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Archive of posts filed under the Historic Preservation category.

New Union Station Project: Hilton Garden Inn

A new hotel is coming to Downtown Denver’s booming Union Station district.

Denver-based Focus Property Group is planning to build a 12-story Hilton Garden Inn on their property at 20th Street and Chestnut Place. The new hotel will have an L-shaped footprint that wraps around the historic Denver Hose Company No. 1 building that will be fully restored and incorporated as part of the project. Here’s a Google Earth aerial on which I’ve outlined the approximate location of the new hotel development:

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The floors in the tower’s base will contain the lobby and registration areas, banquet and meeting rooms, a fitness center, and other hotel amenities. The tower’s upper floors will contain approximately 200 hotel rooms. Parking will be accommodated on two underground levels, and the hotel will also include a swimming pool and a rooftop lounge. Here is a rendering of the preliminary design, courtesy of JG Johnson Architects:

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A really exciting component of this development is the restoration of the historic Denver Hose Company No. 1 building, which sits right at the corner of 20th and Chestnut. Built in 1883, the small 3,224 square foot structure served the Denver Fire Department until the early 1920s, after which it became a print shop and later on a welding shop. The building has been vacant and deteriorating for years, but in order for a full restoration and reuse to be economically viable, it had to be included as part of a larger project. Fortunately, that time has finally arrived. The Hilton Garden Inn’s restaurant will make its home in the historic building.

Here are a few photos from my recent tour of the site, thanks to Josh from Focus Properties. First, the outside of the Hose Company No. 1 building:

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The Denver Hose Company No. 1 building is a designated Denver Historic Landmark, so the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission must give its approval to the project. So far, the LPC has approved the mass and scale of the new tower, with additional approvals for both the new construction and the restoration of the historic building still to come. The inside of the old building is currently kind of dark and scary, but one day in the near future it will be a beautiful, light-filled restaurant space.

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A non-historic building, currently occupied by Home Run Self Storage, is also present on the site. The part of this non-historic building next to the historic Hose Company building will be demolished to make way for the new Hilton Garden Inn and its porte-cochere, while the part closer the middle of the block will remain on an interim basis and be leased as office space. Focus Property Group, which owns the entire block except for the Xcel Energy electric substation and a few slivers of right-of-way owned by the city near the railroad tracks, will ultimately build three projects on the block, all facing Chestnut Place. After the Hilton Garden Inn, the second project would occupy roughly the middle third of the block and would replace the remaining part of the non-historic building. One concept for the second project that Focus is considering is to build another hotel that could share the porte-cochere with the Hilton Garden Inn. The third project, perhaps an office building, would occupy the larger rectangular site at the 19th Street corner.

The proposed Hilton Garden Inn project schedule calls for the (partial) demolition of the Home Run Self Storage building this coming spring 2015, with construction on the hotel and restoration of the historic building getting underway by summer 2015. Completion of the project is targeted for late 2016.

We’ll keep you updated on this exciting project as the hotel design is refined and we get closer to construction!


Denver Union Station: Final Update – After Dark

This is it. The last ‘final update’ of the incredible Denver Union Station project. Today, we will be looking at each element of this project at night. Denver Union Station is great to see during the daytime, but it’s even better when the sun is down and the lights are on! So whether you are…

A kid (or adult) playing in the fountains at Wynkoop Plaza…

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An observer watching the fountains from above…

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A passenger catching the California Zephyr headed for Chicago…

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Or a passenger getting off the California Zephyr in Denver …

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And are having your first drink at the Terminal Bar….

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Or a late night commuter taking the light rail home, or to work…

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Or a pedestrian, talking a night stroll through the city…

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This is what you see. Brilliant lights, illuminating a grand project. As I’ve said many times in the past: Union Station, you look absolutely incredible. I and many others are very happy with the outcome and are looking forward to the many great decades ahead!


Denver Union Station: Final Update – A Look Back

I didn’t start posting on Denver Union Station until Update 103, when construction of the project was in full swing. Before that, Rick Anstey was the Denver Union Station guru and avid poster. At the time Update 103 came out, the underground bus facility was capped from Chestnut to Wewatta, the old light rail station was long gone, the parking lots were torn up along Wynkoop Street, and construction for the North Wing Building had just started. It was still a whole different story than it is today; there was still a lot of dirt and not much vertical construction, as everything was still underground. In this post every ‘before’ picture will be accompanied by a present day photo. Let’s begin!

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Update 103 was also the last time we had a look inside the historic station. Remember Ken’s Union Station tours? That particular day attracted a large crowd as he and Dana Crawford discussed the future of the historic station.

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Fast forward to Update 105 and 106. I had my first hard hat tour of the project, which was very exciting for both DenverInfill readers and me personally. The foundation for the canopy had just started to go in and the underground bus facility was still a concrete shell.

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Then things started to get exciting above ground. My favorite piece in the whole project, the commuter rail station canopy, started to go vertical.

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As months passed, there was a lot of visible construction which made for some exciting photos. In Update 115, Ken snapped a great picture of the first fabric pieces getting installed to the commuter rail station canopy.

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Jumping to Update 121, the plazas were starting to take shape and the historic station was wrapped in scaffolding while it was undergoing a full restoration. The North Wing building had just topped out and the glass facade was peeking out from under the plastic.

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Then the most exciting aspects of the project came around: sections were starting to open to the public. It was before my time reporting on Union Station when the light-rail station opened back in May 2012 however, I did get to witness the 17th Street Gardens, commuter rail train station, underground bus facility, historic station, and Wynkoop Plaza opening!

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This project has completely transformed what was once a barren wasteland situated between two great neighborhoods. Denver Union Station is now the new hot spot in Downtown Denver and will continue thriving as the private sector developments keep rolling in. This was my personal experience from when I started covering this project to sitting here tonight typing up this post. Needless to say, it has been quite a ride. Welcome back to Downtown Denver, we are so glad you are back! I’m looking forward to hearing your experiences and stories during this project’s journey!


Denver Union Station: Final Update – Grand Opening

Here we are. After all these years we have finally made it to our final updates on the huge and incredible, Denver Union Station project. So how exactly do you wrap a project up of this scale? Instead of just wrapping up in a single post, we will have multiple posts throughout the week: revisiting some milestones of the project, sharing personal experiences, and of course providing ample amounts of photos in each post! To kick off the week, let’s start with the grand opening ceremonies that took place this last weekend!

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Fountains! The new fountains on Wynkoop Plaza were a huge hit on Saturday. Throughout the day, children played in the water and ran back and forth on Wynkoop Plaza as the jets shot water high and low.

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Wynkoop Street between 16th Street and 18th Street was closed allowing for tents, food trucks, and a stage. The activation of this entire space was as great as everyone would have hoped; pedestrians activating both the plaza and the street.

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Here are some above views of the opening ceremonies. Most of the attention was focused toward the south and central part of Wynkoop Plaza, asking the question, what’s going on with the north end of the plaza? There are two main reasons for the lack of activation. One, the 18th Street Pedestrian bridge is still not open and two, finishing touches are still underway such as adding movable tables and chairs. There is no set timeframe for these two things however, like all newly completed projects, things can only get better.

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Dana Crawford front and center! The short ceremony attracted a big crowd and as soon as the speeches were over, people lined up with their tickets to check out the inside of the historic station.

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As expected, there were waves of people moving throughout the station. Visitors had full access to the ground floor with all of the retail in the Great Hall open. For a complete look around the historic station, head on over to our coverage from the soft opening!

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What exactly is going on in the historic station? It’s part train station and part living room. There are benches, couches, and comfy chairs for passengers and passerby to relax, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy a refreshing drink. This is a concept that has never been done and is completely experimental. Time will tell how well this concept will work in the historic station but for the time being, it is incredibly neat!

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Here is a sampling of the retail spaces along the Great Hall. The spaces are small yet very functional with a very large variety of commodities, from food to books to boutique outlets.

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Because there are so many retail spaces around the station, there is a lot to explore! Have you found this awesome sign yet?

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That’s a wrap on our grand opening coverage! Stay tuned for many more pictures, and posts throughout the week!


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!