Downtown Englewood gets beauty treatment

Artistic electrical boxes, crosswalks dress up core block of South Broadway

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There’s a nickname that Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Carroll uses for the 3400 block of South Broadway: “restaurant row.”

After all, the block is home to restaurants like Zomo Asian + American Eatery and One Barrel American Bistro & Wine Bar.

Englewood’s restaurant row is garnering excitement for city advocates and businesses now that the area is an “open container” district — meaning that residents are allowed to partake in public alcohol consumption and food consumption along South Broadway.

And in the hope of attracting more visitors to the 3400 block of South Broadway, Englewood advocates are carrying out new art projects to further push the area as an attractive destination.

The first of those art projects — a crosswalk painting that features forks and spoons near restaurant row — is now complete.

The crosswalk painting, located near 3501 S. Broadway, was unveiled to the public on July 8. The project was funded by the Englewood Cultural Arts Commission after Englewood City Council approved an ordinance last October that allows for creative crosswalks in the South Broadway area.

Other art projects in the area that will be completed in the coming weeks include another crosswalk painting near 3398 S. Broadway and seven traffic electrical boxes wrapped in vinyl with art from local artists.

“All of this ties together. What has happened with the to-go alcohol and having that within that district and having the new art there — all of those things have created a buzz to make that a more interesting area,” said Carroll, who also serves as chair for the Englewood Cultural Arts Commission. “It’s become a destination for people that want to shop and dine.”

The Museum of Outdoor Arts in Englewood is working in partnership with the city to carry out an upcoming crosswalk painting and artistic traffic electrical boxes. The upcoming crosswalk painting design will be created by artist AJ Davis and will feature a moon surrounded by different colors. The forks-and-spoons crosswalk was a separate project from the upcoming work the Museum of Outdoor Arts is planning.

Before the pandemic, Davis was scheduled to lead the museum’s Design and Build Program — an education program that gives Englewood’s high school and undergraduate students an opportunity to work on community-based art projects like the crosswalks and traffic electrical boxes. Instead, the museum had to pivot and engaged alumni from the program who will be responsible for creating the art on the traffic electrical boxes.

“The museum has done some amazing things downtown and locally. I feel like a lot of things are coming together in Englewood for a little art district,” said Davis.

The traffic electrical boxes will be Englewood-themed and designed by local artists like Cris Woessner, an Englewood native and a 2019 Englewood High School graduate. She has worked on projects with the museum in the past, including a mural outside Zomo Asian + American Eatery.

Woessner created a colorful carnation floral design for her traffic electrical box art piece. Englewood is known as the “Carnation City” as the Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce passed a resolution in 1954 to give the city the name, according to the Englewood Historic Preservation Society. Englewood’s carnation industry played an important role in the city’s economy as there were 13 greenhouse operations in Englewood.

“I wanted to highlight the history and make the carnation the main aspect of the piece. I hand-drew every single carnation on there and wanted each flower to be distinct when it comes to the ones surrounding it so there aren’t carnations that are the same color right next to each other,” said Woessner.

Part of Englewood’s downtown draft plan, which includes the 3400 block of South Broadway, calls for the city to support its art community by establishing art-focused events and locations for public artworks.

“We’re looking at (the art projects) as a community placemaking effort. It can help generate economies in certain areas, and it makes people feel more welcome or comfortable,” said Tim Vacca, director of programs for the Museum of Outdoor Arts. “I think working with the city and (Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce), everyone wants to see downtown Broadway come to life. I think you can already see a lot of progress.”

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