Once upon a time, Sakura Square in downtown Denver was a prime Japanese-American neighborhood. It’s home to the Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple, which is still very popular, and it’s also the center of the Cherry Blossom Festival. Now, Sakura Square is looking for developers who are willing to breathe life back into the area and make it a haven for future generations.
The Proposed Changes
Of course, the Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple is the very heart of Sakura Square, which means it’ll stay – although perhaps in a different, more modern building. The Pacific Mercantile, which is a Japanese grocer that’s been around for more than 70 years, isn’t going to go anywhere, either. However, the entire idea behind the rebirth of Sakura Square is revitalization. This means developers would need to commit to assisting in adding new restaurants, Japanese gardens, museums, martial arts studios, and more – things that provide small slices of home to the Japanese population living in the area.
Urbanization of Sakura Square
Sakura Square sits on 2.45 acres, which isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, especially when compared to Denver as a whole, which has a 33,531-acre airport – the largest in the country. The square is surrounded by Lawrence, Larimer, 19th, and 20th streets, and those who are proposing the development want to make some changes. They want to see offices, lodging, residential areas, parking lots, and more. It’s owned by Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple and Sakura Square LLC, both of whom issued requests for qualified developers in the last week, and submissions are being accepted until October 19th.
Denver’s economy is growing at a pace that is faster than average across the country, so the revitalization of Sakura Square should come as no real surprise. Despite this, things have gone downhill for the area over the years. Tamai Tower is a 20-story residential apartment structure containing 199 apartments. Of those, 86 are occupied by tenants who have vouchers from the Denver Housing Authority, and 113 tenants are paying the market rate. It is hoped that by revitalizing the area, more people will be able to pay the market rate thanks to the addition of nearby jobs and opportunities.
What the Future Holds
Although the future of Sakura Square is still relatively uncertain, one thing can be said for sure. The owners of the area want quality over quantity, and they want to provide an iconic Japanese-influenced neighborhood that is simple, yet stunning. They want it to become the cultural hub it once was, giving the Japanese-Americans living in the area a slice of home, and providing the others with an opportunity to experience a culture that is otherwise an entire world away.
Sakura Square, named after the Japanese word for “cherry blossom”, has always been an iconic part of Denver. It is hoped that with a little help from developers, the area will come back to life and provide people with the things they’ve been missing for quite some time – a slice of Japan right in the heart of downtown Denver.