Drawing from a fresh supply of voter-approved bond money, Denver is primed to spend $13 million overhauling the 16th Street Mall, $22 million on a new police station and hundreds of millions more on other projects.
The Denver City Council on Monday night signed off on the city issuing $366.4 million in new general obligation bonds to pay for the laundry list of projects. The bond issuance was approved as part of the council’s consent agenda. Council members did not call the ordinance up for comments or questions.
The new debt approved Monday comes from two voter-approved bond packages.
The 2017 “Elevate Denver” bond package authorized up to $937 million in spending on some 460 projects across the city. Monday’s measure is the fifth time the city has gotten approval to issue bonds from that package, with at least one more round of bonds likely coming in 2023, officials said.
The $246.1 million in Elevate bonds the City Council signed off on will fund more than 30 projects including the 16th Street Mall overhaul, a groundbreaking ceremony for which will be held this week. Denver Police Department District 6, which includes downtown and the Capitol Hill neighborhood, will be getting a new headquarters building supported by $22 million approved as part of Monday’s vote.
The Elevate bonds will also support upgrades to parks and reaction facilities including $17.2 million to fund the construction of a new recreation center in the Westwood neighborhood and $13.2 million for an indoor pool at the Swansea Recreation Center on East 49th Avenue.
The city also now has the green light to issue a combined $120.3 million in bonds from the Rise Denver package approved by voters in November. In that case, voters approved $260 million worth of bonds but rejected Mayor Michael Hancock’s biggest ask: $190 million to pay for two arena projects on the National Western Center campus.
The Rise bond money will go to more than two dozen projects. That includes $13 million for the reconstruction of Morrison Road in Westwood, $14.2 million for Department of Justice-mandate accessibility improvements to city facilities and $30 million for acquiring and upgrading shelters for people experiencing homelessness.
The city issued a press release Monday morning touting that its bond rating has been re-affirmed at a AAA level, the highest level possible for a municipal government. The rating is a sign to investors that the city’s finances are stable and that its bonds are worth buying.
Following Monday’s vote, the mayor’s office issued a news release touting the ways the bonds will benefit Denver, including adding 188 beds to the city’s homeless shelter network. Hancock is scheduled to tour a homeless shelter being funded through the bonds on Wednesday, administration officials said.
“With this $366 million issuance of Elevate and Rise bonds, we will generate tens of thousands of job opportunities, hundreds of millions of dollars in labor income for our residents, and significant sales activity for our business community,” Hancock said in a statement. “And at this critical time, we’re using our bond funding to support our housing initiatives, one of the most important issues facing our community.”
A full list of the projects set to be funded after Monday’s vote can be found below.
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