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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 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: 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!


New Union Station Project: 16th & Wewatta Hotel/Office Complex

DenverInfill is happy to report that a major project in Downtown Denver’s Union Station redevelopment area is moving forward. Continuum Partners, part of the Union Station Neighborhood Company team responsible for developing several of the key parcels next to Denver’s massive Union Station Transit Center project, announced plans today for a significant mixed-use project along Denver’s 16th Street Mall near the historic station.

One of the prime development sites next to Denver Union Station has been the L-shaped parcel located at the east corner of 16th and Wewatta Street, immediately adjacent to Union Station’s new dramatic white canopy Train Hall, where several RTD commuter rail lines (starting early 2016) and Amtrak trains (starting a few days ago) arrive. A portion of that parcel is already under construction with The Platform at Union Station, a 21-story apartment building. Continuum’s new project represents not only the final piece of this L-shaped parcel to be developed, but a major project in its own right for Downtown Denver. Here’s the site outlined on a Google Earth aerial:

Continuum’s project consists of several components:

  • A 12-story, 200-room Kimpton Hotel that includes over 8,300 SF of meeting rooms, adjacent pre-function space, street-level and rooftop outdoor patios, and two locally based restaurants with podium-level outdoor spaces.
  • A 53,000 SF, five-story boutique office building with 12,500 SF  floor plates designed for smaller firms looking to locate in the Union Station area, plus three ground-floor retail spaces.
  • A two-level, 210-space underground parking structure of which 100 spaces will be reserved for general public parking, thanks to financial support from the Denver Urban Renewal Authority.

Here are some excellent high-resolution project images, thanks to the great team at Continuum and their design partners at Semple Brown Design and BOKA Powell. First, a view of the hotel/office complex looking east at the corner of 16th and Wewatta, with the 16th Street Mall to the right and Wewatta Street to the left (for all images, click/zoom to view in full 2400-pixel-wide size):

Here’s a view looking north, with the 16th Street Mall in the foreground and the Millennium Bridge on the far left edge:

Of course, one of the coolest aspects of this project is that it has two fronts: one facing 16th Street, the other facing the commuter rail platforms at Union Station. Here’s a view looking from under the big white Union Station canopy towards the Kimpton Hotel (right) and office building (left):

Finally, another important aspect of this project is that it will provide a public walkway in between the hotel and office buildings that goes directly from the commuter rail platforms to the 16th Street Mall and a planned RTD Mall Shuttle stop. Here’s the view from the 16th Street Mall looking into that walkway towards the canopy-covered Train Hall:

Continuum’s 16th and Wewatta hotel/office complex is planned to begin construction June 2014 and be completed by late 2015.