Denver Union Station was selected as a winner of the 2015 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Global Awards for Excellence in October. The awards program “recognizes real estate projects that achieve a high standard of excellence in design, construction, economics, planning and management.” Denver Union Station was one of 10 projects recognized on three continents.
In a press release, the ULI noted that “criteria for the awards include leadership, contribution to the community, innovations, public/private partnerships, environmental protection and enhancement, response to societal needs and financial viability.”
The Urban Land Institute, a global nonprofit education and research institute, strives to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. The Global Awards for Excellence are a way for the organization to “identify and promote best practices in all types of real estate development.”
The Regional Transportation District (RTD), a regional authority operating public transit services in eight counties in the Denver metropolitan area, purchased the Union Station site in August 2001.The Denver Union Station Project Authority is responsible for financing, acquiring, owning, designing, constructing, renovating, operating and maintaining the Denver Union Station redevelopment project. Together, these entities developed a master plan for the station and its surrounding 19.5 acres that envisions the station as a hub of a new mixed-used neighborhood including retail, office, residential and cultural uses.
Work on transit elements at Union Station is funded under the region’s FasTracks program, a voter-approved, $4.7 billion transit expansion initiative passed in 2004. The Union Station Neighborhood Co., a partnership between developers Continuum Partners and East West Partners, was selected to be the master developer in charge of overseeing the $519 million construction and renovation effort at historic Union Station.
When FasTracks is completed, the station will be a hub for light rail, commuter rail, intercity buses, an extension of the 16th Street Mall Shuttle and regional, express and local buses. There will also be facilities for cyclists, as well as pedestrian-oriented improvements such as landscaped public plazas that will better integrate these transit services with adjacent neighborhoods. The Union Station light rail station opened in August 2011; the 22 bay underground bus complex opened in May 2014; and commuter rail operations should start in 2016.
As part of the redevelopment, Union Station includes a dozen new shops and restaurants to serve travelers and residents. The Crawford Hotel, which opened in July 2014, includes 112 rooms installed in the upper levels of the north and south wings; the station’s “Great Hall” serves as the hotel lobby. The RTD is pursuing a Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Silver Star certification for the Union Station rehabilitation project by incorporating sustainable features into the new construction.
All photos courtesy of Steve Ostrowski.