Urban Exploration: Downtown Los Angeles

June 14, 2018

The 2018 Urban Exploration Trip took 150 of Denver’s most visionary leaders—including 15 elected and appointed officials—to Downtown Los Angeles to learn from leaders in transportation, city planning, parks and public spaces, and economic development.

At the Downtown Denver Partnership, we are bold city builders always looking at how to drive our city forward. The 2018 Urban Exploration trip to Downtown Los Angeles provided us with best practices, insights and a renewed excitement about Denver’s future.  

We learned from LA that Denver needs to be a city on the offense. We must prepare for the next level, the next iteration of who we will be as a city. This requires honest conversation, bold moves and having every voice at the table.

From Mayor Hancock’s inspiring conversation with Mayor Eric Garcetti to the powerful words on transportation from Phil Washington of LA Metro and Seleta Reynolds of LADOT, the 2018 Urban Exploration trip provided valuable lessons and inspiring experiences that will benefit our own strategies and initiatives moving forward.

Some key takeaways include:

  • Cities do not evolve in a linear fashion—they advance and retract, they evolve and dissolve. To move forward strategically requires a series of small steps and a handful of very big moves—we must be ready to take risks
  • As cities grow and change, the importance of uniting diverse communities is critical to protect and honor the past while looking towards the future.
  • Denver’s unique “give first” mantra has grown our city. We, as leaders, must ensure that as we grow, that mantra remains in-tact.
  • As a city and a region, we must keep pushing back to ensure that the resources needed from the Federal government are provided to address key issues like housing and mobility;
  • Art cannot be taken for granted. Public art has the power to transform neighborhoods, unite people and build powerful brands for cities.

The Downtown Denver Partnership believes that we can learn a great deal from the successes of other downtowns throughout the country. For this reason, we created the Urban Exploration Program in 2008, bringing city leaders and business leaders in Downtown Denver together to learn about the best practices of other cities.

The 2007 Downtown Area Plan – the 20-year vision for Downtown Denver’s development – provides the foundation upon which the trip is organized. In addition, the trip provides a wonderful opportunity for these community leaders to network and immerse themselves in an educational setting where they can learn about infrastructure, economic development, transit and transportation and public private partnerships in other cities.

We will work with our members and Denver’s leaders to leverage the best practices from Downtown Los Angeles to keep driving Denver forward – through big steps and small moves.

View information shared by trip participants here: #DenverUrbanEx