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Denver Union Station Update #129: Final Grand Opening Preview

Like many large, complex, redevelopment and infrastructure projects, certain elements are completed before others, providing opportunities to celebrate more than one grand opening. This is the case with Denver’s Union Station project.

Construction began in early 2010. Here’s a photo from our Denver Union Station Update #1 on March 22, 2010, when excavation was just getting started (seems like ages ago, doesn’t it?):

A year and a half later, the new (relocated) Union Station Light Rail Station was the first major component of the half-billion dollar project to be finished, resulting in Union Station’s first grand opening celebration on August 15, 2011. That was followed by 32 additional months of construction after which the project’s two largest transit components, the 22-gate underground Union Station Bus Concourse and the 8-track Union Station Commuter Rail Station opened on May 9, 2014, which we covered here at DenverInfill with six very special grand opening posts and three bonus posts at DenverUrbanism. In the interim, there was also the first Amtrak train to arrive into the new Commuter Rail Station in March 2014. Then, there was the “soft” opening of the historic station on June 12, 2014, with the Crawford Hotel and a few of the station’s new restaurant and retail spaces welcoming their first customers. 

But now, the time has finally arrived for the grand finale of Union Station’s grand opening events! This SATURDAY, JULY 26, 2014, is the public’s chance to celebrate the completion of the whole project, with tours of the restored historic station and a major party—food, drink, music and entertainment—on the new (and quite fabulous!) Wynkoop Plaza. The party begins at 10AM, the official ceremony is at NOON, and the festivities run through 3 PM. Here’s a link to the official Union Station grand opening page. PLEASE NOTE, if you want to take a tour of the historic station, you must have a ticket. Use this link which can also be found at the bottom of the official event page to reserve your tour tickets. Again, the final Union Station grand opening event is:

SATURDAY, JULY 26, 2014
10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
17TH & WYNKOOP, LOWER DOWNTOWN DENVER

DenverInfill will be there to photograph the festivities so, if you can’t make it, look for a special Union Station Grand Opening blog post soon after Saturday’s party!


Denver Union Station Update #127: Fountains!

Another huge milestone in the Denver Union Station redevelopment has been reached: the fountains on Wynkoop Plaza are up and running! The weather was great today and pedestrians were already enjoying the newly opened section of Wynkoop Plaza; including children playing in the fountains! Here are a couple of pictures, thanks to our very own Ken Schroeppel.

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This is a very exciting stage in the redevelopment as July 26th, the grand opening date of both the plaza and historic station, nears! We will see you there in 31 days!


Denver Union Station: Transit Center Grand Opening Part 5

For the final part of our Denver Union Station Transit Center grand opening coverage, we are going to head back under the very impressive commuter rail train canopy. This was the first completed piece of the transit center when it opened to Amtrak back in February, however our coverage would not be complete if we didn’t photograph it at grand opening!

There are a total of eight tracks, with six of them under the canopy. Tracks 4 and 5 will be used for Amtrak and private excursion trains. These tracks are also more shallow in the ground than the other tracks. As previously mentioned, Tracks 4 and 5 also provide access to the underground bus terminal.

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The other tracks, which will be used for the commuter rail trains, are deeper; much like your typical subway track.

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Here are a couple more pictures from under the canopy. The pedestrian bridge is still closed, but we suspect it will be open by the time the historic station opens on July 12th.

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That’s a wrap on our grand opening coverage! You are now up to speed on the grand opening festivities, underground bus facility, Wynkoop Plaza, and now the new commuter rail train station. As a great bonus, we even got some awesome aerial shots from Shawn Murry of CloudBase Aerial Imaging. The next time we cover the Union Station redevelopment will be when the historic station opens on July 12th. We’ll see you then!


Denver Union Station: Transit Center Grand Opening Part 4 (Above the Infill Edition)

Yes that’s right, Above the Infill edition. DenverInfill is happy to announce our collaboration with Shawn Murry at CloudBase Aerial Imaging, who took some spectacular aerial photos as Friday’s grand opening ceremony of the new Denver Union Station Transit Center was coming to a close. Periodically, Shawn will be providing DenverInfill with shots from high above select infill sites and aerial panoramas of Denver’s growing city center neighborhoods.

Without further ado, here are the photos. Thanks, Shawn!

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Denver’s own CloudBase Aerial Imaging specializes in low altitude aerial photography and filming for land planning, real estate development, and other industries. For more information, please contact CloudBase at www.cloudbaseheli.com.


Denver Union Station: Transit Center Grand Opening Part 3

Today, for the third part of our grand opening coverage, we are going to head to the front of the station to take a look at the progress being made at Wynkoop Plaza. On DenverInfill, the last time we covered Wynkoop Plaza was back in September, when the granite pavers were not even in place yet. A lot has changed in eight months!

The passageway between the commuter rail train hall and Wynkoop Plaza is now open. On the South Wing building, there are two patio spaces along this passageway along with a patio space on the plaza itself. The patio with the red umbrellas belongs to the Thirsty Lion and the other patio, that is currently empty, is for a future tenant who should be occupying the space within the next few months.

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The fountain portion of the plaza is not yet complete but has made some great progress. Granite pavers are now in place and the entire fountain system has been capped. This portion of the plaza will be complete when the historic station opens on July 12th.

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The north side of Wynkoop Plaza is in a similar situation. The portion in front of the North Wing building is complete and work is wrapping up in front of the historic station.

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Later this week, we will be looking at the two wing buildings exclusively so you will be able to see, in more detail, how the buildings interact with the plaza. We still have more grand opening coverage coming your way; up next: a unique perspective of the grand opening ceremonies!


Denver Union Station: Transit Center Grand Opening Part 2

For the second part of our grand opening coverage, we are heading underground to the new bus terminal! The 980-foot-long concourse is incredible and is leaps and bounds ahead of Market Street Station, which spans 366 feet. Bus service in the new 22-bay facility will begin on May 11; however, the grand opening ceremony allowed the public to see it all for the first time! In case you missed it, make sure you check out part 1 of our grand opening coverage!

First let’s start off with the two pavilions; Chestnut Pavilion and Wewatta Pavilion are essentially identical minus an announcement screen at the Chestnut Pavilion. There are ascending and descending escalators on the sides with a central staircase. Elevators are accessed at the entrance of each pavilion; which are behind us in each photo.

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Down we go! The look and feel of the bus concourse is incredible. Here in Denver, we are used to dark, brutalist-style bus stations; this terminal sheds a whole new light on Denver’s bus transit.

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The signage is clear, and easy to read. There is a ticket/information counter in the center of the concourse and a self-serve map station towards the Platform 4 staircase. Even though it was a cloudy day, the skylights still provided a pretty good amount of natural light throughout the station.

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Speaking of Platform 4, there are many ways to enter this terminal besides the pavilions and at Union Station. Right in the middle of the commuter rail train hall, at Platform 4 and Platform 2, there are staircases and elevators to access Amtrak or future commuter rail trains.

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One very noticeable thing about the new terminal is that there is a lot of open space and an ample supply of seating. What matters the most out of all this is that it’s very comfortable.

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On the outside of the concourse, the bus turnaround loop is very friendly to riders. There are arrows and bulb outs on each bay assisting boarders.

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Service to this station starts on May 11, terminating all service at Market Street Station. If you are a frequent bus rider, make sure you head over to RTD’s website and plan accordingly! Coming up next, we will be looking at Wynkoop Plaza at the front of the historic station!


Denver Union Station: Transit Center Grand Opening Part 1

Today was great day for Downtown Denver; after more than four years since the groundbreaking, the Denver Union Station Transit Center has finally opened! As Ken outlined in the Grand Opening Preview post, DenverInfill and DenverUrbanism have around 200 posts on this project, and has led 50 walking tours since its groundbreaking. Needless to say, it brought us great joy to attend and photograph this great ceremony. For part one of our grand opening coverage, we are going to be looking at the festivities around the 17th Street Promenade.

The skies may have been cloudy, but that did not stop people coming down to Union Station to celebrate! Thousands of people from all around Denver came down to hear words from Colorado senators, the U.S Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, RTD, DUSPA, Kiewit, and Governor Hickenlooper. Following their speeches, the ribbon was cut and the Denver Union Station Transit Center was officially open!

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Along Wewatta Street, there was a free Metro Ride bus for everyone to tour!

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Here are some interior shots of the bus. It looks and feels like an updated version of the articulated bus fleet RTD currently uses.

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Thanks to David Zucker of Zocalo Community Development, we were able to get up to the top floor of Cadence to check out the festivities from above! This was a great treat to an already great day!

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If you weren’t able to check out Union Station today, fear not, it is now open and you can visit it anytime! Bus service will begin on May 11th where all service to Market Street Station will terminate and be moved to the new bus facility at Union Station. Coming up, we will be looking at the underground bus facility, Wynkoop and IMA Plaza, and under the new Commuter Rail Train Hall. Stay tuned!


Denver Union Station Update #126: Transit Center Grand Opening Preview

It’s been an amazing four years watching the new Denver Union Station Transit Center take shape. Friday, May 9, 2014, is the Denver Union Station Transit Center grand opening celebration!

Back in March 2010, as construction had just started on the half-billion dollar project, our first Union Station Update post simply stated that DenverInfill had the Denver Union Station project covered, and indeed we did. Here we are, 125 Union Station Update posts later, and that doesn’t count the dozens of posts related to the real estate developments associated with the Union Station project or the dozens of posts before March 2010 related to the planning of the project. Over at DenverUrbanism, we’ve also covered aspects of the Union Station project with numerous updates, such as Shawn’s recent post on the station’s history. Altogether, we’ve served up around 200 posts and over 1,000 photos on the Union Station project. My thanks to all of our DenverInfill and DenverUrbanism bloggers for their dedicated enthusiasm in covering this project!

Then there were our DenverInfill walking tours of the project starting in October 2010. Since then, it has been my pleasure to have led over 50 free tours for the general public, sharing information about Union Station with over 1,200 people. And, due to the generous donations tour attendees offered at the end of these tours, we raised over $7,000 for the non-profit Union Station Advocates and the CU-Denver student chapter of the American Planning Association. To everyone… THANK YOU! Some new version of our DenverInfill walking tour that will focus on general planning and development issues in the Lower Downtown/Union Station area is in the works for later this summer. Stay tuned…

Here’s a quick summary of the May 9 Transit Center Grand Opening festivities:

The celebration—open to the public—will take place from 11 AM to 6 PM in and around the 17th Street Promenade, the new public space above the underground Bus Concourse between Wewatta and Chestnut streets. The official ribbon-cutting and speech-making ceremony will run from Noon to 1 PM. Food, beverages, and other fun activities will be available including, of course, free tours of the new Transit Center facilities. For more information about the party and the Union Station Transit Center, check out RTD’s new Union Station page. It’s pretty slick and offers a lot of cool maps and diagrams about the new Transit Center, such as the one below, courtesy of RTD (click on the image to embiggen or click here to download it as a high-resolution PDF):

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During the weekend celebration, buses will continue to use Market Street Station. In the early morning on Sunday, May 11, Market Street Station will close forever and buses will start using the Union Station Transit Center’s new underground Bus Concourse.

What about the historic station? The restoration of the historic station building is still ongoing and will not open on May 9. However, the completion of the historic station’s renovation and the grand opening of the Crawford Hotel and many of the dozen shops and restaurants inside the station isn’t far off: July 12, 2014. A big public celebration of the historic station’s opening will take place at that time.

The remaining public component of the Union Station project to open is Wynkoop Plaza, Downtown’s newest public space featuring a grand fountain in a beautiful granite-paved plaza. Parts of Wynkoop Plaza in front of the two new wing buildings are already open. The rest of Wynkoop Plaza, including the fountain, is supposed to open sometime in June 2014. That gives us yet another Union Station celebration to look forward to!

Once the historic station opens in July, the next big grand opening event at Union Station will be the launch of RTD’s East Line commuter rail service to Denver International Airport. Leaving from Track #1 under Union Station’s dramatic white canopy and arriving at DIA’s under-construction hotel and transit center, the East line is currently scheduled to begin service in March 2016. That’s only 22 months away!

Have fun this weekend at the Transit Center grand opening and look for additional DenverInfill and DenverUrbanism posts on this weekend’s festivities over the next few days!