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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: 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: 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 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 #110

It’s been a little while since we’ve touched base on the Denver Union Station redevelopment so today let’s take a look around and see what’s happening around here!

Let’s start out with one of the most exciting elements of the entire project: the train shed canopy. The south end of the canopy is beginning to go vertical (which will mimic the north side) and you can see rail platforms beginning to be built as well! If you look carefully in the middle picture, fences have been put up for the 1650 Wewatta tower and a construction trailer is now on site. Awesome!

  

Heading to the front of the station, construction is in full swing for both of the wing buildings. The north wing building has broken street level and we should see this rise quickly. It seemed like a long process to get to this point but that’s because there are underground parking structures to be built.

 

When heading down Chestnut, 17th and 18th Street provide great views of the train canopy as well as the historic station. There will be a pedestrian bridge connecting 18th Street from the Union Station Neighborhood to Lower Downtown over the commuter rail tracks; one of many connections to get to either side. Also, Cadence is making quite the street presence down 17th Street!

 

Speaking of bridges, we have two great bridges connecting Central Platte Valley to the Union Station Neighborhood (which also provide great views of the development). Here are the views from both the Millennium Bridge as well as the 18th Street Pedestrian Bridge. Look at all those tower cranes!

 

This redevelopment is always quite a sight to see and with two more infill projects starting, it’s starting to become a thrilling reality from what once was a distant vision.


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.


Denver Union Station Update #105

On Wednesday I had the wonderful opportunity to get an insider’s look at the Denver Union Station project. There will be two parts to this tour; the surface and the underground bus terminal. Today we will be focusing on what’s happening on the surface. I would like to thank Hunter Sydnor of Kiewit for the wonderful tour and the vast amount of information about this development.

One of the very exciting elements of this entire development is the commuter rail canopy. Now that the structure for the bus terminal is nearing completion, as far as the surface is concerned, work on the canopy can begin. What we’re looking at in the photos below are the foundations for the trusses and where the canopy is going to be anchored. The trusses for the canopy are being shipped here and then painted in Denver.

 

Below you will see another set of foundations being set for the trusses of the canopy. Needless to say, this thing is going to be massive. It stretches all the way down to the very north tip of the historic building and almost an entire city block west. I also took a picture of how large the anchors are going to be for these trusses. Impressive!

 

In this picture you can see the bus box is starting to be sealed in. In the next update, we will cover more of the structural elements. Even though this is the second phase of the bus terminal to be built, it is different than the first phase closer to the light rail station due to the future commuter rail tracks above it.

Next up, we have the 17th Street Gardens and pedestrian spaces. 17th Street has been paved up to Wewatta Street and stop lights are beginning to be installed in preparation of Wewatta Street being paved through. Work has also begun on the 17th Street Gardens plaza, one of the premier public spaces in the whole redevelopment. As you can see, pavers are beginning to make their way up towards the station along with the tress and lighting elements. For some great information and basic framework on the 17th Street Gardens head over to Ken’s post here.

 

As a little bonus, I was able to get real close to the Cadence site. I asked if it was easy to get along with the private sector developments since there is a lot of different construction projects around this field. The answer was yes. One of the conditions of having so much going on is the site for Cadence is very crowded. There’s not a lot of room around these parcels because of the Union Station Redevelopment.

On the next post, we will be going underground and looking at how much is coming along in bus box! It seems like every week there’s something new and exciting happening here!


Denver Union Station Update #104

Today we will be focusing on the underground bus terminal right behind the historic station, along with the reconstruction of the 16th Street Mall in the Union Station area.

Looking out the northwest side of the historic station, workers are starting to cap and back fill the bus terminal (the dirt pile is beginning to get smaller). Stoplights are also beginning to be installed in preparation of rebuilding Wewatta Street.

 

Kiewit has a great webcam mounted on top of 1900 16th Street. Check out the link for more great angles of the entire project, as well as photos from the past two years. In this Kiewit image below, six of the eight Commuter Rail platforms are visible (the other two will be shifted down a bit towards 18th Street). Also visible on the left is the rectangular hole through which elevators, stairs, and escalators will provide vertical access between the underground pedestrian concourse and the street level. That access point is the Wewatta Pavilion, which will be a twin of the Chestnut Pavilion located by the Light Rail Station.

Heading over to the Mall, a lot of new concrete paving is underway, and portions are beginning to be completed. In the first photo you can see the new roadway under construction as well as new stop lights. In the second photo, the new wide sidewalks and multicolored concrete have been completed and new street trees planted.

The old railroad tracks are also being removed along 16th Street.

On the next Union Station update, we will focus on the 17th Street Gardens, as significant progress has been made.