Havey Productions Film: Denver Union Station: Portal to Progress
On February 5, 2010, the National Film Premiere of the film by Havey Productions, Denver Union Station – Portal to Progress will be shown at the Hyatt Regency Denver Colorado Convention Center. Union Station Advocates contributed to the production of this film to help highlight the historic and future significance of Union Station. For more information and a sneak preview of the film, click on the following link: http://www.vimeo.com/7596441
Recap of A Night in Old Union Station
Attended by over 800 people, USA’s “Night in Old Union Station” event raised about $70,000 toward the revival of the Welcome/Mizpah Arch and was overall a grand success! Check out the USA website (www.unionstationadvocates.org) for reviews. Additional contributions to the Arch Fund can be made by buying a light for the replicated Arch at $1,000 per light. The lights will be numbered between 1 and 2194 (the number of lights on the original arch), so you can choose a number that is meaningful to you, and your name will be on the arch. Please refer to the membership page on the USA website.
November 12, 2009 DUSPA Meeting
The major news was that the project has received approval for an investment grade credit rating from Fitch Rating service, as described in Jeffery Leib’s article, “Union Station transit hub project wins loan rating” in the November 13th issue of the Denver Post (see http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_13775645). Per Claude Pumilia, Denver finance chief, “With the Fitch rating in hand, the station authority can start the process of negotiating terms of the loan package with Federal officials. Officials hope that they can close on the loans in January. Doing so would allow construction to begin in earnest at Union Station.”
The loan referred to is the TIFIA loan, which is now in the senior position, and the RRIF loan through the Department of Transportation. The process over the next two months includes submission of the application, a formal presentation followed by a workshop, then submission of the proposal to the Secretary of Transportation followed by negotiation of the term sheet.
Bill Mosher, Owner Representative for the Union Station project, reviewed the current budget as of October 31, 2009 stating that the cash account had $683,000 and the $3,000,000 budget was being restated as funds committed and future fund payments. He went on to state that the Landmark Preservation Commission was meeting on project matters on November 17th, that Amtrak and RTD had reached an MOA regarding relocating a facility for Amtrak (open issues related to parking and the temporary station remain), and that the remediation on the contaminated soil along Wewatta Street was complete.
The meeting then moved into executive session.
November 12, 2009 Public Meeting – Public Realm Design Update
Mary Margaret Jones of Hargreaves presented the revised design for the Light Rail plaza, the 17th Street Gardens, and the Wewatta Pavilion. She mentioned that Chestnut Street would be targeted for neighborhood retail and serve as a bike connection, and that Wewatta Street would be targeted for regional retail. She also addressed the Wynkoop Plaza design and answered questions from the floor. The slides from her presentation are available on www.denverunionstation.org.
The Light Rail plaza will include a fire lane which requires barriers to prevent unauthorized access to the terminal. The current plan is to extend the light rail platform paving around the ventilation tubes. The pattern of pedestrian movement will inform the paving. Trees will be planted to grow as tall as the tubes. The location of the planters will respond to the anticipated pedestrian movement. These planters will have 18” seat walls with lighting at their base.
The 17th Street Gardens will encompass seven skylights between Chestnut and Wewatta Streets. There will be ample room for exhibit tents and cafes. The gardens will be robust and low maintenance. To help minimize maintenance and care, there will be more evergreens and grasses and fewer perennials than portrayed in earlier concepts. A fountain is planned near the bus box egress. Movable seating is also under consideration.
The Wewatta Pavilion has shifted away from the train hall. In the slides, the pavilion appeared to be aligned with the paving that extends from Chestnut to and across Wewatta.
The Wynkoop Plaza slides showed an asymmetrical design with the south plaza being active and the north plaza a more restful and calm setting. The south plaza design featured an interactive fountain that could be shut off for other uses like concerts or an ice rink. The north plaza would be more shaded, with the trees located so that the train room would be clearly visible. Both sides are being designed for programming in all seasons. Public art in the plaza and the plaza’s relationship to the new wing buildings and the station itself were mentioned as important. The plazas are both approximately 1/4th acre. If extended across Wynkoop Street for certain festivities, they would approximate 1/3rd acre.
Discussion of the paving design, patterns and materials, is deferred to early 2010, pending a survey of all options. A linear pattern was mentioned as being under consideration.
Questions and comments addressed the annual cost of maintenance ($4 to $6 million was mentioned), the scale of the pavilions (an 18’ height was mentioned), and the amount of protection the train shed would provide from the weather (not weather proof from horizontal rain, but an effective sun screen). A significant change in the north and south plazas is the redesign of linear seat walls framing the space along Wynkoop Street. This design replaces permanent concrete benches within the plazas previously depicted.
The meeting concluded with a few comments from Bill Mosher. He stated that the next public meeting, which will address the bus box, will be December 17th at 5:30 P.M., and that SOM/Hargreaves will return for more design discussions in January/February 2010. Bill also mentioned that DUSPA had received verbal approval for an investment grade credit rating, which clears the way to finalize the major sources of funding for the project. One open issue was the possibility that the Block B building over the tracks will not be built, which would preclude the need for the Kinetic Plaza. If the decision is to not build, the currently planned Kinetic Plaza would be replaced by a pedestrian bridge from the north Wynkoop Plaza to the area of the Wewatta Pavilion. Another unresolved issue is the parking structure currently planned to the northwest of the Ice House garage. If this structure is not built, the project team would have to find another location for the planned 150 public parking spaces.
Ski Train Update
See the 11/16/09 Denver Post article by Jeffery Leib, “New Rio Grande Scenic Ski Train gears up for this winter” at: http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_13796183
A Discussion with Bill Mosher – November 19, 2009
USA met with Bill Mosher, DUSPA Owner Representative, to learn more about the issues that the Peer Design Group was addressing in their monthly meetings. The Peer Design Group consists of seven distinguished local architects and landscape architects who have been chartered to review the transit and public realm architectural plans for the Union Station project.
Regarding the transit architecture, the Peer Design Group has addressed several issues including the ventilation tubes, the Chestnut Pavilion, the commuter rail Train Hall and the Wewatta Pavilion. Their accomplishments include: 1.) modifying the ventilation tube from one massive structure to three 20’ high tubes (two outflows, one intake); 2.) modifying the commuter rail Train Hall to be more elliptical, to provide more coverage from the elements, and to reduce the number of structural columns for better views of the station; and 3.) modifying the Wewatta Pavilion canopy to stand away from the train shed (closer to Wewatta Street) and more in line with the 17th Street Gardens pedestrian walkway. The crosswalk across Wewatta Street remains offset from the 17th Street Gardens walkway and the Wewatta Pavilion.
One limiting aspect of modifying the transit realm is that the design in some cases was as far along as 60% before the Peer Design Group got involved.
Regarding the public realm design, the Peer Design Group has influenced Hargreaves to modify their original concepts for the Light Rail Plaza, the 17th Street Gardens, the Wewatta Plaza and the Wynkoop Plaza to be more in line with local project team and citizen preferences.
The pavilion connection between the west side of the station and the train shed, and the redesign of the pedestrian bridge over the tracks on the 18th Street side of the station remain key issues to be addressed in future meetings.
Another issue discussed was changes to the underground bus box. RTD is requesting inclusion of a “layover lane” for up to six buses on the north side of the bus terminal. The City supports this as they are against staging buses in the Central Platte Valley, LoDo, or downtown Denver. Capacity issues were discussed and Bill’s opinion is that the current planned bus bays are adequate for both RTD buses and commercial buses for the foreseeable future. Bill also revealed that there are discussions about eliminating the moving walkways from the underground bus station. Currently there are two moving walkways in the plan, one 70’ in length, the other 140’. They take up 11’ of the 44’ width of the concourse. He mentioned ideas for making the space a more amenable experience for pedestrians through art and materials.
When asked about maintenance of both the public and transit spaces, Bill stated his preference that the station site should be included in the current BID that covers the rest of LoDo and Downtown Denver, with an assessment on the private tenants. For the balance of the site, it is proposed that the 30-mill Denver Union Station Metro District property tax levy be allocated 20-mill for capital expenditures and 10-mill for maintenance. RTD would maintain its own facilities.
Other open issues include security and how to program the spaces.
One concerning issue was funding for improvements to the station itself. USA’s understanding was that $17 million has been set aside for station infrastructure improvements, and that these funds were not to be tapped for other needs. Bill said that $8 million are dedicated to that end, but the other $9 million are not. He said the $26 million for the public realm is still untouchable for other uses.
Our discussion ended with a brief exchange about the Welcome/Mizpah Arch. Bill said the size and location of the arch would be a topic for a future Peer Design Group discussion.
Membership Renewal Time!
For those of you that joined Union Station Advocates in 2008 it is now time to renew your membership! Your continued support is much appreciated. Please keep an eye out for an email concerning your membership renewal or you can go to the USA membership webpage and renew today: http://www.unionstationadvocates.org/membership.html
Thank you for your continued support!
Union Station Advocates Roundtable
The Roundtables continue to be an effective and engaging meeting allowing our members to have informal discussions on important issues of the Union Station project.
Roundtable meetings are generally held the second and fourth Mondays of each month, and are open only to USA members and their guests. Led by USA board member and architect Levi Reeves, each Roundtable meeting provides the opportunity for attendees to discuss in-depth a topic associated with the Union Station project. A few days before each Roundtable, all USA members will receive an invitation via email for the upcoming meeting with an opportunity to RSVP. The Roundtable committee is currently identifying agenda topics for the next series of Roundtable meetings coming this fall. If you have a suggestion for a Roundtable meeting, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Union Station Advocates Is Now On Facebook!
Are you a USA member or just excited about our historic Union Station and its big transformation? Join us on Facebook by being a fan of Union Station Advocates!
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