April 18 2014

Redeveloped Denver Union Station Shows Priority for Regional Transportation

The historic Denver Union Station is getting a makeover to the tune of $900 million. The plan is to turn one of Denver’s most prominent, yet underutilized historic structures, into the anchor of the Denver region’s expanding transportation network. It will be the Grand Central Station of the West, a signal once and for all of a changing attitude towards public transportation in the region.

The new Denver Union Station is a “game changer” for the region.

Denver Union Station was built in 1881 in the Classical Revival style. The new station architecture uses the same architectural material as the Denver International Airport and pays homage to the airport in many ways. Denver Union Station is being revived into an important transportation landmark in Denver – much in the same way Denver International Airport was when it was built. It’s just like the old phrase “what was old is new again,” and in the city, public transportation is what cities and people want.

Existing exterior façade of Denver Union Station in Denver, Colorado

Existing exterior façade of Denver Union Station in Denver, Colorado

I previously blogged about the Denver metro area’s light-rail expansion. In the article, I mentioned the Denver Union Station redevelopment as being a notable pinnacle in the redevelopment process. The plan is to turn the historic building into a node of retail, office, and residential development with numerous buses, light-rail lines, and bus rapid transit lines moving in and out of Union Station.

TOD development and Denver Union Station in Denver, Colorado

TOD development and Denver Union Station in Denver, Colorado

Indeed, the redevelopment of Denver Union Station and surrounding 19.5-acre area shows that Denver leaders, urban planners, developers, and architects are taking regional transportation seriously. The redevelopment will include 22,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, a 12,000 square foot public common area, 40,000 square feet of plaza space, and a 110-room hotel on the upper floors of the existing Denver Union Station.

By spending nearly $1B on the redevelopment of Union Station and surrounding areas, a change has been signaled to Denver’s rather car-centric built environment. Away with a bus system that runs without the frequency and density to effectively serve everyone and a commuter rail line with only a few runs in operation.

The new Denver Union Station canopy in front of the old station in Denver, Colorado

The new Denver Union Station canopy in front of the old station in Denver, Colorado

Denver Union Station will once again be the central hub of all Denver transportation. And this urban planner couldn’t be happier.

Can one building really show a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary commitment to regional transportation? Is there a project in your city that signals regional cooperation and commitment?

Credits: Images by Jonathan Knight. Data linked to sources.

Jonathan Knight

Jonathan Knight is an award-winning planner and a recent graduate of Kansas State University with a Master's of Regional and Community Planning and Minor in Business. His interest in planning probably came from his avid playing of "Roller Coaster Tycoon" as a child: always fascinated in how complex things in the built environment worked; how they fit together; and why people feel certain ways in different environments. He has worked in sustainability, regional planning, and school planning. He is a professional freelance photojournalist and has been published in national, regional, and local publications. Upon graduation, Jonathan followed his dreams of living near the Rocky Mountains and moved west to Denver, Colorado. At some point during his time at The Grid in 2014, he will have climbed all 58 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado--a 12-year journey completed! Jonathan will be blogging about innovative urban planning, transportation, and housing projects occurring in the Denver region as it seeks to be a world-class city for businesses and people.

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 18th, 2014 at 9:27 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Content, Environmental Design, History/Preservation, Transportation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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