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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!


West Colfax: April 2014 Construction Update

If you happen to take a walk between Sloans Lake Park and Federal Boulevard, you’re going to see and hear a ton of construction going on. I’ve previously reported on three projects in the area, but thought I’d give you a mini tour of everything that’s going on in the neighborhood while updating you on those three projects. First the map:

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All of the parcels I’ve highlighted here are in some state of construction. The parcels outlined in red are mixed use developments that are underway: The St Anthony’s Hospital Redevelopment (#1) and Mile-High Vista (#5). The orange parcels are all townhome developments; thirteen projects averaging 6-8 units with. I’ll update you on the Framework project (#2) that I wrote about in an earlier post and show some pictures of the radical changes happening on 17th Ave (#3). Finally, there’s a bit of an unknown, the site at Federal and 16th avenue (#4) has recently been scraped in preparation for sale.

Project #1 – St Anthony’s Redevelopment (see my orignial post)

There currently isn’t much in the way of building happening at the old hospital site, but there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes preparation going on. All the buildings that are to be taken down have been demolished (minus an old maintenance building on 17th Avenue being used for a construction office) and the site is currently being regraded. Cameron Bertram of EFG, the owner’s representative, says that by mid-summer we should see utility work well underway and by fall the new city streets will be put in place. EFG currently has four of seven blocks under contract and is nearly ready to close on another. The Kuhlman Block Alliance will be developing the northeastern-most corner with a boutique hotel in the existing Kuhlman Building, restaurants, retail and apartments. Trammell Crow Residential will be developing two interior blocks with nearly 370 apartments. Finally, Littleton Capital Partners will be developing a retail anchor on the southern-most block facing Colfax. This block will contain a renovated 4-story office building, a retail pad, and a 12-screen Alamo Drafthouse Cinema as the anchor tenant. Here’s a rendering of the cinema block from Colfax and Raleigh Street taken from EFG’s website www.sloansdenver.com.

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Project #2 - Framework at Sloans Lake (see my original post)

Over at Framework, there is much work underway. The first phase is mostly framed and the developer has informed me that he will be breaking ground the second phase very soon as the first phase is already completely pre-sold. Here’s a shot of the first building (along 18th avenue).

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The three-story buildings are strikingly noticeable among the primarily 1- and 2-story single family homes in the area, and given their location at the top of a small hill, can be seen rising up from the neighborhood from Sloans Lake Park two blocks away. This project was the first townhome development in the area, and has since spawned a flurry of construction on neighboring blocks; thirteen townhome projects are now underway in the immediate vicinity.

Project #3 - 17th Avenue

A radical change is occurring on the north side of 17th Avenue where five adjacent lots are in varying stages of construction by five different developers. What was once a 1- and 2-story single family street is rapidly getting an urban makeover.

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Project #4 – A high profile site gets scraped.

On the triangular site overlooking the Federal Boulevard/Colfax interchange once stood a small institutional building. Recently, the owner scraped the building in order to better sell the property. The remainder of this 2+ acre site is covered with an asphalt parking lot, with spectacular views of Mile High Stadium, Downtown and Southeast Denver (not that the asphalt cares much). I personally hope someone snatched up this gem of a property and turns it into something worthy of this extremely prominent site. Here’s a panorama of the site taken from Grove Street.

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Project #5 - Mile High Vista (see my original post)

Last, but not least, is the Mile High Vista Project.  As you can see in the pictures below, the 7 story workforce housing component of the development has topped out and is being skinned and finished. Five stories of housing sit atop a two story podium of parking, resident amenities, and office space. The building is slated to receive a LEED Platinum rating, which is highly commendable for an affordable housing project.

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In front of the apartment building (anchoring the corner of Colfax and Irving) is a two-story steel frame building that is to become a brand new 25,000 sq.ft. Denver Public Library branch. Construction of the branch had been delayed for some time due to some soil issues, but after a redesign of the foundation they are now making significant progress and hope to open next year.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the neighborhood; as you can see, it’s rife with construction activity, redevelopment and densification. Check it out and stay tuned.


La Alma / Lincoln Park: South Lincoln Redevelopment Update #3

The South Lincoln redevelopment keeps on going in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. The project is being developed in six phases with the first phase starting at 1099 Osage. As of today, Phases One through Three are complete and construction has commenced on Phase Four. In this update, there will be a map with the site outlined for each building we will visit.

First up, we will be looking at the second, southernmost, building in Phase Two. The first building was complete in our previous update; for a refresher, head on over to that post here. The second building in Phase Two is situated on the intersection of West 10th Avenue and Navajo Street.

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This four-story building has quite the presence with its vibrant colored facade. With residents already moved in, this building completes Phase Two of the South Lincoln Redevelopment.

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Included in the southern portion Phase Two is a landscaped courtyard with both common meeting spaces and a children’s play area. Detached from the main buildings, there are also a few townhouse units to the south.

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Next up is Phase Three. This building sits on West 10th Avenue and goes roughly halfway down Mariposa and Navajo Street.

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Each building in this redevelopment has a different style of architecture and color scheme. Compared to the buildings in Phase Two, this building is much more neutral with splashes of red and blue color. Phase Three is the largest single building in the redevelopment so far.

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Parking can be accessed halfway down Mariposa Street where there is both surface and underground parking. The common outdoor area for this building is still under construction but is starting to shape up nicely.

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Speaking of landscaping, Phase Three will have a community garden and a lot of green space in front of the building along Navajo Street.

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Last but not least, the first half of Phase Four has begun. This phase sits directly across the southern portion of Phase Two along West 10th Avenue between Navajo and Mariposa Street.

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Fitting the form of all the other phases, this building has topped out at four stories. Given each phase in this project is designed differently, this building is the most straight-edged out of all the rest.

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This lot in Phase Four will also have townhome units and an open landscaped area, similar to what we saw in Phase Three.

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The streetscape all around this project is excellent with ample bike parking (still under construction) and seating around each building. West 10th Avenue will be the main street through this development so each building is right up to the property line giving these two blocks a very urban feel.

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Here are two pictures looking down Navajo Street (left) and West 10th Avenue (right). Look at that density!

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The scale of this project and how quickly it is getting built is nothing short of incredible. Being situated right by a light rail station, residents will also have quick and easy access to downtown. All six phases of this development are expected to be complete by 2016.


City Approves Redevelopment Plan for Former St. Anthony’s Hospital Site

On Wednesday, December 18, 2014, the City of Denver Planning Board approved the general development plan (GDP) for the redevelopment of the former St. Anthony’s Hospital site on the south shore of Sloan’s Lake in the West Colfax neighborhood of Denver (the GDP was officially signed on Tuesday, January 14). The GDP will transform the old hospital site into a mixed-use urban town center across from one of Denver’s largest parks and minutes away from the new Perry Street light rail station on the new West Line. With passage of the GDP, EnviroFinance Group (EFG), the owners and horizontal developers of the property, (i.e. they don’t build buildings) now have the go ahead to build new streets, install infrastructure, and sell parcels to vertical developers (i.e. those who DO build buildings). The following diagram (courtesy of RNL, the site planners of the project) shows how this project intends to link to the park and the existing transit stop.

The plan for the site reintegrates the Denver street grid, by extending Raleigh and Quitman Streets as well as West 16th Avenue into the site, creating six new Denver-standard blocks. Raleigh Street is to become a new main street through the development complete with ground floor retail, restaurants, office space and an exciting new anchor development (similar to the Lowenstein project on East Colfax) where it meets West Colfax (the circle labeled “identity” in the above diagram). The right-of-way along the new Raleigh Street will be wider than Denver’s minimum requirements in order to accommodate additional pedestrian amenities, street trees, and sidewalk cafes as shown in the following conceptual rendering:

In 2006, a task force of local residents set forth a vision for the site that included the reintroduction of the street grid, a dense mix of uses for the site, and preservation of some of the existing buildings. The developer has followed their instruction and is retaining four buildings on the site: The 1940’s Kuhlman building (a former nurses dormitory which is slated to become a new boutique hotel), the existing 4-story parking garage, a 4 story-office building on the block near Colfax (which will be re-skinned), and a historic chapel on the site. The historic chapel happens to fall within what would have become the West 16th Avenue right-of-way, but the developer has chosen to stop the street short of the chapel and create a 1-acre public plaza in front of the chapel as part of the project’s open space requirement set forth by the city. West 16th Avenue will be designed in such a way that it could be closed down to extend the plaza for festivals, farmers markets, and other events in the neighborhood. As part of EFG’s efforts to achieve LEED-ND Platinum certification for the project, they are planning on installing natural storm water management features along West 16th Avenue as well. The following is a conceptual site plan of the project:

As of now, EFG has almost completely demolished the hospital and is currently grinding up all the old concrete to be reused as road base for the new streets. Early this year, they’ll start re-grading the site, installing utilities, and creating the new streets. The photo below is  a panorama of the site taken from the top of the Metro Village Apartment tower at Colfax and Quitman Street. The photo shows the breadth of the site and some of the great views that will be had by the new residents. You can also see the Kuhlman building (on the upper right) the parking garage (on the left) and the little chapel (behind the parking garage) that are being saved as part of the development.

When the project is complete, the seven city blocks under redevelopment will likely contain 800-1,200 new residential units and 75,000 – 150,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving office/retail space in buildings that range in height from two to twenty stories (although anything over 5 stories will have to go through a re-zoning process). According to the developer, “the redevelopment of the former St. Anthony Hospital campus will create a new sustainable urban neighborhood that has a unique identity, informed in large part by its engagement with Sloan’s Lake Park.” The mixed-use project certainly capitalizes on its proximity to multiple modes of transit, and brings neighborhood-serving retail to a currently under-served neighborhood. The St. Anthony’s project should be a very exciting infill development in Denver and will hopefully be a catalyst for significant reinvestment along West Colfax Avenue.

For more info on the Plan for this development, go to: www.sloansdenver.com. EFG currently has three developers on contract to develop Phase 1 of the development. Each developer will be unveiling the plans for their buildings at an open house on January 22, 2014 from 5:30-7:30 PM at 1400 Quitman Street (just south of the project site). After the unveiling, EFG will post the developers’ plans and renderings to their website, so stay tuned. St. Anthony’s should be an exciting urban infill project!


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 #109

Today, for my 100th post on DenverInfill, I am going to update you on Denver’s most extraordinary project: Denver Union Station. As you know, the historic station is now closed and will be renovated over the next two years. But that’s not all the exciting news! Both wing buildings are under construction as well as the enormous, beautiful commuter rail canopy. Let’s take a look!

These two pictures give you an idea of how large this canopy is going to be. It’s only about 25% complete and will span all the way across the historic station.

The North (red crane) and South (yellow crane) wing buildings are fully under construction. As a refresher, these are 5-story buildings not to exceed the cornice line of the historic station.

When traveling north on Wynkoop Street, you can see both tower cranes up for the new wing buildings. It’s quite a sight seeing so much construction going on around Union Station.

Going down the 16th Street Mall towards the Millennium Bridge, both lanes are now open for the mall shuttles.

Over on Wewatta Street, you can see two things: Wewatta Street itself is nearing completion and the structure for the Wewatta Pavilion is in place. Cadence is also beginning to rise above the street as well!

Finally, some additional views of the entire redevelopment. Here you can see the sheer size of the commuter rail canopy. Cadence is also beginning to make a small presence. You can no longer see the north side of Union Station from Millennium Bridge!

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the private-sector development planned for this neighborhood. With the station also closed for renovation and construction of the hotel, I am very excited to see what everything will look like in 2014 when the project is scheduled for completion.