16th Street Mall is a big deterrent for convention planners looking at Denver

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Police vehicles were positioned along the 16th Street Mall during a press conference about safety on Monday, June 27, 2016. (Andrew Kenney / Denverite)

Police vehicles were positioned along the 16th Street Mall during a press conference about safety last month. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

When Visit Denver polled convention planners last year, they had some harsh words for Denver and the 16th Street Mall.

“I’m sorry but I would never consider putting attendees in danger by holding a convention in your city,” wrote one respondent in an Aug. 15, 2015, email quoted in the report.

Visit Denver shared the report with Denver City Council at a retreat on homelessness last year. CBS4’s Brian Maass broke the story, and Denver Business Journal has more of the highlights (or lowlights, really).

“The homeless situation is very sad, and public streets reek of weed,” the respondent added.

It’s worth noting that this complaint was made almost a year before the recent spate of violence on the 16th Street Mall. As we learned from the Denver police chief a couple weeks ago, there has been very little increase in the number of arrests and citations around the mall in the last three years. What we’re seeing now, he said, was part of a natural fluctuation.

Still, the police department has said it will patrol the area more.

Conventions are big business in Denver, and knowing about this report provides some additional context for the city’s response.

It’s hard to say whether that will put convention planners at ease. The new Visit Denver report found that “nearly 50 percent of meeting planners negatively commented on homeless, youth, panhandling, safety, cleanliness and drugs including public marijuana consumption.”

 

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