DENVER -- The Downtown Denver Sheraton opened its doors for residents to see the newly renovated, $80 million hotel and conference center on Thursday.
The hotel, that sits on the Eastern side of the 16th Street Mall, is reopening during a crucial time in the city, where business is coming back to downtown, but still needs significant investment to bring prosperity back to downtown.
"With the Sheraton and the 16th Street Mall and some other major investments we're making, we're gonna fight like hell to make this a place people want to come and feel safe and enjoy themselves," said Mayor Michael Hancock, who attended the reopening event at the Sheraton. "Denver is proud of its vibrant downtown. And we may have slipped a little bit with some of the challenges we face, but we never give up in the game of being a destination."
The city is also beginning its $150 million renovation of the 16th Street Mall in the coming months. The goal is to make the corridor more walkable and give more outdoor space to businesses that line the street.
"It's about getting people downtown, reminding them about the the vibrancy of the city and why we love it," said Kate Barton, the executive vice president of the Downtown Denver Partnership. "Being able to activate our public spaces is critical to safety and making sure that we have all sorts of people in our center city."
Data show that foot traffic has made a huge comeback since 2020. On average, nearly 200,000 people visit the downtown area every day. That is approaching the numbers seen in 2019. Also, events like the Taste of Colorado over Labor Day bring in visitors from out of the city. This year, the event drew more than 500,000 people.
Though the downtown area has made progress since the height of the pandemic in 2020, many vacant storefronts still line the street on the 16th Street Mall. Barton hopes that the revitalization project will bring businesses back as well.
"We're excited that after ten years of planning and a very, very robust public process, the 16th Street Mall will undergo a complete revitalization," said Barton. "The future of the mall is really bright. And we're excited to watch that project come to life."