Hancock outlines plan to lift Denver’s poorest neighborhoods

DENVER — Mayor Michael Hancock heralded Denver has a global city in his second “State of the City” address Monday morning while promising to jump-start stalled projects to revitalize some of the city’s forgotten neighborhoods.

Hancock spoke at the Forney Transportation Museum on Brighton Boulevard near a deteriorating Stock Show complex, a crumbling Interstate 70 viaduct that CDOT may soon replace and just a stone’s throw from Elyria-Swansea, one of Denver’s poorest residential areas.

“We must better connect neighborhoods to resources and opportunities, particularly those that are under-served and overlooked,” Hancock said. “By strengthening our neighborhoods, we strengthen our city’s global connectivity.

“With 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.”

Hancock, elected mayor in 2011, mentioned the Biennial of Americas, which begins this week, and new non-stop service between DIA and Narita, Japan that started last month as evidence of Denver’s rise to global prominence.

And he outlined challenges on the horizon, including the implementation of Amendment 64.

In his first two years in office, Hancock has dealt with some of the city’s most pressing concerns, closing a structural fiscal gap by convincing citizens to approve a property tax hike, hiring a new police chief and pushing the city council to adopt a controversial ban on outdoor camping that had the intended effect of finally clearing Occupy Denver protesters from Civic Center Park.

Hancock said the city continues to help the city’s homeless.

“We cannot as a civilized society – as a global city – allow men, women and children to sleep on the streets,” he said.

“Since last year, my team has been working hard to increase services for the homeless. Using Recreation Centers and other city buildings, we provided shelter for an average of 225 men and women on cold winter nights. We also connected 1,200 homeless individuals and families to service providers and resources.”

For the first time in five years, the Denver Police Department will hire a new class of recruits.