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Denver will move forward with selecting contractor for 16th Street Mall renovation despite calls to divert funds

Construction set to begin in late 2021
Posted at 4:49 PM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 21:31:17-04

DENVER -- The City of Denver will move forward with selecting a design-build contractor for the planned 16th Street Mall renovation, according to a spokesperson with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.

"Anyone who has been on the 16th Street Mall for the last almost 40 years like I have knows what a mess it has been, what a maintenance nightmare it’s been," said Kevin Flynn, Councilman for District 2.

The $100 million project has been in the works for years, long before the COVID-19 pandemic - which is now causing some people to question the project. An online petition is asking the city to divert $33 million in funds to Denver Public Schools to help weather current financial hardship.

"I wouldn’t mind the money being diverted to schools, I wouldn’t mind the money being diverted to social services," said Steve Smith, a special education teacher and parent.

Councilman Flynn said there's a lot of misconceptions about funding for this project, which is coming from various state and federal sources. AS Flynn explained, the debate involves money from downtown's tax increment financing, or TIF district.

"It’s always worth having a debate on how we’re spending public funds. Those funds aren’t available for two-and-a-half more years so not doing the project now would not have freed up those funds for DPS," said Flynn.

A spokesperson for the City of Denver said there's no plan to divert funds and said, "Diverting funds from the project is not an option due to the local, state and federal agreements in place to move the project forward."