Archive for March, 2010

The Wynkoop Plaza Area at Union Station…Denver’s Bosque Region

With construction getting under way on the Platte side of the station (see photo at right),  final planning of how the public areas will look continues. At a public meeting on Thursday, March 25, further recommendations were made for the public area in front of the station, on the Wynkoop Street side, between 16th and 18th Streets.

Landscape design is being directed by Hargreaves Associates, who presented renderings of the plan now evolved. (These renderings are to be posted week of 29 March at the DUSPA website.) The main features are trees and water.

There are two main areas of the Wynkoop Plaza, defined by the station, the street and the two “wing” buildings, one of which will begin construction later this year. The IMA Building will anchor the north end of the area. A yet to be finalized four story building will sit at the 16th and Wynkoop corner.

The resulting North Plaza area will feature a bosque in front of the station. A bousquet (the actual French word for this) is a formal planting of trees in set rows, popularized in early formal garden designs of the 17th century in Europe. The preliminary rendering shown last night had this area taking about half the space in the North Plaza. Linear seating planters are being proposed to be interspersed in the tree area. And, movable chairs will be a feature as well. Lighting and other necessary “furniture” are still being determined as are the types of trees to be planted.

The South Plaza area in front of the station will also have some trees, but will feature a multi-spray pattern programmable fountain. This is the sunnier side of the entire plaza. When the renderings are posted you should have a good idea of what the fountain entails.

Trees also will line the walk along Wynkoop, between 16th and 18th Streets.

Both wing buildings are being designed for street level retail, restaurants and such, with openings onto the plaza areas, tables and umbrellas. The plaza areas can be configured to accommodate festivals of different sizes, markets, functions, tents, games, ice skating, curling and even petanque.

Denver by the Slice has some concerns about the Plazas and will discuss them more as time and construction go by. But, basically, throughout the process, a major question is still unanswered. That is, “Who is the Steward of the Area?” In other words, who will take care of it, program the fountain, put out the tents, pick up the trash and so forth.

We believe that overall this is a good plan, and will be infinitely better than the parking lots in front of the station now. But, if you have seen the newly redone Writer Square streetscape, you can understand how an open urban area can look cluttered, even tacky. Be careful with the Union Station space, please.

And, water features bring people…and kids…and that is good. But, is there a chance this could look like the sandy “beach” area at Confluence Park on a summer weekend? At least the water at Union Station should be cleaner. Watch out for wet seats on the Mall Shuttles.

With all of the Union Station re-development, we are promised lots of “street level retail.” A lot of the space that has been created is still just space. Vacant. Unrealized. More efforts have to go into finding tenants and the neighborhood will have to support them.

To their credit, if budgets hold and design clears, the trees will be great! The design firm states they have a commitment to plant more mature trees to shorten the growing-in period. Bring on our Bosquet!

Personal Acquaintance of Morimoto to Open Lodo Bistro!

Now, we’re cookin’! Tony New York chef Lon Symensma is set to open Cholon Bistro in the Sugar Cube Building this fall. It is reported in Westword that this will be a “Modern Asian Bistro”. He, reportedly, has wanted his own place and chose us! From Buddakan to LoDo. Round up your traveling friends with expense accounts and try it out!

Here’s a link where you can also see a picture of a guy, a truck, a motorcyle and a building…somewhere.

Judge Won’t Block Union Station Construction Start

And, more news on Union Station re-development as a testy law suit was settled today in Denver. Read about it here, at this link, in the article from the Denver Business Journal.

Now, let the real digging begin!

Friday, April 16…Beer by Horse!

Here’s a fresh item from Westword. The Wynkoop Brewery will start to deliver beer by horse and wagon. As good beer should be! Read about it here!

These deliveries should become a fun part of the Spring and Summer Downtown.

Things to Know Today! The Friday Slice Bulletin!

It is unlikely that you will find any limes this weekend. Guenther and BJ from Bouquets cornered the lime market the other day to make centerpieces for the LoDo Limelight Awards Dinner. They used 400 of them. Beautifully. But that won’t help your weekend tequila begging for a squirt.

And, hurry out tonight if you are a true beer afficionado. If you like your Guiness…poured correctly… into a GLASS, get it today. Because with the parade on Saturday, and likely through Wednesday, quick pours into plastic cups just won’t do!

We have to wonder, as well, if there is any music whatsoever in Ireland at this time of year. Every Denver bar and club is promoting bands this week from, yes, Ireland. How many could there be? Do all of our DJ’s go there? Weigh in with your comments.

Easy Being Green! A Night at the LoDo Limelight Awards!

The Seawell Grand Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts is a classic and beautiful room for a party. The room, the lighting, the access and the view make for special events here.

This was the scene last night for the Limelight Awards, presnted on the occasion of the 20th year of LoDo District Inc. As they say in their program, they are “the leading advocate for the economic growth and revitalization of the historic Lower Downtown Denver district. The mix of people attending the party and awards presentation reflected those efforts and the broad enthusiasm for the cause.

If you read the Denver Post on Thursday morning, you know who the award winners were but not much else. In each of four categories, though, there were three nominees, all worthy of recognition. And, the centerpieces, alone, deserved their own award. They were provided by Bouquets, a neighborhood treasure.

Here’s what else you should know. For the Cares Award (Philanthropy), Jim Theyes of Kentwood City Properties won as leader of the LoDo Cares program. Also nominated were Chipotle Mexican Grill for numerous local event participation, and The Denver Rescue Mission for helping to rebuild lives.

The Legacy Award (Historical Integrity) went to Chris Shears of Shears/Adkins Architects. Also nominated were The Oxford Hotel and Union Station Advocates.

The Spotlight Award (Marketing) went to Samantha Martel, publisher of the Downtown Denver News. Also nominated were Havey Productions (documentarians) and Senior Housing Options (Barth Hotel).

And, the Service Award (Volunteerism to the Organization) went to Laurie Helmick of Luxe Salon. Also nominated were Kynton Chan of MetLife and Amy Evans of McCormick’s Fish House.

Worthy nominees all. And, active participants in Living in Downtown Denver.

Then, there were funny short speeches, good music, good food, the occasional slip-up and dancing sans slip-ups. Last night, being green was easy!

Saturday the 13th – Your Lucky Day?

Well, it had to come around again. One of the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parades in the world belongs to Denver. And, like it or not, a few hundred thousand people will be swarming around LoDo this Saturday…looking green, acting green, feigning Irishness, and looking for restrooms.

This year’s parade features a whole Irish band as the Grand Marshall, a Queen, 230 units of all manner of animals, clowns, dancers and more clowns driving small vehicles. It is sponsored by a credit union and three radio stations. 200,000 spectators are expected along the route beginning at 27th and Blake. The parade marches ever so slowly down Blake to 17th, then to Wynkoop, then kind of disappears at 19th. But the party goes on, and on, and on.

All of this started in Denver in 1961, according to the parade website. What you may not be aware of is the fact that each year has its own catchy theme. This year’s theme is “Shamrockin’ 2010.” That certainly beats out last year’s “Irish with Attitude.” But, really, who can forget the theme from 1982 – “Denver Energy Capital of the World”? Granted, that was the first year they had a theme, so we’ll cut them some slack for catchy theme creation.

If you live Downtown, emerge from your homes carefully on Saturday. It may be a little crazy, but don’t worry, the fun just keeps on keeping on.

Sunday, the annual Runnin’ of the Green 7K Irish Jog takes place. A few thousand more people start this at 10:15, and the party in the street immediately after. (Although, most would contend the party actually starts before.) A pipe band sends the runners off.

And, pipe bands continue to show up throughout Downtown for several days, right through the ACTUAL St. Patrick’s Day on Wednesday. Of course, we know the saying, “Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.” But, after five days of this, will you still claim it?