Elyria Neighborhood Assessment
URPL 5060 - Spring 2014 Instructor: Kevin Puccio Team Cameron Savois Chad Brown David Wise Jill Falchi Waverly Klaw
Executive Summary 4 Context Maps 5
Historical + Planning Context
Urban + Regional Context 8 History 9 Relevant Existing Plans 10
Existing Zoning + Land Uses 14 Land Ownership 16 Transportation 17 Natural Systems + Open Space 18 Housing 20 Visual Serveys 22 Trends, Strenghts, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Constraints 24
Demographic Profile 22 Trends, Strenghts, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Constraints 30
Economic Profile 26 Trends, Strenghts, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Constraints 28
Works Cited 37
Executive Summary Introduction This assessment of the Elyria neighborhood in Denver, Colorado was prepared by a team of University of Colorado Denver graduate planning students. Through numerous site visits and research during February and March, 2013, the planning team cultivated information related to the neighborhoodâ€™s history, planning context, physical conditions, demographic makeup, and economic background to form a view of the relevant trends, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and constraints. The purpose of this assessment is to gather, analyze, organize and present background information on the Elyria neighborhood in order to prepare a vision plan for the neighborhood that meets the needs of its residents and businesses.
This is an initial assessment and observations of the site visit that the team had. We listed out all of the unique characteristics and features that we noticed while in the area. We took note of buildings, infrastructure, people, transportation, general feel and other elements that make up a neighborhood. This strategy is excellent for collaboration and discussion, it also describes the types of lens we view through while in a new and foreign area. Overall Elyria was a diverse neighborhood of uses, issues, systems, and connections.
where is the elyria neighborhood?
The State of Colorado Context within the Southwest Region
Figure 1.2 The Elyria-Swansea neighborhood is located in the northernmost section of Denver County in the State of Colorado.
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Figure 1.3 Figure 1.4 Statistical Neighborhood Boundary Elyria-Swansea Elyria Statistical Neighborhood Boundary
Historical + Planning Context.
The Stock Show and industrial building uses are the tallest and have the greatest building footprints in the neighborhood, while the single family detached residential buildings have the smallest building footprints and occupy the least amount of land. Figure 2.1 Elyria Building Footprint
This map shows how many vehicles travel through Elyria in any given day and the locations of the largest magnitudes of traffic. The presence of I - 70 is the primary reason the traffic counts are so high. Since the are is comprised mostly of industrial uses the traffic coming into the community is do to commuting and thoroughfare traffic. This area is a major congestion area for the National Western Stock Show when it is taking place as well as truck drivers transporting goods for the companies in the area. The other major arterial for traffic is York St, this is one of two streets connecting the northern half of the neighborhood with the southern half. Overall there is a high amount of traffic going through this neighborhood, however the traffic is mostly passerby traffic on I - 70 and small amounts of traffic on the local roads. Figure 2.2 Elyria - Swansea Daily Traffic Counts
Historical + Planning Context
Historical Context Elyria is one of the older neighborhoods in northwest Denver. The area was platted in 1881 and incorporated as an independent town in 1890. Elyria was, upon founding, a working class community. Residential lots were being sold at a lower price, payable in installments and with the opportunity to obtain financing for home construction in order to “enable those in moderate circumstances to avail themselves of land in one of the finer suburbs of Denver, though not within the city limits.” Elyria was annexed to Denver in 1902.
Globe Smelters, and Elyria residents worked for the Grant Smelter and the packing plants. Elyria and Swansea had better relations because there was no hard edge between their neighborhoods and Elyria’s children all went to the Swansea school for their secondary education (MacMillan, 2004, pages 20-21).
In the early 20th Century, 47th Avenue was Elyria’s main street. Starting on Lafayette, the street contained saloons, banks, grocery stores, meat markets, the town hall and fire station, the Elyria School, barber shops, shoe repair shops, dry cleaner’s and a beauty shop. A number of businesses on 46th and While Elyria was home to a number of 48th Avenues were run out of the owners’ smelters and slaughterhouses, Elyria’s homes (MacMillan, 2004, page 21). early ordinances protected the natural environment by prohibiting dumping of animal remains or other industrial waste Elyria is home to a number of landmarks. into any river or waterway (Macmillan, 2004, Riverside Cemetery, established in 1876, is page 4). Denver’s oldest cemetery. It was designated as a National Historic District in 1992. The 1900 U.S. Census revealed that although Other historical landmarks include the Eastern European immigrants were said to Elyria School, built in 1927, the Livestock have populated Elyria, many residents came Exchange Building from 1916 which houses from Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, the National Western Stock Show, and the Canada and the Scandinavian countries. Chapel Building, built in 1876. While not on Racially, all but four African American families the National Register of Historic Places, some were white (MacMillan, 2004, page 11). homes in Elyria such as the Hedenskog home at 4695 High Street offer a rich neighborhood Elyria and Globeville had an adversarial history and should be considered in future relationship in the early years as Globeville neighborhood planning. residents worked largely in the Argo and
Historical + Planning Context
Figure 2.2 The Hedenskog family consisted of August and Nora Hedenskog and their fourteen children, circa 1920s. Source: Elizabeth MacMillan, Denver Public Library Western History Collection. Source: Denver Public Library Western History Collection.
Figure 2.3 The Hedenskog home, circa 2000. It is located just across the street from a medium density multi-family apartment complex currently under construction. Source: Denver Public Library Western History Collection.
Relevant + ExistingPlans Though numerous plans and assessments have been made of the Elyria neighborhood and surrounding environs, it appears that the visions and goals espoused in those plans remain largely unachieved. The last neighborhood plan for Swansea/Elyria was officially adopted in 1983. The plan promoted the goals of “maintaining a stable living and working environment, improving the physical environment, rehabilitating, protecting and expanding the housing stock, discouraging the expansion of industrial and commercial uses into existing residentially zoned and used areas except to improve the residential desirability of the area, encouraging the industrial development of vacant industrially zoned land, providing convenient access to and from the neighborhood while minimizing adverse impacts, and providing community facilities and services to the neighborhood” (City of Denver Department of Community Planning & Development, 2003, page 5). In 1989, the City heard comments from residents at specifically designated public meetings, and the City’s Community Planning and Development department produced a Swansea/Elyria Charrette Report. Priorities in the report echoed the neighborhood plan, in that it envisioned a future that included “stable residential areas, upgraded non-residential areas, nearby employment for residents, green spaces, and an attractive public
environment” (City of Denver Department of provide for a regulatory environment that Community Planning & Development, 2003, makes mixed-use development possible.” page 5). Major challenges that were identified include the large number of junkyards, bad odors, lack In 1999, an economic assessment of Elyria- of curb and gutter, mobility challenges and Swansea was produced by the University underutilized properties (River North Plan, of Colorado Denver’s Colorado Center for 2003). Community Development. The assessment highlighted the desire of businesses to The Denver department of Community purchase a greater percentage of their Planning and Development contracted with materials from within Elyria/Swansea, and PB Placemaking to prepare a Small Area Plan indicated their preference for attracting a for the neighborhood in 2007. grocery store, new restaurant and office supply store to the neighborhood (City of In 2008, Elyria created “Elyria Vision Plan 2020” Denver Department of Community Planning in which the neighborhood prioritized “1) & Development, 2003, page 5). reconnected neighborhoods, 2) Leveraged transit-oriented development and open The department of Community Planning and space, 3) Infilled livably, sustainably walkable Development also conducted a neighborhood mixed-use communities” (Elyria Vision Plan assessment in 2003. Some of the challenges 2020, 6-’08 Draft; Version 7t). raised included “code enforcement issues (illegal land uses such as a bootlegging shop, overcrowding in houses, etc.), the encroachment of industrial uses, and the need to eliminate certain uses permitted in the I-2 zone district (companies handling hazardous waste materials, trucking firms, and other uses to be determined through special study)” (City of Denver Department of Community Planning & Development, 2003, page 5). The River North Plan, adopted in 2003, includes a portion of Elyria in its study area, and its focus is to “promote the area, identify appropriate locations for growth, establish a multi-modal transportation system and
Historical + Planning Context
The National Western Stock Show station area Health Impact Assessment made recommendations for improving environmental and health conditions in the Elyria neighborhood: increase greenery, provide Carbon Monoxide detectors, continuously monitor air quality and water pollution, ensure mitigation of leaky underground storage tank (LUST) sites, redirect heavyload and truck traffic, add elevated sound barriers, initiate a community clean-up program, add closedlid dumpsters to residential and industrial sites and incentivize composting (Feine, E., Guzy, L., Howard, N., Jeong, H., Nadolny, S., & Sadler, B., n.d.). The station area plan for the RTD Central Corridor light rail and the East Line commuter rail station at 38th and Blake demonstrates the aspirations for transitoriented development and economic growth for the neighborhood. The 38th and Blake plan recommends new and realigned streets in the south Elyria neighborhood to reduce vehicular traffic and increase multi-modal transportation options (Community Planning and Development 38th and Blake, 2009).
Government/Neighborhood Associations Figure 2.4 Elyria Vision Plan 2020
Historical + Planning Context
Elyria had an active community presence in the early years of its founding. In 1920, the Elyria/Swansea Improvement Association was formed. Residents were active in fundraising for a Community Center and participating in thespian and athletic clubs and womenâ€™s groups. The Elyria Neighborhood Association was active until it ceased to exist in 1987.
Figure 2.5 Elyria-Swansea-Globeville Business Association
Figure 2.5 Cross Community Coalition offices Source: http://bethpartin.com/category/elyriaglobeville-swansea-denver/
In the 1990s, Elyria was invited into an expanded United Swansea Elyria Neighborhood Association, which no longer seems to be operational. Figure 2.4 Elyria Community Center Benefit announcement, 1938. Source: Denver Public Library Western History Collection
The Cross Community Coalition, a community resource organization, served residents in the Elyria, Globeville and Swansea neighborhoods. It moved 2010 to the Globeville neighborhood in 2010, and Focus Points, another community
resource organization, moved in to their former location. The Cross Community Coalition was active in forming the Elyria/Swansea Community Economic Development Corporation in 1995, which in turn created the Elyria-SwanseaGlobeville Business Association in 1998. The Elyria-Swansea-Globeville Business Association continues to meet regularly, and has 54 members currently listed on its website. The Associationâ€™s goal is to increase development, housing, and industry in the area. Theyâ€™re doing this through working with the Mayors staff, city council, city employees, RTD, CDOT, and businesses/residents. (Elyria-SwanseaGlobeville Business Association, (n.d.). Area of the Elyria-Swansea-Globeville Business Association.
Historical + Planning Context
Land Use Agriculture Commercial/Retail
Legend Entertainment-Cultural Industrial Mixed-Use Land Use Multi-Family Low Rise Office
Park-Open Space-Recreation Parking
Industrial Public/Quasi-Public ROW/Road Mixed-Use Single Family Multi-Family Low Rise Surface Water TCU Vacant
Office Park-Open Space-Recreation Parking Public/Quasi-Public
Existing Zoning + Land Uses
Single Family C-MU-10
SurfaceCMP-ENT Water TCU
I-A I-B I-MX-3 I-MX-5 OS-A
The zoning and land uses in Elyria are very similar and relate to each other. The majority of land use falls under the designations of entertainment-cultural, industrial, and transit communication utility (TCU). A small percentage of land use in Elyria is residential.
most unique land uses for the area, which give Elyria its character, are the National Western Stock Show, the Purina Plant, and the Railroad. The National Western Stock Show, by far the largest land use in Elyria, occupies about 80 acres within the neighborhood boundary. These land use designations create unique challenges and opportunities for the neighAs shown on the Existing Zoning map, Elyria-Swanseaâ€™s zoning is pre- borhood. There are a mix of heavy to light industrial uses in the area, dominantly industrial, with 81% of its 1,310 acres zoned industrial. The which cause problems like noise, noxious odors and truck traffic. The Figure 3.4 Figure 3.4 Existing Zoning in Elyria Existing Land Uses in Elyria
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zoning and land uses are a descriptive quantifier that a composite of an extensive variety of topics that come together including issues relating to the neighborhood environment, community facilities, urban design, historic preservation, economic and housing development.
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Elyria Swansea Small Area Plan 10.29.2008
Figure 3.3 Future/ Conceptual Land Use Plan Source: City and County of Denver: Community Development
The National Western Stock Show is a major draw for the city of Denver, so having a highly active area in predominantly industrial surroundings can create problems. This issue can be attributed to the residential areas of the neighborhood as well. The surrounding industrial uses such as factories, junkyards and landfills make the area undesirable to live in. The neighborhood may also have trouble attracting other companies that are nonindustrial to develop within Elyria. With the future RTD light rail and commuter rail stations planned and ready for implementation in 2014, land use will be altered to adequately address the transitoriented development that will take place in the coming years. New development also includes plans for the redesign of the Stock Show, which will reimagine the area and create a sense of continuity within the neighborhood across the I-70 corridor. This development will hopefully be the catalyst to create a new character for Elyria.
Figure 3.4-1 Future RTD Fastracks East Rail Line, Source: RTD
Figure 3.4-2 Future RTD Fastracks North Rail, Line Source: RTD
Land Ownership As described in the land use section, there are many different types of industry that reside in Elyria. There are small businesses to large corporations, from residential to cultural. Since there are so many different types of uses that exist within Elyria it is important to know who owns the land. This is advantageous for planning purposes because we can have an idea of the stakeholders that may or may not want to have their land involved or what city land we can work with. Within Elyria like any community there is a mix of private land and public land. However the private land comprises the largest percentage of land in the neighborhood. Because the lots are so large there might be some flexibility for using the land for planning and visioning. Below is a table describing some major land stakeholders that will be influential in the planning process for Elyria
Private Nestle Purina National Western Stock Show Industrial Companies Residential Businesses- retail, commercial Rail Road Pepsi
Public Fire Station No. 9 Community center Library Denver Coliseum Elyria Park Globeville Landing Park Figure 3.5-1 Forney Table of notable Private + Transportation Public Land Owners Museum
Figure 3.5-2 Map of major Private + Public Land Owners
Transportation Connectivity has always posed a problem for residents of Elyria. In the early 20th Century, both the Union Pacific and City of Denver refused to build a viaduct across the tracks to improve connectivity to Denver. It wasnâ€™t until the 1920s that underpasses were built under the tracks at 38th and Wewatta and at the end of Fisk Street, and a wooden bridge across the South Platte River at 46th was replaced with a concrete structure. Interstate Highway 70, completed in 1964, bisects the neighborhood into north and south, and railroad tracks cut lands off from one another. The construction of the highway involved demolishing several homes in Elyria, and damaged community cohesiveness. It now moves throusands of vehicles through Elyria each day. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is currently conducting a highway expansion project on I-70. One of the preferred alternatives includes increasing the number of lanes in each direction between the Colorado and Brighton Boulevard exits while lowering and partially capping the highway as it runs through the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood (I-70 East Environmental Impact Statement, 2014).
Brighton Boulevard is the major arterial that runs north-south through the neighborhood, along with York Street, which serves as the eastern boundary of the neighborhood separating Elyria and Swansea. These are the only two streets that connect the northern and southern sections of the neighborhood. The public transit system is also limited in terms of services. RTD bus routes only run along I-70 and Brighton Blvd. These two routes are the RTD Route 47X, which is an express route that serves Green Valley Ranch/Montbello and RTD Route 48, which serves East 48th Avenue/Commerce City. Route 47x has a few stops along the southern half of Elyria and is limited in service. Route 48 goes serves the residential area of the neighborhood (RTD System Map, n.d.). There are only two bike routes that exist within the neighborhood, one in the northern section and one in the southern section. They do not connect with one another. This theme of disconnectedness is once again apparent in the area, as it is in almost every other transportation network. Further, the bike paths in the northern section of the neighborhood did not have adequate painting to distinguish the bike lane. The railroad is also a major system that transects the neighborhood, creating
RTD Future Fast Tracks Line Stations
Figure 3.6 Transportation Networks in Elyria
irregularly-shaped lots which are currently vacant. The railroad transports heavy freight and creates significant amounts of noise and traffic problems. In the 21st Century, light rail and commuter rail stations for Denver’s FasTracks program are being constructed in and around Elyria. The North Metro Rail line will have a station near the National Western Stock Show (48th Street and Brighton Boulevard). Access to the station via walking bridge could offer the opportunity to establish a node of businesses catering to commuters to and from the light rail station (RTD FasTracks, 2014). The East Rail Line to Denver International Airport and the Central Line to downtown Denver will be located at the intersection of 38th and Blake, at the southeastern corner of Elyria (RTD FasTracks, 2014). Recommendations from the Station Area Plan include moving the pedestrian bridge over the South Platte from 38th Street to 36th Street and encouraging mixed use development within an “urban neighborhood” typology in the area surrounding the station, and more intense development along Brighton Boulevard (Community Planning and Development, 38th and Blake, 2009, Pages 5, 10).
Natural Systems + Open Space Most of Elyria is barren industrial sites, but the neighborhood does have some greenery, though overall less than the rest of the city. There are two sources of open space within the Elyria neighborhood: Elyria Park and Globeville Landing Park. Elyria Park is connected to the Colorado Miners Community Center and has basketball courts, a skate park, a baseball field, playground and playing fields. This is a source of pride and community activity (weather permitting). There are many events that go on at this site, including workforce training. The park is well maintained but is not well connected to the rest of the neighborhood. This area seems to be one of the only places in Elyria where community interests and organization come to fruition. Globeville Landing Park is located in the southern half of the neighborhood along the South Platte River. This open space is underutilized but has potential. The South Platte River path connects the park to the River North area and lower downtown Denver. There are not many amenities at this park except for the pavilion that is seldom used.
Park Area According to Denver County’s Tree Canopy Assessment 2013, Elyria has less than 5% of its land covered in trees. Most of Denver has a tree coverage that is between 15% and 20% tree coverage or more.
Hydrology Much of Elyria was developed before the full demands of urban infrastructure were known. There is little chance of flooding from the River in most of the community, however the western side of the Stock Show has some danger of flooding from the river, see Figure 3.8. The insufficient infrastructure of the neighborhood creates areas throughout the community where water pools, especially in the large parking lots that are sprinkled throughout.
Picture of Elyria Park’s sign, with Industrial businesses in background.
The soil of Elyria is similar in composition to the rest of Denver, meaning it is primarily comprised of dense clay. What is of particular interest is the level of pollution found in the soil. The majority of the neighborhood was filled with heavy industrial factories in the 1800s (essentially all areas marked as a superfund in Figure 3.9), and much of the river was used to dispose of garbage. Even Elyria’s best known landmark, the National Western Stock Show, lies on top of a superfund site.
Soil Contamination Map
Elyria Flood Plain Map
Since there is so little soft landscaping in Elyria, there aren’t many opportunities for wildlife habitat. Even with what little green infrastructure exists, there is a wildlife presence because of migrating birds, the river, and the proximity to the Heron Pond park area. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is also fairly close to the community (about nine miles away). this proximity puts the Elyria area within distance of various bird species, including the Bald Eagle. Other species that make the Platte River home, for at least part of the year, include Sandhill Cranes, Whooping Cranes, geese and ducks such as Common Mergansers, Mallards, Pintails and Canadian Geese (National Wildlife Federation, n.d.).
This picture illustrates the type of overlap most of Elyria has with the Platter River.
The Elyria-Swansea and Globeville neighborhoods are home to over 500 regulated facilities, Interstate 70 and 25 carry nearly 175,000 and 225,000 vehicles per day, there are 11,000 local diesel trucks used by industry to transport goods through these neighborhoods, and I-70 alone sees nearly 11,000 diesel trucks pass by Elyria daily (Northwest Stock Show Health Impact Assessment, n.d.). The many large noxious industries, “including a petroleum refinery (SunCor), a bulk petroleum terminal, a coal-fired power plant, a furniture manufacturer, and many solvent-based industries” (Feine, E., Guzy, L., Howard, N., Jeong, H., Nadolny, S., & Sadler, B., n.d.), make Elyria’s ZIP code (80216) the most polluted in the State of Colorado
Elyria has a small number of housing options mostly located in the south-eastern corner of the neighborhood. The rest of the community is made up of the Stock Show and Industrial uses. n addition to the housing stock being low, most of the homes were built long ago, and the overall land value is low. According to the Northwest Stock Show Health Impact Assessment, “only 222 acres in Elyria-Swansea [are] zoned for residential use, out of a total of 1,310 acres.” Many of the homes in Elyria have character due to their age, but many of them are small for modern demand. The majority of the homes are 1-3 bedrooms on narrow lots.
Figure 3.11 Value of Land Parcels in Elyria
Figure 3.12 Year of Construction by Parcel in Elyria
Piton Foundation Real Estate Statistics on ElyriaSwansea Indicator Elyria Swansea Denver # Housing Units 1844 % Housing OwnerOccupied 60.65% % non-Latino White Homeowners 66.57% % AfricanAmerican Homeowners 21.01% % Latino Homeowners 62.58% % Native American Homeowners 66.2% % Asian/Pacific Islander Homeowners 53.85% Median Income for Home Purchasers $43600 Average Loan Amount for Home Purchasers $157796
Figure 3.12 An example of single family housing stock in Elyria
Figure 3.11 Real Estate Statistics of Elyria, Source: The Piton Foundation Neighborhood Summary, Elyria-Swansea
When conducting field research, the research team came across a representative from Casson Duncan Construction passing out information to residents about a new development. The building will be known as Odyssey Family Residences and will be located at 4705 N. High Street. According to the â€œExcavation Notification,â€? the company will construct a three story, 36 unit apartment building on an undeveloped piece of the historic Elyria School parcel. The construction announcement makes a commitment to general development of the infrastructure around the building, with new sidewalks, curb, and gutters. Construction is to take place starting on February 21st, 2014, and will take about eleven Figure 3.13 months to build (Mewaldt, Excavation Notification, 2014). Year of Construction by Parcel in Elyria
Figure 3.12 An example of duplex housing stock in Elyria.
The GrowHaus The goal of GrowHaus is to offer the community more food options in an otherwise poorly serviced area. This group has become a major leader in the food movement on the Front Range, and has Figure 3.14 created a dynamic community space oriented around food. The GrowHaus offers a condensed version of a modern grocery store produce section. Seen here are root vegetables and tomatoes. Cold stored foods are offered as well, and are mostly comprised of fresh vegetables. The National Western Stock Show The stock show has been open for over a hundred years and annually exhibits and sells more than 15,000 heads of horses, cattle, sheep, swine, goats, llamas, alpacas, bison, yak, poultry and rabbits (The National Western Stock Show, n.d.). The National Western Stock Show is noted for hosting the world's only carload and pen cattle show, held in the historic Denver Union Stockyards. Figure 3.15 The show is also a nonprofit
Elyria Community Center Colorado Miners Community Center offers the area the opportunity to exercise and recreate. Figure 3.16 Local Public Library The Valdez-Perry Branch of the Denver Public Library offers Elyria access to media including books and a computer lab. Figure 3.17 charitable organization that provides college and graduate level scholarships in agriculture and medicine for practice in rural areas, which allows for a unique interface between urban and rural areas (The National Western Stock Show, n.d.). This community feature is a major influence on the area due to the amount of traffic that it brings to local business when the show is on.
Elyria is covered in graffiti. These stone and metal bus stop benches are unique to the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood, and could help create visual branding if restored.
The walkway across from the community center is a gravel and dirt open space, instead of sidewalk.
Figure 3.20 Figure 3.18
Throughout the neighborhood general public amenity maintenance has been neglected. In pavestones have been removed, creating a hazard for pedestrians.
To the east of Elyria Park is a large industrial building. This creates a dead zone for an entire side of the park.
Many of the houses in the area are in disrepair. This home near Elyria Park had an aggressive dog chained in front of it, with several broken fences. This reduces the sense of safety while walking in the area. Figure 3.22
From a residential perspective, Elyria possesses many challenges. The following is an exploration of where the community could benefit from redesign. An ongoing goal of planning in this community should be focused on an effort to create more cohesiveness and livability amongst the industrial-residential interface areas.
Strenghts, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Constraints
Figure 3.23 Missing Sidewalks Map of Elyria
Constraints A comprehensive list of constraints in Elyria was put together by the Northwest Stock Show Health Impact Assessment for the ElyriaSwansea neighborhood in 2008. The list was compiled from community feedback, and included too many fences (that children clime and get hurt on), too much noise from the trains (which keeps people from sleeping), the smell of the Purina factory, road blockages from train traffic, trash in alleys, un-mowed lawns, gang activity in the parks (dangerous for children/blood stains on concrete), high amounts of graffiti, and cars driving too fast. A significant constraint to improving this community is the smell of the Nestle Purina Petcare Company pet food production facility across I-70 from Elyria. The smell, especially in the summer, is extremely noticeable. Little can be done to improve the property values of the neighborhood until the smell of the plant is addressed. A big hurtle to creating a more person-friendly environment is the lack of sidewalks. It can be uncomfortable to navigate the neighborhood on foot Figure 3 .23
from its polluted, disconnected present state.
shows where there are damaged and missing sidewalks. The majority of the Elyria neighborhood looks like the following pictures. There is little that can be done to address the livability of the community until these buildings are changed, either through design or a complete land use change.
One of the most beneficial infrastructure improvements that Elyria has had in years is the construction of The North Metro Rail Line. This line will connect Elyria to the far end of Northglenn and to Downtown Denver. This connection bringsthe potential for more shoppers and residents to Elyria. The housing stock of the community is generally small 1-3 bedroom homes, on narrow lots. The average size of homes in Elyria is smaller than what is demanded of most modern homes. Property values remain low because of this, but small home sizes could also lend themselves to the development of a very walkable neighborhood. There is charm to the neighborhood, and if there was an effort to clean up the yards and exteriors of the homes, the sense of quality and place could be increased.
Elyria has traditionally been a neglected low income community. This has started to change. The increase in awareness and action from planners, social justice/ environmental justice activism, and the growth in Denverâ€™s income have started to create action for change in the area. This is creating the opportunity for the community to start to transform and move away Figure 3.24 Soil Contamination Map of Elyria
This community faces many issues, but there is a lot of opportunity for change. Elyria has a large amount of underutilized and vacant land that could be used to redesign how the community works and feels. One of the easiest improvements to apply to the area would be improvement inconnectivity, with new sidewalks, bike lanes, and a bridge across the South Platte River to increase access to the large open area around Heron Pond. The design of Elyria Park is simple and the community center is stark and uninviting. Making Elyria Park more appealing could help the cohesiveness of the community.
The Center could offer another entrance from the back of the building to encourage more people to see the park at different times of day, and therein increase safety. The most prominent node of activity is at the intersection of East 47th Avenue and Brighton Boulevard. This is the busiest intersection in the community and the only spot where people can buy food other than at the GrowHaus. If this community were to be redeveloped to be more vibrant and revitalized,starting with this intersection would be ideal. The urban planner Kevin Lynch, author of “The Image of the City,” has become well known for his urban analysis technique using dots, blobs, and lines to represent the general flow and groupings of an area of the built environment, as well as areas of particular interest or conflict. Figure 3.27 is a Lynchian analysis of Elyria.
The areas that are highlighted as pedestrian, traffic, and conflict zones illustrate how few accessible entrances in to the community exist. The largest blue circle near the bottom of Figure 3.27 show the intersection of East 47th Avenue and Brighton Boulevard.
Lynchian Analysis of the Elyria Neighborhood
Figure 3.27 Lynchian Analysis The Stock Show is an asset to the community of Elyria and the City of Denver because of the business it creates. One way that the Stock Show could become a better steward of the community is to redesign its buildings and land to be more inviting and interactive. By creating a more beautiful and accessible property, the business that the Stock Show generates and how it interacts with the community could be improved. One piece of the Stock Show’s land that could be particularly influential in creating a more cohesive community is their “Parking Lot I” . This
piece of land holds a key position right off the logical “main street” in the community. There is a beauty to the starkness of Elyria. Finding the balance between embracing the industrial history and designing a healthier, more mobile, beautiful, and people-oriented place is a design challenge that must be met. Elyria can become a dynamic modern community that is more livable and accessible through multi-modal transportation.
from $300 to $999, with the exception of three properties that garner between $1,500 –$1,999 a month.
The two main ethnic groups residing within Elyria are Elyria’s built environment was Hispanic, making up 42 constructed during the early percent of the population years of Denver’s history. The and White, representing 26 median age of Elyria’s housing percent of the population. stock is 1939. There are 367 single-family dwellings. Elyria’s ethnic groups are Eighty-two of the 367 are already reflective of the larger owner-occupied, and have U.S. demographic change a median value of $112,500. taking place, with the Hispanic Overall, the housing units use segment forming the majority electricity and natural gas to of total population. heat their homes. The housing units range in size and the vast majority of them contain two to three bedrooms. The remaining housing units are rented. The housing value of the residential units range from the $50,000 to $150,000. Of the eighty-two owneroccupied dwellings, 59 carry a mortgage and 23 own the property outright. The median mortgage is $1,199. The percent of total income used for housing expenses is 32 percent, 8 percent higher than the Colorado and U.S. average. Rents in the Elyria area range
Figure 4.1 Population chart of Elyria
Figure 4.2 Population chart of Elyria contrasted to the City + County of Denver
Elyriaâ€™s population composition has ten percent more men than women. The overall population of Elyria is comprised of young families. The population is heavy with children, adolescents and young adults. Elyriaâ€™s population outpaces the state and national average from birth up to the 25-34 age bracket. Subsequently, Elyria population falls under the state and national average between 35-85 years of age. The
divorce rate is significantly higher than state and national statistics for males residing in Elyria, while the divorce rate for women is significantly lower. This could be due to a smaller base population of females compared to males.
Figure 4.3 Graph of total poluation by age in Elyria, Denver, and the U.S.
Strenghts, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Constraints
Figure 4.4 Average household size in Elyria, Denver, and the U.S.
The demographics of Elyria tell us that the neighborhood is comprised of young, Hispanic residents who live in older homes and speak equal amounts of English and Spanish as their primary language. Impacts of this assessment could include opportunities to create or support educational or early child development programs and facilities, dual-language signage, lead-abatement and home efficiency improvements. Older homes could be restored to their classical design, creating an interesting character for the neighborhood and paying homage to the neighborhoodâ€™s history. A possible threat includes continued deterioration of the neighborhood if an influx of Spanish-only speakers feel uncomfortable advocating for their needs.
Figure 4.5 The primary languages spoken in Elyria are reflective of the two main ethnic groups residing there.
Economic Profile Methods
National Western Stock Show is the largest landholder in the Elyria neighborhood. It is beneficial to the community because of the thru-traffic it brings to local businesses and hotels. Overall attendance at the Stock Show
also adds character and a sense of place in a rather placeless industrial community. Aside from the major employers in Elyria, there are several other businesses in the
The planning team used several methods in their economic profile study of the Elyria neighborhood in Denver. Multiple windshield and site reconnaissance surveys were conducted in the study area. Additional information was collected using the U.S. Census American Fact Finder database, the City of Denver website and several other publications relating to Elyria’s economy. Neighborhood-specific information was especially difficult to locate because Elyria and Swansea are often bulked together as one neighborhood. As a result, some data accounts for both Elyria and Swansea’s combined economies, and is labeled as such.
Commercial At first glance the Elyria commercial district is composed primarily of the Purina pet-food factory and the National Western Stock Show. While Purina is the largest current employer in the study area, the Stock Show hires approximately 750 seasonal workers each year. Exactly how many of these temporary jobs belong to Elyria residents is unknown, however according to the City of Denver’s Office of Economic Development, residents are typically not employed within the neighborhood (Stock Show Health Assessment, 14). However, the
Figure 5.1 in 2014 was 640,022 people (The National Western Stock Show, n.d.). It also allows for a very urban area to participate in animal husbandry, a rarity for the United States and gives Denver a unique opportunity. It
neighborhood. Based on windshield surveys, the majority of commercial properties on Brighton Boulevard are automobile-related and industrial businesses as well as marijuana dispensaries. El Mexicano Auto Repair and
the Sanctuary Wellness Center are located just off Brighton Boulevard on Race Street. Less than a mile away is another dispensary called Broadway Wellness. In addition, on East Brighton Boulevard in close proximity to the Denver Sheriff Impound Facility are Eco Truck Wash, G&K Services, North Park Transportation Company and Wyattâ€™s Towing Company. Further, there are three junkyards in Elyria: Crusher Auto & Truck Salvage, Junk Woman, and Junk Car Removal Denver. The Eaton Metal Products Co., as seen in Figure 5.1, is a steel plate manufacturing business whose corporate headquarters have been located in Elyria since 1924. While this list does not include every business in the Elyria neighborhood, it gives a fair representation of the typology of the area.
Employment by Industry in Elyria
Employment Based on data from the U.S. Census American Fact Finder database, the population of eligible workers over the age of 16 in the Elyria-Swansea Census Tract is approximately 4,699 residents. Of these workers, 53.1 percent are currently employed, 11.1 percent are unemployed and 35.6 percent are not in
Figure 5.2 Table showing employment of Elyria by industry
the labor force at all (American Fact Finder). There were 2,494 workers in Elyria-Swansea according to 2008-2012 data. The majority consisted of 673 workers who were employed in the service industry, followed by 606 who worked construction, natural resource, or maintenance jobs. Transportation,
production, and material-moving workers numbered 431, while those in the sales and office occupation accounted for 413 workers. Management, business, science, and art occupations employed 371 workers. Figure 5.2 above breaks down occupation even further into subgroups by industry.
Figure 5.3 Graph of household income of Elyria - Swansea
Household Income of Elyria-‐Swansea
Percentage of Total Households
>$ 20 0, 00 0
5, 00 0-‐ 99 ,9 99 $1 00 ,0 00 -‐1 49 ,9 99 $1 50 ,0 00 -‐1 99 ,9 99
0, 00 0-‐ 74 ,9 99
5, 00 0-‐ 49 ,9 99
5, 00 0-‐ 34 ,9 99
5, 00 0-‐ 24 ,9 99
0, 00 0-‐ 14 ,9 99
<$ 10 ,0 00
Household Income Distribu7on of Elyria-‐Swansea, Colorado, & US 70
Figure 5.4 Graph of household income of Elyria - Swansea, Colorado, + U.S.
Percent of the Total Households
Elyria-Swansea, although in close proximity to economic opportunity in downtown Denver, has below average income levels. According to data from 2000, nearly 62 percent of households had income less than 100 percentof Denver’s median income (Piton Foundation, n.d.). Little has been done in terms of economic development to alter this trend. Estimates of 20082012 income trends show the majority of Elyria-Swansea households bring in between $10,000 and $30,000, while the majority of Coloradan and American households bring home $50,001 or more (see Figure X below). The breakdown of household income for Elyria-Swansea in Figure 5.3, below, illustrates that the majority of households make between $15,000-$24,999.
60 50 40 Elyria-‐Swansea
20 10 0
$50,001 or greater
Household Income Income Distribu7on
2008-2012 Work Status Percent of Population
Perventage of Population
50 to 52
40 to 49
14 to 26
1 to 13
27 to 39
Did not work
Number of Weeks Worked Figure 5.5 Graph of work status of the citizens living within Elyria - Swansea
Trends, Strenghts, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Constraints Arguably one of the most pertinent developments in Elyria is the future I-70 reconfiguration and viaduct removal. Though this $150 million project will improve the connectivity of the area by dropping the interstate below ground and minimizing access ramps, it will also displace twenty seven businesses. For instance, the Sanchez family’s Stop-n-Shop in Elyria has been there for over thirty years and is now located within the footprint of the development (Raabe 2012, 1). Interestingly, the Nestle Purina pet-food company, which employs 265 people and is the largest business in the area, will not be impacted by the I-70 project. In fact, many community members welcome what they believe to be muchneeded improvements in Elyria. Larry Burgess, the president of the Elyria/Swansea/Globeville Business Association, said, “this area will never revitalize without something to stimulate change…from a
business perspective we’re thrilled several gas stations provide a by the potential (Raabe 2012, 1). drop of relief in this food desert. However, Elyria’s greatest In addition to the industrial sector recent success is the GrowHaus, that envelops the majority of Elyria, a non-profit urban farm and the historic neighborhood also education center. It is housed houses several food and beverage in a historic 20,000 square-foot establishments, some even locally greenhouse, where hydroponic owned and operated. Ciancio’s and aquaponic farming is Liquor Store, El Duranguense, used to produce several crops. Sanchez’s Stop-n-Shop, as well as The mission of the group
is to “…create communitydriven, neighborhood-based food system by serving as a hub for food access, urban agriculture, education and job training” Growhaus n.d.). A much needed resource, the GrowHaus is definitely one of Elyria’s greatest opportunities.
Works Cited. ArLand Land Use Economics. 2008. Elyria-Swansea Grocery Store Market Analysis. Denver, Colorado. Retrieved March 8, 2014, from http:// www.denvergov.org/Portals/646/documents/planning/Plans/elyria_ swansea/Elyria_SwanseaGroceryMarketStudy.PDF City of Denver Department of Community Planning & Development (2003). Elyria/Swansea Neighborhood Assessment. Retrieved March 11, 2014 from http://www.denvergov.org/Portals/646/documents/ planning/Plans/plans_pre_2013/Elyria_Swansea_Assessment%20 draft%20original.pdf Community Planning and Development 38th and Blake (2009). 38th and Blake Station Area Plan. Retrieved February 16, 2014 from http:// www.denvergov.org/Portals/193/documents/40th%20and%20 40th/38th%20and%20Blake%208_11_09%20for%20web.pdf Elyria-Swansea-Globeville Business Association (n.d.). Members. Retrieved March 11, 2014 from http://www.esgba.org/members.html Elyria Swansea neighborhood in Denver, Colorado (CO), 80022, 80216 detailed profile. (n.d.). Elyria Swansea neighborhood in Denver, Colorado (CO), 80022, 80216 subdivision profile. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from http://www.city-data.com/neighborhood/Lyria-SwanseaDenver-CO.html
The GrowHaus, (n.d.). About The Growhaus. Retrieved March 5, 2014 from http://www.thegrowhaus.com/about-us/ Mewalt, Jim. “Excavation Notification.” Casson Duncan Construction. February 11, 2014. I-70 East Environmental Impact Statement (2014) Alternatives. Retrieved February 12, 2014 from http://www.i-70east.com/alternatives.html MacMillan, Elizabeth (2004). Denver’s Forgotten Suburb, 1881 – 1941. Retrieved March 2, 2014 from http://www.geslivewell. org/uploads/1/6/3/2/16325376/elyria-denvers_forgotten_ suburb_1881-1941.pdf Map Source (n.d.). Open Data Catalog. Retrieved February 28, 2014 from http://data.denvergov.org/ The National Western Stock Show (n.d.) About NWSS. Retrieved March 10, 2014 from http://www.nationalwestern.com/about/ Noon, A. (2013, December 28). National Western Stock Show Seeks 200 new employees. The Denver Post . Retrieved March 9, 2014, from http:// www.denverpost.com/news/ci_24809368/national-western-stockshow-seeks-200-new-employees
Elyria Vision Plan 2020 (6-’08 Draft; Version 7t). Retrieved February 27, 2014 from http://www.denvergov.org/Portals/646/documents/ planning/Plans/elyria_swansea/Elyria_Swansea_2020%20VISION%20 6-08.pdf
North Metro Rail Line Home (n.d.) Retrieved February 28, 2014 from http://www.rtd-fastracks.com/nm_2National Wildlife Federation (n.d.). Platte River. Retrieved March 5, 2014 from http://www.nwf.org/wildlife/ wild-places/platte-river.aspx
Feine, E., Guzy, L., Howard, N., Jeong, H., Nadolny, S., & Sadler, B. (n.d.). Northwest Stock Show Health Impact Assessment for the ElyriaSwansea neighborhood. Retrieved February 16, 2014 from http://www. geslivewell.org/uploads/1/6/3/2/16325376/hia_nwss_final.pdf
National Wildlife Federation (n.d.). Wildlife in the Central Platte River Region. Retrieved March 2, 2014 from http://www.nwf.org/wildlife/ wild-places/platte-river.aspx The Piton Foundation (n.d.). Neighborhood Summary, Elyria-
Swansea Retrieved March 1, 2014 from http://www.piton.org/index. cfm?fuseaction=CommunityFacts.Summary&Neighborhood_ID=885 Raabe, S. (2012, May 27). Reconfiguration of I-70 Viaduct in Denver will impact homes, jobs. Denver Post. Retrieved March 8, 2014, from http:// www.denverpost.com/ci_20715164/reconfiguration-i-70-viaductdenver-will-impact-homes?IADID=Search-www.denverpost.com-www. denverpost.com Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (n.d.) Retrieved March 5, 2014 from http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index. cfm?id=61170 RTD (2014), System Map. Retrieved February 15, 2014 from http:// www3.rtd-denver.com/elbert/SystemMap/ RTD FasTracks (2014). FasTracks System Map. Retrieved February 15, 2014 from http://www.rtd-fastracks.com/systemmap.php U. S. Census Bureau. (2012). Selected Economic Characteristics: Census Tract 35, Denver County, Colorado. Retrieved March 8, 2014. file:/// Users/jillianfalchi/Downloads/ACS_12_5YR_DP03.pdf U. S. Census Bureau. (2012). Selected Economic Characteristics: Census Tract 35, Denver County, Colorado. Retrieved March 8, 2014. file:/// Users/jillianfalchi/Downloads/ACS_12_5YR_S2303.pdf Whaley, M. (2012 ). Plan for the I-70 viaduct calls for dropping road below ground level. The Denver Post . Retrieved March 8, 2014, from http:// www.denverpost.com/ci_20526487/plan-i-70-viaduct-calls-droppingroad-below