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Glenwood’s rivers a gem in city’s economic rough

The confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers in Glenwood Springs could pave a “green” path to economic growth in the city, if planned out and developed properly, advises the head of an organization that has been working for decades to revitalize Denver’s riverfront areas.

Jeff Shoemaker is now executive director of the Greenway Foundation, which was formed by his father, former state Sen. Joe Shoemaker, in 1974 to restore what had essentially become a “running sewer” through the middle of Denver, otherwise known as the South Platte River.

Speaking at the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s annual Economic Forecast Wednesday, Jeff Shoemaker said that Glenwood’s plans to redevelop its confluence area west of the main downtown area presents a golden economic opportunity.

“I cannot overstate what you have right here waiting for you, if you have the vision, take the risk and dare a little bit,” he said.

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Shoemaker spent some time Tuesday walking the confluence area with city council members, chamber reps and others. He also spoke with Clark Anderson, director of Community Builders, which has been working with the city to refine the confluence area master plan that envisions a mix of parks, civic spaces and commercial development along the east side of the Roaring Fork River leading to Two Rivers Park.

“The gift you have is that a huge amount of that area is public,” he said. “If you can rethink that area in a mixed way, with a balance between development and park space to make that a gateway into downtown, it’s a huge opportunity.”

The existing bridge leading into Two Rivers Park at the confluence could also become more of a focal point, tying in with the riverfront improvements that are planned along the Colorado at the park itself, he said.

Farther upstream on the Roaring Fork also presents opportunities, Shoemaker said.

“Take that and make it a play river,” he said.

The Greenway Foundation, through its work to redevelop Denver’s South Platte and Cherry Creek waterfronts, discovered that “green equals green,” Shoemaker said, explaining that developing greenway areas where people can gather and recreate leads to economic revitalization of the surrounding areas.

The chamber forum also featured a keynote address by Rob Engstrom, senior vice president and national political director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who gave an overview of the national economic climate following the first 100 days of the new Trump administration.

Attendees also heard an update regarding the economic opportunities surrounding the ongoing Grand Avenue bridge replacement project, through redevelopment of the Sixth and Seventh street corridors that is planned following completion of the $125 million bridge construction.


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