With too many interruptions, this is sort of late, but we now know how complicated it is to fund the “new” 16th Street Mall. Two of the bills for final consideration earlier this week pretty much sailed through with votes, involving funding from RTD and the Board of Water Commissioners.
But the third bill – 20-0562 – took up a lot of time, and was pushed to the end of the meeting after other bills and public hearings were heard. This bill involved the Downtown Denver Improvements Project Funding Agreement and the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, where funding would help support the $100 million project. Here’s what it said:
“A bill for an ordinance approving a proposed Amendatory Project Funding Agreement between the City and County of Denver and Denver Urban Renewal Authority, for Downtown Denver Improvements.
“Amends the Downtown Denver Improvements Project Funding Agreement with the Denver Urban Renewal Authority to revise submittal and reimbursement dates to align with the 16th Street Mall reconstruction project schedule, as well as updates workforce requirements to support the Denver Construction Pilot program. The last regularly scheduled Council meeting within the 30-day review period is on 7-20-20. The Committee approved filing this item at its meeting on 6-16-20.”
What was discussed by city council representatives was whether the funding could be used now, to help give funds to Denver Public Schools and the City and County of Denver. But the situation with increment tax funding from DURA has a time table – and it is not now. It was noted that if this agreement does not get wrapped up now, it will be at least a decade to get this going.
Work will not begin until the third quarter of 2021. About 1,500 workers will be involved in this project, which will replace the pavers (they have had issues since the mall was opened in 1982). The mall bus areas will be moved from their usual central area, adding more feet for sidewalks and outdoor areas for restaurants. New trees will be planted. In short, while this goes on, downtown streets that cross the 16thStreet Mall will be torn up.
I finally made my way all the way to the end of this discussion, starting at the fourth hour and ended after the fifth hour. It was lengthy, but for nerds like me, it was fascinating. One city council representative voted “no,” and another representative was not able to attend. After all, the city and school district coffers face money troubles, as we all know because of the pandemic and the loss of revenues.
Below are many links. They include the link on Granicus that deals with the full city council meeting, plus stories in Denverite, and Colorado Politics. The issue of whether the funding should go to the city and the schools were discussed in Westword (about a petition being signed up more than 3,000 signatures) and a Denver Post column last Sunday. After all, the city and school district coffers have faced money troubles, as we know. Another link to another record was discussed a month ago at a meeting of council members on the Finance & Governance Committee, and to other earlier stories.