First Trees Arrive, Marking Milestone for 16th Street Revitalization Project

December 11, 2023

The 16th Street renovation project reached a significant milestone this week with the arrival of oak trees that are being planted between Market and Larimer streets. The installation marks the beginning of a comprehensive initiative to replace, diversify and expand the urban tree canopy along the iconic street.

“The arrival of these first trees is just the beginning,” said Mike Swanson, Denver City Forester. “Our residents and visitors are going to enjoy ten different varieties of trees we’ve hand-selected for this project to provide diversity and varying beauty and shade throughout the year, and the trees are getting a better growing environment in which to thrive.”

The future 16th Street tree canopy will include a diverse range of 10 species, including elm, oak, honey locust and maple. The trees were selected from various nurseries across the U.S. and have been acclimating to Colorado’s climate at local nurseries in Lafayette and Boulder since 2020. As part of the renovation project, a new underground soil and irrigation system was installed to sustain the trees in their new home along the transitway that provides more soil for the tree roots, supporting healthier growth and a long canopy life (visuals attached).

The improved urban tree canopy is a key feature of the 16th Street project, which is revitalizing 16th Street from Market Street to Broadway. The renovation is improving safety and mobility, addressing deteriorating infrastructure and creating more opportunities for public enjoyment, while growing the Mall’s tree canopy by one third — going from 150 trees to more than 200 along the 13-block corridor.

“Not only do trees enhance the aesthetic appeal of our center city, but they also contribute to economic prosperity, well-being and environmental advantages that grow over time,” said Kourtny Garrett, Downtown Denver Partnership’s President and CEO. “A robust tree canopy leads to better air quality, enhanced street safety, increased revenue for businesses, lowered stress levels and shaded sidewalks for downtown patrons.”

The project team will continue planting trees between Market and Larimer streets as temperatures allow and on subsequent blocks next year, while we continue to see steady progress on the renovation. By next spring, the first two blocks from Market to Lawrence streets will have fences down. By the end of 2024, the City and County of Denver anticipates more than half of the blocks currently under construction to be open for public use as they await small-scale finishing touches. The project is planned to be fully complete in fall 2025.

Videos of the trees being planted between Market and Larimer streets can be found here.