Last Thursday, I was privileged to attend the Downtown Denver Partnership’s Member Forum and hear from leaders that are guiding Denver from the great city it is to a world-class city, (and people are taking notice). We heard from Public Works Manager Jose Cornejo, Parks and Recreation Manager Lauri Dannemiller, Deputy Mayor and CFO Cari Kennedy, Community Planning and Development Manager Rocky Piro and Director of Economic Development Paul Washington.
One of Denver’s major public works initiatives is two-way street conversions. Traffic signal studies are underway now. Stakeholder outreach and funding research will begin in June, and final designs will be completed in August.
Improvements to the 16th St. Mall are another major initiative with $63 million in upgrades planned during the next several years. Phase I, which will start in May 2014, will focus on upgrades to the first two blocks at either end of the mall. Designs for Phase I improvements are expected to be complete by January 2014.
Another exciting public works development includes creating protected bike lanes along 15th St. As Cornejo explained, bikers are currently using all three lanes of traffic and the sidewalks, so creating a bike lane will help the 100 bike riders that pass along that corridor during peak times to more safely navigate the city. Unfortunately, this will require removing 28 parking spaces. The protected bike lane is expected to be completed by the spring of 2014.
Parks and Recreation
Denver’s parks are as diverse as its residents with 250 urban parks, an elk and a bison herd, 27 rec centers, mountain parks and 5 golf courses. Major changes for Confluence Park are in the planning stages and implementation is scheduled to begin in 2014. These changes include improving access, enhancing access and land use along the river, and adding more gathering places along the river that can be used for leisure and recreation purposes.
Denver is in a strong financial position with decreasing unemployment, increasing tax revenues and a strong real estate market. The city enjoys a AAA credit rating and offers the 8th lowest sales tax rate. In June, the treasurer’s office will launch the city’s checkbook online, so everyone can see how Denver’s funds are being spent and accounted for.
Community Planning and Development
Rocky Piro joined Mayor Hancock’s cabinet in January and is focused on transforming Denver into a top-notch city. Transit-oriented developments like Union Station will help lead that transformation, as will effective neighborhood plans that cultivate healthy, vibrant communities in areas such as Globeville, Swansea, RiNo and Sun Valley.
Regional development opportunities around DIA also hold enormous potential for Denver’s future.
The city's vision is boldly ambitious, with innovative, forward-thinking policies that are intended to deliver a world-class city where everyone matters. To achieve this, Paul Washington and his office are focused on connectivity, sustainability, economic vibrancy and administration.