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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 #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 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 Update #122

It’s been about six weeks since we last looked at the massive Denver Union Station redevelopment so not a lot has changed. However, in our last update we looked at the project from afar and didn’t really get a closer look at all of the great individual elements. Unfortunately, this isn’t an inside tour but, armed with a great zoom lens and thanks to some great vantage points around Union Station, I was able to get some great close up shots. So you can see more detail, I bumped up the resolution on all these photos. Make sure you click to embiggen!

Let’s start off with the 18th Street pedestrian bridge. This is very similar to the Millennium Bridge when coming from Downtown. The elevator will be situated to the left with a bike track on the side of the stairs so you don’t have to carry your bike over the bridge. On the Union Station side, there are four sets of stairs going down to the commuter rail platforms which will also lead you to Wewatta Street.

 

The metal screen that is going across the bridge isn’t at all intrusive. You will be able to watch the trains under you and still feel out in the open!

 

The north side of Wynkoop Plaza is coming along very nicely. The trees have been planted, the hardscaped benches are starting to get installed, and it looks like it will only be a matter of time before we will start to see the granite pavers go in.

 

Here is an above view of the north side of Wynkoop Plaza.

The south side of the plaza is not as far along as the north side because of a few reasons: The South Wing building started after the North Wing, and since this side of the plaza will have the magnificent fountain feature, a lot more underground work had to be completed first. The fountains however are looking more and more complete!

 

Speaking of the Wing Buildings, they are also starting to come together making a huge difference along Wynkoop Street. The first floor of these buildings will be ground floor retail and 4-stories of office space above. Floors 2 through 4 are covered in brick and the 5th floor has a modern glassy facade. Both buildings have glass curtain walls facing the plazas. Here is the North Wing Building which will be occupied by IMA Financial.

 

And the South Wing Building which will be occupied by Antero Resources.

 

Now let’s head over to the commuter rail train hall. There has been a lot of concern about shelter from the elements when waiting for the train. Fear not! If you look closely you can see each platform will have some kind of shelter. Plus, we have 300 or so days of sunshine a year, we wouldn’t want to be completely enclosed while waiting for the train!

 

Here are a couple more shots of the completed commuter rail canopy. The land towards 16th Street in front of the canopy is part of the L-Shaped ‘A Block’ and will get developed one day so let’s enjoy this great open view of the canopy while it lasts; not saying having it closed in wouldn’t be a great sight as well!

 

Let’s wrap up with a shot of the newly opened Wewatta Street. It isn’t very pedestrian friendly at the moment because of three factors: 21-story, 13-story, and 10-story buildings are all under construction between 16th and 17th Street! Also, if you look closely, you can see the continuation of the 17th Street Gardens in the foreground of the Wewatta Pavilion.

May 9th is the day we will be able to experience the brand new Union Station. 8 months to go!


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 #120

For our fifth and final Denver Union Station update for today, let’s take a look at the new 17th Street Gardens (plus the one block of 17th Street between Chestnut and Wewatta) that recently opened.

The 17th Street Gardens sit on top of the underground bus terminal and surround big skylights that provide natural light to the pedestrian concourse below. The gardens were landscaped last year, so the trees and plants have had some time to become established before the gardens were opened to the public. Here’s the one-block stretch of 17th Street that’s now open. On the left is the Cadence project under construction:

On the opposite side of the 17th Street right-of-way is the main pedestrian walkway along the edge of the gardens. This is the main path pedestrians will take to get from the light rail station to the commuter rail station. The vacant parcel to the right will someday (soon, hopefully!) be occupied by a major mixed-use project. There’s room on both sides of the 17th Street Gardens for restaurant patio areas for adjacent developments:

The gardens themselves consist of a series of small “rooms” in between each set of skylights. Each has a unique design featuring a different colored or surface material, benches or seatwalls, and landscaping:

That’s it folks. Five posts in one day… a new DenverInfill Blog record!

You’re now up to speed on the Union Station project. However, seeing the project in photos is one thing. Seeing it in person is another. Therefore, I invite you to join me for our next Denver Union Station walking tour on Saturday, June 15. Tour details will be posted a few days in advance.


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!