Archive for December, 2011

20 Things About ’11 You Should Know if You Live in Downtown Denver

Our Look at the Best (and, Worst)!

Everyone has an end-of-the-year list. But, nobody covers the ground we do.

Best Parade: Of course it’s the Stock Show Parade. And, next week at noon on the 5th, you can watch again as the longhorn steers spook their way around the steam vents on 17th Street! It’s also only 30 minutes long which is the ideal length for any parade.

Worst County Fair: Yep, Denver. There obviously was a good reason we didn’t have one of these for 150 years. And, amazingly, they’re going to do it again! Don’t go unless they re-book the trick dancing pigs.

Best Miracle on 16th Street: The "Shroud of Forever 21"

Best Use of Union Station: RTD actually got this right. A boutique hotel, retail and food engineered by the Union Station Alliance. All aboard!

Best Movie from the Film Festival that You Can See Near Downtown Now: “kART Across America” follows two guys from Colorado around the country in a golf kart named Christine while they seek the essence of the American culture by asking everyone “What is your art?” Terrific. At the Mayan. Go.

Best Barista: Eric Sasine at the Market in Larimer Square. No friendlier service Downtown.

Best Orthopedic Surgeon: Ted Parks, Western Ortho. See him when you need new parts! You’ll walk out happy.

Worst Downtown Food Trend: The “Pizzafication” running rampant on our streets. Pizza everywhere and more coming. Watch your step!

Best “Italian Bar”: Mangiamo Pronto. In Italy, you walk into a “bar” for coffee, food, a drink. In Denver, you can do that in style at the little place at 17th and Wazee. Warm, friendly, good!

Best New Restaurant: Coohill’s 1400 overlooking Cherry Creek on Wewatta. There are dozens of good reasons to go there. Decor, service, the Coohills, food, and the Duck Confit and Brussels Sprouts appetizer!

Best Neighborhood within a Neighborhood: The Market at Larimer Square. Mark Greenberg is the Mayor of his own community…and the owner for nearly three decades!

Best Food Store: Cook’s Fresh Market at 16th and Glenarm. Buy what you need, or buy what you want. A real asset to Downtown living.

Best Downtown Bridge: Manny’s Bridge over Cherry Creek at Wynkoop Street. Pedestrian access to parking, Pepsi, playground and pigeons. And, this is the current home of “LoDo Lights”, the interactive light art installation that lights your way and amazes your pets! And, while we’re at it…namesake Manny Salzman, 93, still rides his bike daily and plays a mean mandolin in the Denver Mandolin Orchestra.

LoDo Lights on Manny's Bridge

Best Urban Park: It’s called “Bob’s Park” (after the nearby building concierge, Bob) and it takes the northeast corner of 17th and Larimer to new heights. A peaceful space amongst trees and flowers you can easily miss.

Best Space Near Downtown to be Sort of Close to Nature: Starbucks at R.E.I. River, trees, breeze, beach and bikes in a constant flow. Go for the sunny deck. Try the coffee if you like. And, watch out for the wet bathing suits!

Worst Downtown Intersection for the Preservation of Life: 15th and Wynkoop. Here’s a smoldering combination of buses running red lights, bicyclists careening down the walks, pedestrians crossing against the signals, and too many cars that have no idea that they are staring straight ahead at a dead-end street. Tough to be safe at this one.

Best Public Space that Doesn’t Know It’s a Public Space: When they closed the intersection of 14th Street and Champa earlier this year for some high-tech digital art and light, the space was intriguing. Very European. An open plaza feel. We were surprised. And, so many people could fit in and enjoy the sights. We can only hope that the Wynkoop Plaza at Union Station takes on a similar feel when it is unveiled in 2014.

Worst Downtown Merchant: The cobbler at Writer Square. There are a lot of things wrong with Writer Square, but the shop on the Lawrence Street side may top the list. Don’t engage this guy in any conversation…even about shoes!

Best Downtown Merchants: A bunch. Wines Off Wynkoop, Tattered Cover, Players, Bouquets, Rockmount, Cook’s Fresh Market and Rudy Martinez who’s been a barber Downtown for 40 years.

Best Reason to Welcome Back the Nuggets and Hope the Broncos Play at least One Game in the Playoffs: It all helps Baseball seem to arrive sooner to bail us all out!

Oh, and one more. The Best Reason to Celebrate the End of 2011? It’s over.

Checking In at Union Station

You’ve heard the news. The RTD Board made the right decision last night with regard to the re-use of their historic building. An agreement will be crafted with the Union Station Alliance group for the development of a hotel combined with first floor transit facilities, restaurants and retail.

 The USA group includes Dana Crawford and Sage Hospitality combining for the project that will coordinate some services and facilities with the Oxford Hotel.

 The unanimous vote of approval from the Board came after many months of meetings and proposals with the final decision being made between the USA bid and one provided by the Union Station Neighborhood Company. At last night’s Board meeting, no one spoke for the USNC program at all. A count of USA supporters and speakers, on the other hand, showed 54 people in attendance. Many were neighborhood residents.

 Now, more of the huge Union Station project will be moving forward, due for completion in 2014. Keep in mind that as of January 2, the parking lots on the Wynkoop Street side of the station will cease to exist and Plaza-area construction will begin. Bring out the noisemakers.

 Happy New Year!

Signs of the Times Don’t Have to Happen!

Someone Thinks This is a Good Idea

If you liked the old bright blue Qwest signs floating atop the Downtown Denver skyline (and their substitutes and look-alikes), you’ll love it when Sports Authority gets their way, and their sign, with our Mile High Stadium!

View planes be damned! They want a big red sign right there at the top. Nice, huh?

Well, if you go to this link, you can at least feel better about signing a petition to counter this decoration. Sports Authority, not the cuddly home grown company they would like you to think they are, needs to know that all of their stores, commercials and advertising supplements are signage enough. We happen to like what is left of the mountain view from Downtown.

Sweet Sounds of the Season this Sunday!

Free. Relaxing. Warm. Holiday music as it can only sound played by a full orchestra of Mandolins!

The December concert of the Denver Mandolin Orchestra will be this Sunday, December 18 at 7 p.m. in the Mercantile Room of the Wynkoop Brewery. Come for the sound and a surprise or two…along with a nice Wynkoop beer, of course.

By the way, kudos to the DMO for including this word in their informational release: “Orchestreers”. Couldn’t have picked better!

Sundays are Special at The Market in Larimer Square!

At The Market, Smiling Stalwarts Greet Guy Who is Really Happier than He Looks Just 3 Weeks after Hip Surgery. From left: Master Barista and Amazingly Nice Guy Eric Sasine, Jen Marti, Assistant Manager and Equally Talented

You’d be hard-pressed to find friendlier coffee service, a larger house-made pastry selection, an ongoing feeling of neighborhood community, good food and plenty of familiar faces…than at The Market in Larimer Square. And, on Sundays, there’s always a “parade of cakes” as more than a hundred are custom baked for pick-up. Even more go out the door on Saturdays, according to owner Mark Greenberg.

Visit any day. And, you’ll be surprised what you can find for Holiday giving! Jen is also the chocolate buyer!

Denver Union Station Construction Project Update Meeting for the General Public Announced

With all the news this week of the Monday opening of Charlie Palmer’s Wazee Wood Fire Pizza (next to District Meats), the signing of noted Highlands restaurant The Squeaky Bean in the Saddlery Building (we reported that possibility last August) and what is supposed to be the Tuesday decision by the Board of RTD on the outcome of the re-development of the historic Union Station building itself (This week saw the chiming in of the group owning renowned Frasca in Boulder as promoters and operators of a Food Market in the station, part of one of the proposals being considered. Apparently, someone thinks it would be a great idea to have a “Boulder experience” right here in Downtown. Honk if you like that one.)…construction disruption on the LoDo side of the station will precede all of those other developments.

Here We Go! Coming to a Street Near You!

And, DUSPA (Denver Union Station Project Authority) wants to tell you about it. They will hold a public meeting on Thursday, December 15 at 6 pm at the RTD offices at 16th and Blake Street.

No doubt they will roll out the graphics showing further and continuing work on 16th Street adjacent to the station, continued work on the bus and rail facilities west of the station, and, now, the beginning of the construction of the Wynkoop Plaza areas and, eventually, the groundbreaking for the north and south “wing” buildings. The first and most notable impacts of that, with regard to Downtown residents, will be the announced January 2 closing of the parking lots in front of the station. The noise will commence.

The impacts on the neighborhood are notable, and Denver by the Slice is hopeful that some residents will come with questions that need to be addressed and communicated by the DUSPA team.

Ask about working hours, compliance with city ordinances for times, noise levels, engine idling, communications to would-be parkers especially during evenings and weekends, staging areas and a 24/7 contact name and phone number for complaints or questions. There will be both.

Showing construction plans and anticipated schedules is one thing. Communicating to the residents and businesses affected by those is quite something else. If you can’t make the meeting, count on Denver by the Slice to put out the right stuff!

Frank Martinez in Fourth Solo Show at Plus Gallery!

Frank Martinez, "Untitled 5-6", 14"x20", 2011

Opening on Thursday, December 8 at Plus Gallery, 2501 Larimer, is Denver painter Frank T. Martinez back with his fourth solo exhibition “Out / Line” from December 8th, 2011 through January 21st, 2012.

“Martinez has become one of the most appreciated and acclaimed abstract painters in the region since debuting in 2004. Martinez works in series, each an extension but quite different from the last, exploring a particular concept in depth and to its conclusion.  His paintings generally combine multiple layers of paint applied through different techniques, the end result typically loaded with symbolic content that is thoughtful and visually captivating,” says Plus Gallery’s Ivar Zeile.

The show begins with an Opening Reception and Holiday Party on Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m.