Denver and RTD to Expand 16th Street Mall Analysis

The Downtown Denver Partnership joined its 16th Street Mall Partner organizations, including the City and County of Denver (City) and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) to announce an important next step for the future of the 16th Street Mall. The City and RTD will expand a current federally-mandated alternatives analysis of the 16th Street Mall, with an eye on potential reconfiguration to optimize the corridor for transit, pedestrians and leisure activities. The expanded analysis could result in recommendations for new shuttle lane alignments, sidewalk enhancements, expanded seating and other amenities, and alternate surface materials.
The future of the 16th Street Mall continues to be a key priority for the Downtown Denver Partnership.

The 2007 Downtown Area Plan identifies the 16th Street Mall as the premier pedestrian environment in the Rocky Mountain Region, an economic engine of Downtown Denver, and a linchpin for RTD’s regional transit network. The Partnership has been committed to every aspect of the Mall’s internationally-renowned design, construction and governance since its inception, partnering with the City and RTD on its initial planning in 1976 through its construction and opening. Since opening in 1982, we have made significant annual investments to enhance the experience on the Mall in place making, safety, and maintenance programs while leading efforts to sustain its great legacy.

Today, the Partnership and the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District invest more than $2 million dollars annually for daily maintenance and cleaning of the 1.2-mile-long Mall, including approximately 35 clean team members on duty during a 24-hour period, funding social service outreach, and managing the Downtown Security Action Plan and the private security team on the Mall. It’s a powerful economic engine home to nearly 200 retailers and restaurants, including more than 40 sidewalk cafes. In 2015, businesses along the Mall collected $16.2 million, a 58 percent increase from 2010, and approximately one-third of the total sales tax generated in Downtown Denver. As a public right-of-way owned by the City, the physical infrastructure of the Mall is a key component to the experience.

Mall partners invest over one million dollars each year on the maintenance of its 400,000 pavers, and RTD invests $12 million annually on the Free MallRide shuttle service, including ongoing repairs to the transit lanes, to serve as many as 45,000 passengers per day.

Originally designed for a life-span of 30 years, we are seeing and feeling the need for a clear plan for the future of one of our city’s most vital connectors and important public spaces. Throughout the Mall’s lifecycle, we have embarked on a strategic and coordinated effort to inform how we steward its successful future. This has included the 2008 Urban Land Institute study, the 2009 Technical Assessment and Rehabilitation Study, the 2010 16th Street Urban Design Plan, and most recently we joined with the City for The Mall Experience study which has given us a better understanding of the holistic user experience on the Mall.

The Mall is in need of repair and an actionable plan for a sustainable future, and equipped with this impressive collection of data and information, we are ready for the next step. Because the Mall was built in 1982 with federal funds, any potential modifications must undergo a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review and a cultural resources evaluation pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA).

Click here to read the full announcement and details on the study.