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WATCH: Processional for fallen Independence Officer Blaize Madrid-Evans



WATCH: Processional for fallen Independence Officer Blaize Madrid-Evans

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — A fallen Independence police officer will be laid to rest on Friday, with family, friends and the law enforcement community coming together to remember Officer Blaize Madrid-Evans, who was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 15.

Visitation was Thursday night, with the funeral scheduled at Community of Christ auditorium on Friday afternoon, and a procession leading Madrid-Evans to his final resting place at Mt. Washington Cemetery.

If you wish to pay your respect to the officer, you can line the streets with signs and flags to greet the funeral procession as they take Madrid-Evans to the cemetery.

Here’s the route they’re taking on Friday:

  • The procession will leave the Community of Christ Auditorium and head east on West Walnut Street.
  • From East Walnut Street, the route will turn north on South Memorial Drive .
  • Then, the procession will drive west on East Truman Road.
  • From East Truman Road, the route goes north on South Arlington Street into East Winner Road.
  • Then, the procession will drive west on US 24 Hwy to South Brookside Avenue and then south, where the procession ends at the Mt. Washington Cemetery just south of the intersection.

Family, friends, and officers from all over came to Independence to offer their condolences to the family of Madrid-Evans on Thursday.

The visitation at the Community of Christ Church last night lasted several hours as many wanted to pay their respects. The 22-year-old had just graduated the police academy and was excited to serve and protect.

He had 18 shifts under his belt and was still in training when he lost his life in the line of duty. While checking a house last Wednesday after a report of a wanted man in the area, that suspect opened fire and killed Madrid-Evans.

His training officer returned fire and killed the suspect. This death rocked the Independence Police Department. They hadn’t lost an officer in the line of duty to gunfire since 2001.

The fact he died so young, and with so much potential, is why many are struggling with this loss.

“It’s a bad time for all of us at the department. I’m feeling mixed emotions. A really sad thing that came out of this for someone that’s 22 to lose their life with our department,” Officer Jack Taylor said.

The funeral starts at 11 a.m. Afterwards, Madrid-Evans’ casket will be placed in an ambulance and taken from the church past the Independence police station, and then on to the cemetery.

The public is invited to stand along the funeral procession route streets and hold signs or flags to show support for the young officer, his loved ones, and the law enforcement community.

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A triangular block in RiNo slated to become 49-unit, income-restricted condo complex



A triangular block in RiNo slated to become 49-unit, income-restricted condo complex

A narrow, triangular block in RiNo is slated to be the site of a new 49-unit, income-restricted condominium complex.

The Chestnut Place Condos are planned to have 14 one-bedroom units, 27 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units, as well as one commercial space.

All units will be sold to buyers making at or below 80 percent of the area median income, which is about $55,000 for a single-person household and $64,000 for a two-person household.

According to city documents, Elevation Community Land Trust has promised to buy the land and building when the project is completed. The trust will then sell the units. The 80 percent area median income requirement will last for 99 years.

The land includes two parcels that total 7,010 square feet, or 0.16 acres, that makes up a block formed by Chestnut Place, Arkins Court and 36th Avenue. There is currently one house on the site, which is kitty-corner from Ironton Distillery and across Chestnut Place from Number 38 beer hall.

Lauren DeBell, the chief strategy officer with Elevation Community Land Trust, told BusinessDen that planned amenities at the Chestnut Place Condos include a rooftop deck, bike shop and bike storage, as well as close access to the riverfront promenade Denver is constructing.

DeBell said the immediate area has an “extremely low” 18 percent homeownership rate.

“It is our hope that residents who have been displaced from the Five Points neighborhood will be able to return as homeowners,” she said, “and that current residents who desire to stay long-term but never dreamed they could own a home will have a new opportunity to purchase a beautiful condo where they can gain stability, wealth and a place to call home.”

Provided by the city of Denver

A rendering shows the north and south view of the proposed Chestnut Place Condos.

As BusinessDen previously reported, the land was sold in November to Chestnut Lofts LLC, which has ties to the Urban Land Conservancy, and 3501 Chestnut Land LLC, which has ties to Shanahan Development, the contractor for the project.

The entities paid $1.13 million across two deals for 3501 and 3563 Chestnut Place, according to public records, with the Urban Land Conservancy retaining about a 70 percent interest and the Shanahan Development entity retaining about 30 percent.

“The biggest challenge this development has faced is the site itself,” according to a briefing on the project from the city. “The very narrow, triangular site, currently comprised of two parcels, required an increasingly challenging building form.”

Developers sought a zoning variance to raise the building height for more units, but the Board of Adjustment for Zoning offered only a “partial variance,” the briefing stated. The land is currently zoned for a five-story building, but it’s within a zoning overlay district that lets developers build higher if certain conditions are met.

“Additionally, the existing structure on the site requires asbestos and lead-based paint mitigation during demolition, increasing overall site preparation expenses,” the briefing stated.

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Colorado unemployment rate drops to 5.6% in September, but job gains lag



Colorado unemployment rate drops to 5.6% in September, but job gains lag

Colorado’s unemployment rate continued to fall in September despite another month of below-average job gains tied to weaker-than-expected hiring in the public sector, according to an update Friday from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 5.9% in August to 5.6% in September, which equates to 10,100 fewer unemployed workers. Colorado ranks 35th for its unemployment rate, which remains stubbornly above the U.S. seasonally-adjusted rate of 4.8%.

Employers in the state added a net 5,100 nonfarm jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis between the middle of August and the middle of September. Before the pandemic, that would be a solid gain, but it is only 42% of the monthly gains averaged earlier this year.

“While that represents a decent number of jobs added, it does fall short of the average from February to July which was 12,000 jobs a month,” said Ryan Gedney, a senior labor economist with the CDLE. In August, the state added a revised 5,000 jobs over July and September wasn’t much better at 5,100.

Gedney declined to attribute the end of enhanced federal unemployment benefits in early September to the drop in the state’s unemployment rate. One of the conditions of receiving unemployment benefits is that recipients must certify they are actively looking for work.

If the state economy keeps adding jobs around last month’s pace, Colorado won’t reach pre-pandemic employment counts until January 2023, said Chris Brown, vice president of policy and research at the Common Sense Institute, in a research note Thursday.

Accounting for population gains, Colorado employers need to add 9,884 jobs a month to get back to pre-pandemic levels by 2023.

“This recovery is like a bad cold, it just seems like it takes forever to get over it,” said Gary Horvath, a Broomfield economist who closely tracks the monthly employment reports.

Gedney said the past two months of weaker employment gains coincide with the rise in COVID-19 cases tied to the delta variant. But for months now, employers have complained they can’t fill openings and that could also be holding back hiring.

Horvath said when he recently tried to schedule a furnace tune-up to get ahead of falling temperatures, he was told the earliest appointment slot was Jan. 25, a sign that technicians are in short supply.

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Denver tees off planning process for Kennedy Golf Course overhaul



Denver tees off planning process for Kennedy Golf Course overhaul

Denver is asking not what Kennedy Golf Course can do for the city, but what the city can do for the golf course.

A master plan is being developed to redesign the golf course so that all of its segments would be comparable to one another, and to consider a new clubhouse and other features.

Kennedy is the largest of Denver’s seven golf courses. It has 27 holes of regulation golf between three nine-hole sections. The first two nines, named Babe Lind and West, were constructed in 1963, and the Creek nine was completed in 1994.

There is also a par-three course on the golf campus that doubles with foot golf, and two putt-putt courses are adjacent to the clubhouse. The campus features a large driving range with a practice putting green, but the short-game practice area has been decommissioned for now.

Richard Mandell, a golf architect tapped to lead the city’s overhaul of the course, is looking to reshape it for the foreseeable future. Kennedy was constructed when drivers were still made of wood and technology didn’t help players hit 350-yard drives.

Provided by the City of Denver

Richard Mandell is the golf architect leading the city’s overhaul of the Kennedy Golf Course.

Despite having some of the most challenging holes of Denver courses, Kennedy is showing its age. For example, tee boxes are typically designed to vary in length depending on a golfer’s skill. But Kennedy’s are close to one another.

“We plan on renovating all three nines of the golf course, and one of the goals that we discussed was (to make) all equal nines, so that it’s not always going to be the Creek and Babe nine and the West is for overflow,” Mandell said.

Scott Rethlake, the city’s director of golf, said creating continuity throughout the three courses is a big focus.

“You can tell that things were developed and constructed at different times. This is an effort to make it more consistent,” Rethlake said, adding the course will be redesigned “so that anyone would want to play those three nines.”

The projects would be phased over five to 10 years. Denver is still taking input from people to determine what will go into the master plan before it is sent to the City Council for consideration. The cost of the renovations has not been determined.

The West nine is considered the easiest of the three (depending on who you ask), and the Babe Lind nine is its more difficult sibling. Creek is a bit shorter than the three, but it is narrow and demands accurate shots.

“Because of budget constraints, we can’t build everything at the same time. But we can design everything at the same time,” Mandell said.

The clubhouse at Kennedy Golf Course

Provided by the City of Denver

The clubhouse at Kennedy Golf Course could be renovated or replaced as part of an upcoming master plan.

Some of the other changes Mandell mentioned would be putting bunkers in the middle of the fairways instead of off to the sides, making players strategize more than “grip it and rip it.”

Some of the master plan’s goals include updating the course’s infrastructure, making the course more environmentally efficient and improving safety by separating holes farther apart.

Mandell said the renovations are necessary because golf courses have a lifespan of about 30 years before they need at least soil replacement and other upgrades because of drainage issues.

“We’re not completely, in any case, ripping the whole place up. That’s not part of our plan,” Mandell said. “But what we are thinking is how to best utilize the features. On the Creek nine, I’m thinking how we could best use Cherry Creek. We’re not disturbing Cherry Creek, but maybe shifting things for Cherry Creek.”

The course would never be completely shut down, Mandell said, adding at least 18 holes will be playable while one of the nines is reconfigured.

Councilwoman Kendra Black, who represents the southeast corner of Denver, said she may not be a golfer, but she is eager to see certain features of Kennedy overhauled.

“I really want a new club house, more like the one at City Park, and a refreshing of the putt-putt,” Black told BusinessDen. “For years, community members have been advocating for these improvements. The course itself has a lot of great features but is very old. Many features are from 1963.”

The next meeting for the golf course master plan will take place 5-7 p.m. Oct. 27 at Hebrew Educational Alliance, 3600 S. Ivanhoe St.

One of the largest renovations of Denver golf courses was completed in 2019 at City Park near the Denver Zoo. That $45 million project completely redesigned the golf course and constructed a new 11,000-square-foot clubhouse, about 15 years after the city had constructed a clubhouse at the corner of 26th Avenue and York Street.

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