ULI to Advise Westwood Neighborhood in Denver on Incorporating Healthy Community Design

For more information, contact: Robert Krueger at 202-624-7051

DENVER (May 6, 2013) – A panel of renowned land use and real estate experts assembled by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) is in Denver this week to recommend strategies for developing healthy living environments in the Westwood neighborhood. The panel is the institute’s final assignment in a series of three panels in Colorado that concentrated specifically on the connection between health and land use. The other two were held earlier this spring in the suburban community of Arvada and the rural community of Lamar.

All three panels, convened through the ULI advisory services program, were sponsored by the Colorado Health Foundation. The panels, assigned to advise three Colorado communities on how community design impacts human health and well-being, are part of the Colorado Health Foundation’s five-year “Healthy Places” initiative that seeks to reduce and prevent obesity by fostering a built environment that encourages physical activity and interaction.

Westwood is a predominately single-family residential neighborhood located east of Lakewood in southwest Denver. The neighborhood is approximately 1.5 square miles running approximately one mile east-west from South Sheridan Boulevard to South Federal Boulevard and approximately 1.5 miles north-south from West Alameda Avenue to West Mississippi Avenue. Morrison Road serves as the major internal arterial for the study site.

The ULI panel will examine specific land-use issues including sidewalk networks and walkability, a shortage of bike paths and amenities, creating a sense of safety, increasing open public space, and ways to improve accessibility to transit. Some of the questions the panel hopes to answer include:

  • What strategies are needed for prioritizing, financing and implementing initiatives that promote healthy community living?
  • Can benchmarks be developed for measuring behavioral, health, economic and policy impacts of community design improvements?
  • What ways can both policy makers and citizens be inspired to rally round “best practices” in achieving greater levels of healthy design in their community?
  • What are effective communication strategies for community education and peer-to-peer outreach?

The Westwood advisory panel will present a draft report of their recommendations to the public at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, May 10, 2013 at the Cornerstone Baptist Church.

According to the Colorado Health Foundation, Westwood is a high-risk community for obesity and chronic disease. Nearly 37 percent of Westwood’s adults are considered obese, compared to 16 percent for Denver and 20 percent for the entire state. These significantly high numbers are attributed not only to socioeconomic factors, such as income and education, but also to access to safe places to walk, healthy food, and a lack of community resources.

The Westwood advisory panel is chaired by Edward McMahon, senior resident fellow for sustainable development at ULI in Washington, DC. In addition to McMahon, other members include: Kamuron Gurol, director of community development, City of Sammamish, Sammamish, Wash.; Debbie Lou, program analyst, Active Living Research, San Diego, Calif.; James Moore, director of international urban planning, HDR, Inc., Tampa, Fla.; Ralph L. Núñez, principal partner, DesignTeam Plus, LLC, Southfield, Mich.; James Rojas, co-founder, Latino Urban Forum, Los Angeles, Calif.; David Scheuer, president, The Retrovest Companies, Burlington, Vt.; and Elizabeth Shreeve, principal, SWA Group, Sausalito, Calif.

Now in its 66th year, ULI advisory services panel program assembles experts in the fields of real estate and land use planning to participate on panels worldwide, offering recommendations for complex planning and development projects, programs and policies. Panels have developed more than 600 studies for a broad range of land uses, ranging from retail and entertainment development to military base reuse.

According to Tom Eitler, vice president of advisory services, the strength of the program lies in ULI’s unique ability to draw on the knowledge and experience of its nearly 30,000 members, including land developers, public officials, academics, lenders, architects, planners and urban designers.

Past sponsors of ULI advisory services panels include: federal, state and local government agencies; regional councils of government; chambers of commerce; redevelopment authorities; private developers and property owners; community development corporations; lenders; historic preservation groups; non-profit community groups; environmental organizations; and economic development agencies. Over the years, the program has been a leader in offering redevelopment advice for challenges across the country.

For more information on the Colorado Health Foundation’s “Healthy Places” initiative, visit: http://www.coloradohealth.org/healthyplaces.aspx

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About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (uli.org) is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in sustaining and creating thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.