Making it safer for women would help, too …
Ever since I can remember, the 16th Street Mall in Denver has been a shithole. Sure, it's enjoyable — I even lived/worked there for some time, right off of Wynkoop (for a staggering $500 a month, no roommates) — but it's often smelly, chaotic, frustrating and expensive. It's not a place one goes to relax or take in that which makes Denver a beautiful place to live. To this day, it's still the place to get the best drugs, be harassed by people you don't want to talk to or just get thrown around like a pinball between slow tourists and distracted locals, though. So it has that going for it.
In its defense, teams of hard working people have put forth a lot of effort over the years to transform the mall into a destination point and not just somewhere someone goes to get Taco Bell after the bars close. Myriad events take place throughout the year — even more so currently — in attempts to lure revelers into the struggling shopping district. It's reported that this summer there will be plenty of shit to get into most every weekend, too. The reputation isn't because people haven't tried.
But fixing its image really is just a simple checklist of things that haven't happened yet …
Clean Up The Piss
As a whole, we're pretty lucky Denver isn't like St. Louis or New York — dumps. It's fairly clean here, save for that 1.2 mile stretch between Broadway and Wewatta St.
The problem? Everyone pisses and shits everywhere. It's not just the homeless, and it's not just the drunks, either. Normal people, like you and I, go wherever they can. There's exactly 'one' public restroom (in the Pavilions) that isn't inside of a transportation terminal along the entire corridor. Then it gets hot. Then it stinks. The equation is pretty simple.
Begging for money, or a signature, is a form of free speech, so says the Supreme Court. Because of this, panhandlers and clip-board warriors were recently allowed the opportunity to be even more intrusive. They're now within their right to bother you multiple times (even if you say 'no'), while you're at the ATM, on restaurant patios and even after dark — strict stipulations that were once in place, but are now not.
Bottom line: Being bothered is annoying. I'd rather stay home than have someone approach me with the sole purpose of reaching in my pocket for something they want. Why go through the trouble?
Speaking of harassment, just go ahead and ban all dudes. Not all men, just the dudes. Even though I'm fucking gorgeous, I have the privilege of walking around under the radar without being cat-called or followed. My wife, not so much. It's an unsafe atmosphere for women, always has been, there's really no sugar-coating the reality of it.
Denver's growing, and with it, there's less parking and a higher demand for what's there. I get it. But $30 just to park your car somewhere for a few hours is plain obnoxious. If you shop downtown, you should get free parking or a discount on light rail fare. Win/win for everyone.
Allow Gambling / Open Drinking
Fuck it; it works for Vegas. Let's just give up and go the easy route.
420 Bar District
Here's a novel concept, so Colorado, for whatever reason, doesn't want weed bars. It's an unreasonably perplexing contradiction for a state that boasts so much pride in beer, but whatever. Take a boring area of the mall (Tabor Center comes to mind) and allow for 5 or 6 businesses to be smoker-friendly. It's no worse than LoDo, and will boost marketability around the block ad infinitum.
"Oh, wonderful, another restaurant closed and a more expensive one took its place. Oh look, another contemporary-styled bar! Look there, more restaurants! Brunch, brunch bruuuunch!!!"
Where the fuck is this town's creativity going? We don't have to look like Portland or Los Angeles to be successful. Let's carve out our own identity for once and embrace it. There's nothing to do downtown unless you want to get drunk. Which is fine, but then you're drunk with nothing to do. The mall needs some diversity in its life.