City working to reinvent image of 16th Street Mall

A string of violent encounters downtown has changed the image of the popular tourist trap. The city's working to combat that.

The 16th Street Mall is a popular area in Denver for tourists and locals, but it isn't always shown in the best light following a string of violent encounters downtown.

A city organization is working to help reinvent its image with the kick-off of its summer event series.

Tami Door is the President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership, the organization helping change the mall.

“The 16th Street Mall is the number one visited destination in this area,” Door said.

Over the last year, a lot has changed. There are more businesses, more people and even new areas for kids to play.

“We want to make sure that its safe welcoming and inclusive,” Door said.

After several reports of crimes and a number of violent encounters caught on camera the Downtown Denver Partnership began making changes to the mall.

“We really didn't have high crime numbers we had some situations that made people feel unsafe,” Door said.

For that reason, the mall has an increased police presence and a security team was hired for an extra set of eyes.

Ken Mondragon has lived right in the center of the mall for over 13 years.

“I've noticed this summer the crime seems to be less, I don't hear as many sirens or see as many cop cars,” Mondragon said.

There is something he says has not changed much.

“More homeless people hanging around,” Mondragon said.

Chase Groeger is homeless and has been coming to the mall since 2012. He has a different outlook on the increased police and security.

“We get harassed by cops a lot and all we do is stand here,” Groeger said.

While standing is allowed, police and security are cracking down on aggressive panhandling, which many homeless are accused of.

“There is other homeless people that give us a bad name by the messes that they leave we clean up after ourselves,” Groeger said.

He has worked lined up but right now he is just trying to get from today to tomorrow.

“I'm not trying to hurt anybody by trying to make a couple bucks out here or cause a scene by having my backpack here,” Groeger said.

He said he's all for the mall growing and changing for the better, he just doesn't want to be pushed out in the process.

“I'm just trying to get by like everybody else," Groeger said.

Get by on the 16th Street Mall - which is shared by everybody in Denver.

More lights were also added to the area -- to keep it well lit at night. They have also closed the alleys off to the general public to cut down on illegal activity.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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