National Western Center Master Plan & 2C Funding Campaign
CRL is the lead strategic advisor to the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, a critical player in the National Western Center plan to redevelop a 100+ acre urban Denver site. The vision for the National Western Center, estimated to cost $1 Billion, will create a catalytic economic engine for the City; one pivotal to the success of Mayor Michael Hancock’s North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative. The project site lies within three of Denver’s lowest income, environmentally challenged, minority-populated neighborhoods where infrastructure needs have not been tended to in several decades.
The National Western Center’s redevelopment partners include the City and County of Denver, the National Western Stock Show, Colorado State University (CSU), the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and History Colorado.
CRL has played many critical roles as a part of this project. The firm built political will to retain the National Western in the City and County of Denver, created a public involvement process to build support for the National Western Center; assisted in crafting a master plan for the site; successfully lobbied for a public – private finance plan; ran the “2C” campaign to raise $856 Million in public subsidy; and is currently working alongside the project stakeholders and the Mayor’s Office of the National Western to identify the governance structure and partnership agreements that will insure the success of the project well into the future.
Denver’s “Next Stage” Plan for the Performing Arts Complex
“The Next Stage: A Plan for the Denver Performing Arts Complex” (DPAC) is an effort led by the City and County of Denver to re-imagine the City’s well-loved performing arts hub as it approaches its fifty year anniversary.
The DPAC, a four-block, 12-acre site, contains ten different performance spaces with over 10,000 seats, at present, for arts events. As the City has grown, though, and the downtown environment has taken new shape in the last several decades, the Complex’s operators recognize the need to evolve in order to suit the audience and arts platforms of the future.
CRL assisted the Department of Arts and Venues (DAV) in crafting a large scale public outreach process, building support for the vision plan that calls for a more enlivened, mixed-use arts complex as part of the larger Downtown growth trajectory. The firm is currently working with DAV through a Funding and Governance process with community members, resident companies and multiple city agencies. As part of this process CRL helped craft a public-private-partnership model for advancing this project into full development, creating more immediate, fast-paced redevelopment potential for the ultimate benefit of the Denver community.
Denver Music Festival Launch
CRL was first engaged by AEG Production, and then Superfly, a high profile global festival producer, to assist in creating a large, 3-day outdoor music festival in Denver. At the time, Denver was the only “Top 5 Music City” that wasn’t yet home to a major music festival.
Elected officials and the business community saw landing this festival as an important economic driver for the Mile High City, so successfully navigating the potentially challenging politics was a goal on all sides. CRL led the public engagement effort to build support among neighbors, neighborhood associations, the cultural arts community, businesses, and non-profits. With this strong basis of civic support, the CRL team worked closely with the City of Denver to develop required city mitigation and planning documents to support the festival. As the Denver City Council would need to approve the event, the team engaged with Council Members early and often. This large-scale festival was ultimately approved for five years of events, and will have a long-term affect on the brand and reputation of the Denver metro area.
Denver Union Station Master Plan & Redevelopment
The high profile public-private Denver Union Station redevelopment project opened in May 2014 and has since become a significant economic engine for Denver’s downtown. The Denver Union Station Master Plan served as the blueprint for redeveloping and preserving Denver’s historic Union Station and the surrounding 19.85 acres of private development. The project ultimately reached $490 million in initial development costs, with a total economic impact of $6.7 Billion slated for the following years.
Given the central and historic nature of the Denver Union Station site, CRL coordinated an extensive strategic visioning and public involvement process to rezone this high-profile site, built regional consensus for the Master Plan, and helped prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, and master developer selection process. This successful process also included the formation of the Union Station Advisory Committee, a broad-based citizen advisory committee with membership representing 31 separate stakeholder groups.
The firm crafted strategic communication plans for each phase of the project and continued to serve as the public information officer, on behalf of the private sector developers, throughout construction and project activation.
Denver Sports & Entertainment Venue Development
In the late 1990s Denver undertook a massive venue construction effort, creating facilities large enough to house the growing interest in the community’s professional baseball, football, basketball, and hockey teams.
This process resulted in the establishment of three public venues known today as Coors Field, Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, and the Pepsi Center. This civic undertaking involved significant strategic planning to account for a rapidly growing urban context.
CRL worked with the Colorado Baseball Partnership and then the Baseball Stadium District to pass a one-tenth of one-percent regional sales tax to help fund the new stadium. The firm also negotiated the approval of a series of agreements between the District, the Colorado Rockies and the City & County of Denver for the siting of Coors Field at 20th and Blake Streets.
Based on the unprecedented success of Coors Field, as the regional sales tax was about to sunset, the Football Stadium District was created and the voters were asked to extend the sales tax to construct a new facility for the Denver Broncos to replace the smaller, dated Mile High Stadium. Representing the Football Stadium District, CRL worked for years in advance of this ballot initiative to help rezone the site and negotiate agreements between the District, City & County of Denver, and the NFL’s Denver Broncos. As part of this effort CRL orchestrated the creation of the long-term Stadium Advisory Committee (SAC), a group of concerned citizens from surrounding neighborhoods, which set a new standard for accountability and communication between the city and neighborhood groups for large venue developments.
General Motors: Autonomous Vehicle Legislation
In June of 2017, Colorado became the 17th State to pass legislation to regulate the testing of driverless vehicles. While the technology is still early in its development, Colorado was already well positioned to be a vibrant testing ground for autonomous vehicles, given the variety of environments and weather conditions across the state.
Those conditions now paired with a strong framework of legislative support, set the State up for industry success.
CRL represented one of the nation’s largest automotive manufacturers, General Motors, through this legislative process – supporting their State lobbying team to garner grassroots and grass-tops support. In particular, the firm built support for the bill amongst mayors, city council members and county commissioners across the region. These influential votes of support allowed legislators to see the opportunity for success for this growing industry, making the vote a much clearer one.
Airbnb: Corporate Public Affairs
CRL was retained by Airbnb to assist in securing zoning changes in the City and County of Denver to allow for short term rentals. As in many other cities around the world, in Denver, the introduction of Airbnb caused concerns but also created new opportunities for the city’s property owners.
Through the 18-month lobbying effort, CRL successfully influenced the proposed legislation on behalf of Airbnb; culminating in an ordinance that protects Airbnb’s business interests, while at the same time ensuring community support for the new short term rental opportunity. The Denver legislation is viewed as one of the best ordinances in the country, with a fully online registration process that has resulted in unprecedented compliance rates by Airbnb hosts.
Lyft: Corporate Public Affairs
Lyft, one of the largest “rideshare” companies now in operation around the world, sought to establish a presence in the Denver market early in their expansion process but faced a difficult legislative backdrop. Their new technology went directly against many existing taxi industry legislative rules, thus creating a need for a brand new set of public policies.
CRL provided strategic guidance and grassroots and grass-tops organizing for the State lobbying team. As a result of this strong partnership Colorado became the first state in the nation to pass statewide legislation to allow the safe and successful operation of these transportation network companies (TNC). Following the passage of this legislation, CRL successfully organized third-party supporters to testify on behalf of Lyft during the critical Public Utilities Commission rule-making process. And finally, CRL successfully advocated with the City and County of Denver to exempt TNC drivers from overly burdensome local licensing rules. Each of these victories has since helped Denver become one of Lyft’s strongest-performing markets in the United States.
Cherry Creek North Neighborhood & Commercial District
Over the last 30 years, CRL has helped shape Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood into the dynamic mixed-use district that it is today. In the earliest stages of the district’s growth, CRL helped Taubman Properties with the Cherry Creek Shopping Center development.
This center opened in 1990. In an effort to expand the neighborhood’s commercial presence, the team negotiated an extensive set of development agreements with the city and surrounding neighborhood to help the project come to life. This first development then set the stage for a bright future for the greater neighborhood, though still bound by a very limiting neighborhood plan and zoning ordinance. When Western Development Group later hired CRL in 2011 an attempt at an updated Cherry Creek plan had been locked at a standstill. Landowners and business owners were struggling to find agreement with the neighborhood’s residents. Over the course of 18-months, CRL was able to assist in conducting an extensive outreach effort to build a resident and business coalition. This coalition ultimately supported the City Council’s unanimous adoption of the modernized Cherry Creek Area Plan in 2012. Shortly thereafter, CRL and Western Development helped push forward a successful re-zoning effort in the district. In the years since, CRL has helped to rezone and entitle numerous properties with multiple development clients in the Cherry Creek North community.
“FasTracks Yes!” Campaign
Denver’s FasTracks program, an infrastructure development effort dating back to 2004, became the nation’s largest expansion of one city’s mass transit system with a set of region-wide transit partnerships. Led by the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and resulting in a total cost of $7.6 Billion, the project had a long uphill battle in order to receive public funding and implementation.
While still undergoing its phased implementation today, FasTracks will ultimately create 122 miles of new commuter rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit, 21,000 new parking spaces at light rail and bus stations, and enhanced bus service for easy, transit connections across the eight-county district.
CRL directed the public campaign for passage of a 4/10-cent sales tax increase to finance Fastracks, successfully managing the campaign in the face of opposition from then-Governor Bill Owens, the Rocky Mountain News and the influential Independence Institute, among others. The firm spent a focused 18 months on the effort, conducting polls and focus groups, positioning the value of the FasTracks program, educating the public, raising money and developing grassroots support amongst the community as well as influential leaders. With the resulting transit continuing to expand across the metro Denver market, CRL remains an ongoing partner of the RTD.
Belmar Mixed-Use Development
CRL introduced real estate developer Continuum Partners to the former Villa Italia shopping mall site in the City of Lakewood. Continuum ultimately became the redeveloper of the 100-acre site that became Lakewood’s first sustainable, mixed-use, state-of-the-art urban renewal redevelopment.
The Belmar development is an example of how CRL matches its clients with appropriate projects, represents them through the entitlement process, and then assists with the public financing of large, high profile projects. In addition to the local community outreach efforts, CRL also successfully participated in the federal lobbying effort to ensure Continuum was eligible for low-interest government bonds, a critical component of the project’s financing strategy.
Comcast: Corporate Public Affairs
CRL represents Comcast, one of the leading telecommunications companies in the nation, on an ongoing basis. The work encompasses all local government matters throughout the Denver metropolitan area and across Colorado.
In this capacity, CRL has developed a wide range of relation¬ships with key decision-makers across the state and has demonstrated a proven record of success in mitigating challenges as they arise.
The firm provides comprehensive issue monitoring services as well as interfacing with local elected officials and key decision-makers on telecommunications issues. CRL was proud to partner with Comcast on the introduction of its Internet Essentials program in Colorado in 2015 and 2016, aimed at bridging the digital divide to affordable Internet access for families and children in need. The firm also assists Comcast, on an ongoing basis, in facilitating the negotiation and approval of localized franchise agreements across the State.
Denver Metro Association of REALTORS®: Association Public Affairs
CRL has represented the Denver Metro Association of REALTORS® (DMAR) and their predecessor, the Denver Board of REALTORS® for over 20 years. The organization is the largest REALTOR® association in Colorado with over 7,000 members, and is dedicated to the advancement and protection of the real estate industry. The firm serves as the Government Affairs Liaison for the Association, utilizing its extensive network of relationships to educate elected officials and City and County staff on the importance of homeownership and the protection of property rights. Key victories have included the overwhelming passage of numerous local construction defects reform ordinances and the defeat of several over-burdensome code revisions across the Metro area. In addition to these successful advocacy efforts, CRL oversees DMAR’s REALTOR® Political Action Committee (RPAC) fundraising campaign, working with the membership to increase their RPAC investments by over 200% since 2014.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science, one of the top nature and science museums in the world, is located in the heart of Denver’s City Park. The 716,000 square foot building houses more than one million objects in its collections, including natural history and anthropological materials, as well as library resources. For more than a decade CRL has served as a trusted partner to the Museum, through an array of issues- from physical to operational. One such undertaking, in 2012, included the creation of a campaign strategy to ensure Better Denver Bond funds would be available for critical rehabilitation of the facility’s infrastructure and expanded space for traveling exhibits.
CRL has also played an active role in the Museum’s community outreach, relative to the museum’s neighborhood. Topics such as policy issues, operational activities, and physical expansions or renovations, all warrant ongoing community engagements given its location in a high profile active urban park and the museum’s strong commitment to the community.
LiveWell Colorado: Non-Profit Public Affairs
LiveWell Colorado, a non-profit, partnered with CRL to help in their mission to reduce obesity across the State. With a focus on their Policy and Strategy Support (PASS) Project, CRL and LiveWell Colorado selected three individual pilot wellness projects across the State and began the efforts required to bring these projects to life for the benefit of Colorado’s residents. The largest success of the PASS project came in identifying funding for a recreation center in Denver’s Westwood neighborhood, a plan that had been stalled for over a decade. CRL worked with the Westwood Community, LiveWell Colorado and the District Council Office to craft an effective community organizing campaign. The key funding mechanism identified for this recreation center was the City’s general obligation bond process, but due to the significant cost ($37.5 Million) the odds were stacked against inclusion of the project. Through multiple meetings with elected and appointed officials, the collecting of public comment within critical planning documents, raising awareness via traditional and social media, and inclusion of key stakeholders within decision-making panels, the full project cost was ultimately included in the 2017 GO bond package.
Tampa Bay Regional Transit Master Plan
A seven-county collaborative group, in cooperation with the Florida Department of Transportation, the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations, individual transit agencies and the voting public, crafted this Transportation Master Plan for the growing Tampa Bay region.
In addition to leading the public outreach strategy for the project, on behalf of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation District (TBARTA), CRL directed ongoing public opinion research, and actively engaged in evaluations of future governance, corridor prioritization and funding options, ensuring community validation along the way. Using creative techniques, such as telephone town hall meetings, CRL was able to engage over 40,000 residents and stakeholders in this planning process. The adopted Regional Transportation Master Plan received widespread public support and has since become the framework for integrated regional transit serving all parts of the Tampa Bay area.