood Brick helped guide the effort.
The City of Lakewood also worked with a group of RMCAD students who produced naming and branding ideas for the new arts district. The name 40 West, created by students at RMCAD, was selected through a public process. The name reflects the historic character of West Colfax Avenue – U.S. Highway 40.
40 WEST ARTS DISTRICT URBAN DESIGN AND MOBILITY CONCEPTS PLAN
The 40 West Arts District Urban Design and Mobility Concepts plan was adopted unanimously as an amendment to the Lakewood Comprehensive Plan by Lakewood City Council at a public hearing on January 9, 2012.
The plan provides the following recommendations related to urban design and mobility:
- Sidewalks: Sidewalks are recommended throughout the area at widths considered appropriate to accommodate the pedestrian traffic anticipated near the Lamar Station. The use of brick is recommended in sidewalk treatments near the station to enhance the aesthetics and to honor the industrial history of the area.
- Intersections: The intersections of Lamar Street with West Colfax Avenue and West 14th Avenue are recommended to be improved to provide better safety and connectivity for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.
- Arts Bike Loop: An on-street arts bike loop to be delineated by green colored pavement is envisioned throughout the area to connect parks, light rail, the RMCAD campus and other important destinations.
- Bike/Car Share: The plan recommends car and bike share programs and stations in the vicinity of the Lamar Station, RMCAD and West Colfax Avenue to improve mobility options.
- Urban Design: The plan recommends pedestrian lighting, clear and attractive directional signage and other improvements to public spaces to enhance the arts district concept.
OTHER PLANNING PROCESS OUTCOMES
In addition to the 40 West Arts District Urban Design and Mobility Concepts, two other documents were created as part of the planning effort (and are available from the City) but are not included as amendments to the Comprehensive Plan:
- Environmental Records Search Summary Report
This report helps advance economic reinvestment in the study area by documenting brownfield findings and recommending next steps for further analysis of sites with potential contamination.
- Arts District Strategy
The 40 West Arts District Strategy provides recommendations for establishing the arts district organization, arts district programming and events and long-term sustainability of the arts district.
Another significant outcome of the planning process was the formation of the self-initiated, grassroots Arts District Champions group. This group of passionate residents, artists, business owners and students is bringing the arts district to life. Please visit their website at www.40WestArts.org for more information about the 40 West Arts District and upcoming events.