About The 16th Street Mall

The Mall is one of our city's most vital connectors and important public spaces, serving multiple uses spanning retail, multi-modal transportation, housing, office space and more.

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. Built in 1982, the 1.2-mile tree-lined promenade of red and gray granite is Downtown Denver’s main street where nearly 50,000 people ride the RTD Free MallRide shuttle service on a daily basis, and where one million pedestrians visit each month. Stewarding its successful future is a key priority of the Downtown Denver Partnership.

Background

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 County of Denver (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. 

The original goals for the Mall were to:

  • Enhance urban development in a period of decline
  • Help retailers compete with suburban centers
  • Reduce congestion and pollution

The Mall was designed by the internationally-renowned firm of I.M. Pei and Partners and spans 1.2 miles from the Millenium Bridge to Civic Center Station.

Investment

Today, the Partnership and the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District (BID) invest more than $2 million dollars annually for daily maintenance and cleaning, 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. The Mall is a powerful economic engine home to nearly 200 retailers and restaurants, including more than 40 sidewalk cafes, and generates nearly 40 percent of sales tax 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. RTD, the City and the BID invest about 1.5 million dollars each year on the maintenance of the Mall’s 400,000 pavers, beautification of more than 200 trees and 300+ planters, and RTD invests $12 million annually on the Free MallRide shuttle service, to serve as many as 45,000 passengers per day and 14 million people annually. 

In 2016, Denver Public Works, with management and support from the BID, completed the installation of 187 new pedestrian lights along the Mall to improve aesthetics and enhance the pedestrian experience.

Planning for the Future

The Mall is now 35 years old, and was originally designed for a life span of 30 years. As its infrastructure continues to deteriorate, we are seeing and feeling the need for a clear plan for its future. Throughout the Mall’s lifecycle, we have embarked on a strategic and coordinated effort to inform how we steward its successful future.

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 2007 Downtown Area Plan, 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.

Equipped with an impressive collection of data and information, we are excited to advance the future of the 16th Street Mall to benefit our growing city.