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Archive of posts filed under the Historic Preservation category.

Denver Union Station Update #128: The Historic Station Opens!

As we near our final update on the Denver Union Station redevelopment, there is one final milestone in the project that has been reached: the historic station is now open to the public! On Saturday July 12th, Union Station had a soft opening, meaning only a portion of the ground floor retail and amenities inside the building are open. The grand opening and block party will be on July 26th!

To sum it up in a few words, the inside of the historic station looks absolutely incredible. Everything from the new benches and couches, to the historically accurate chandeliers, this building has gone through a complete transformation. I encourage you to head to our post from December 2012 to see the before photos!

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There will be two bars in the station. One on the ground floor and the other on the mezzanine level. The ‘Terminal Bar’ on the ground floor will feature benches on the outside as well as a seating room inside the bar.

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The second level bar will feature multiple couches and chairs along the eastern portion of the mezzanine. Bar seating is also available with a great view of 17th Street!

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The ground floor retail outside the station is done incredibly well. The patios hug the station closely with entrances scattered throughout the wing buildings.

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Last but not least, here are two views I was able to capture from the mezzanine level; one from a hotel room looking towards the Union Station neighborhood and the other from the mezzanine bar!

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This project will be complete by July 26th! We will see you at the grand opening! As the date nears, we will provide you with more information and details about the event.

Denver Union Station Update #121

Good news has recently been delivered by RTD about the opening day for Denver Union Station: May 9th, 2014! While there is still a lot of work to be done, we are finally starting to see everything come together. In this update, we are going to take a look at the redevelopment from Wynkoop Street, Millennium Bridge, and the 18th Street Pedestrian Bridge.

Let’s start with the wing buildings. Over the past couple weeks the tower cranes have been removed from both sites and we can start to get a sense of scale for these buildings. Here’s the North Wing building. A lot of the brick facade has gone up and thanks to the wind moving some plastic coverings around, we can see the glassy portion facing Wynkoop Plaza.

Here is a view of how the North Wing building fits in along with the historic station.

Now that there are no tower cranes in the picture, you can see the South Wing building is very architecturally similar to the North Wing building.

Trees have been planted at Wynkoop Plaza and the plumbing for fountains has started to get filled in. Also, right now is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the entire historic station wrapped in scaffolding!

Here is something I have yet to do with these updates: A panorama of the progress being made behind the station. This first one is off of Millennium Bridge. Here we can see (going left to right) the new lightrail station and plaza, the Alta City House parking structure, Chestnut Pavilion, the new mall shuttle loop, Cadence, the 1650 Wewatta crane, the commuter rail canopy, and the South Wing building. Make sure you click to zoom! Click here for a super high-resolution version!

Here is another view off of the 18th Street pedestrian bridge. There are still a lot of empty parcels that need to be filled in but progress is being made quicker than we expected! Click here for a super-high resolution version!

May 9th is coming up soon! This will be the last summer we will be following the construction of this great project!

Denver Union Station Update #118

We’ve just covered the IMA Financial Center in Update #116 and 1701 16th in Update #117, so let’s take a quick look at what’s in between—the historic Denver Union Station, of course!—plus downtown’s newest public space, Wynkoop Plaza.

Wynkoop Plaza will feature a large water-jet-type public fountain in front of the historic station’s south wing. The infrastructure for the fountain has been under construction for several months:

The north and south wing buildings being set back a bit from the property line will allow Wynkoop Plaza to extend all the way to the corners of 16th and 18th Streets. In the photo below, the plaza area in front of the south wing building is being graded. Plaza construction in front of the historic station’s north wing (which will feature seating and a grove of trees) is further along; the plaza’s concrete base has been poured and holes for the street trees have been cut out:

The historic station, which is getting a full restoration inside and out, will have retail/restaurant spaces and public transit waiting areas on the ground floor and a 110-room hotel on the upper floors. Parts of the historic wings have already been scrubbed clean and repaired, and now the facade of the Great Hall is getting a major makeover:

Let’s end with our double-sized bonus photo. Here’s a once-in-lifetime photo of the iconic facade of Denver Union Station covered in scaffolding:

Coming up… Wewatta Street is open!

Denver Union Station: A Final Look Inside Before The Restoration

Last Saturday, DenverInfill and Union Station Advocates co-hosted an informal public open house at Denver Union Station for anyone who wanted to stop by for one last look inside the historic station before it is closed for the next year and a half for its long-awaited restoration and conversion into a mixed-use transit center with shops, restaurants, and a boutique hotel.

Despite the number of times I’ve been inside the station—I’ve given about 50 Union Station tours since October 2010—I realized I didn’t really have many decent photos of the inside of Union Station’s great hall. So, I arrived at the station about an hour early on Saturday to take some photos before the crowds arrived. It was a beautiful summer-like December 1st, already pushing 60 degrees by 9:00 AM. As I expected, the station was deserted. Since 2011 when the light rail station moved to its new location at the other end of the Union Station transit district and Amtrak moved to its temporary location at 21st and Wewatta, Union Station has been even quieter than normal, and “normal” for the past few decades has been pretty darn quiet already.

I had the great hall to myself for nearly half an hour. The intense Denver morning sun was streaming through the big east windows, as it has for the past 35,000 mornings. I was alone, yet I could sense the enduring presence of the millions of people who have passed through that voluminous space over the past century: people eagerly awaiting visitors from far away, people saying goodbye to friends and loved ones for perhaps the last time. The complete absence of people in such a historic public place left me feeling pensive—not in a sad way, as if the building was about to be torn down—but in a serene way, knowing that a momentous and welcome transformation was about to begin.

Here are a few photos of Denver Union Station’s last sunny Saturday morning before the renovation begins:

In 2016, pass through these doors and step onto a train that will transport you directly into the terminal at Denver International Airport:

Let’s head up to the great hall’s mezzanine. There’s something special about this space. I always feel content there. Maybe it’s the awesome view down 17th Street or just all the natural daylight. Regardless, this is going to make a great hotel lounge:


The view overlooking the great hall is special too:



The old station will be getting some well-deserved TLC and, yes, those hideous florescent chandeliers will be replaced with replicas of the original light fixtures:


The stairways and hallways leading to the mezzanine:



Finally, the world’s most uncomfortable benches (maybe some cushions are in their future?):


Take care, Union Station. See you in 2014!


Special Denver Union Station Gathering this Saturday!

Denver Union Station’s closure for its long-anticipated makeover is finally here. The station will close to the public after this weekend so that workers can begin the year-and-a-half process of restoring the structure to its former glory and adding new hotel, restaurant, and retail uses to the historic landmark. The “new” Denver Union Station will open, along with the rest of the transit infrastructure under construction nearby, in 2014.

To celebrate the station’s pending transformation and to take one last look at the inside of the “old” station, DenverInfill and Union Station Advocates will be hosting an informal gathering inside Union Station’s Great Hall, this Saturday, December 1, 2012 from 10:00 AM to Noon. This is not our usual DenverInfill walking tour, nor is it an open house per se. It’s just two hours this coming Saturday morning when anyone who’s a fan of Union Station can stop by and check out the Great Hall one last time before it closes for restoration.

Stop in and take a look at the various project renderings posted around the inside of the station. See the dramatic Commuter Rail canopy structure being erected immediately next to the station to the west. Snap a few pictures of what Union Station “used to” look like for posterity’s sake. I will be there, along with many of my fellow Union Station Advocates board members, hanging out to help answer any questions you may have about the project. And around 11:00 AM, Dana Crawford, our city’s most honored historic preservationist and Denver Union Station hotel developer, will say a few words about the upcoming restoration.

Remember, this Saturday morning is your final opportunity to see our beloved historic station before its “reveal” in 2014: the centennial of the 1914 Great Hall and the 133rd anniversary of the two historic wings.

Denver Union Station Reuse Options?

Over at DenverUrbanism, we’ve just uploaded a special feature taking a look at two proposals that have been recently announced for the reuse of the historic Denver Union Station building. As you know, construction is in full swing on the RTD transit elements at Union Station. Now it’s time to focus in on the renovation and reuse of the historic station.

Start with this introduction post on the topic, followed by this post about Union Station Neighborhood Company’s idea for a public market, and this post about a group led by Dana Crawford that want to bring a boutique hotel to Union Station. Read all about it (and comment on it) over at DenverUrbanism!

Rossonian, Five Points, Set for Major Revitalization

Great things are about to happen in Denver’s historic Five Points district along Welton Street. The former Rossonian Hotel, once the center of Denver’s jazz scene in the early 1900s, has stood vacant for years at the five-point intersection of Welton, 27th Street, E. 26th Avenue, and Washington Street. That is about to change.

Many people have been working for many years to jump start the Welton Street corridor’s revitalization, and finally those efforts are paying off. Two of the leaders of the Five Points revitalization effort are Carl Bourgeois and Chris Coble, both with Civil Technology, Inc. Carl, Chris, and their team are about to transform the historic Rossonian into a mixed-use project with ground-floor restaurant and office spaces above, while preserving the building’s historic facade. You can read more about the Rossonian’s renovation and the evolution of Five Points at Chris’s blog. Here’s a photo (courtesy of Chris) of the Rossonian during the Five Points Jazz Festival.


The Rossonian renovation project will be complete in 2012.

But that’s not all. Civil Technology, Inc. has four additional projects planned for some of the vacant parcels in the vicinity of the Rossonian. These new construction projects include:

- A boutique hotel (125 rooms) with 30-50 residential units above and ground-floor retail, scheduled for 2013 completion

- A mixed-use project including approximately 20,000 SF of retail and 80,000 SF of office space with residential apartments above, scheduled for 2014 completion

- A shared parking garage facility with ground-floor retail, scheduled for 2014 completion

- A 15-unit upscale urban brownstones project featuring 3 and 4 floor units, scheduled for 2015 completion

The Welton Street corridor is one of the city’s oldest commercial districts surrounded by some of Denver’s best Victorian-era homes. The transformation of the Rossonian and associated projects will likely be the catalyst that restores the historic vitality to this important Denver neighborhood.

Colorado National Bank Hotel Conversion Underway

I recently had the opportunity to view the interior of the historic Colorado National Bank building that has sat vacant at the corner of 17th and Champa for about four years. As you may recall from a DenverInfill blog post from December 2009, the building will be renovated and expanded to become a new botique hotel. Here’s a bit more about the project:

The owner/developer is Stonebridge, a Denver-based hospitality development firm, which recently completed the Hilton Garden Inn at 14th and Welton, and the project architect is JG Johnson Architects, which specializes in hospitality design. The plan is to add two floors to the top of the building (set back from the existing roof line), renovate/restore the existing six-story structure, and add a new stairwell and entryway on the building’s southwest side that faces a small surface parking lot. That surface lot is also owned by Stonebridge, so it will be used for a new glass porte-cochère and a few spaces for short-term guest check-in parking. All other parking for the hotel will be provided as a valet service to leased spaces off site. The main pedestrian entrance faces 17th Street and features the bank’s grand metal doors.

Here are a couple of images, courtesy of JG Johnson Architects, showing the proposed addition:

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As the first image shows, the shape of the addition is like a square donut, with the hole serving as a light well for rooms that will face the interior. For this reason, a hole will be cut into the center of the top three floors of the existing building so that light can penetrate down through all but the first three floors.

The facade design and materials of the addition have not been finalized, but as these concept images above show, the addition will clearly reflect a contemporary design and feature a contrasting dark color to the historic building’s white facade.

A few other facts about the building: It will have 230 rooms, banquet/meeting rooms in the basement (including one inside the bank’s vault), a ground-floor restaurant and retail space, and a lounge in the mezzanine overlooking the lobby. The hotel is planned to be branded a Marriott Renaissance, a Marriott brand not yet found in Denver but one that often features hotels in historic or converted buildings (thus, the name “renaissance”). Currently, some remediation and interior demolition work is taking place. In May or June, the curb lane of Champa next to the building will be closed down and a crane positioned there to begin actual construction of the addition and major renovation work. If all goes as planned, the hotel will open in Fall 2012.

One other note about this building: it is absolutely beautiful inside and, once finished, in my opinion, it will become one of Denver’s swankiest and hippest hotels. The lobby is spectacular, and features a three-story atrium with classical marble colonnades and 16 large murals by famed artist Allen Tupper True. The murals will be protected during the restoration and will remain as one of the building’s prominent features.

Here are a few photos of the lobby I took several months ago before interior work began. I was using my phone camera and no flash so the quality isn’t the greatest:

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The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of the Downtown Denver Historic District. The project team has already received all of their approvals from the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission and also has its financing in place. So, it’s full steam ahead for the transformation of this historic landmark on 17th Street into a new four-star hotel!