Mayor Michael Hancock delivered the State of the City address at the Forney Museum of Transportation this morning. It was a fitting location for the speech, which had plenty of references to transportation. Besides being an ode to the city’s economic improvements, and a long list of thank you’s, Hancock’s speech alluded to some recent changes and future projects that are worth taking note of.

To summarize, the mayor highlighted a hopeful effort to expand affordable housing and 24-hour shelters within the city in order to curtail the Denver housing problem. He urged the city to take caution during the installment of Amendment 64, announced Transparent Denver (a glass door into municipal spending), and spotlighted local and international transportation expansions.

But what really interested us from Hancock’s address was the focus on Denver International Airport, which earned high-ranks among other international airports this year. “From horse-drawn carriages to 21st century jet liners, Denver has grown from an isolated mining town to an up-and-coming metropolis,” Hancock said. He alluded to several projects focused on making Denver more of an international player, including operation expansions, the indoctrination of the direct flight to Tokyo, the soon-to-come FasTracks (an RTD line from the city to DIA), and the opening of an International Welcome Center.

So what was Hancock really talking about? As part of a new series where complicated—and often confusing issues in Colorado—are explained, we’re going to give you the 101 on what is actually going on.

Break it Down:

The first direct flight from Denver to Tokyo was celebrated just last month. The new route to Narita International Airport, a major access point for other parts of Asia, is expected to bring the state more than $130 million in overall economic growth, according to DIA spokesman Heath Montgomery. It also has the potential to create 1,500 new jobs and bring more than 33,000 new visitors to the Centennial State each year.

FasTracks, slated to open in early 2016, will run from Union Station to a not-yet-built Westin Hotel on the south side of the airport’s main terminal. The hotel, which should open in 2015 with 519 rooms, is also expected to increase tourism and give Denver an economic boost.

The mayor also announced an International Welcome Center, which will be umbrealla-ed by the Office of Human Rights and Community Partnerships. According to Hancock’s speech, the center will “establish Denver as a global destination for commerce, trade, and culture.” It will coordinate business efforts, connect Denver to its international communities, and “boost tourism and economic development.”

We’ll keep a report card on Hancock’s goals for next year. In the meantime, what else do you think DIA needs in order to be a better airport?

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Jerilyn Forsythe
Jerilyn Forsythe
Jerilyn Forsythe is a freelance writer and editor, and 5280's former digital associate editor. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter @jlforsyt.