Civic Center Park flanks some of the city’s most prominent buildings, like the City and County Building and the Denver Art Museum, but it hasn’t necessarily felt welcoming lately. Add drug use to tent cities that come and go, and the green space has almost become a visual representation of social ills in Denver. It doesn’t help that the only public bathroom in the vicinity not behind a security checkpoint requires you to keep the door open.
It isn’t all bad, of course. The park also hosts cherished community festivals like the Civic Center EATS food truck rally and the Black Love Mural Festival. Plus, the park itself is lush and gorgeous.
It’s just in need of a makeover.
The Civic Center Conservancy, the nonprofit that has been in charge of the park for the last fifteen years, has taken up the cause, launching a project called the Civic Center Next 100 in February.
“This whole effort is about ensuring Civic Center stays active and thriving for all of our generations to come,” Conservancy Director Eric Lazzari explained. “Civic Center needs to be more than just our community’s large event space – it needs to be a space that is attractive to use every single day.”
The project will focus on four areas. These include outfitting the Greek theater with new audio-visual features, shade structures and staging, creating a new central gathering place at the heart of the park, and adding new pedestrian features to Bannock Street in front of the City and County Building. A newly-designed central promenade aims to connect everything.
The Conservancy has also floated ideas about public light features, fountains, garden infrastructure and public art celebrating Indigenous people.
These are all big projects, and they will all cost money. Lazzari said the only project with funding already locked down is the Greek theater, which has $4 million in Elevate Denver bond funding earmarked. All the other projects will have to rely on a mix of public and private money to get off the ground. The Conservancy will also raise private funds if necessary.
“Each of these projects, as funds are available, moves into another level of city procurement design and then construction,” Lazzari explained. These phases might also include more community input down the line. “You’re looking at a newly done Greek Theater in maybe 2025. So we’re on a very long time horizon here.”
Here’s where you come in.
The next two community meetings will be held sometime in August and early September.