2020-2021 Annual Report:
Building for Our Future
At the Downtown Denver Partnership, we say that great cities do not happen by accident.
They are built with intentionality, one street, one building, one art installation, and one new business at a time. And the Partnership has been at the center of all of that. We emphasize that resilient cites will always be the most successful cities and resiliency is achieved in many ways: public policy, infrastructure, business growth, and by being clean and safe.
But, most importantly, resiliency is achieved through strong and connected leadership that comes from every sector
of our community: business leaders, non-profit leaders, neighborhoods, developers, civic leaders, and everyone
In 2007, we laid out a long-term plan for our center city in the Downtown Area Plan. We have been working that plan methodically and strategically. Throughout the last year, through input from our team, our Boards and our Members — as well as partners in the community — we have continued to evaluate where we can have the greatest impact, both individually and collectively.
Throughout the pandemic, we have consistently heard from stakeholders and the community that we needed to re-envision the future of Downtown to truly begin Building for Our Future. While everyone else is reacting to the short term, we have and will remain focused on the future.
We had a long term strategic plan that was forward-thinking enough that we were able to continue our work over the past year. We did not react – we were in a strategic position to respond to the challenges presented by the pandemic, and had a plan that we trusted.
Now what we’re doing is preparing for what’s next. We believe in the future of this city so we continue to be bullish
on the future, not getting distracted by the minutiae. We never doubted that downtown was here to stay, and never felt we needed to reimagine.
Our message: Downtown is resilient. This is who we are and this is who we need to be. We are not paralyzed by the past or what’s to come. We are always Building for Our Future.
Thank you to all of you that remained committed to the Partnership’s mission over the past year, led with dignity, and pushed us forward, propelling our community into the future, ready for what’s next.
President & CEO,
Downtown Denver Partnership
Chair, Downtown Denver
Partnership Management Group
Chair, Downtown Denver Inc.
Chair, Denver Civic Ventures
Incoming Chair, Downtown Denver
Partnership Management Group
Incoming Chair, Denver
Creating an Economically Vibrant
and Resilient Center City
An Active and Inclusive Network
of Engaged City Builders:
Our Members are what drive the Partnership's work forward, creating a lasting impact on the growth and success of our center city. In the past year, the Partnership brought our Members together by launching new programs, hosting 22 free Member Briefing webinars, and more. Our Members continued to engage with programs and initiatives, old and new, and ensured their voices were heard as we continued our city building work.
Hosted 22 free Member Briefings, averaging 75 members in attendance with representation from an average of 55 different companies.
Launched Five Things, a weekly video look at the latest Partnership and Downtown Denver events, programs, initiatives, and news.
Created The Compass, the official blog of the Downtown Denver Partnership. The Compass tells the stories of Downtown Denver, going a mile deep to understand what the Partnership is doing to build our center city.
Honored 6 Downtown Denver Award winners through the 2020 Downtown Denver Awards.
Produced over 40 virtual programs and events in the 20-21 fiscal year; engaging over 2,700 individual members.
Civic Leadership Programs
Our Civic Leadership Programs are designed to support leadership development through all levels of your organization and include exciting programs to educate the next generation of leaders and city builders. In 2020, the Partnership announced and established CityRise and CityLead as part of the reenivisioned Civic Leadership Programs.
Hosted CityBuild #GivesBack Painting event at The Outer Space, a Virtual Tour with Metro Caring, and launched #RealTalk: Building a City for Everyone webinar series.
Launched Project Propel Cohort #1, a deep dive program for future center city leaders, and graduated our 2020 Downtown Denver Leadership Class with a final presentation in November of last year.
Hosted the first-ever Urban Exploration Denver, convening 135 public and private sector leaders to find opportunities for growth and collaboration that exist within our own city.
Convened downtown residents with programming such as The Rockies Ballpark Presentation, collaborating with Starry for a Summer Kickoff, hosting City Council 101, and a virtual Ballots and Brews, a joint collaboration between CityBuild and CityLive to help educate our members on issues on the 2020 General Election ballot.
The Partnership kicked off the 2020-2021 fiscal year with our Annual Meeting, featuring keynote speaker, Jay Pitter, international placemaker who takes a multidisciplinary approach to crating inclusive cities. Pitter rejoined the Partnership for an intimate workshop with 40 business executives of urther identify actionable ways to create a more diverse and inclusive Downtown Denver.
The Partnership also started a Diversity and Inclusion Speaker Series, bringing in speakers like Tamika Butler and digging into Downtown Denver's diverse neighborhoods. This all-encompassing program aims to understand all types of diversity to better identify how the Partnership and its Members can make a true impact in our center city.
Finally, the Partnership created our Inclusivity Champions Task Force, bringing together 25 key leaders representing various areas of our work to help advance the Partnership's Inclusivity efforts.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
The Partnership team was faced with an opportunity to innovate and rethink how we can activate downtown. From changing the format of the 9NEWS Parade of Lights and Winter in the City to be a downtown-wide extravaganza to turning empty lots
into pop-up parks, there was no shortage of innovation
coming from the Partnership. In tandem, the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District (BID), which is managed by the Partnership, continued working diligently to create a clean and safe downtown environment, going above and beyond to also increase the frequency of cleaning, ensuring downtown was at-the-ready for the return of visitors, workers, and residents.
Produced the 9NEWS Parade of Lights over 5 weeks resulting in 211,000 total visitors and bringing an additional 60,000 new visitors to Downtown Denver. Nine parade floats were placed throughout downtown from Union Station to Denver Pavilions with surprises around every corner.
Winter in the City brought a collection of experiences, sights, and festivities that enlivened Downtown Denver throughout the holiday season, with activations like the Mile High Tree, Christkindl Market, Après Market at Dairy Block, and specials from dozens of downtown restaurants.
Launched The Outer Space pop-up park @ 16th and Welton, and partnered with Denver Streets Partnership for a month-long Lunar New Year activation.
Conducted outreach to purchase planters for properties located off the 16th St. Mall.
Continued Night Lights Denver and Denver City of Lights in partnership with the Theater District.
Beautified downtown with Garden Block planting and seasonal planting of on- and off-mall planters
Commissioned and placed Stand Tall Art Sculptures (Love, Hope, Resilience/Together, Inspire, and Dream).
Installed New Alleyway: Sisterhood by artist Chinn Wang (on 15th Street between Glenarm and Tremont) as part of "Between Us Downtown Denver Alleyways Project".
Meet in the Street returns to Downtown Denver over four weekends in the summer of 2021.
Launched Upper DownTUNES, bringing 80 days of live music in Upper Downtown, featuring many culturally diverse, Denver-based bands.
"As other events around the world were being canceled, we creatively transformed events that are important to our community to more closely align with the Partnership'a mission. Boosting the downtown economy and safely inviting the community to enjoy free activities in the heart of our public spaces was key while ensuring everyone who participated felt safe and protected. "
- Hollie Velasquez Horvath, Senior Director of State Affairs and Community Relations, Xcel Energy
Transformative Planning & Policies:
Policy and planning never take a break, even for a pandemic. It sets the stage for building a city — a city that fosters business growth and success. The Partnership continued meeting with private and public sector officials to understand the issues facing our business community, as well as doing the important work of planning critical public realm projects, rethinking the way we approach cycling in our city, and even bringing the community together to celebrate the beauty of trees.
"Working collaboratively with our partners from the public and private sectors, we advocate on behalf of business for policies that facilitate building a resilient, well-connected, economically powerful Downtown Denver. Never is this more important than when our city, our businesses, and our community is being tested."
- Kim Kucera, Partner & Chief Strategy Officer, CRL Associates, Inc.
Worked closely with the City to support people experiencing homelessness throughout the pandemic and raised funds from the business community to help support shelter expansion and additional housing opportunities.
Published Denver Moves: Downtown, a transformational mobility study for downtown, in collaboration with the City and County of Denver and the Regional Transportation District (RTD).
Released 2020 November Ballot Guide, offering guidance and positions on 10 ballot measures facing our business community.
Hosted an Arbor Day Celebration and launched the Urban Forest Initiative Walking Tour that showcases all projects funded through the program. The Initiative aims to grow downtown's tree canopy to 10%.
Urban Forest Initiative Round 3 grantees funded, with 7 total properties awarded - 1670 Broadway, 1001 17th St, 1660 Lincoln St, 1600 Broadway, 1917 Market St, 511 16th St, 1660 17th St. In total, 27 tree beds were retrofitted or installed in FY20-21.
Opened Round 4 of the Urban Forest Initiative grant program, aiming to award grantees by the end of 2021.
Produced the first-ever Childcare Taskforce Report which aims to address the shortage of childcare facilities in downtown.
Launched the Business Coalition on Homelessness, to convene the business community around the issue of homelessness, with the first forum taking place on Nov. 17, 2020.
Distributed 300 See.Sense lights as part of the first-ever smart cycling study of it’s kind in the U.S. The study amassed a group of diverse and representative participants, with 50% being non-white and 50% women.
At the Downtown Denver Partnership, we are consistently focused on creating a place for everyone; and this mission didn’t waver over the past year. We convened community partners to create an accessible and inclusive 5280 Trail, continued reimagining Skyline Park, and even started pre-construction work on the 16th St. Mall reconstruction, remaining focused on the Partnership's future and the future of Downtown Denver.
"Last year, the public realm became the safest place for us to come together as we reconfigured new spaces for public interaction and commerce. We are making a big push to involve our local businesses and neighborhoods in efforts to transform public space to be more useful, vibrant, inclusive, and fun." - Jon Gambril, Managing Director, Principal, Gensler
Launched TourDenver alongside Gates Corporation, offering 300+ people a cycling experience of the 5280 Trail. 17 companies participated totaling 264 miles biked from September 22 - October 31, 2020.
Began the reimagining of Skyline Park through free virtual public workshops in partnership with the City and County of Denver.
Worked alongside the City and County of Denver to close out a 10-year process to begin to envision and begin a full-scale renovation of the 16th Street Mall. In the Spring of 2021, pre-construction of the Mall began.
Launched branding for Upper Downtown and activated the district with Upper DownTUNES, a free live music series.
Dedicated a tree for the community, named CommuniTREE, through the Urban Forest Initiative, and buried a time capsule with photos, memories, advice, and more provided by the community to be opened 50 years later.
Kicked off 5280 Stakeholders Trailblazing to help foster a community-led design process to identify the 5280 Trail route and create placemaking features that are unique to each of the neighborhoods along the route, and marking the route for active travel.
Launched 21st Street Design project to develop construction designs for an important segment of the 5280 Trail.
Fueling Economic Resilience & Recovery:
Creating a strong economic core is central to the
mission of the Partnership; it’s why we do what we do.
The Partnership collaborated with public and private partners to not only continue the important city building work we already do, but also to introduce new ways to support our community through an unprecedented year. From establishing the Small Business Relief Fund alongside the City and County of Denver and Denver Economic Development & Opportunity, to releasing critical High Frequency Covid-19 Impact data, the Partnership
continued providing resources and information the business community needed to push through
recovery, ready to emerge stronger than ever.
"Denver is one of the most vibrant and resilient cities in the nation. As one of the few large metros that continued to increase its labor force during the pandemic, Denver is quickly getting back on track. Our place making and economic development work has positioned our city to rapidly emerge from the pandemic faster than other cities."
- David Haltom, Chair, Economic Development Council, Vice President, Patrinely Group
Distributed relief checks to businesses through the Small Business Relief Fund, which raised over $400,00 together with other businesses and partners. Working with Denver Economic Development and Opportunity (DEDO), over 1,000 small businesses have now received direct grant support. These small businesses have been the hardest hit by the pandemic—restaurants (306), personal care (263), retail (188), and hospitality (94) have been awarded the most funding.
Hosted 2021 Economic Forecast Forum with Michelle Meyer, Head of US Economics with Bank of America, to understand Downtown Denver's economic strengths and how we can continue positioning our center city for economic recovery.
Provided guidance on outdoor dining for restaurants with free webinars to support these businesses amidst Covid-related restrictions.
Released 2021-2022 Downtown Activity Forecast report and Peer City analysis report to track downtown economic activity.
Completed survey of downtown retailers to catalog the number and types of retailers within the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District. The Partnership also conducted an inventory of first-floor retail along 16th Street Mall to better understand vacancies to formulate programs to activate retail spaces along the Mall to ensure downtown is safe and welcoming for workers returning to downtown.
Hosted a virtual 2021 Development Forum and released the latest Downtown Denver Development Map.
Released the 2021 State of Downtown Denver Report at our May Forum: Rising Through Recovery where the Partnership hosted peer-to-peer conversations between public and private partners.
Created Denver’s Ready, rallying 180+ downtown businesses as an effort to welcome employees back to Downtown Denver.
Continued and refined bi-weekly High-Frequency Covid-19 Impact Data Reports, releasing over 20 reports throughout the year.
Innovation Through Entrepreneurship:
Fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration
helps our urban centers become more inclusive and economically rich. Both The Commons on Champa and Denver Startup Week went digital, expanding our reach beyond the Denver community and convening entrepreneurs from all over the world. Over 17,000 individuals were served through The Commons over
the past year and Startup Week reached entrepreneurs from over 40 countries. The spirit of innovation remained high, continuing to position Downtown Denver as a hub for startups, small
businesses, and more.
"Denver is consistently recognized as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Throughout the last year we have seen companies expand at a record-setting pace and we were able to move key programs like Denver Startup Week virtual to continue to unite the community and inspire entrepreneurs in Denver and beyond." - Erik Mitisek, CEO, Highwing
Held the first-ever digital Denver Startup Week, featuring: 18,000 virtual attendees, 231 free sessions, and garnishing 23,000+ views on YouTube. The event also hosted a Virtual Job Fair for 1,400+ attendees and 40+ hiring companies, and featured 50+ sessions focused on Accessibility and Diversity & Inclusion.
Released 2020 Downtown Denver Startup Report, showcasing Denver as a hub for tech talent.
The Commons on Champa celebrated 6 years in May and released the 2020-2021 Impact Report. Highlights include: 1,764 small businesses and served 17,500 individuals through programming that helped them start, grow and scale their companies.
The Commons on Champa continued to deliver on its promise to unite a diverse entrepreneurial community, hosting the Women's Best Pitch Awards.
& Business Together:
Business and people are what make Downtown Denver thrive. The Partnership innovated, bringing together people and business through effective policy work and hosting downtown activations to drive foot traffic to businesses. The Partnership also manages the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District (BID), which continued working diligently to support and serve downtown property owners, creating a beautiful space where people want to be, and keeping downtown safe and at-the-ready.
"2020 has been an exceptionally unpredictable year and the BID's response to some of the vandalism that occurred over the summer was both quick and effective. The city saw an immediate improvement in the restoration of its storefronts and landmarks." - Tiffany Owen, Area General Manager, Sage Hospitality
- Advocated for and secured patio expansions for downtown businesses.
Delivered 32,000 Downtown Denver Guidebooks to downtown offices, featuring deals from over 60 downtown retailers, restaurants, spas, hotels, and more.
Hosted Safety & Security Town Hall with Mayor Hancock to connect downtown businesses with the City on safety and security issues affecting our center city.
Security Action Plan 2.0 Launch, increasing private security presence by 50% and distributing a bimonthly Security Survey.
The BID, which is managed by the Downtown Denver Partnership, is a critical piece of creating a vibrant, thriving, and economically resilient center city. Over the past year, the BID successfully:
The Downtown Denver Business Improvement District (BID)
Produced the first-ever Summer Sidewalk Sale, supporting over 60 downtown businesses.
Hosted weekly security briefings, bringing in partners such as Denver Police Department, Department of Homeland Security, St. Francis Center, and more, since March 25, 2020.
- Renewed for another 10 years in June of 2021!
Launched the BID Clean & Safe App, a public-facing tool that allows the community to submit non-emergency safety and maintenance requests to the BID Clean and Safe teams.
The BID Clean Team cleared record-breaking snow.
2020-2021 Boards of Directors
Downtown Denver Partnership Management Group
Mike Zoellner, Chair
Downtown Denver, Inc.
Maja Rosenquist, Chair
John Freyer, Jr.
Brittany Morris Saunders
Hollie Velasquez Horvath
Denver Civic Ventures
Sarah Rockwell, Chair