National Western Center Hits Major Milestones at New Campus

Photo by Evan Semón Photography.

Today Mayor Michael B. Hancock, the National Western Center Authority, CSU Spur and its partners opened more than six acres of open space at the new National Western Center campus and the final components of the CSU Spur campus, including the CSU Spur Hydro Backyard and the Denver Water laboratory inside CSU Spur. As part of the 250-acre National Western Center (NWC) redevelopment, the segment of land along the South Platte riverfront was restored and enhanced for public access, open space, flood protection, wildlife habitat and educational and research opportunities.

The city, through the Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center, relocated and removed more than 14,000 linear feet of freight rail away from the river, including at-grade, unmarked rail crossings and buried 1,800 feet of 7-ft tall double wastewater pipes that once ran above-ground along the river. The city also regraded the land, added trails, pathways, lighting, picnic areas, public art, gathering spaces, new water-efficient landscaping, and established a connection to the South Platte River Greenway Trail.

“For generations, the riverfront here was inaccessible to the community, and one of our priorities with the National Western Center was to correct that,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “The city’s project team moved mountains – of pipes and railroad – to improve the riverfront to make it what it is today, a safe and family-friendly destination for visitors and community members to enjoy as their own.”

The South Platte River runs along the western border of the new National Western Center campus. The new area is now a grassy open space for recreation, relaxation, and small community events. It’s a space for planned and impromptu activities — from live music and citizen science projects to quiet walks and bike rides. An informal 250-person open-air amphitheater will be a place to take in a performance, while several colorful public art pieces will help bring the area to life. The open space connects to the Backyard of CSU Spur’s Hydro building, a building focused on water research and science and open to the public for experiential learning opportunities.

The riverfront area, for the first time, will connect to the neighborhood and nearby parks, via a new river bridge at 51st Avenue and the regional trail system.

“By creating a new riverfront open space that connects people to the natural environment and encourages activity and play, the National Western Center will become an anchor point that strengthens connections between Globeville and Elyria-Swansea and will create a much-needed recreational amenity for North Denver residents,” CEO of the National Western Center Authority, Brad Buchanan said.

Denver Water’s lab in CSU’s Hydro building is now also open, providing a state-of-the-art laboratory for testing and tracking water quality throughout Denver Water’s service area, while expanding the utility’s youth education program to connect with future generations of water leaders.

“CSU Spur is focused on research, education, and public engagement with global issues of food, health, and water. The Backyard and Denver Water’s laboratory are some of the final assets to open as part of the CSU Spur campus at the National Western Center, and they’ll continue to offer meaningful ways for the public to connect with the campus and these topics that are so important to us all,” said CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank.


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