West Of Quebec

Topics: HistoryQuebec

The housing seems to have been designed to match the existing nearby neighborhoods. As one travels east along 6th Avenue, from the Crestmore/Mayfair side into the Lowry area, there is a sign that says “Lowry” and then to the south, is the old Base Commander’s house. Behind that, there is a cluster of renovated Field and General Officer’s quarters that were sold to private owners, mixed in with newer homes and duplexes. As one travels east, on 6th Avenue, the street is lined with mansions that look similar, although a bit newer, than homes in the Hilltop and Crestmore neighborhoods west of the base, providing and easy transition from the nearby neighborhoods.

A sign along the street advises passers-by that the area was awarded the Governor’s Award for Development and Design in 2006. North of 6th Avenue, are townhomes and blocks of housing, mixed from medium to upper end homes, mixed in size and cost, although largely in the upper medium to higher end homes.

The area extends to the east until the flood control area is encountered.

Another large area of housing is located south of Lowry Boulevard. This area has the same mix of townhomes, duplexes, single family housing and mansions that is encountered on the north west part of Lowry. There is also a neighborhood west of Quebec. This area seems to have developed largely when the Air Force owned it and appears to be primarily made up of renovated family housing.

A final large concentration of homes is found on the far eastern portion of the old base.

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Here the area is somewhat divided from the main part of the base by flood control land, and by parks. The area was developed a bit later than the main base, and has a mix of apartments, and single family homes, some of which was part of the original Military Family Housing.

After the departure of the Defense Finance Accounting Service and Air Reserve Personnel Center, the area south of First Street and west of Quebec was also scheduled for redevelopment. This area, which was part of the original east-west runway on Lowry is now known as Lowry 1, and will contain another large number of houses, townhouses and apartments.

The Plan does have a lot of discussion related to the number of “McKinney Units” to be built. The McKinney Act prioritized the providers of homeless housing for the provision of surplus Federal property. The Plan mentioned development of a maximum of eighty six units for homeless housing, or ten percent of the housing that was on Lowry at the time. Each of the barracks were reviewed in the plan, but the final recommendation was that only Dormitory 963 was suitable for homeless housing. What actually occurred was that 190 affordable single family houses were developed and sold and 892 affordable apartments were developed by the Colorado Community Land Trust. The Land Trust allows residents to pay monthly leases, and keep some of the equity accrued while insuring that sales prices for the property is kept in the affordable price range. The affordable housing includes rent controlled apartments in the very desirable Grand Lofts Lowry, which was built in the former base headquarters. The housing for the homeless (or economically disadvantaged ) is located in two separate buildings, one on the far west side of the base just east of Quebec, which was former military housing of some sort. The other is located on the south east part of the base, immediately south of 6th Avenue. This housing appears to be a relatively newly developed apartment building. Another similar type of facility at the far northwest corner of Lowry, is a facility for people who are escaping domestic violence.

The development of educational facilities was a large focus of the Lowry Reuse Plan. The Plan called for “Creation of a 10,000-student campus to educate the current and future workforce and provide training and support for on and off-site businesses.” The plan specifies the North East portion of the Air Force Base to be an Education Campus or Higher Education and Training (HEAT). This land was originally developed as the original Air Force Academy and opened in 1954 to serve as a temporary home for the military school while the final home of the Academy in Colorado Springs was being constructed.

The tract was given to the Colorado Community College System. Students attend classes on the campus from the University of Northern Colorado, the Community College of Denver, and the Community College of Aurora. Classes are taught in classes ranging from dental hygiene to diesel mechanics to film. Also on this campus is the New America School which provides high school to new immigrants, English language learners and other economically disadvantaged students up to age 21. This school is managed under a charter from the Aurora Public School district.

A number of other schools are located on Lowry. The Lowry Elementary School, in the Denver School District, is located in the southwest portion and offers kindergarten thru fifth grade to almost a thousand students, largely from Lowry with a few of the students coming from other neighborhoods. Additionally, there are three Montessori preschools. The old Officer’s Club and Bachelor’s Officers’ Quarters were renovated and created the Stanley British Primary School. Many of the 440 students that attend this school travel from other neighborhoods, and some of the teachers live nearby in the Transient Officer’s Quarters. Another private school, the International School of Denver is located nearby. The 681 students that attend the International School of Denver study immersion French, Spanish and Chinese in grades Pre -Kindergarten thru 8th. The students in these two schools pay between $12,00 and $18,000 each year to attend. The Logan School for Creative Learning, located between the flood control area and the HEAT campus, provides private school education to about 250 students, with an annual tuition of about $20,000. Other schools on Lowry include the Vanguard Classical School, located east of Yosemite, and managed under charter from Aurora Public School district and Bishop Machebeuf High School, located on the East Side of Uinta. Machebeuf High School is managed by the Catholic Church and students pay $11, 000 per year to attend.

The education and training provided by the HEAT campus, while not related to aviation maintenance as envisioned in the redevelopment plan, provides important vocational and pre-professional training for students from Denver and Aurora to enter into either a trade or higher education. The Lowry plan had originally intended for the training to be developed to retrain the Air Force employees for other occupations, such as needed on the nearby Stapleton Airport. The distance to the Denver Airport now makes that type of training less viable on Lowry, but the Community College Campus does provide needed training to the community.

The campus itself has not been dramatically improved and still has some older, vacant buildings. The southern part of the campus has newer buildings constructed by Aurora Community College, and is in somewhat better condition. But the northern and central parts of the campus are somewhat dated and have not been renovated with the central quadrangle concept that was mentioned in the redevelopment plan. As the 25 year “hold” on the land donated by the Air Force to the Colorado Community College System is nearly over, some discussions related to selling parts of the campus to housing developers are underway.

Parts of the Education Campus, showing the old Air Force buildings and relatively undeveloped area. The utilities are still above ground, and one can see the military style construction and layout. Preservation of the Historical Uniqueness of the Lowry Air Force Base.

From reading the Lowry Reuse Plan, it is clear that the authors understood that the Air Force Base was important to the surrounding community. Many of the people who lived nearby had lived on the Base as children or had been stationed at Lowry, and the memories they had were important. Additionally, having a unique history can be a way to form community or draw new people to want to live in an area. So part of the plan was to preserve, where possible, some of the unique history of the Base.

The most dramatic part of the base from a visual perspective were the runways and the hangars. While the runways had not been in use since 1966 , they were still on the base in the familiar pattern seen at an Air Force location, with a largely north-south runway, an east-west runway and a third runway positioned on an almost 45 degree angle in between. The three runways had been built in another era, when aircraft operations were heavily affected by the wind. The alignment of some of the main roads in Lowry were configured to match the original alignment of the runways, with Uinta following the north-south runway configuration and First Street conforming to the east-west runway then merging to become Lowry along the 45 degree angle.

Two of the main operational hangars were preserved. One was left largely in place to become the Wings Over the Rockies Museum. Out in front of the Museum, a B52 Bomber is on display. The other hangar was also preserved and became an indoor storage location with offices along the outer wings and the Lowry Beer Garden in the southeast corner of the site. The area where the hangars are located was kept fairly open with low rise buildings. One can easily imagine an aircraft landing in the area. View showing Hangar 1, the Wings Over the Rockies Museum and Hangar 2 (far right). In the far center, the Lowry Beer Garden can be seen under the tail of the B52 Bomber.

The original Base Headquarters was preserved, and converted to apartments. The Eisenhower Chapel was preserved and has become a community meeting space available for rent. The old theater was converted to part of the Denver International School. Another hangar was converted and is now the Big Bear Ice Rink. The golf course was reconfigured and now serves as the Common Ground Golf Course, with the name reflecting the fact that the golf course straddles both Aurora and Denver. Other buildings on the base were renovated and sold for medical use. The Higher Education and Training Campus, which housed the original home of the Air Force Academy still reflects the layout of the Academy Campus. Other buildings, the Officer’s Row, are a cluster of buildings that were either renovated or built to look like row house quarters that could have been an officer quarters. These row houses are configured to give the Grand Lofts Lowry (the original Base Headquarters) a grand vista. The Colorado Free University occupies an original Air Force building as do the Steam Plant Condominiums.

Some of the Field Grade and General Officer’s Quarters remain on the base in a small cluster south of 6th Avenue and east of Quebec. The Officers’ Club and some of the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters were reconfigured to provide a home for the Stanley British Primary School. Other reminders of the history of the base history include the use of some of the older street names, including “Lowry”, “Academy” and “Red Cross. Some of the parks built in some of the neighborhoods are named “Liberator”, “Tailwind” and “Mustang”. Artwork is placed around the base to suggest that there is a connection to aviation. Many of the entrances to the housing areas are marked with a brick entrance corner column, which suggest a gate. The columns are marked with either the name “Lowry” or in some cases, they have an Air Force Star to show that you are entering a special area.

The references to the name Lowry are spread throughout the old base and many of the open areas that were on the base remain, to function as flood control which provides for the feeling of openness reminiscent of the Air Force Base. Is this a “good plan”? Finally, to address the question “Is this a good plan”? To complete that evaluation, several criteria can be used. First, the previous pages covered the effectiveness of the plan, considering the economic impact, the development of housing, development of education and training, and preservation of some of the unique, historical characteristics of the old Air Force base. The plan did provide a framework for development of a well-respected, mixed use development in Denver and Aurora. The visions described in the plan are practical and not terribly lofty. Some of the concepts described in the plan seem very small compared to what the development actually became, such as the original goal of preserving the onsite businesses. The businesses that were attracted compare very favorably to the original businesses (a bank and a Burger King). The Plan was able to form and encourage the redevelopment of the base, and in that case, most of the original objectives were met or greatly exceeded. Given that, the plan was effective.

Secondly, since the Plan was for the transfer of Federal land to the community, it is important the Plan meet federal guidelines. Closure of Military bases follows a particular formula, that once met, the land can be transferred to other agencies and governmental entities. Since land was transferred, it is safe to assume that the formula was met and the plan complies with Federal guidelines.

The third criteria for which the Plan should be evaluated should be Citizen Input and Engagement. To what degree were the opinions of citizens considered? Citizen input in major government decisions is an important component of success. If neighbors or other stakeholders have no say in the process, some obvious solutions may be overlooked or conversely, some chosen solutions may have negative impacts on the neighbors. Citizen input was actively encouraged, with many meetings conducted to communicate the closure and its impact, as well as to gain opinions on the redevelopment of the base. The Lowry Redevelopment Authority, a quasi- governmental agency was formed with elected representatives from both the City of Aurora and the City of Denver managed the redevelopment. Under the Lowry Redevelopment Authority, a number of other committees was formed, including the Lowry Community Advisory Committee, which is composed of residents from Lowry and the surrounding neighborhoods and the Design Review Committee, composed of architects, members from the Lowry Redevelopment Authority and some Lowry residents. The Lowry Redevelopment Authority and its committees convene their meetings in accordance with the Open Meetings Act and provide access to documents on the web, which permits review by citizens. When the Buckley Annex was closed, there was another round of meetings soliciting input from citizens, neighbors and potential stakeholders.

The report should also be evaluated based on its clarity. Was the Plan well written and was the language used clear enough so that it could be understood to the degree that it could be followed? While the plan is a little dry and straightforward, it is definitely clear. The Plan was executed, except where other factors came into play, such as environmental or budget issues.

And finally, the Plan should be evaluated based on execution. Was the plan good enough to be built? This answer would lie in a point by point comparison of the plan, which in 1993 was somewhat sketchy, and what is on the ground now that the development is “complete”. Most of the areas have undergone complete reconstruction. Some buildings are being rebuilt, or new construction has started in some areas. Only the Education Campus remains largely in its original configuration. The remainder of the old base has been reconstructed, to a large degree according to the original plan. The largest deviation from the plan, other than the slow redevelopment of the Education Campus, appears to be that housing that was planned to be constructed south of the water impoundment area on the southeast side of the base was not built. Environmental issues were encountered, and the housing was put on an indefinite hold . Other components of the plan were built within the expectations of the Plan.

Lowry was one of the first bases to be listed on the Base Realignment and Closure list. The community did not have the ability to see in the future or to review some of the successes of other base closures. However, in spite of that, the plan developed was able to be followed, while still providing for multiple opportunities that could not have been foreseen in 1993. By the year 2018, 25 years after the plan was first submitted to the Air Force, the area has developed into a thriving mixed use area that provides services to the onsite residents as well as to the neighboring community. Lowry has provided over four billion dollars in economic benefit and thirty nine million in taxes to the City of Denver far exceeding the base’s economic benefit to the community.


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West Of Quebec. (2022, Jun 10). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/west-of-quebec/

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