In 2040, nearly 900,000 people could live in Denver.
That’s the assumption behind a far-reaching set of plans that the city government introduced this morning. Together, they represent the government’s strategies for its next 22 years of growth, covering parks, transit and development.
The figure at the heart of all this — 894,000 residents — would represent a 21 percent expansion of Denver’s population.
“The reality is, this is our forecast and our projection. We don’t know to what level we will accomplish our forecasted numbers,” Mayor Michael Hancock said in an interview. “Our responsibility today is to plan for the future.”
The exact number will change with inevitable booms and busts. But the projection is part of a vision that will undergird Denver’s decisions in the decades to come. Known as Denveright, these new strategies include broad ideas as well as detailed recommendations for the city’s streets, transit systems, parks and development.
This is Denver’s first unified update to its overall city plans in nearly two decades. These new strategies are built around an assumption that Denver’s population will continue growing at roughly the same pace as it has over those 20 years.
Today, the city has nearly filled out all of the available open space within its borders, and it’s surrounded by fast-developing neighbor cities and suburbs. High housing prices have forced countless residents from their homes.
Meanwhile, the city’s builders have turned their focus to redevelopment — whether they’re building condos in residential neighborhoods or planning new urban districts on former industrial sites and even Elitch Gardens.
With those new challenges in mind, the plans outline how and where Denver will grow. They try to funnel new development into dense urban centers and along busy corridors, which could be upgraded with new transit services. They call for new architecture rules that could stop the next annoying architectural style, such as slot homes. And they introduce new ideas about social justice and equity.
“It’s a waste of time to focus on whether we can stop growth. What you do is ask whether you can plan for growth responsibly,” Hancock said when asked about the assumptions of new development in the plan.
“There’s anti-growth sentiment all over the nation. … I think what people are most concerned about is their quality of life and the uniqueness of the neighborhood.”
Of course, it’s all hypothetical for now. The plans represent the vision and philosophy of Mayor Michael Hancock and his administration. They don’t guarantee that anything will be done — instead, that depends on the Denver City Council and the mayor’s future actions.