- Mayor Hancock makes second State of the City Address today.
- Construction and housing take center stage.
- Hancock calls to fix broken Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance.
Construction, development and housing were among the key points Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock addressed when he delivered his second State of the City Address on Monday.
“Construction and development are driving our economy forward, positioning Denver as the ideal place to start a business, build a career and raise a family,” Hancock said, at the event attended by 500 at the Forney Museum of Transportation.
During the past year, Denver added 15,000 jobs and 1,000 new businesses, he said.
“Joblessness has dropped two points since 2011 and our housing market is one of the strongest in the nation,” Hancock continued.
He said the best is yet to come.
“The state of Denver is strong – poised to get stronger – and primed to compete in the global economy,” Hancock said.
Indeed, during his 30-minute address, Hancock emphasized the importance of linking Denver to the rest of the world, introducing plans to better connect Denver residents, neighborhoods and businesses with the tools to compete and succeed in today’s global economy.
“From horse-drawn carriages to 21st century jet liners, Denver has grown from an isolated mining town to an up-and-coming metropolis,” Hancock said. “We are a smart, cutting-edge city linked by walking trails, bike paths, highways, light rail, and nonstop flights that create bridges – connections – that will open up a world of opportunities for our children, neighbors and businesses.”
Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance Broken
However, he said Denver’s inclusionary Housing Ordinance is not working, even though he added the city “helped deliver 500 more units of affordable housing,” last year. The ordinance was first adopted by the Denver City Council in 2002.
“Its unbalanced requirement of developers to provide affordable units is plagued with loopholes and inconsistencies,” Hancock said.
He said the city has launched two programs to assist people buying homes, but “there are still too many barriers and too few options.”
He thanked City Councilwoman Robin Kniech for her leadership to “overhaul this broken ordinance, in partnership with the Denver Housing Authority and City Council.”
“We need to build, rehab and preserve at least 600 units per year for the next five years,” Hancock said
“But we can’t do this alone. I am asking local nonprofits, private sector developers and the financial community to help the city deliver on the goal of three thousand workforce units in the next five years.”
Hancock said underway public-private partnership already are delivering affordable rental units at Union Station in downtown.
“This is the kind of collaboration Denver needs to connect every corner of our city.”
Speaking of downtown, he said it supports “more than one-fourth of all Denver jobs and is home to 17,000 residents. By 2015, more than $1 billion in projects will open in this area, including Union Station.
“Multimodal transportation, diverse housing options and increased retail are set to draw additional jobs, businesses and visitors to our city core,” the mayor continued.
“To keep up the momentum, I have proposed significant investments to open additional access with two-way streets; improve parking accessibility; refurbish the now 30-year-old 16th Street Mall; and deliver a new school and grocery store for families.”
Hancock also emphasized the importance of neighborhoods.
“Just as every resident matters, so does every neighborhood,” Hancock said. “We must better connect neighborhoods to resources and opportunities, particularly those that are underserved and overlooked. By strengthening our neighborhoods, we strengthen our city’s global connectivity.”
Denver has transformed neighborhood before, he said.
“Remember LoDo before there was a Coors Field or a Wynkoop Brewery? Remember LoHi before the Millennium Bridge and the Confluence Park upgrades? That kind of bold, transformational change occurs when intentional public investment meets broad-based strategic partnerships.
“Right here in Elyria, Swansea and Globeville, we will reconnect these historic neighborhoods to a better future.
He added that a “coordinated push on six key projects we will vastly improve the health of the South Platte River; turn Brighton Boulevard into an inviting gateway to downtown; reconstruct I-70 in a way that reconnects these neighborhoods and businesses; deliver more accessibility with new commuter and light rail stations; implement neighborhood revitalization plans; and partner with the National Western Stock Show to create a year-round destination.
Accomplishments he highlighted included:
- Denver voters overwhelmingly passing Measure 2A, which he described as a “smart and fiscally responsible solution that is helping to eliminate the city’s budget deficit, strengthen the city’s economy and restore essential services.”
- Measure 2A also allows more than 90,000 Denver students now have free, year-round access to the city’s recreation centers, pools and libraries with the MY Denver Card.
- The Mayor’s Peak Performance initiative, in which city employees identified $7 million in savings while improving processes over the past year.
- Connecting businesses to global opportunities. From direct access to capital to five new non-stop connections and three new airlines for tourism and commerce.
- Violent crime is down 13 percent in Denver.
- The opening of the West Rail Line on FasTracks, means that Denver now has more than 30 commuter rail stations that are being leveraged to elevate and reconnect overlooked neighborhoods such as Sun Valley, Elyria-Swansea and Globeville.
Hancock also announced programs and priorities that he said will help Denver become a more globally connected and competitive city:
- Strengthening the way the city supports international businesses, foreign visitors and immigrant residents in Denver by creating the International Welcome Center, which will focus on establishing Denver as a global destination for commerce and culture.
- Increasing livability for all Denver residents by proposing 24-hour rest and resource station, as well as a courtyard and safe space for daytime use, to serve the homeless in Denver.
- The city will support early stage companies and encourage innovation in Denver’s ideas economy by opening an entrepreneurism and technology center in downtown that will offer strategic advisers and thoughtful connections to resources.
- This fall, the city will launch a program to ensure the youngest learners get a smart start that will prepare them for educational success, beginning with kindergarten.
- To help prevent crime and keep the residents of this great city safe, in addition to getting more officers out on patrol, the city will hire more than 100 new officers for the first time in five years.
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