In 2019 there were reports of an ambitious project to reconstruct the 16th Street Mall. The reconstruction work included among other things the removal of the median from the 1.2-mile stretch that lies between Broadway and Market street in order - to create more space on both sides of the street.
Since then everything has been quite - something that has raised concerns about the transparency of the mall project.
However, this is not new considering challenges facing other construction projects such as the Denver International Airport worth $1.8 billion. The other construction project facing difficulties is the Colorado Convention Center that was stopped in December 2018 after the discovery of improprieties.
Many residents have taken issue with the slow progress and lack of information prompting a meeting by the city leadership.
The meeting which is an invite-only will comprise of various stakeholders. It is intended to give direction as to what is exactly going on with the mall project.
A different meeting for the public is also slated to take place soon to shed more light on the state of the various project in the city. However, Julie Smith, the city’s spokesperson has downplayed talks of impropriety and assured the public that everything was fine.
When she was told that some members of the Denver city council were unaware of the mall plans, she had this to say “that’s not surprising to me, we are not trying to deliberately hide information. The construction is an ongoing process and there are many challenges that come with it such as federal funding requirements and so forth”.
Last year it was projected that the cost of the construction would be approximately $90 million and $130 million. Three construction companies had even submitted their designs and expanse projections.
However, Smith was non-committal in the exact construction amount – only saying that the construction would be in excess of $100 million.
Smith said that the bidding companies will be asked to use an approach called “designed build” for the mall which is different from the traditional approach. The traditional method involved procuring a company to do the designing before floating the bids. However, the new approach (design-build) brings both the designer and builder together to bid for the same project.
Project partners of the mall include the City of Denver, (through bond funding), Regional Transporation District, Denver Urban Renewal Authority and the Downtown Denver Partnership.
Smith said that they are waiting for a winning company to be selected for the mall project to kick off. “immediately one company is selected from the finalists, our aim our aim is to start design work in 2021 as we wait for approval from the of the contract from the City council” said Smith.
Meanwhile, the public will be waiting to see how things will unfold in the coming weeks and months.
The upcoming meetings will divide those attending into various groups: Advocacy, Parks, Hospitality & Tourism, retailers & Restaurants, Mobility, Neighborhood & Residents and property owners. Each group is expected to present views on how they would like the mall to look like.