One of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods on Tuesday moved closer to staying a little more intact and preserving its connection to the Chicano Movement.
The city’s land use committee voted to forward the La Alma Lincoln Park historic cultural district designation to the full City Council, paving the way for a portion of this neighborhood in the city’s Westside to become only the second cultural district in Denver.
The City Council is expected to vote on its designation during its meeting on August 2.
Landmark Preservation Principle Planner Kara Hahn, who works for the city’s Community Planning and Development office, on Tuesday outlined why the designation is sought. Hahn said the historic district’s designation is based on a period between 1873 to 1980. It’s a span encompassing the area’s founding as one the city’s earliest residential neighborhoods in Denver, until it became a local epicenter for the Chicano Movement, which sought social and political change for unequal treatment in labor and education, among other focuses, during the 1960s and 1970s.
Its connection to this national movement, led by Chicanos, Chicanas and Mexican Americans, was among the criteria the city’s planning staff found made it eligible for historic preservation. There are murals in the area recognizing the movement and the people who led and participated in the movement lived there, Hahn said.
The district’s boundaries comprise the titular park and nearby residential properties. The proposed boundary includes areas roughly between Osage Street and Kalamath Street, and 10th Avenue and 14th Avenue. Historic Denver Executive Director Annie Levinsky said there is an existing National Register district boundary that helped inform the new proposed boundary. Structures within the proposed boundaries are those built during the period Hahn mentioned. The goal was to keep the park as a focal point for the entire district.
Hahn said there are a little over 200 properties in the district. Flyers, door-to-door visits to inform people and public meetings about the proposal were provided to make sure people who lived there knew about the plan. The proposal itself had been in the works in some way for several years after the idea was first floated by people in the neighborhood. The application for the designation approved on Tuesday was filed in April.
The district would come with custom design guidelines, in case property owners want to make changes after the historic district is designated, though Hahn pointed out there would be no requirement for properties falling under the district’s boundaries to improve or restore a property. The proposal is supported by several neighborhood groups and nearby cultural centers, including La Alma Lincoln Park Registered Neighborhood Association, Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Denver, Auraria Higher Education Center and Museo de las Americas.
The only other historic cultural district in Denver is in Five Points. There are 56 historic districts and 352 individual landmarks across the city, according to Hahn.