GTA History: Billie Bramhall – Stewarding the Golden Triangle Neighborhood

This is one in a series of newsletter articles from the Golden Triangle neighborhood in Denver, Colorado about the founders and leaders of the Golden Triangle Association. After the dog died and their child fledged from the Park Hill home, Billie and her husband Frank looked around the city and chose a wonderful condo in the Balustrade in 1998. The wonderful neighborhood that is now the Golden Triangle bears witness to the valuable work and wisdom Billie brought to us. Billie came here after retiring from a stellar career in Denver City Planning. Among other things, she was deeply involved with the development of the Capitol Hill Neighborhood plan. Billie enabled the GTA to have a key voice in the development of the original Golden Triangle neighborhood plan – a wonderful example of “it’s not who you know, but who knows you.” Important people took (and still take!) her phone calls, seek and act on her advice. Billie chaired the Urban Design Committee after founder Dennis Humphries, and under her leadership, the important developers and landowners in the Triangle came together to plan for a neighborhood with an unselfish common vision greater than their individual goals.

Billie helped ensure that the Neighborhood Plan dictated that projects within our boundaries must be presented to the Urban Design Committee before the City will proceed with the approval process. This is a very powerful tool, and ensures that the GTA’s Urban Design Committee continues to play a key role in the City’s eyes as developments and plans come up. Key urban design architects and developers come to the UDC meetings, now under the guidance of Anne Lindsay (mentored by Billie). The City respects the UDC as a cooperative, but firm, partner, and appreciates the fact that projects are viewed from a data and design driven position. The level of expertise on the UDC continues to be very high, in large part because of Billie’s efforts over the years.

Additionally, under Billie’s watch, buildings such as those housing Cuba Cuba and the adjacent 4-plex apartments were designated as “Historic”. There were, of course, some “failures” along the way from a planning viewpoint. For example, Nassi’s developments were very controversial at the time in their impact on the heights in the area. Evans School stayed vacant. The controversy over the Detention Center unfortunately caused a split in the neighborhood.

Billie wasn’t just involved with the business and development side of the Triangle. She worked tirelessly to meet local residents and encourage them to participate in the GTA. She used to hand deliver flyers at all the individual houses, meeting some of the wonderful characters who called this neighborhood home prior to the developers coming in. The GTA sponsored walks through the neighborhood, pointing out ghosts of places, such as Douglas Fairbanks Jr.’s home.

Billie loves the fact that the Golden Triangle neighborhood is open to business, cultural and residential interests, along with urban issues such as those related to poverty. She worked professionally with other neighborhoods with strong attitudes of “not in my neighborhood” and appreciates the fact that this neighborhood can welcome and live peacefully with such things as the Forum Apartments and Denver Cares.

Currently, Billie serves on Education in Denver, 100 informed citizens who are monitoring the Denver schools to help make improvements. She continues to attend the UDC meetings and participate in GTA events.

What does Billie wish we had in the Triangle? She misses the kids trick or treating in Park Hill, and the ready availability of a middle schooler to fix her computer!