Adaptive-Reuse, Resiliency and Vision: Challenge Studions from Eastern Plains to Western Slope

03/29/2018 11:10 AM | Jamie Shapiro

These last few weeks have been busy ones at Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) as we prepare for our Annual Conference, IN THE GAME, April 10-13 in Boulder. For me, that has meant driving from the Arkansas River Valley in Southeast Colorado to the mesas of the Colorado River on the Western Slope in preparation for DCI’s Challenge Studios. This is the first of 3 blog posts highlighting the 2018 DCI Challenge Studio communities.

DCI has partnered with the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs, for this year's Challenge Studio. Senior Fellow Randy Harrision has made the Challenge Studios a focus of his Economic Development course for Master of Public Administration students. Each student has been paired with a community, and his bringing a fresh perspective and their own skillset to assist in coordinating the challenge.


We arrive in Leadville on a bright, blue sky morning, with snow covering the ground. Our meeting with local stakeholders included a variety of perspectives. The Main Street program, city leadership, local nonprofits, Lake County, and citizen advisory boards all met with Paige Cipperly (MPA student), Randy Harrison, and myself.  

Leadville stakeholders meet with the DCI and CU Denver team.

Downtown Leadville is facing several interrelated challenges—the need to rehabilitate historic buildings, a lack of affordable housing, and the desire to increase downtown vibrancy. Leadville’s Main Street program, led by DCI VISTA Destinee Lukianoff, partnered with City Leaders and connected the issues to form one goal: the rehabilitation of the upper floors of downtown buildings into apartments. Obstacles to meeting this goal, however, include the cost of construction in Lake County, a complex negotiation and administrative process and the desire to maintain Leadville’s National Historic Landmark status.

Buildings like this one in downtown Leadville present tremendous opportunities for upper story apartments.

If you are interested in historic preservation, housing, architecture, real estate development, or downtown revitalization, come to the DCI IN THE GAME Conference, April 10-13 and be a part of the two day intensive workshop with Leadville community leaders as they work to transform underutilized community assets! 


Monument, located along I-25 between Castle Rock and Colorado Springs, has grown rapidly in recent years—but the historic downtown, dating to the 1880s railroad years, remains underappreciated by both locals and visitors. The challenge for the community is how to build civic pride and vision—to encourage locals to come downtown, to ensure that those on I-25 know about downtown Monument, and t bring new projects- from temporary pop up events to ideas for new infill construction—to vacant spaces downtown.

Local leaders show off downtown Monument.

Daniel Summers (MPA Student) and I met with dedicated leaders representing the public, private, and nonprofit sectors at the packed Coffee Cup Coffee to discuss the challenge over brunch. We toured the downtown, and discussed the obstacles to improving engagement—including a commuter population, historic development trends, and wayfinding signage that could better direct people downtown.

Downtown Monument is a unique and accessible Front Range destination with tremendous potential looking forward.

However, the community has great resources to work with, including strong leadership, social media platforms, a wonderful downtown park, and a beautiful setting at the base of the foothills. Visual design expert Jim Leggitt and photographer Caleb Alvarado will be working to inspire workshop participants with new visions for downtown. If you are interested in exploring how community members and local groups can take ownership and pride in downtown, and build a vision for the future, join us in Boulder for our IN THE GAME Conference April 10-13 to be a part of the solution.


Lyons has faced great challenges following the 2013 floods, which added further pressure to housing and strained local businesses. Wayfinding and signage, access to downtown, and parking have became critical concerns for the community. As one of the Challenge Studio communities in Boulder County, DCI is thrilled to have community leaders come to Boulder for the IN THE GAME conference.

Megan Garn (MPA Student at the School of Public Affairs) visited the community with DCI Executive Director Katherine Correll to prepare for the challenge studio. At the workshop, local leaders and stakeholders are looking forward to building strong relationships with entities throughout Boulder County, and to problem solving with thinkers from throughout the state and beyond.

If you are interested in housing, wayfinding, parking, and supporting small business in a walkable downtown setting, join the Lyons Challenge Studio during the DCI Conference!

Downtown Lyons, photo courtesy of Lyons Area Chamber of Commerce

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