Downtown Bike/Ped Loop a Top Priority for Downtown Denver Partnership

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An early, unfinished concept map for the “Downtown Loop.” Image: DDP

The Downtown Denver Partnership, a business-oriented group that plays a major role in shaping the city’s urban center, announced its priorities for the upcoming year Wednesday morning. They included a “Downtown Loop” for people walking and biking, revamping the 16th Street Mall, and spurring walkable development in Arapahoe Square.

The Partnership envisions a walking and biking path connecting various downtown neighborhoods and cultural districts, loosely modeled on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. Currently in the nascent stages of planning, the loop would probably include 21st and Wynkoop streets — which are a little further along in terms of becoming good places to walk and bike.

CEO Tami Door said the Partnership will work with residents and business owners to develop the concept this year. “It is an attraction for visitors, it is a destination, it is a recreational space for our community, and it is a way to commute to your job,” Door said.

Door also focused on plans to transform the 16th Street Mall into a place where more people linger, mostly addressing concerns about the mall’s safety. She announced a soon-to-open “mobile command center,” where a new private security force will execute a “security action plan.” The Partnership will also advocate for even more police officers, Door said.

A heavy police presence is no substitute for creating a welcoming and inclusive place for people — which is ultimately the key to true safety in public space. City leaders think this is the short-term answer, though, to high-profile violence on the strip. Eventually the city will change the nature of the mall by implementing long-awaited recommendations from Gehl Studios, the same urban planning team that worked on the pedestrianization of New York’s Time Square.

“A significant part of the success of this undertaking will be making some physical changes to the mall and how it operates,” said Joe Vostrejs, the Partnership’s outgoing board chair.

Those recommendations will come soon, according to the Partnership. In the meantime, more and better lighting are on the way for the mall and its alleys.

Not far from the 16th Street Mall is Arapahoe Square, an area plagued by surface parking lots and sparse retail. The Partnership, which helped eliminate parking minimums in the neighborhood earlier this year, is looking to usher in walkable development. Door announced an interactive Arapahoe Square map that shows developers and city agencies who owns a parcel, for example, and what can be legally built there.

An open question, however, is whether the new housing and retail will be affordable for low-income residents. Door promised that the Partnership will work with the Hancock administration to adapt its strategy to the mayor’s affordable housing proposal “without negatively impacting development.” That proposal calls for developers to pay into a dedicated affordable housing fund. The amount they pay depends on the type and size of the development.

“We’ll be looking closely with city leadership to identify how the money will be spent, how it’s managed and tracked over time, and most importantly, how we can make an impact building the appropriate level of affordable housing stock in our community,” Door said.

  • TonesOfLife

    This would be great for the downtown area!

  • LodoDweller

    16th Street Mall concept should be shut down completely and converted to a standard street.

    As someone that lives a block from 16th and walks on it multiple times a week the only solution is to eliminate the congregation areas that foster the current situation (I.e. Homeless, Vagrants, Drifters, etc). It is an eyesore for the city and doesn’t represent our values and beliefs. We walk and hike in this great state. We don’t jump on busses to go two blocks! Get rid of them…

    The concept of resolving the issue through new security teams, hotlines, etc will NOT solve the problem. The city should take a completely different approach before they toss another multi-millions of taxpayer $’s into an issue that was ignored for the past several years and is now well beyond repair.

    • Mike McDaniel

      Ugh, just so wrong. I can’t even figure out where to start! Make it a street, oh my. Get rid of busses, we hike? You share the city with a great many people, most very different from you. Some are poor, or disabled – or both! You probably see them from the balcony of your Lodo Dwelling.

  • Matthew Lilley

    Horrible map. There’s no key / legend to tell what color means what. I’d really be interested if they are planning on routing a bicycle loop through the Auraria campus, for instance. The amount of pedestrian traffic there prompted officials to make much of the campus a dismount zone for cyclists, which is the right call, btw.

    Aside from not knowing exactly what is being proposed with that worthless map, I certainly favor some sort of pedestrian / cycling loop in the central business district.

  • brad

    clueless… as if MOBILE SECURITY will solve the problems on the mall. Yet another Million Dollar Band Aid applied in Downtown to address REAL issues.

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