NewsLocal News


Downtown Denver city planner leaves lasting mark as she steps down

16th Street Mall
Posted at 10:45 AM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 12:45:45-05

A Denver city leader who was instrumental in revitalizing the downtown area is stepping down after 17 years.

Tami Door became president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership in 2005 and, as she departs, she reflected on the mountain of work that is vital to the local economy.

Union Station is a centerpiece of downtown Denver's landscape. But it wasn't always.

Door was part of the team that spent years transforming the industrial space into one of the city's main attractions.

"It's not just about the building," Door said. "It's about the transportation nodes that come into this space. It's about the redevelopment of this entire neighborhood."

Prior to her 17 years in Denver, Door spent 10 years in Detroit, and brought with her a vision to build out the city center with so many amenities that it became a top destination for new talent.

"You can spend a lot of time recruiting or attracting companies, or you can build this place that is so amazing, that people simply come here," she said.

Her master plan meant boosting residential areas downtown, expanding bike lanes, and prioritizing women in the workforce.

"It's certainly about safety," said Door. "And, it's absolutely about equity in the workforce. But we can put a stake in the ground that says, 'If you're a woman in the workforce, you should work in Denver, and there's no better place to thrive professionally than here.'"

Major events during her tenure also put Denver on the map as an emerging market.

The Democratic National Convention came in 2008. And its success may have led to the Major League All-Star Game moving here in 2021. She said she believes Denver being in the spotlight has had a tremendous impact on civic pride.

"Great cities — they're not built by accident," she said. "They're built intentionally every day, just by doing the work and thinking big."

One of the latest developments under her watch was on full display during MLB All-Star Weekend: the privately-funded entertainment district at McGregor Square.

But she didn't want to step away from her role at the Downtown Denver Partnership before seeing one more paramount project through its final phase.

"We are ready to break ground on the new 16th Street Mall," Door said. "And, it is going to be absolutely amazing. This is our main street."

16th Street Mall redesign

Denver's 16th Street Mall will get a $500 million updated look with larger walkways, more art, shade, and gathering places. And it's finally given her an opportunity to stop and celebrate the monumental effort getting to this point.

"You make a movement," Door said. "You make another step. You build another park. You create another space. You attract a new company. And then, every once in a while, step back, and you say 'Yeah, it's really coming together.'"

As part of her legacy, downtown Denver will also be getting several new trees soon. The Urban Forest Initiative will give downtown streets a healthy tree canopy for the first time. It's expected to cost $7.5 million over 10 years to complete.