Population: 634,265 (2012 estimate)
Sources: Tamara Door, president and CEO, Downtown Denver Partnership; Rich Grant, spokesman for Visit Denver
Q. What are you key downtown developments?
A. The 16th Street Mall, Colorado Convention Center, Coors Field, Elitch Gardens, Pepsi Center, Sports Authority Field at Mile High (formerly Invesco Field at Mile High)
Q: Was there an overriding strategy or philosophy that guided your actions?
A: One thing Denver has done extremely well and gotten us to the point where we are today is that we are great at creating plans and creating the culture to focus on achieving those plans. Our last 20-year plan was created in 2007. These plans include five vision elements, seven transformative projects - such as revitalizing the Civic Center - and 1,000 small steps. ... When we move forward, we don't have to ask at every step of the way whether this is the next big project. The plan doesn't dictate the course, just the goal.
Q: What problems did you identify in your downtown?
A: In 1979, downtown Denver had seven department stores, several big theaters, the Top of the Rockies restaurant and the area was doing great. Then you had the oil bust and the second-most overbuilt office market in the country after Houston.
Q: What key projects contributed to your downtown's revitalization?
A: It is never just one project. There are key projects that are highly visible and their impact has been tenfold when you look at the secondary economic benefits. We committed to building a convention center and headquarters hotel. That set the stage for bringing more people to the community. When people visit, more will decide to move their company here. The 16th Street Mall, Coors Field and Invesco (Field at Mile High, now Sports Authority Field at Mile High) were game changers. We also have attracted more entertainment and cultural facilities to the central city, and we made sure to develop around those facilities. You don't just build facilities, you have to make sure successful businesses are built around them. It has been said that downtown development is a three-legged stool: You need public buildings, stadiums and museums, you need private investment, shops and nightclubs and you also need residents.
Q: What did it take to achieve your goals?
A: We had a framework on our (20-year) plan that was so solid, it stood the test of time. You have to be committed to the vision, be unified in that vision and think big.
Q: What kind of funding sources were used?
A: More than a dozen times, people voted for tax increases to help Denver become a better city, including special sales taxes to build Coors Field and Invesco Field at Mile High, a new public library, an art museum and to expand light rail. The state appropriated money to build the convention center, which was later expanded, and the Pepsi Center was privately funded. Altogether, the investments in the projects exceed $2 billion.
Q: What obstacles did you encounter and how did you overcome them?
A: Absolutely there have been obstacles and resistance, but if you engage the community - the public, private and nonprofit sections - you will be able to break down barriers if people believe they are part of it. You want to enable a wide variety of ideas and debate them. The more stakeholders you have at the table that are part of the process, the greater the likelihood that (the elements of the plan) will happen.