Denver planners are considering a handful of options for replacing the stones MallRide buses roll over on the 16th Street Mall.
But the local preservation group Historic Denver sees only one option for the street: keep the current, intricate design.
“If we change the mall, that’s not a choice we’d be able to take back,” said John Olson, director of preservation programs for Historic Denver.
Olson and history lovers don’t want to lose the feel I.M. Pei incorporated into the 16th Street Mall when the renowned architect designed the space in the early ’80s. The Regional Transportation District doesn’t necessarily want to see $1 million go toward maintaining the unsafe, aging granite pavers each year.
RTD isn’t ruling out keeping the current design entirely. Two of the five options the organization presented to the public Thursday included keeping the original design.
We could leave the stones as they are and continue with the current maintenance costs or we can rehabilitate and reconstruct the entire street, said Susan Wood, planning and project manager at RTD.
Other options include redoing the street with one color of concrete, two colors of concrete or coming up with a hybrid design that incorporates what’s already present.
Planners are asking the public to weigh in now and expect to put a recommendation before the RTD Board in October.
The Downtown Denver Partnership is also purposing changes to the mall, including possibly relocating the free MallRide buses. That move could potentially reduce the wear and tear on the pavers and cut maintenance costs.
“These are two independent efforts, but we’re both very aware of each other,” Wood said. “How exactly at the end of the day the plans will fit together, we’re not sure.”
(Parting shot: Check out a bird’s eye view of the current pattern on 16th Street. We recommend you expand the photos to get a good look at the design.)
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