By Makenzie O'Keefe

DENVER (CBS4)– The City of Denver is looking into proposals to close down select commercial corridors to traffic, to help provide more space for restaurants and shops. The Downtown Denver Partnership sent a letter addressed to Mayor Hancock in May, proposing the idea.

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“When we think about getting through this public health crisis, we’ve got to do things differently,” explained Randy Thelen, with the DDP. “And we started listening to our restaurants and our retailers, they wanted and needed more space to grow.”

The letter sent to the city outlines how the plan would work, and how impactful it would be for businesses if implemented. Right now, the city is working with restaurants to expand their patios into sidewalks and parking lots.

“I think people feel more comfortable outside right now,” explained Gary Mantelli, the owner of West of Surrender. “It’s airy, it’s wide open.”

Mantelli’s restaurant sits right on the corner of Glenarm Place and the 16th Street Mall. He said he’s working to obtain a permit to build a side patio, and expand his dining into the pedestrian mall.

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“I’m going to put some ropes up and have about seven tables out there for people to enjoy,” Mantelli said. “It’s just going to create a different vibe that people can maybe get behind and I think it’ll be exciting.”

Glenarm Place, where his restaurant sits, is one of the roadways the DDP suggested the city consider temporarily shutting down for expansion.

“It’s really tough to make a go of it with a restaurant with limited hours and limited seating, so this allows them to grow their seating capacity and give them a better shot of been economically successful,” Thelen said. “And I think people are ready to go to their favorite restaurants and to do so safely.”

The City of Denver said right now, they’ve only received proposals for road closures along Glenarm Place and Larimer Street. The city said they are reviewing the proposals.

The partner owner of Riojas, on Larimer Square, said she is pushing for the idea to use the street as outdoor dining after the challenges COVID-19 and capacity caps have brought.

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“Having the additional revenue coming is make or break for us,” explained Beth Gruitch , a partner of Riojas. “We really aren’t in a position to pay rent at half capacity.”

Gruitch said every summer Larimer Square closes down for a few days for an event called Al Fresco Dining. That has proven to be successful, and something she feels could help businesses if it were implemented fully this summer.

“So we’ve had a little snippet of what that looks like, and the challenges of the set up with that. But knowing we can expand our patios out there, would be amazing,” Gruitch said.

Makenzie O'Keefe

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