Riverfront Park’s History: An Empty Rail Yard to a Master Planned Community
Many people don’t realize that Riverfront Park, which has consistently been number one in our most popular neighborhoods, has a great deal of design and vision based upon the fundamentals of a Colorado Ski Resort.
The Developer, East West Partners, who originally purchased the approximately 20 acres of land that would eventually become Riverfront Park began with roots and experience developing resort real estate communities such as Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch, Arrowhead, Vail, Park City, and Northstar at Tahoe. If you have ever skied Beaver Creek you know just how special this ski village is. The village offers great open spaces to enjoy (ice skating rink, fire pits, creekside paths) and the surrounding buildings are designed to make you feel like you have entered a European village. Don’t forget about the fresh baked cookies that Vail Resorts friendly employees pass out to ski visitors. It’s pretty amazing. Two things are very evident when you are at Beaver Creek. The village is beautiful, clean, and safe.
So how did a Resort Real Estate Developer become the visionary for Riverfront Park. The vision started before any developers got involved. If you look waaaaaaay back at the urban planning documents for the area you see they included a lot of the elements of a park, public space, and mixed use. Under Denver’s mayor Webb a deal was created with then landholder Trillium to provide the area called “The Commons” and would eventually become Common’s Park” to the city in exchange for the city implementing needed infrastructure for development. For those who remember this area at the time there was little except vacant rail lines and dirt. Mayor Wellington Webb was quoted as saying “I wanted parks to be my legacy, and I saw parks as a value-driven investment—an investment that would enhance surrounding areas.”
It was an investment to be sure. Decades of the land being used as a rail yard meant investing remediating the brownfield railroad land that had accumulated coal dust. Looking at Riverfront Park now it is hard to imagine what this land once looked like.
In 1997, the city government and the County of Denver Planning and Development Office, and Trillium Corporation and Design Workshop, released a comprehensive urban design plan that included the various design elements of the neighborhood (architecture, signage, parking, pedestrian flow, set backs, lighting, etc.) and the major public amenities including the set aside for the more than 20 acres for the centerpiece park and integration of the Cherry Creek Bike Path. It was a brilliant plan and design for everything we see today.
And that may be why East West Partners leapt at the chance to buy the land with partner Crescent Real Estate for a reported $25 per square foot. and develop here. Which is exactly what happened next.
Building a Heart of Riverfront Park
The first area of development focus was the Plaza in Riverfront Park in what I like to think was a great example of building the heart of a community. A beautiful Architectural design became a reality as the Millennium Bridge and open Plaza Public Space took shape. Around this plaza, three initial buildings were built (2002) as Riverfront Park welcomed The Promenade Lofts, the Park Place Lofts, and Riverfront Tower. These three buildings remain some of the most popular addresses to call home in Denver, and a balcony facing the plaza or Commons Park is a coveted amenity.
At roughly the same time these initial buildings were coming to market land was being sold to Apartment Developers to build what is currently the Station and the Manhattan and commercial tenants were sought to fill those first floor spaces in the Plaza. When you visit a ski village it’s nice to have great places to eat, drink, and shop outside your front door. This lesson was not lost on the Riverfront Park project as we slowly saw INK Coffee, Zengo Restaurant, McLoughlins Pub and other enjoyable tenants were recruited to continue making Riverfront Park an amazing place to live.
The Master HOA Provides Beauty and Security
One of the great amenities within Riverfront Park has nothing to do with architecture. It is all about place making, perhaps taken from the principles of Beauty, Cleanliness, and Security that are fundamentals of a Ski Village. Riverfront Park implemented a Master HOA, meaning that every resident of the entire neighborhood is a member. This Master HOA is funded by payments from residents, meaning in addition to your building HOA fees you have a smaller fee that gets added on.
This fee does something pretty amazing. It is used to employ a team that works throughout the neighborhood keeping everything beautiful. They plant, maintain and seasonally change out the various landscaping features and planters in the neighborhood. They put up holiday lights and other aesthetic elements.
And perhaps of the most value, these funds employ off duty police officers to provide security and assistance in the neighborhood. When people talk about reasons they love living in Denver’s Riverfront Park the story almost always includes the peace of mind they have on their morning run, walking their dog in the park, venturing out with tickets for a Rockies, Broncos, Nuggets or Avalanche game (all walking distance) or returning from a night of dining in LoHi or LoDo. It is pretty amazing.
Off duty police officers offer a very unique advantage. They can enforce the laws. If someone is misbehaving, or causing a disturbance, Denver’s finest can quickly resolve the situation and their presence in the neighborhood has a value unique anywhere in our city.
Let’s face it, you can’t get a whole bunch of buildings, let alone the residents within, to agree on the same thing very easily. Duplicating this benefit anywhere other than in a master planned community such as Riverfront Park would be tough.
There are so many reasons why Riverfront Park is an amazing place to call home. It has, without question, the benefit of one of the most amazing locations in Denver adjacent to the new Union Station with awesome transportation access. Riverfront Park enjoys being our Central Park neighborhood with acres of green space and trails to enjoy. And of course residents constantly share their love of the accessibility to great restaurants in LoHi, LoDo, West Highlands and more.
To learn more about living in this amazing neighborhood contact us today.
Helpful Links in your Search
- Riverfront Park Listings
- Union Station Listings
- Highland / LoHi Listings
- West Highland Listings
- Riverfront Park Buildings
- Creekside Flats
- Creekside Lofts
- Creekside Townhomes
- Glass House
- Monarch Mills
- ONE Riverfront
- Park at ONE Rivefront
- Park Place Lofts
- Promenade Lofts
- Riverfront Tower
- The Art House
- The Art House Townhomes
- The Brownstones
- The Delgany
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