Littleton’s connections to downtown Denver will only be strengthened after bus service begins at Denver Union Station on May 11, says the city’s representative on the RTD board of directors.
“To see it almost come to fruition is really pretty spectacular,” District H director Kent Bagley told Littleton City Council on April 15. He also sits on the board that’s overseeing the nearly $500 million redevelopment of the Union Station area into a massive transit hub that will feature hotels, shopping, office space, restaurants, nearly 1,500 apartments and more.
The historic Union Station building has been entirely revamped, and will open with two high-end hotels, restaurants and retail on July 12. The train hall will provide access to the platform and bus councourse.
The hub’s light-rail station and 16th Street Mall Shuttle extension both opened in August 2011, and Amtrak started running in February of this year. Commuter rail — which is heavier than light rail and designed for longer trips — is slated to launch in 2016. The new Free MetroRide around downtown and B-cycle bike-sharing programs will be accommodated, as will pedestrians and taxis.
There will be an opening ceremony for the 22-gate bus concourse on May 9. Visitors will be able to tour the underground terminal; it’s twice the size of Market Street Station, which is closing.
“This is the equivalent of taking the Republic Plaza building, turning it on its side and burying it underground,” said Bagley.
The project was funded through a combination of property sales and state and federal loans that will be repaid through a $168 million RTD bond, tax-increment revenues and lodging taxes. Bagley said development of surrounding property is critical to repaying the debt, but revenues are already 80 percent more than was estimated.
“This is a really critical example of the value of tax-increment financing,” he said. “We figure we’ll pay this off in 20 years, not 30 (the typical life of a loan).”
RTD anticipates more than 200,000 trips a day through Denver Union Station once everything is up and running.
“This is just really incredible, being a native and watching what’s happening down there,” said Littleton Councilmember Debbie Brinkman. “It doesn’t feel like you’re in a train station. It doesn’t even really feel like you’re downtown. It’s really starting to feel like a place.”