End of an Era: 16th Street Mall McDonald's Closes

The McDonald's at the entrance of the 16th Street Mall has closed.
The McDonald's at the entrance of the 16th Street Mall has closed. Conor McCormick-Cavanagh
Marking the end of an era, the McDonald's located at the start of the 16th Street Mall at Cleveland Place has closed for good, according to a sign posted to the business's entrance.

"Dear valued guests. Thank you for your loyalty and business with our company. Unfortunately, we will be permanently closing this location on December 31, 2022 at 4 p.m. Sincerely, McDonald's," the sign states.

Meanwhile, McDonald's USA responded to a request for comment with this: “McDonald’s reviews its restaurant portfolio on a regular basis to make the best decisions for our business moving forward. Closing a restaurant is a difficult decision in any city, but we look forward to continuing to serve our customers at our other McDonald’s restaurants in the greater Denver area.”

In operation since the early 1980s, the McDonald's at 200 16th Street Mall served as a place to grab a quick bite and, at times, a resource for people experiencing homelessness and the mentally ill. In fact, certain McDonald's employees went above and beyond to assist those living on the streets.

However, these same employees often had to deal with unruly and occasionally dangerous customers, which sometimes led to the McDonald's employees suffering injuries.

According to the Denver property assessor, McDonald's owns the location itself. The news of the closure was first reported by Denver 7.

Just recently, the 16th Street Mall, which was designed by I.M. Pei and Partners and opened in October 1982, turned forty years old.

The Mall is in the midst of a $149 million construction project that will completely overhaul the pedestrian corridor, most notably by replacing the four-decades-old pavement, which has become a slip danger in the rain. The project is set to wrap up at the end of 2024.

While downtown boosters have said that the renovations were much needed, the construction has had the unfortunate effect of throwing off the flow of the mall, as certain sections have been fenced off while work is underway. But even with the construction happening right now, the Downtown Denver Partnership is still pushing for a return to downtown having a bit more vibrancy, an element the mall hasn't had since before the pandemic began.

"It’s having people back in our restaurants, it’s having our employees back, it’s getting the energy back in downtown Denver. That safety, that beautification, all of the things we love about our city," Kourtny Garrett, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership, said at a November 10 press conference at the Colorado Convention Center.

The press conference came as local and state governments officials announced various plans to improve safety and the experience downtown. According to those plans, there will be increased police presence, improved lighting and increased trash and graffiti removal downtown.

The City of Denver has also earmarked grant money to dole out to businesses negatively affected by the construction along the 16th Street Mall.

The closure of the McDonald's along the 16th Street Mall comes on the heels of another business exiting from the popular pedestrian path: T.J. Maxx, which has been located at 710 16th Street Mall since 1993, will shut down on January 14.

"While we are always assessing and reviewing our real estate strategies, the decision to close any store is one we make with thoughtful consideration," says Andrew Mastrangelo, a T.J. Maxx spokesperson. "We are grateful for the loyalty of our Denver customers and invite them to visit our nearby stores to continue to find great values."
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.

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