Archive for November, 2011

Eric Nakata Honored This Weekend

Friend and Downtown Resident Eric Nakata passed away on the 18th of September while battling cancer. But, his smile is still with us! Today, a memorial service was held in Colorado Springs. And, tomorrow, many friends are gathering at a celebration of his life and a toast at a private home south of Denver. Visit his website here.

Eric was always around the town, at every sporting event he could get to, all over the mountains and took seriously the art of smiling, having good friends, good conversation…and good beer. He was the master arranger of neighborhood gatherings at local spots. And, he served as a Board Member of the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Association.  Here’s to you, Eric. Thanks for being who you were!

(Photo: Diane Huntress)

A Chance to Join Your Neighbors, Have a Beer, and Talk About…the “Living Room”?

Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 9 at 5:00 is your chance to opine on the competing proposals for the re-use of the historic Union Station building. And, that discussion will take place directly across the street at the Wynkoop Brewery, in the Mercantile Room. This meeting is scheduled for two hours and organized by Union Station Advocates. Everyone is bound to have an opinion.

Could This Be Your "Living Room?"

Last Thursday, the two respondents to RTD’s RFQ and RFP for the project presented their plans to the public. There’s been plenty of coverage of both groups, their principals and their proposals, so we’ll just supply the links to their sites so you can further view them. The proposal components from the Union Station Neighborhood Company can be seen here. The proposal from Union Station Alliance can be seen here.

Interestingly, both groups referred to the space inside the station as “Denver’s Living Room.” So, what’s that bus doing in there? Well, RTD owns the building and plans to keep it as the centerpiece of its multi-modal transit development. Because of that, both proposals have to accommodate RTD information areas, an AMTRAK operation for ticketing and baggage and DIA access with planned baggage check for the trains that will one day run from Union Station to the airport.

Or, Does Your "Living Room" Look More Like This?

The rest is up for discussion. The gist of the proposal from the Union Station Neighborhood Company (also the Master Developers of the entire transit site project) is food, retail, restaurants and offices. Additionally, they plan on space for a creative incubator. Meanwhile, Union Station Alliance plans on a boutique hotel conversion with a grand lobby designed to be inviting for more public access, use and transit. Both plans have their merits, of course. And, bars.

Denver by the Slice worries that a more retail, food hall approach may be over-anticipating the amount of density and pass-through traffic for support. One recalls the initial re-development of the Tivoli Brewery on the Auraria campus. That shopping center effort lasted a very short time. And, at Union Station, only a fraction of the daily passengers using the transit facilities will actually pass through the station.

The plan is that both of these proposals will be reviewed by RTD staff and a recommendation will be forthcoming. The Board will vote on that recommendation very early in the next year and contract talks will ensue…if there is a contract.

All of the coverage to date has spoken of the “winner” from this process, sounding as though one will surely be realized. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily true. This RFP, as most RFP’s, contains that ever-present escape clause. RTD doesn’t have to accept either proposal. They can choose not to award a contract at all. They might not like the financing, the logistics, the plans, where their desk goes, or any number of things. They can choose not to award a contract at all.

Then the station will still have the necessary transit components, the same lousy chandeliers that are hanging there now, and, probably, plenty of “Drivers and Mechanics Wanted” signs about.

That’s the “third rail” that could ruin your “living room”. Drive a bus through the wall. Run the train right off the track. RTD needs to get this right.

Come and talk about it Wednesday at the Wynkoop. Put your feet up and have a beer.

A Typical Fall Weekend Forecast for Downtown Denver…Maybe a Little Rain, A Lot of Art, and, of course, Fireworks!

Seasonal fall weather is upon us. Today’s sunshine may end up as rain. But, that shouldn’t dampen any of the events and activities going on in Downtown Denver.

(By the way, did you know that if you click on the Weather Channel ad to the right, you’ll get the current conditions…and forecast…for this very zip code, 80202. Let’s see you do that with your local newspaper in hand!)

On Saturday morning, there’s an early 5K Run/Walk to help celebrate Veterans Day, all taking place on the Auraria Campus. And, at 10, the annual Veterans Day Parade will march off from the Civic Center, through a bit of Downtown, and back to the Civic Center for further ceremonies honoring our Vets. They’ve been in worse conditions than a little bit of rain, so show your support!

Today, November 4 is the beginning of Denver Arts Week and you can read all about it here, at their site. Tomorrow’s highlight is a FREE night at many of the museums in the city, linked by shuttles, including the Denver Art Museum, Molly Brown House, Byers-Evans Museum, the Museum of Nature and Science, and, our personal favorite, the Denver Firefighters Museum. Many more, too!

One highlight of this weekend is at RedLine, 25th and Arapahoe. It’s a collaboration between Ballet Nouveau Colorado and visual artist Virginia Folkestad. Read about this beautiful performance (through Sunday) and how to get tickets here!

That’s a great start to a week of over 300 art events throughout the city.

Of course, the Denver Film Festival is in full projection mode, and you can read about that here for information on tickets.

But, when the lights go down Saturday evening, watch for a big fireworks display saluting the Veterans. This time, about 8 p.m., the blasts will come from the Auraria Campus, we believe, and not from the top of the Gates Building where it annually surprised most people around or driving by. Look to the southwest for a bright sky Saturday night…before you change your clock.

Otherwise, a quiet weekend Downtown. Undoubtedly, though, the Mall Shuttles will find some reason to stop running for some time on Saturday…and it won’t only be the Veterans Day Parade. Always an adventure!