Over 50,000 people will strike out next Friday, April Fool’s Day, to Opening Day of the Colorado Rockies. Thousands of those fans will arrive Downtown by Light Rail. And, they’ll be confused.
The tunnel through the station is gone. The walk will be even longer as the mobs make their way back to 16th Street, then to Wynkoop and then to the Stadium. That hot dog will sure taste good by then! Pedi-cabs should be doing what used to be called a “land office business.”
But, just wait until July. That’s when the new Light Rail platform opens, and the Mall Shuttle is extended. What was a convenient trip from the Light Rail to the Ballpark has become a multi-modal trek, and, at best a very much longer walk. If we read the construction progress right, passengers won’t have much choice. We suspect that this form of transit to the games will diminish, and, depending on the team’s performance, the Rockies will notice. Look for a Rockies promotion in August for “Free Pair of Dinger In-Soles” with Light Rail ticket stub.
But, bigger issues are facing RTD pitching. Tax issues. Office issues. And, what to do with that pesky Historic Union Station. Union Station Advocates, a group that really cares about preserving the historic building and making it an even more important part of the Downtown neighborhood, has weighed in here, at their site on proposed uses.
The RTD Board needs to do the right thing with the station. And, the right thing is to issue an RFP for re-development with strict guidelines. This will provide some imaginative and innovative re-use proposals that could take the shape of turning the station into a hotel, a shopping destination, or a civic facility. Certain requirements must be met. The station must have both RTD and AMTRAK ticketing and information areas. A destination restaurant is desired. And, of course, the space needs to maintain its historic integrity.
What we don’t want to happen is for the RTD Board to decide to just keep the space, move their offices in, and basically make this no more an exciting space than the basement at the Market Street Station is now. With a hot dog stand.
This is a complex, major redevelopment project. Keep it on track to a cohesive and vital centerstone for Downtown. And, a great component of a great neighborhood.