Central Platte Valley Redevelopment

The Platte Valley is a 600 acre redevelopment district of Denver's old rail yards downtown. It is several times the size of downtown Denver. I formed a landowners association in 1982 that had 100 city blocks of property in the area of light blue shown below. The stripped blue is the rail yards of Denver Rio Grande RR , Burlington Northern RR and Union Pacific RR.

In 1982 Fedrico Pena was elected mayor of Denver and decided to make the Platte valley a centerpiece of his administration by forming a Platte Valley Development Committee. The main activity of the committee in the early years was to consolidate the rail yards into a single 100' wide corridor (red) shared by all the railroads That took two years of negotiating. Then another several years was spent on planning to remove six viaducts and replacing them with $200 million of parkways that opened up the ground area for development.

The last work of the committee was to draft development policies for land uses, densities, building heights and special places such as this early Intermodal idea behind Union Station. It has a park on top of covered parking and a new train station located on the main line corridor.

As the 1980's wore on there was no activity in the Platte Valley due to the recession that hit real estate very hard. It was the first time I had ever seen devaluation of property. Many news and magazine articles discussed the lack of activity in the Platte Valley as shown by this image which was referring to the twenty years since the Burlington Northern new Town proposal in 1968.

The Platte Valley Land Owners Association tried several ideas for economic development including this one for  adding telecom facilities to the basketball arena, convention center, football stadium and DCPA and using them for world stages to generate business and a world wide audience.

 

Another effort was circulated for landscaping the vacant ground and using it for recreation until development could occur. But the landowners were worried that it could be difficult to take back landscaped grounds as the public would want these parcels to remain as park space even though there were many dedicated parks as shown below.

The PVLA organized eight neighborhoods into planning areas  as shown by the yellows in this map. Each of these areas was supposed to become a Business Improvement District BID with an overall umbrella district as the manager. The Cherry Creek Sub area shown in red was the only one to actually be implemented when a  new parkway that was built because the City wanted the landowners to pay for and maintain the landscaping that was installed.