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):

2014-05-08_UnionStation-Map

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!