- Partnership events draws record 900 people.
- City Building a theme for 58th DDP breakfast.
- Leaders say best is yet to come.
More than 900 Denver business, civic and political leaders , a record number, on Thursday morning attended the Downtown Denver Partnership 58th annual meeting.
The tone was set from the beginning, as a slide show of city and business leaders was displayed showing them holding placards saying “I am a City Builder,” and giving reasons why they treasure and want to improve downtown. The event at the Hyatt Regency Denver Colorado Convention Center hotel was presented by Grant Thornton.
Cole Finegan, the outgoing chairman for the partnership, said thinking back 25 years, the transformation of downtown has been “extraordinary,” pointing to the former rail yards that were transformed to what is now the Riverfront Park area adjacent to LoDo, as just one of the many accomplishments made possible by the public and private sectors.
The best is yet to come, said Finegan and others.
In just one example, the area around Union Station is being transformed, which will serve as the hub of the 119-mile FasTracks light rail and rapid bus transit system, Finegan noted.
Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership, said that great downtowns don’t just happen.
Pillars of downtown
She said great cities are built on three pillars: people, places and businesses.
“The Downtown Denver Partnership has been ‘City Building’ since 1955 and through nearly six decades of work on a multitude of initiatives,” Door said.
“The Partnership has learned three things are certain: great cities; are defined by their Downtowns; great Downtowns do not happen by accident; and it takes a community of committed leaders with bold ideas to affect change.”
Some of the major announcements from Door included:
- Southwest Airlines and the Partnership will work together again this year to bring the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park back to Downtown for its fourth season;
- The Partnership is creating a platform to engage people around urbanism. Through a new initiative called City Build, the Partnership will provide a stronger voice for millenials in the evolution of Downtown Denver;
- The Partnership will continue to work closely with the City and County of Denver and the Regional Transit District on renovations to the nation’s premier pedestrian transit area, the 16th Street Mall;
- The Partnership will work to spur development and showcase Arapahoe Square to potential investors and developers;
- The Partnership will create a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation through the second Denver Startup Week and by partnering with the City and the Colorado Technology Association on the creation of an innovation center in Downtown Denver to educate and support entrepreneurs;
- And the Partnership will continue to focus on streetscaping efforts throughout the city in order to attract development and economic activity in Downtown. Efforts include connecting Downtown with the Auraria Campus; enhancing the areas along Wynkoop and 21st Streets and greening initiatives along the 16th Street Mall.
At the meeting, new leaders for the partnership were announced.
- Elbra Wedgeworth, Chief Government and Community Relations Officer for Denver Health, is the new Downtown Denver Partnership board chairwoman.
- Walter Isenberg, Co-Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer for Sage Hospitality, is the new board chairman for Downtown Denver Inc.
- Joe Vostrejs, Chief Operating Officer for Larimer Associates, continues in his second year as the board chairman for Denver Civic Ventures.
- David Kenney, President of The Kenney Group, was named chairman-elect of the Partnership.
The partnership also recognized several board members and organizations that made significant contributions to the Partnership’s programs and initiatives over the last year, including:
- Honorary Partner Award: Evan Makovsky, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of NAI Shames Makovsky.
- Volunteer of the Year Award: Brianna Borin, Director of People (A.K.A. Mother Hen) for Snooze, Am Eatery.
- Volunteer of the Year Award: Rob Cohen, Chairman and CEO of The IMA Financial Group, Inc.
- Volunteer of the Year Award: Roland Lyon, Vice President of Regional Strategy and Performance for Kaiser Permanente-Colorado.
- President’s Award: Downtown Denver Expeditionary School
Mayor Michael B. Hancock said when he travels around the country and even around the world, he hears nothing but great feedback about Denver.
“Without question, Denver has the best downtown in the United States,” Hancock said, without a trace o of hyperbole in his voice.
While other mayors across the country might argue that point, Hancock said the importance of a strong, vibrant downtown is critical.
“If we lose our downtown, we lose our soul,” Hancock said.
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