DENVER -- The Denver City Council voted Monday to approve a plan that would improve the Westwood neighborhood in the southwest part of the city.
Westwood is one of Denver’s youngest neighborhoods, with the most residents younger than 18. But the neighborhood lacked proper sidewalks and crosswalks. It offered limited access to public transportation. There also was not a full-service grocery store nearby.
The Westwood neighborhood borders Sheridan Boulevard to the west, Federal Boulevard to the east, Alameda Avenue to the north and Mississippi Avenue to the south.
“We had a junkyard right there, where they got the new buildings now,” said Joel Gutierrez, who has lived in the Westwood neighborhood since 1992. “My kids grew up here. They went to Kennedy High School.”
Gutierrez said he and his family once ran a chili and spice company along Morrison Road.
“It used to be called The Chili Store,” he said. “We used to handle over 126 different kind of chilis.”
Now, Gutierrez said he works as a jack-of-all-trades in the same building. That’s now The Kitchen Network, where several Denver food truck owners prepare their meals.
Gutierrez is among the more than 15,000 residents of Westwood, 80 percent of whom are Hispanic.
The Westwood Neighborhood Plan works to improve safety along Morrison Road, adding more crosswalks and bike lanes, enhancing sidewalks and street lights.
“Beautifying Morrison and make it look nicer so people are not afraid to go shopping,” Gutierrez said.
The plan also said it would improve access to public transportation, affordable housing and health foods, while creating community gardens.
Gutierrez said he’s happy the plan is bringing Westwood together, where he has worked for more than 20 years.
“Now seems like it’s more, more united, with being together here,” he said.
The Westwood Neighborhood Plan was crafted over the course of 18 months, based on community input. It is said to be the first neighborhood plan in Westwood in more than 30 years.