More suburban emptiness

Colfax/Kipling shopping area, Google Earth

This area of Colfax and Kipling has also experienced building vacancy for long periods of time. There are many successful stores in this area too. New growth has been happening in the Belmar location which is not too far from this area.

former World Savings Bank, Colfax and Kipling

former Target, Colfax just west past Kipling

former Target, Colfax and Kipling area

This abandoned Target has been empty for over eight years. There was also another Target on 44th and Sheridan (in Lakeside) that sat empty for over six years. (It is recently being re-developed; some strip malls are already looking for tenants. These two Target stores were both closed while the new one was constructed across from Sloan’s Lake. Another failed Fazzoli’s which raises another concern:

  • Sometimes buildings are constructed in their details to be ‘brand’ specific. Fazzoli’s  for example has a certain layout, most likely a drive through and a textured, stucco exterior that is unique and necessary for their brand. Old Taco Bell Restaurants were designed in the same way and are now being (very creatively, I might add) painted and redeveloped into new businesses. This is probably a negative quality as these buildings are recognizable as the brand it was built to portray and harder to then transform as being a different yet well-known business. There are other brands that come to mind in this scenario: Circuit City, Ultimate Electronics, Macys, McDonalds, Burger King, (Most fast food places really), World Savings Banks.
  • On the contrary, Blockbuster locations have seen a rapid transformation (in a lot of cases) as the recognizable piece was the signage which is more easily changed. The layout and architectural plan is more adaptable to a variety of uses as opposed to a fast food building or bank.

    random retail space, Colfax and Kipling

    former Circuit City

    Former Fazzoli’s, Colfax and Kipling area

    Fazzoli’s former Drive-Thru

Another key concern for these abandoned retail places is safety. Especially in Colorado, some amount of energy is being wasted keeping these buildings warm (or just warm enough not to freeze) in the winters. There is also the maintenance of the parking lots or the grounds which has to be done, not to mention the upkeep of the graffiti, broken glass and the cost it keeps to provide security to ensure that no trespassers are squatting at these locations. These areas then need to remain bright and use lights to divert potential danger.

Also homeless people might be sleeping inside or “Urban camping” within the walls!

OH NO! Wait; maybe this could be a solution:

Urban Camping but with a roof and walls 🙂

  • These abandoned grocery stores would make a good place for a shelter in most cases.
  • There are locations in every suburb that would be ideal for a housing system of this sort
  • You could develop more urban gardens near these facilities
  • All work, maintenance, cleaning and general upkeep could be generated by the people that use it. (Minimal management of course)
  • Little facility work would probably have to be done to make this a possibility, with the exception of larger bathrooms and basic equipment for kitchens and beds.
  • Maybe there could even be some government dollars for a mental health professional on site, job placement services, day labor pick-ups etc.

If that would not realistically work in some locations here are some more proposed, more productive uses for these large spaces. Even if there was a parking lot it instead of a building it would be more productive in most of these cases. Maybe a park and ride system for bus users and not just catered to light rail drivers.

  • Recreation centers
  • Community centers
  • Indoor urban gardens (greenhouses)
  • Indoor playgrounds
  • Libraries
  • Schools
  • daycare
  • Indoor dog parks
  • Gyms
  • Open space, outside park

    Old racing track behind Lakeside Amusement Park, has been vacant for over 25 years!

    empty retail space 44th and Wadsworth, Lakeside

another abandoned World Savings Bank in Littleton, Broadway and Bellview

 Many things could be done with these “abandoned” spaces that are currently just sitting there boarded up or being vandalized in many cases. Karen Auge wrote an article in the Denver Post, May 9, 2010 titled “Abandoned stores leave grocery graveyards in Denver area” that speaks to this ongoing issue in the Denver metro area. In the article, Jill Litt from the University of Colorado School of Public Health, explains that there are food desert issues for many of these low-income areas which is ironic considering there is space available, even if it was a smaller market rather than a large grocer. The article also mentions that Sav-A-Lot is a flexible grocer that has a smaller space but can also use buildings that are empty and rejuvenate a neighborhoods food access situation. In other areas like the intersection of I-25 and I-70 there just simply isn’t space to build a big retail grocer.

Recently, there has been talk of a Sunflower Market opening on East Colfax and also a Trader Joes on Colorado Blvd & 8th avenue in Denver. This is great news for those neighborhoods as both areas are in need of a neighborhood market. While my area still houses a King Soopers across from Sloan’s lake, there aren’t many other options unless you travel for about a ten minute car ride in any direction. Personally, I am not picky as to what is going to take the place of these locations mentioned, I just wish something would as they are useless as they stand. Before we build more new buildings, can we save any of these old dinosaurs that have been waiting patiently for years? I think there also should be some responsibility in leaving these properties empty, especially if they were uniquely built for your brand.


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