Reader: Spend Money on Homeless Instead of Redoing 16th Street Mall

Reader: Spend Money on Homeless Instead of Redoing 16th Street Mall

The 16th Street Mall is the most popular tourist destination in Denver, but it's also plagued with problems, such as crime, deteriorating infrastructure and an influx of people experiencing homelessness. While that last challenge could be affected by what happens with the May 7 vote on Initiative 300, last week the City of Denver and Downtown Denver Partnership announced an improvement plan for the mall that will affect a number of issues, including crumbling pavers, awkward curbs and more.

Fixing its reputation could be another thing entirely.

Readers have plenty to say about the mall and the new plans. Responds Cody:

"Anyone got any ideas??? Anyone???"

"Yeah! F*** medians!" 

Adds Greg:

Color me skeptical when nearly all the streetlights on 16th near Tattered Cover have been out for TWO YEARS and the mall security plan has evaporated with zero enforcement. How can we trust big, expensive plans when the City of Denver can’t do the basics? 

Notes Cliff:

I’m not too sure that telling the world that they know the pavers are slippery was a good idea.

Says Tripp:

This whole location has been completely compromised.

Argues Mamie:

Good idea, let's put this under construction at the same time as I-70. The city will be really fun to drive in.

Wonders Auden:

I'm not certain how removing the median from 16th Street is supposed to improve anything.

Adds Robert:

This is a terrible idea that by definition does not do one thing to address the Mall's problems...in fact, it makes one of those problems (accessibility) worse.

Thomas responds:

Removing the median and those mature trees is a HORRIBLE idea.

Urges David:

Remove the buses and make it entirely pedestrian.

And Gloria concludes:

Gosh, spend money on the homeless instead of redoing the mall, looks fine as it is. Enough already.

The estimated $90 million to $130 million project, if approved, is likely to get under way in 2020, with construction expected to stretch into the following year, if not beyond. While plenty of the mall's traditional elements, such as the free MallRide transit service, would be retained, other changes would be substantial — including the elimination of the median in favor of more space on either side of the street.

The 1.2-mile corridor between Market Street and Broadway is certainly iconic, as well as what the city characterizes as a "powerful economic engine." Its nearly 200 retailers and restaurants, including dozens of sidewalk cafes, are said to generate nearly 40 percent of sales tax downtown, thanks to the presence of 2,400 hotel rooms, 5,700 residential units and a workforce of approximately 134,000 people.

According to principal project manager Brian Pinkerton, the original designers of the mall, which was completed in 1982, envisioned an update after thirty years, and 2019 marks 37. And time is of the essence. "One of the biggest impetuses is the infrastructure itself," he says, since "the maintenance costs have just gone up and up. ... It costs about $1 million a year to maintain the transit way, and that doesn't include the costs for the sidewalks. Those costs are getting higher, too."

Read the rest of our story on the 16th Street Mall plan here.

What do you think of the 16th Street Mall? The proposed changes? Let us know in a comment or at editorial@westword.com.

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