KARLE SEYDEL PAPERS
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
The collection spans 1874–2010 and documents the professional life of Denver urban planning consultant and Ballpark Neighborhood Association booster, Karle Seydel, during a period of heavy investment, preservation, and renovation in Denver’s city center which began in the late 1980s and continued into the 2000s. The bulk of the collection relates to Seydel’s years of urban planning and advocacy work to improve the neighborhood surrounding Denver’s Coors Field from the early 1990s until his death in 2010. Subsequently, the collection provides ample documentation of this neighborhood’s evolution during the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Also detailed in the collection are Seydel’s undergraduate academic career at the University of Colorado-Boulder in the early 1970s; his community planning work for the City and County of Boulder and Town of Nederland throughout the 1970s; his successful effort to make Lower and North Lower Downtown Denver the preferred site for the Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field in 1990; and his subsequent participation on planning committees that shaped the ballpark’s final design.
Materials consist of correspondence, memos, meeting minutes, agendas, newsletters, clippings, articles, brochures, pamphlets, reports, maps, newsletters, notes, photographs, architectural plans, drawings, computer files, posters, and video recordings. The bulk of the material in the collection dates from 1971 through 2000.
This series documents Karle Seydel’s early career in community planning in Colorado’s Boulder, Grand, and Larimer counties. The series begins with Seydel’s work on the Boulder County Planning Project at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s World Design Institute in the early 1970s. The bulk of the series’ documents relate to Seydel’s time on the Mountain Planning Team of the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan project and his nearly seven years as Planning and Community Development Consultant for the Town of Nederland where he shaped elements of the Nederland Comprehensive Plan related to business, housing, parking, population growth, transportation, and water issues. Seydel’s concern for the preservation of the Indian Peaks Recreation Area (now a nationally-designated wilderness area) is captured in research files that feature meeting minutes and correspondence from Congressman Tim Wirth's Indian Peaks Advisory Committee. Items in the series include agendas, articles, brochures, clippings, correspondence, grant applications, maps, meeting minutes, memos, newsletters, notes, and reports. The series’ subseries have been ordered alphabetically, while folders within each subseries have been arranged either chronologically or alphabetically.
This series chronicles Seydel’s interest and involvement in preserving and improving Denver’s built environment during the 1990s and early 2000s. The series illustrates Denver’s intense period of development during the late 20th and early 21st century and contains files kept by Seydel on Denver businesses, organizations, governmental agencies, and preservation, redevelopment, and transportation projects. Seydel’s paid and volunteer work is documented, with subseries that detail the publication of his magazine North Downtown InSite and his involvement with the Northeast Downtown Plan, Colfax Avenue revitalization plans, and the Governor's Smart Growth and Development Awards program. Materials include agendas, articles, brochures, business cards, clippings, correspondence, fact sheets, flyers, invitations, maps, meeting minutes, memos, menus, newsletters, notes, petitions, press releases, proposals, and reports. The series’ subseries have been ordered alphabetically, while folders within each subseries have been arranged either chronologically or alphabetically.
The chronological development of Coors Field and Karle Seydel’s active involvement in its planning are captured in this series, beginning with the research Seydel undertook on urban Major League baseball parks in the early 1990s. Seydel’s influence on the site selection of Coors Field is illustrated in documents related to the North Downtown Alliance of Business and Residents for Baseball in Our Backyard. Seydel’s involvement in the Coors Field planning process is represented in papers he retained while working with the Downtown Ballpark Development Committee and its many subcommittees, as well as with the Denver Metropolitan Major League Baseball Stadium District’s board of directors. The subseries also contains Seydel’s subsequent consultant work for other major U.S. cities considering the construction of an urban Major League baseball park. The series has been arranged chronologically. Materials include agendas, articles, brochures, clippings, correspondence, drawings, fact sheets, flyers, lease draft (for Coors Field), letters to the editor, lists, maps, memos, newsletters, notes, notices, permit applications, petitions, press releases, programs, proposals, rosters, reports, schedules, stickers, and trading cards.
In this series, the history of the Ballpark Neighborhood Association (BNA) is captured over a nearly 20-year period of growth and redevelopment that was driven by the construction of Coors Field. The BNA’s leadership, membership, finances, fundraising, and neighborhood beautification activities are documented in agendas, correspondence, directories, financial reports, meeting minutes, memos, and newsletters. Seydel’s contributions as a member and executive director of the BNA are also detailed in documents related to liquor licensure, parking, planned unit developments (PUDs), street improvements, and zoning. Project files for grant-funded work Seydel performed for the BNA, including the Larimer Street Neighborhood Business Revitalization Program (NBR) and the Ballpark Historic District Design Guidelines and Preservation Strategy Project are also included in the series. The subseries have been ordered alphabetically, while folders within each subseries have been arranged chronologically.
This series details the major renovation project that Seydel’s firm, Urban Options, managed for a fire-damaged building (2109-2111 Larimer Street, Denver). Files relate to the architecture, construction, design, engineering, site preparation, marketing, and sale of the building as well as the financial and legal issues of the project. The series has been arranged chronologically. Materials include agreements, certificates, correspondence, drawings, fact sheets, flyers, guidelines, invoices, meeting minutes, memos, notices, notes, permits, proposals, reports, and schedules.
This series contains materials primarily related to Seydel’s post-secondary education, his quest for full-time employment, and the legal suit he filed against the Ballpark Neighborhood Association (known legally as “North Larimer Merchants Association, Inc.”). A run of daily planners (1990-2007) documents Seydel’s busy personal and professional life in Denver. A small amount of personal correspondence and memorabilia are also included. The series has been arranged chronologically.
This series includes a U-Matic videocassette that documents the Ballpark Neighborhood Association’s 1994 Fiesta! Fiesta! festival. A VHS videocassette from the Puget Sound Regional Council is probably related to Seydel’s baseball park consultant work in Seattle.
This series mainly contains photographs taken by Seydel to document the projects he managed. Projects include the Nederland Comprehensive Plan, the Airedale building rehabilitation, the Reyes building renovation project, and several building rehabilitation projects and special events sponsored by the Ballpark Neighborhood Association. Seydel documented the construction of Coors Field as well as the momentous occasions that surrounded the ballpark project, including the surveying of home plate, the stadium’s groundbreaking ceremony, the demolition of the Fireman’s Grain Elevator, the Colorado Rockies’ first spring training camp, and opening day, 1995. A photographic survey of the Ballpark Neighborhood (which may have been conducted as part of the Ballpark Historic District Design Guidelines and Preservation Strategy Project) provides panoramic views of entire neighborhood blocks. Personal photographs relate to Seydel’s time with friends and family, vacations, and his participation in award ceremonies. The series’ subseries have been ordered alphabetically, while folders within each subseries have been arranged either alphabetically or chronologically.
This series primarily documents the many building and planning projects that Seydel undertook in Boulder County and the city of Denver. Drawings and plans are present for Coors Field; the Airedale, Burlington Hotel, and Reyes building rehabilitation projects; the Barker Electrical Substation project; and several façade renovation projects undertaken by the Ballpark Neighborhood Association’s Larimer Street Neighborhood Business Revitalization project. Several plans showing street improvements throughout the Ballpark area and East Colfax Avenue are included. Posters collected by Seydel document various art exhibitions, businesses, and organizations that occupied the Boulder and Denver cultural landscape from the 1970s through the 2000s. The series’ subseries have been ordered alphabetically, while containers within each subseries have been arranged either alphabetically or chronologically.
The collection is open for research.
The Karle Seydel Papers are the physical property of the Denver Public Library
All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.
Karle Stephen Seydel was born in Denver, Colorado, on December 23, 1950. He graduated from Denver's East High School and studied city planning and architecture at the University of Colorado at Boulder, graduating in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design. While attending the University, Seydel won the President’s Honorarium for his publication Interdisciplinary Community Design and a National Endowment for the Arts Seed Grant in 1972. Seydel acted as the Project Coordinator for the University of Colorado’s World Design Institute from 1973 to 1974, working on the Boulder County Planning Project in an effort to coordinate regional planning efforts throughout the county.
In 1973, Seydel and three college associates formed Synersign, a consulting firm providing planning and design services to public agencies, most notably the Town of Nederland. The firm dissolved in 1975 when Seydel won the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Fisher Traveling Scholarship and spent a year in Canada studying urban design. Upon his return to Boulder in 1976, he formed Karle Seydel Associates (also called “Karle Seydel & Associates”), a consulting firm offering planning, community development, and landscape architectural services. Seydel continued planning and community development consultant work for the Town of Nederland as well as the City and County of Boulder. Karle Seydel Associates ceased operations in 1984.
From 1984 to 1985, Seydel was a project manager at the Denver Partnership, assisting in the creation of the 1986 publication Downtown Area Plan: A Plan for the Future of Downtown. Beginning in 1985, Seydel worked as a contract urban and regional planning consultant for Design Studios West, Inc. in Denver. There, he revised zoning regulations for the town of Green River, Wyoming; formulated a downtown development strategy for Longmont, Colorado; worked on a river corridor redevelopment plan for Estes Park, Colorado; and developed components of the Larkspur Comprehensive Plan. He began pursuing a Master's degree in Planning and Community Development at the University of Colorado, Denver, in 1986.
In 1989, Seydel began attending meetings of the Larimer Square North Merchants Association (renamed the “North Larimer Business District” in 1990 and later “Ballpark Neighborhood Association” in 1994), an incorporated nonprofit organization initially composed of Larimer Street merchants who sought to resolve issues of crime and blight inhibiting business growth and development on Larimer Street between 20th and 23rd Street. Seydel’s interest in the area north of Denver’s Lower Downtown (“LoDo”) neighborhood grew. In 1989, he coined the nickname “NoDo” (“north of LoDo”) for the area that stretched east from the Platte River to Lawrence Street and extended north from 19th Street to 38th Street. During a period of unemployment in 1990, Seydel laid plans to publish a magazine called North Downtown InSite to promote the NoDo area.
In August 1990, Denver-area voters passed a sales tax increase to finance construction of a new baseball stadium in the likely event that Denver was awarded a Major League Baseball franchise. Envisioning it as a way to revitalize Denver’s downtown area, Seydel proposed locating the baseball stadium within Denver’s NoDo and LoDo neighborhoods. His proposal for a 76-acre site at 20th and Blake Streets was met with strong resistance from the Denver Metropolitan Major League Baseball Stadium District, the Lower Downtown Historic District, and Denver City Council. All three groups preferred a site owned by Philip Anschutz that was located east of Interstate 25 and west of Speer Boulevard. Construction of the Pepsi Center began on the site in 1997.
In response to the opposition he faced, in 1990 Seydel formed the North Downtown Alliance of Businesses and Residents for Baseball in Our Backyard. The Alliance was composed of members from three registered neighborhood organizations including the North Larimer Business District, Upper Larimer Neighborhood Association, and the Upper Downtown Development Organization.
Seydel undertook research on urban stadiums and created drawings of an old-fashioned ballpark, which would later serve as the design concept for Coors Field. Seydel began attending Metropolitan Major League Baseball Stadium District meetings regularly and became a vocal advocate for locating the ballpark within the LoDo and NoDo neighborhoods based on factors of cost, access, and economic impact. Seydel’s convictions were further justified by a report released in December 1990 by the Urban Land Institute. The 20th and Blake Street area Seydel promoted was chosen by the Denver Metropolitan Major League Baseball Stadium District as the official site of Coors Field in March 1991.
Seydel remained active in Denver’s ballpark planning process, becoming a member of the Coors Field Design Advisory Committee and chairman of the Downtown Ballpark Development Committee’s Ballpark Economic Development Subcommittee. Coors Field opened on Seydel’s suggested site on April 26, 1995.
Seydel formed partnerships with both public and private institutions in his quest to create an attractive and prosperous historical area surrounding the ballpark. In 1991, Seydel became a team member for the Northeast Downtown Plan, which was later adopted by the City of Denver in October 1995. While establishing his one-man consulting firm, Urban Options, Seydel was hired as the executive director of the North Larimer Business District in 1993. In this role, Seydel worked to ensure that viaducts, transit routes, sidewalk landscaping, and electric substations in the area reflected his vision for the neighborhood. He reviewed local Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) and zoning appeals, oversaw the Larimer Maintenance District, and authored position statements on behalf of the organization’s members.
When the Denver Mayor’s Office of Economic Development designated an area of Larimer Street (between 20th Street and Park Avenue West) as a Neighborhood Business Revitalization District in 1993, Seydel became Executive Director of the Larimer Neighborhood Business Revitalization program. On behalf of the North Larimer Business District/Ballpark Neighborhood Association, he oversaw a business support office that encouraged the use of low-interest loans for business and building renovation projects until 1998.
In May 1996, Seydel was contracted by the Ballpark Neighborhood Association to serve as project director for the Ballpark Historic District Design Guidelines and Preservation Strategy Project. The project was created after the Association was unsuccessful in securing historic district designation for an area that spanned from 20th Street west to 26th Street and from Lawrence Street north to Blake Street. Denver City Council denied the designation due to the lack of established design guidelines for the area.
The Ballpark Historic District Design Guidelines and Preservation Strategy Project sought to lay the groundwork necessary for Denver’s ballpark neighborhood to earn historic district designation—a status that was crucial to have in order to preserve the many historic industrial buildings in the area adjacent to Coors Field. All exterior alterations to structures (including repair, rehabilitations, additions, total or partial demolitions, and new construction) in designated historic districts were required to be reviewed by the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission.
The Colorado Historical Fund and the Ballpark Neighborhood Association funded the first phase of the Ballpark Historic District Design Guidelines and Preservation Strategy Project. In addition, Historic Denver, Inc. provided support in the form of a Ballpark Taskforce while the Urban Design Forum dedicated an organizing committee to the project. The second phase of the Ballpark Historic District Design Guidelines and Preservation Strategy Project faced funding problems in September 1997 when it was announced that State Historical Fund and Denver Foundation grants had not been secured. This caused Seydel to aggressively seek private donations to continue his work.
Seydel filed suit against the North Larimer Merchant’s Association, Inc. (known then as the “Ballpark Neighborhood Association”) in 1998 for wages he claimed to be owed for work on the Ballpark Historic District Design Guidelines and Preservation Strategy Project. Seydel’s contract was terminated in September 1998, and he dismissed his claims against the North Larimer Merchant’s Association, Inc. in December 1999. Denver City Council designated the Ballpark Neighborhood a historic district in April 2002.
In May 1998, Seydel’s consulting firm, Urban Options, was contracted by Colfax on the Hill, Inc. to create the 1998 Colfax Business Revitalization Action Plan and the Colfax Segment Revitalization Plan in 1999. Seydel also worked on three historic building renovation projects in the late 1990s and early 2000s. These included the Burlington Hotel (2201 Larimer Street) project from 1996-1998, Airedale Building (1215-1219 20th Street) project from 1997-2001, and the Reyes Building (2109-2111 Larimer Street) project from 1997-2004.
Seydel was a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Colorado Chapter of the American Planning Association’s Legislative Committee, Architects and Planners of Boulder, and the Urban Design Forum.
Karle Seydel passed away unexpectedly on May 12, 2010.
1 audiovisual boxes
4 photo boxes
4 Photo folios
1 oversize boxes
19 oversize folders
Language of Materials
Other Finding Aids
Chris Seydel donated the collection on May 5, 2011.
Karle Seydel's collection of nine late-1960s rock concert posters was transferred to the Western History broadside collection and cataloged.
Number of Boxes: 32 (32 linear feet)
Audio-Visual: 1 AVBox
Photographs: 4 PhotoBoxes, 4 PhotoOVFolios
Oversize: 1 OVBox, 19 OVFFs, 4 Tubes
PROCESSED AND ENCODED BY:
- Ballpark Neighborhood Association (Denver, Colo.) -- Archival resources.
- Baseball fields -- Colorado -- Denver. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- City planning -- Colorado -- Denver. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Coors Field (Denver, Colo.) -- Archival resources.
- Historic buildings ǂx Collection and preservation -- Colorado -- Denver. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Letters (correspondence). Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Lower Downtown (Denver, Colo.) -- History. Subject Source: Lcnaf
- Personal papers. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Photographs. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Seydel, Karle S., -- 1950-2010 -- Archives.
- Urban Options (Denver, Colo.) -- Archival resources.
- KARLE SEYDEL PAPERS
- September 2014
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script