Here's what downtown's 14th Street should look like -- in 2011

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There's been a lot of ballot-casting taking place in these parts lately. But the general public didn't participate in a vote being touted by the Downtown Denver Partnership. Instead, it involved businesspeople who've decided to dip into their wallets to help renovate a key stretch of 14th Street, as seen in the elaborate animations on view above.

"The property owners along 14th Street voted to pay approximately $4 million out of $14 million to make improvements," says DDP spokeswoman Sarah Neumann. "We call 14th Street 'Ambassador Street,' because it's home to many of the buildings visitors to our city use: the Convention Center, hotels, the DCPA. And it's needed a makeover. It's not a street people like to walk down; it's not inviting. We've been wanting to make some improvements for a while now. And now, we'll be able to do it."

The other $10 million is already available: Neumann says the monies come from the Better Denver Program, which was created in 2007. The plan calls for expansion of sidewalks, the addition of approximately 200 trees, new flower planters, improved signage and lighting, plus "decorative street-corner monuments," bike racks and a new bicycle lane.

The group that will oversee these alterations should be in place by March, with an anticipated construction start-time of summer 2010 and a completion date somewhere in the fall of 2011. Given that the Portland firm Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architechts LLP (better known as ZGF) has just been hired to handle a spruce-up for the 16th Street Mall, there's a lot of potential for disruption in the area. Still, Neumann is confident the projects can coexist. "Our goal is to minimize the impact to property owners and the general public as much as we can," she says.

It should all work out, so long as real people are as well-behaved as the computer-generated ones in that video.

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