One of the most dramatic transformations in Downtown Denver that occurred during this past decade was the redevelopment of the Central Platte Valley, earning #5 in our Top 10 countdown of Denver’s Urbanism Achievements of the Aughts.
The Central Platte Valley began the decade as a mostly blank slate. By the end of the 1990s, the old viaducts that spanned the Valley had been removed or rebuilt, and the massive rail yard behind Union Station was history. Gone too were the big warehouses once found along Grinnell Court, a street hugging the edge of the Platte River that was also removed. The CPV Master Plan was ready for implementation. As the new decade dawned, construction was underway on Commons Park and Little Raven Street—their outlines can be seen in the first Google Earth image (October 1999) in the animation below.
Progress came quickly. By April 2003 (second image in the sequence), Commons Park, the Millennium Bridge, the three Riverfront Park condo buildings clustered around the bridge, the Manhattan, and the Archstone Apartments (now The Station) were all completed.
December 2004 (third image), construction has started on the Delgany, the Denver SkatePark was finished, the realignment of Little Raven at 20th Street was complete, and work had started on the Confluence Park Plaza.
By May 2006 (fourth image), a lot had changed. Monarch Mills, Creekside Lofts, and the Townhomes at Riverfront Park were finished and the Glass House, One Riverfront, the Brownstones, and the ArtHouse Townhomes were under construction.
The final image (July 2007) shows everything mostly complete and the Park One Riverfront and the Museum of Contemporary Art under construction. Since that final image, 1900 16th Street has joined the scene on the Union Station side of the tracks.
Despite the remarkable transformation of the Central Platte Valley since 2000, there is still quite a bit of work to go to complete the Riverfront Park Master Plan. The Cosmopolitan Club site at 15th and Little Raven, as well as four other parcels by the Brownstones and the Manhattan, remain as future development sites.
It’s now hard to imagine Downtown Denver without the Central Platte Valley as it is, yet it was only a decade ago that the area was a vast expanse of vacant land. Looking across the tracks, it makes one wonder what the area behind Union Station will be like in 2020. I can’t wait to find out.