Still, these are things we can learn from Denver:
- Leadership matters:
Former Mayor and now Governor Hickenlooper is a strong proponent of a bigger, better and more transit oriented Denver and was a pioneer in the redevelopment of LoDo and the Union Station area. He was named one of the five best mayors in America in 2005 by Time Magazine. , Mayor Hancock continues this legacy (although he is currently distracted by practicing the Ray Lewis dance as part of a bet with the Mayor of Baltimore and after the Broncos lost against the Ravens)
- Big projects need patience.
The Union Station redevelopment plans started in 2001 and the FasTracks rail expansion program began in 2004 and may go to 2040 based on current delays and funding problems. But projects are under actual construction and some almost ready to go!
- Make no small plans:
Denver not only started an ambitious rail transit expansion project, it revamped its land use planning with a "Blueprint Denver" visioning process and a brand new zoning code while developing several large masterplans for redevelopment which take advantage of the overall vision for the city and the mixed use zoning districts. The Stapleton redevelopment is the largest infill development in the country and the Union Station transit oriented development one of the largest intermodal undertakings where an underground bus station, a surface light rail station, a downtown circulator and Amtrak are all directly connected in one place. This project has already spurred hundreds of thousands of square feet of office, retail and residential development. Once complete Denver will showcase one of the most impressive train sheds in North America.
- Gains can only be had from taking risks
Before Hickenlooper became mayor of Denver is opened a brewpub near Union Station in an area where nobody dared to tread. As Mayor he followed up with Coors Field and from there LoDo took off. Before him Frederico Pena had relocated the airport from Stapleton to a far-flung new location making it the largest airport in the nation (by area) and probably also one of the most remote from downtown. A new rail link will facilitate the connection soon, even when the terminal station abutting the famous airport terminal tent structure won't be designed by architect Calatrava who walked away from the project leaving the local branch of Gensler Architects scrambling to fill in.
|Downtown Denver as seen from the madly congested I-70 full of folks heading home to Stapleton and Aurora where rail connections are not available yet|
|Rail lands to value: Development along freight tracks and along the Platte River on lands that were no-mans land before made possible by some strategic bridges and a big idea how downtown can expand and get a brand-new neighborhood|
|Glassy towers, upscale city center housing facing the new park|
|new development everywhere: LoDo|
|the big construction site of the Union Station redevelopment area seen from the Millenium bridge|
|The steel of the new Amtrak train shed is taking shape|
DIA East Rail Terminal and Hotel as depicted by Gensler Architects
below some updated pictures from the Union Station Train Shed designed by SOM (3/22/13)
Klaus Philipsen, FAIA
Photos: copyright ArchPlan Inc. (except station rendering)
updated for additional photos 3/25/13 15:20h
Related blogs on this site: Denver Thriving