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Denver Releases Redesign Plans for 16th Street Mall

Reconstruction Could Begin in 2019
January 24, 2018
After years of study, the City of Denver and the Regional Transportation District will in 2019 commence the redesign of the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver, pending approval.

The city and RTD, along with the Downtown Denver Partnership and others, have been working to find solutions for common complaints about the mall, which was established as a pedestrian and transit thoroughfare in the 1980s. Shuttles on the mall run between Union Station and Civic Center Station, stretching just over a mile through downtown.

Municipal leaders have sought ways to make the mall a place where people want to spend time, rather than just treating it as a way to move through the city. Additionally, the 35-year-old mall has aging infrastructure and rising maintenance costs.

The redesign will remove the medians that currently exist between the north- and south-bound shuttles, placing them adjacent to each other and leaving more sidewalk space on either side of the shuttle lane. This is one of several options that was released for public comment in October.

Mall stakeholders will this spring publish an environmental assessment on the redesign, and on March 8, open houses take further comment from the public. The environmental assessment will have to be approved by the Federal Transit Administration, because federal funds were used to build the mall in 1982.

If the project is approved, phased reconstruction is expected to begin in 2019 or early 2020 and finish in 2022.

The mall shuttles currently transport more than 40,000 riders per day, and that number is expected to grow to 70,000 by 2035.

"As pedestrian traffic and ridership grow in this crucial corridor in the years ahead, our agency is pleased to be working thoughtfully with our partners in determining the best path forward. We believe the public will appreciated the changes that have been proposed," said Dave Genova, CEO and general manager of RTD.

The renovation will retain many of the design aspects of the mall, which was designed by landscape architect Laurie. D Olin of Hanna/Olin and architect I.M. Pei & Partners.

"We’re keeping the best parts of the mall while revitalizing an amazing public space and public amenity," said Brad Buchanan, executive director of Denver Community Planning and Development.

Molly Armbrister, Denver Market Reporter  CoStar Group   
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