Photo: Could this be the I-70 view if Denver is awarded the 2026 Winter Olympics?
Remember when Denver rejected the 1976 Winter Olympics because of cost and congestion? Well, it may be happening again, 50 years later.
Denver has grown from 450,000 to over 700,00 residents over that period and the suburbs and front range have exploded – especially since the financial collapse in 2007-2008. The state of Colorado gained over 100,000 new residents in 2015 and the trend has been continuing according to The Denver Post. Colorado currently has a population of 5.7 million and is expected to grow to 8 million by 2050, a 40% increase which will continue to put a strain on resources – taxes, schools, housing, roads, water, parks, etc..
Today, Denver is much more welcoming of growth and nary a ‘Native’ or “Don’t Californicate Colorado” sticker can be seen. But is the openness to growth about to end as Denver streets get more crowded, waits get longer and the cost of living continues to climb?
According to reports, Denver and Salt Lake City are in the early stages of possibly bidding for the 2026 Winter Olympics. The event would require venue and infrastructure work and will tie Denver and mountain communities in knots for over three weeks. Salt Lake City already has the venues and infrastructure from hosting a prior Olympics and Park City appears keen to bid on the US Olympic as well.
Video: Denver looks to host large events such as the 2026 Olympics, SuperBowl, and NFL Draft
Could Denver be the first potential host city to reject the Olympics twice? And, even if the infrastructure was privately funded, would the benefits outweigh the negatives?
In addition to organic growth and current migration, the City of Denver and surrounding suburbs are pushing some huge projects with large tax incentives to lure even more people to the Mile High City.
There is also a fair amount of speculation that Denver is the top candidate for Amazon’s second headquarters which will be awarded to the ‘winning city’. That would bring another 50,000 jobs and thousands of new residents – along with the associated infrastructure strain. Amazon’s plan calls for operations to be located within close proximity to the airport.
Video: Denver is pushing to land Amazon’s second headquarters
They will have company on the eastern plains.
The Gaylord Rockies, the largest hotel and convention center in the region (85-acres, two million-square-feet, and 1500 rooms), is currently being built in the shadow of the Denver International Airport. 180,000 rooms have been booked before the planned 2018 opening.
Oh, and who could forget the 75 story tower going up at 17th and California that will dwarf every other building in downtown Denver. Inside would be a million square feet of space. The lower levels would include a hotel and retail space. Most of the floors, including the top of the tower, would be home to 248 luxury condos and penthouses.
Denver and the surrounding suburbs continue to dole out city, state, and county incentives to draw additional large firms to move to the area, further exacerbating the strain on the infrastructure and quality of life. Denver, Broomfield and Jefferson County have aggressive offers on the table to recruit new businesses to the region.
Video: Denver is trying to improve quality of life in the midst of explosive growth.
Denver metro residents already feel the strain of the current explosive growth. The City of Denver’s Blueprint for the Future is looking at ways to improve the quality of life in Denver while growing at the same time. But, the city must balance the needs of current residents against their desire to increase the tax base by luring more business and people to the region.
One has to wonder how welcoming Denver residents will be once these large-scale projects and others come on-line.
Is the Denver metro area becoming a victim of its own success?