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Back To The Future

What to expect when Union Station finally finishes its multimillion-dollar transformation in 2014. (Hint: There will be much more than just trains and buses.)

In 1914, the 34-year-old Union Station expanded to accommodate the influx of rail-borne arrivals to the Front Range. Exactly one century later, the gateway to Denver will reopen as a modern transportation hub that pays tribute to its illustrious past.

“If you read the history books, Union Station was not only the center of Denver, it was also the heart and soul of Denver,” says Chad McWhinney, CEO of the McWhinney development company, one of the groups overseeing the train station’s renovation. “We’re preserving the history, character, and integrity of the building while keeping an eye toward the future as well.”

Of course, they’re not the only ones gazing into Denver’s crystal ball: Multiple companies have shovels in the ground on several projects in the long-dormant land between LoDo and LoHi, including apartments, retail centers, green space, and a long-awaited King Soopers, all expected to be finished within the next year or so.

For their part, Union Station developers are working to keep the heart of this new ’hood uniquely Denver by filling the 10 ground-floor restaurant and retail spaces with local and regional proprietors. Boulder’s the Kitchen [Next Door] and Snooze have already claimed two slots.
“Our goal,” McWhinney says, “is to make the ground floor Denver’s living room.”
In the station’s great hall, you’ll find a full bar that will feature 40 to 50 local craft beers on tap. “Our goal is to invest in Colorado,” McWhinney says. “So we’re purposely not putting in chains.” The project also includes the construction of a 112-room luxury hotel in the historic building, and a new restaurant by Fruition chef Alex Seidel is in the works.

In a nod to the past, the project’s architects are preserving and restoring much of the building’s original ironwork and columns. You’ll also find a display featuring artifacts and treasures the renovation uncovered—among them old coins, newspapers, a bank vault, a stretcher from World War I, and the entrance to a tunnel that Prohibition-era bootleggers used to run booze to the
Oxford Hotel.

Union Station’s transportation hub will feature light rail and commuter rail platforms, a stop for the 16th Street Mall shuttle, and a 22-bay underground bus terminal. All told, the station is designed to accommodate 10,000 people a day.

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Back to the Future

One Hilltop couple proves that, sometimes, all your home needs is a little face-lift.

The house had seen better days. A layer of cake-batter-brown paint coated parts of the exterior; Edward Scissorhands-style shrubs swallowed the front facade; and, inside, the dark-wood trim looked like something out of an old sitcom. What’s worse, the house was a ’50s-era ranch—one of the last vestiges in the super-hot Hilltop neighborhood, where new-construction Tuscan villas and Tudor mansions had long-since reigned supreme. It was just a matter of time until an enterprising developer bought it up to knock it down for his next granite-countertopped custom McMansion.

But lucky for the little brown house on Bellaire Street, Karen Brody and Michael Hughes got there first. Brody, an attorney by trade, had recently become a voracious hobbyist of modernist architecture—her collection of Joseph Eichler books rivals that of most architects. So when she and her husband finally made the decision to move out of their Capitol Hill loft and into a single-family home, they agreed it would have to be a ’50s ranch.

This article was originally published in 5280 January 2008.
Cheryl Meyers
Cheryl Meyers
Cheryl Meyers is a contributing writer to 5280 Home, which means she gets to spend her days writing about Colorado’s most beautiful indoor spaces.