Since it opened 35 years ago, the 16th Street Mall has changed the face of downtown Denver. These days, the mall itself looks like it could use a facelift, as we report in our "Malled!" cover story on 16th Street. But there are definitely bright spots along the mall, and here are five of them, from major to minor:
1. Target: In March, Denver City Council approved incentives valued at $4 million to help lure an urban Target store to the second and third floors of the California Mall building, at 1600 California Street.
2. Sage Building: Formerly known as the Fontius Building, the Sage Building is a shining example of turning one of Denver’s most infamous eyesores into a point of pride. The building, at 16th and Welton streets, and the block surrounding it sat deteriorating and nearly empty for decades before developer Evan Makovsky restored the property and Sage Hospitality moved in.
3. Denver Pavilions: Since Gart Properties bought the 347,000-square-foot shopping complex in 2008, Denver Pavilions has gone from a tired-looking property to a vibrant destination (and Best of Denver 2017 award winner) with international retailers like H&M and Uniqlo, and a new Sephora store coming soon.
4. Skyline Park: Although the original Lawrence Halprin design is almost unrecognizable, this three-block urban oasis hosts a variety of seasonal activities and events, ranging from a beer garden and a movie series to a skating rink during the holiday season.
5. Sushi at Walgreens: Sushi is made fresh daily at the renovated Walgreens at 801 16th Street. Finally, a place where you can buy cough syrup, greeting cards and a spicy tuna roll!
From bright to blight: Keep reading for some of the mall's more dismal spots.
But the 16th Street Mall also has plenty of challenges, which will be tricky to fix. Here are five blights on this corridor through the heart of Denver.
1. Crime and violence: Many people stay away from the mall, citing crime and violence — some of it captured on much-shared videos.
2. Panhandlers: They loiter in front of storefronts, begging for handouts.
3. The pavers: RTD spends more than $1 million a year repairing the mall’s granite pavers. Renowned architect I.M. Pei designed them to resemble a rattlesnake, and they are considered historic.
4. Ross Stores Building: The exterior of the Ross building at 16th and Stout is filthy. If the retailer wants to create an attractive display for its merchandise, getting rid of the grimy windows would be a start.
5. Cottrell’s: There may be hope for this one yet, now that developer Evan Makovsky has purchased the 20,000-square-foot building that was a clothing store in the 1950s but now houses a tacky souvenir shop.
What do you consider bright spots on the mall? Blight spots?
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.