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The Mall Experience
Alternatives Analysis and Environmental Clearance

Through The Mall Experience, we're identifying ways to help the 16th Street Mall reach its full potential as a welcoming place for everyone in the heart of a vibrant downtown.

Latest News

RFQ: 16th Street Mall Design-Build Project

See the project advertisement on

RFQ responses are due April 19, 2019.

Pre-RFQ Release Meeting January 16, 2019
See the conference sign-in sheet (PDF)

Letters of interest from firms interested in receiving project information were due January 8, 2019. 

March 8, 2018 Open House

On March 8, 2018, the city and RTD hosted open houses where the public could learn more, ask questions and give input on future refinement of the design. Review the open house materials:

Note: The public will have an opportunity to provide input on additional amenities and design features, and learn about construction activities, at an additional public hearing tentatively planned for May 2018.


Denver, RTD recommend 16th Street Mall design that would expand sidewalks, improve pedestrian safety 

If approved, project would repair infrastructure, enhance the Mall experience for all users. Construction likely to begin in 2019.

JANUARY 24, 2018: The City and County of Denver and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) are recommending a design for reconstruction of the 16th Street Mall that would expand sidewalks for walking, café seating and other activities, and move transit lanes to the center or offset-center of each block. These updates are designed to enhance the Mall experience for visitors while improving pedestrian safety and mobility on the city’s most transit-rich street. Read the press release >>


Recommended design: Updated 01/24/2018


16th Street Mall recommended design

Project Overview

UPDATE 10/02/2017: The City and County of Denver and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) announced proposed design concepts for improvements to the 16th Street Mall — including the alignment of the transit lanes and general location of the trees, lights, and gathering and pedestrian space — as part of a federal environmental process to design the Mall’s future. More design concepts may be evaluated based on public input. Project partners will identify a preferred alternative later this fall following further analysis and input from the public; this is one step in a broad effort to rethink and potentially redesign the 16th Street Mall — one of the city’s most vital connectors and important public spaces. Read the press release >> 

UPDATED 06/28/2017: The City and County of Denver and RTD are officially kicking off the next phase of planning for improvements to the 16th Street Mall, in partnership with the Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP), the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District (BID), the Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). 

Over the last several years, significant analysis and outreach has been conducted in order to determine feasible options for long-term solutions to ensure the continued success of the Mall for the next 35 years. Due to the significant cost to maintain the pavers, RTD began researching the option of replacing the bus lanes with an alternative surface, launching the 106 process in 2015. At the same time, the City and County of Denver and the Downtown Denver Partnership launched The Mall Experience: The Future of Denver’s 16th Street Mall, working with Gehl Studio to identify ways to help the Mall reach its full potential as a welcoming place in the heart of downtown. The Mall Experience also addressed concerns with pedestrians and vehicles. These prior studies will inform the expanded review. (See project archive on this page.)

Public Engagement

Meet in the Street — July 22, 2017
The project hosted an information table during Meet in the Street.

Open House — July 27, 2017
RTD, 1600 Blake St., Denver
Attendees at two open house sessions learned about the 16th Street Mall, including the following:

  1. Project overview (PDF)
  2. Environmental process (PDF)
  3. History of the mall - previous studies (PDF)
  4. Existing conditions (PDF)
  5. Next steps (PDF)
  6. Evaluation criteria (PDF)

View a summary of Meet in the Street and the July 2017 Open Houses (PDF)

16th Street Mall Open Houses - Proposed Design Concepts
October 18, 2017.
RTD, 1600 Blake Street, Denver
Flier - English & Español (PDF)

Attendees at two open house sessions learned about the 16th Street Mall, including the following:

  1. Project Overview (PDF)
  2. Existing Conditions and Environmental Resources (PDF)
  3. History of the Mall and Previous Studies (PDF)
  4. Input to Date (PDF)
  5. Proposed Alternatives and Evaluation (PDF)
  6. Next Steps (PDF) 

View a summary of the October 2017 Open Houses (PDF)

Environmental Clearance and Funding

Because the Mall was built in 1982 with federal funds, any potential modifications must undergo a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review and a cultural resources evaluation pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA). Initial project funding for the Alternatives Analysis and Environmental Clearance will come from Tax Increment Financing (TIF) via Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). TIF requires that a design project be identified by 2020 and spent by 2022. If approved by voters, 2017 General Obligation Bonds might also be applied. 

As part of the environmental clearance process we will work closely with the community to help achieve the goals of NEPA and support the project’s purpose and need.

Purpose and Need

The purpose of the project is to develop and implement a flexible and sustainable plan for the 16th Street Mall to address deteriorating infrastructure, increase its use as a gathering place, and improve pedestrian and vehicle safety, while continuing reliable two-way transit shuttle service within the Mall and honoring the Mall’s past and future. Improvements are needed to:

  • Increase opportunities for public use of the Mall as a destination for leisure, commerce and tourism
  • Address deteriorating infrastructure to allow reasonable maintenance frequency and costs 
  • Improve safety for pedestrians and vehicles 
  • Maintain mobility for desired transit operations and for all users

About the 16th Street Mall

Attracting tens of thousands of visitors, employees and others to metro Denver daily, the 16th Street Mall has been at the center of the Downtown Denver experience for nearly 35 years. The Free MallRide service also provides a critically important transit connector for locals and visitors to the region, moving 45,000 people daily during the week along the Mall. The 16th Street Mall is a primary corridor and public space for downtown Denver’s 130,000 employees and 22,000 residents and is home to approximately 200 street-level retailers and restaurants, 1,250 residential units, and more than 1,400 hotel rooms. Building off this success, the City and County of Denver, the Regional Transportation District, the Downtown Denver Partnership, the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District, the Denver Urban Renewal Authority and the Federal Transit Administration are partnering to deliver the future of Denver’s 16th Street Mall. 


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Steve Coggins 
Denver Public Works 

Susan Wood


Media Contact

Nancy Kuhn
Denver Public Works 

Project Archive

The Mall Experience: The Future of Denver's 16th Street Mall

The ultimate goal of the The Mall Experience study is to have people enjoy the 16th Street Mall more: come more often, stay longer. To achieve that, we’re studying mall activity and conducting public outreach to identify ways to help the mall reach its full potential as a welcoming place for everyone, and the heart of a vibrant downtown.

We’ve brought on Gehl Studio -- a global leader in people-centered urban design -- to study the mall and identify challenges and opportunities. This will be an iterative process of outreach, observations, testing and refining as we consider the many possibilities to improve the mall. We’ll start with Meet in the Street, a series of weekends involving events, activities and alternative transit options, hosted by the Downtown Denver Partnership. 

The Mall Experience study builds on years of community input and planning: the 2007 Downtown Area Plan (PDF) and the 2010 16th Street Mall Urban Design Plan (PDF) established a strategic vision for the corridor. Now, we're ready to ask more of the 16th Street Mall.

UPDATED 2017: View the Gehl Report, Small Steps Toward Big Change (PDF) and the 2016 appendix (PDF); and RTD 16th Street Mall survey (PDF).

Denver and RTD to expand 16th Street Mall analysis

Update 3/16/2017: CH2M has been selected to conduct the alternatives analysis.

The City and County of Denver and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) will expand a current federally-mandated alternatives analysis of the 16th Street Mall, with an eye on potential reconfiguration to optimize the corridor for transit, pedestrians and leisure activities.

The expanded analysis could result in recommendations for new shuttle lane alignments, sidewalk enhancements, expanded seating and other amenities, and alternate surface materials, or a recommendation to maintain the Mall as-is. Read more >>

Meet in the Street begins June 25, 2016!

Meet in the Street returns for a third year beginning Saturday, June 25, and continues each Saturday and Sunday on the 16th Street Mall through July 24. Meet in the Street transforms the mall into a fully activated pedestrian zone with activities including more than 10 extended outdoor cafes, live music, fitness classes, cultural performances, a kids zone and more. 

Meet in the Street is one of the programs informing the City and the Partnership’s efforts to identify ways to help the Mall reach its full potential as a welcoming place in the heart of Downtown as part of The Mall Experience study. Analysis of Meet in the Street will continue this summer to help Mall partners hone in on long-term changes to the Mall and adjacent sites. Volunteer opportunities are available for urban researchers to help conduct observational studies along the Mall throughout the summer. 

2016 Prototyping Festival! Part of Meet in the Street

MAY 2016 -- This summer, a series of thoughtful and connected events will transform Downtown’s parks and public spaces, including the 16th Street Mall, with events and activation to encourage people to come more often, and stay for longer periods of time.

One new aspect of this emphasis on urban placemaking is the 2016 Prototyping Festival, an opportunity for the community to submit prototype ideas to make the 16th Street Mall more vibrant. Selected submissions will receive a stipend to support their project, which will be displayed during the final weekend of Meet in the Street on July 23 and 24. 

Visit the Downtown Denver Partnership's 2016 Prototyping Festival page for more!

Experts Recommend Alternative Programming to Activate the Heart of Downtown

MARCH 2016 -- Gehl Studio’s analysis is central to The Mall Experience: The Future of Denver’s 16th Street Mall.

Gehl found increased diversity of Mall users and of user experiences during the five 2015 Meet in the Street Sundays, including:

  • 30 percent more pedestrians overall on the 16th Street Mall
  • Number of people engaged in “staying” activities increased by as much as 60%
  • More women and children on the Mall: The ratio of women to men increased by 65 percent; ratio of children to adults increased by 77 percent
  • 90 percent of businesses indicated sales seemed about the same or better as compared to non-Meet in the Street Sundays
  • Ratio of people “spending time” to people “moving through” increased by 48 percent

Gehl’s baseline analysis of normal weekdays showed that only 1 percent of Mall users “linger,” while most are simply passing through. Gehl’s report recommends short, medium and long term “placemaking” projects that can activate the 16th Street Mall and other adjacent sites to help the Mall become more of a place that people go to as well as go through.