New Denver Park Acquisition Finalized

The Denver Parks and Recreation Department (DPR), working in partnership with the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) has succeeded in purchasing a 2-acre property along the South Platte River Greenway in downtown Denver. The property is located within the “River North” or “RiNo” neighborhood, which is expected to redevelop from industrial uses to residential and mixed commercial uses over the next five to ten years. DPR will build a new park on the property that will be linked to the South Platte Greenway as the surrounding area redevelops.

“I am thrilled at this investment in our parks and in our environment and its potential to foster prosperity in the developing RiNo neighborhood and business community,” said Mayor Guillermo (Bill) V. Vidal. “The purchase of this property for the development of green space will benefit all of Denver and add to the overall quality of life in our City.”

Working together DPR and TPL secured a $1 million lottery grant from GOCO towards the purchase of the property, a key component of the South Platte River Vision Implementation (RVIP), a three-year planning effort for the future of the South Platte Greenway led by DPR and the Greenway Foundation.

“In good times and in challenging times it is essential to be planning for the future, and often when the economy is down, that is the exact moment to work with key partners and take the leap together,” said Scott Robson, Manager of Denver Parks and Recreation. “This keystone property of our River North Redevelopment plan will continue to reenergize, revitalize and recreate the green ribbons of Denver.”

The project also demonstrates GOCO’s continued investment in the area. “GOCO has invested millions of dollars in revitalizing the South Platte Greenway over the years, and the protection of river corridors throughout the state remains one of our highest funding priorities,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, GOCO’s Executive Director. “Denver’s acquisition of the River North property is a particularly exciting project from GOCO’s standpoint given our focus on creating urban parks. Urban parks and trails are crucial in reconnecting families and children with the outdoors as they may offer the only chance some people have to experience nature firsthand.”

A relic from a time when we sacrificed some of our most valuable natural resources for industrial development, the property is the site of a commercial trucking operation. It bears the scars of decades of industrial use, but through the master planning process for the South Platte Greenway the local community has envisioned the riverfront park that it can be. This vision is shared by a diverse group of supporters that include elected officials, federal, state and local government agencies, non-profit organizations, and local businesses.

“The Greenway Foundation commends the Trust for Public Land and the City and County of Denver for moving ahead with the purchase of this property. Thanks to the continued interaction and engagement of the public, private and philanthropic sectors within our community, one of the key recommendations of the RVIP Plan is now on its way to becoming a reality,” said Jeff Shoemaker, Executive Director of the Greenway Foundation. “This is a real win/win for our City.”

TPL negotiated the purchase and put the property under contract in August 2009, securing bridge funding to underwrite the purchase until DPR was able to fully fund the project through the GOCO/Lottery Grant and City Capital Improvement Funds.

“One of the exciting things about this project is that it will do more than just provide local residents with a park and enhance the South Platte River Greenway. New park projects can help stabilize property values in areas that have been hit hard by the real estate market downturn and can often help spur economic growth,” says Wade Shelton, TPL Project Manager. “This project will create an amenity that will make the area even more attractive to developers, which may provide the catalyst needed to reignite residential and commercial development throughout the RiNo neighborhood.”

This purchase marks the second success in an ongoing partnership between DPR and TPL to identify and complete park projects throughout the City, particularly along the South Platte Greenway. They plan to continue to partner together on similar acquisition and park development projects throughout the Denver Metro Area to take advantage of similar opportunities as they arise.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come.

Denver Parks + Recreation (DPR) facilities are unrivaled in the Rocky Mountain West. The DPR system spans over a 138-year history from the first park created in 1868 to nearly 15,000 acres of urban parks and mountain parkland today. It embraces nearly 3,000 acres of “traditional” parks and parkways, 2,500 urban natural acres and close to 8,000 acres of urban forest within the city alone.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) is the result of a citizens’ initiative passed by voters in 1992. Using a portion of Lottery dollars, GOCO helps preserve, protect, enhance and manage Colorado’s wildlife, park, river, trail and open space heritage. Entities eligible to receive GOCO funds are local governments, land trusts, Colorado State Parks and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. GOCO has been a significant financial partner since 1996 in Denver’s efforts to revitalize the South Platte River.