President’s Message – July 2024

Hello Everyone! 

Isn’t the 16th Street Mall reopening exciting?!  If you haven’t had a chance, make sure to check out the block between Larimer and Lawrence.  It’s a peek of things to come.  Four more blocks should reopen by Labor Day. 

There’s even more exciting news for Upper Downtown.  As you know, Glenarm has been closed to traffic for the last few years between 15th and 17th Streets.  The Downtown Denver Partnership and Gart Properties have a vision that will turn those few blocks into “Glenarm Plaza” with art, playgrounds, and community events.  Mayor Johnston has already allocated $1m for the project.  It is the hope that Glenarm Plaza will become the “heart” of downtown – exactly what we need in Upper Downtown!

Thanks to everyone who was able to attend UpDoNA’s Annual Meeting last month.  Also, thanks to Dale DeWitt and the Social Committee who arranged to have our meeting at Casa Tequilas on the 16th Street Mall.  This year we invited guest speakers.  Brad Segal with PUMA, and Nick Marion with the Denver Department of Finance, spoke about Mayor Johnston’s proposed expansion of the Union Station DDA.  The DDA expansion could infuse $500m into Upper Downtown, not to mention the potential for additional development.  To learn more about the DDA expansion, please review Brad’s PowerPoint presentation using this link:  https://updona.org/ova_doc/dda-presentation-at-updonas-2024-annual-meeting/  Travis Bogan, lead architect/engineer for the 16th Street Mall project, and Morgan Marion with CIG, provided a PowerPoint presentation showing renderings of the completed project. Please visit the project website using this link www.denvergov.org/16thStreetMall.  You can find information about construction phases, activities, the “moments of joy” that will be placed on the mall, and more.  The DDA and 16th Street Mall project are vitally important to Upper Downtown. 

Also vitally important to downtown are businesses.  It’s no secret that businesses in Denver are struggling to open due to permitting, zoning, and inspection delays.  UpDoNA reached out to several businesses in Upper Downtown to discuss the negative impact of those delays.  Some of the common complaints included the new online permitting process which makes it nearly impossible to ask questions or to get guidance, waiting months in between inspections, the complicated processes, and, of course, the cost of delays. 

On Tuesday, June 25th, we had a very productive meeting with several members of City Planning and Zoning, Katie Butler with TAG Restaurant Group, and Rusty Bullard with RCI Hospitality Holdings.  City Planning and Zoning administrators took note of the issues we discussed and were very open to suggestions on how to improve the process.  Mayor Johnston recently set a goal to re-envision the permitting process and to reduce review times by 30% by the end of the year.  Ms. Butler said that she is already seeing some improvement.

Police Advisory Board:  The Denver Police Department has been installing license plate readers in intersections throughout Denver with the goal of recovering stolen vehicles.  If a camera detects a license plate number belonging to a reported stolen car, it immediately notifies the police.  So far, more than 30 arrests have been made and more than 20 cars have been recovered. 

Congratulations to the Clean Upper Downtown Committee who applied for, and received, a $1,500 micro grant from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.  Carolyn Benton and Kristen Deak are purchasing additional equipment and supplies for our monthly cleanups.  Also, thanks to Jackie Bunce for writing the grant.

Please welcome our newly elected UpDoNA Board of Directors and Officers:  Gil Vondrasek, Vice President, Brent Strausbaugh, Treasurer, Paul Melinkovich, Secretary, Carol Wayne, City Liaison, Mimi Tripodi, Director, and Chris Marseilles, Director.  I am excited to work with the board and to continue our very important work.

Have a safe Fourth of July!

Lisa L. Pope


Thumbnail attribution – Lisa Pope

Previous UpDoNA Accomplishments – June 2023 to June 2024
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UpDoNA is a City Registered Neighborhood Organization representing the community of Denver’s Upper Downtown.

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