Dowtown Eagle: Street like a river
EAGLE – There’s a subtle theme to Eagle’s new Broadway streetscape that goes deeper than economic development or a makeover for an aging downtown.The undulating lines of the curbs and sidewalks. The informal clusters of large native rocks at intervals along the side. Native plants and groups of trees. Earth-toned pavement colors, with a variety of textures.It’s not just a street. It’s a river, says Kristin Cypher of Britina Design Group, the Arvada-based firm that designed the streetscape.”The streetscape evokes the feel and flow of water as it moves through the Eagle watershed,” Cypher said.
Granted, most people probably see the obvious improvements – the widened sidewalk, the landscaping, the changes in parking – without recognizing the river design. But the theme is there, and the designers made a deliberate effort to incorporate features in the $4-million project to capture some of the community’s history and personality.”Streetscapes, in general, are important,” Cypher said. “They are public gathering places. It is important for people to have a place where they can browse, interact and shop.”
The first half of the Broadway make-over – the 300 and 400 blocks – was finished last summer. Work on the north end of Eagle’s main street will commence next week.Broadway has changed over the years. Forty years ago, Broadway was mostly used as a way to drive through town. When the county build its administration complex in 1990, that effectively capped the main street at the Fifth Street intersection. That changed the function of the street and Broadway is now a “gateway” to the community, and a destination in itself, rather than a pathway through the town, Cypher said. That gateway is now more clearly identified with copper, stone and metal monuments, including featuring a copper eagle monument at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Street. A similar monument will be placed at the top of the 100 block of Broadway. There will also be a larger monument, with a bigger eagle statue, on the north side of Highway 6, bearing the word “Downtown.”Eagle is named for the Eagle River. According to some historic accounts, the river’s name was derived from the feather-shaped path the watershed follows as it moves down into the valley.That’s why stretches of downtown have curved, stone walls, boulders, and pavement curves and flows down the street. Cypher said the colors and textures of pavement details reinforce the “riverbed” theme.”It’s a great parade street,” said Cypher, pointing out that Broadway connects with the Town Park on Fifth Street.Eagle merchants also are looking for a renewed interest in downtown.
“It’s kind of like that artistic viewpoint that the ‘average Joes’ are not going to get,” said Jan Rosenthal Townsend, a Broadway business owner who served on the streetscape advisory committee that shaped the design.”I’m very happy with the downtown streetscape,” she said. “I’m not quite sure people are going to get the theme.”Similar projects have had an impact elsewhere in Colorado. Erie, in northeastern Colorado, completed a similar refurbishment of its historic downtown in 2001.”There is a direct correlation between the Erie investment and the arrival of more, new small businesses. There’s no doubt whatsoever,” said Fred Diehl, Erie’s assistant town administrator.He says the wider sidewalks, landscaping and old-fashioned streetlights have helped business downtown. “It’s more attractive, and pedestrian-friendly,” he said. “Our historic downtown is the center of the community.”A similar downtown renovation was competed in Arvada, another front range town, two years ago.”We have a great-looking downtown – everyone comes in, and says ‘We love this,'” said Jason Dennison, program manager for Historic Old Town Arvada. “It has an atmosphere we really want to be in.”In Eagle, some local businesses have started upgrading their buildings; and some high-end galleries and salons are moving in.”I think we all have a vision to expand downtown, and capitalize on it’s great aspects,” Rosenthal-Townsend said.