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Showing Some Love for the South Platte River: Our Top 6 South Platte River Projects

The South Platte River has been an iconic landmark of Denver long before ECI was founded in 1980. Throughout history, it has been used as a water source, gathering place and recreational venue. We have been fortunate to work on several projects along the South Platte River over the past decade, and in the spirit of the month of February, we’re showing some love for some of our favorite projects in the area.

 

South Platte River Trail, Completed in 2015

For this project, we partnered with Adams County to create a recreational trail connection along the east side of the South Platte River in Brighton, running from 108th Avenue to 120th Avenue. This remote location required site prep and demolition to clear trees and undergrowth prior to installing the concrete bike path, while maintaining erosion and sediment control. A 120-foot prefabricated bridge was installed over the river, along with a 64-foot bridge to cross the Bull Seep Canal.

 

Pasquinel’s Landing Park, Completed in 2016

The renovation of Pasquinel’s Landing Park was part of the City and County of Denver’s plan to improve the ecological health and accessibility to the South Platte River corridor, while providing flood control and bank stabilization. A secondary channel was created to allow access to slow moving water, and a low water crossing provided a path to a new rock jetty for fishing. Additionally, a new ADA accessible trail and other crusher fine trails with boulder seat walls wind around the turf picnic lawn and river overlook. Many of the existing, mature trees were protected during construction, while new landscaping and irrigation was installed, along with native grass areas.

 

Grant Frontier Park, Completed in 2016

The location of Grant Frontier Park was one of the first places gold was discovered in the South Platte River near Denver. The centerpiece of the park, a 200-year-old cottonwood tree, was protected and is now surrounded by seat boulders, a plaza and picnic area. River access was restored by constructing a secondary channel and concrete jetty, separating the main park from a new island. A new playground, shade structures, walking trails and retaining walls provide additional areas of play, and a new parking lot allows for more public access.

 

Confluence Park, Completed in 2017

One of our most iconic projects, Confluence Park has been dubbed “The Heart of Denver” and posed unique challenges for our team. The ADA access area of Shoemaker Plaza at Confluence Park required extensive renovations to improve safety and usability. The process started with securing and de-watering the area with sheet piling and demolition of the plaza. During the shore work, buried coal tar was discovered, requiring the client to pause construction for one year to address water treatment and filtering. Once the new plan was finalized, ECI prioritized the safe removal of the contaminated soils. The project continued with updating the ramps and the plaza, providing safe river access, and adding new landscaping and lighting.

 

Platte Farm Open Space, Completed in 2020

Platte Farm Open Space is just a stone’s throw away from the South Platte River and is one of our most recently completed projects in the area. In collaboration with the City and County of Denver and Mile High Flood District, we created a detention pond to help with stormwater and flooding in the adjacent neighborhood. The park also included an open space with trails, landscaping and irrigation, access roads to the neighborhood, and new on-street parking. We used multiple different shoring systems throughout the course of this project, and we built the project’s log features, which include log steppers and a 220 LF Log Border.

 

Arkins Promenade, In Progress

The Arkins Promenade combines recreation and the natural environment to create a linear park along the South Platte River. Once completed later this year, promenade visitors will be able to enjoy an elevated walkway with seating areas, outdoor classrooms, and viewing platforms 16 feet above the river bank. The project will also enhance natural vegetation. Stormwater will be treated using landscape-based water quality areas, which will connect vegetated swales with chase drains and shallow conveyances. Existing outfalls that served Arkins Court as a street will be reused for the stormwater from the park and adjacent roads.

 

Here’s to many more years of improving and enjoying the South Platte River!

RiNO Promenade: Beautifying Denver and Reclaiming Nature

Over the years, ECI has been fortunate to work on numerous projects along the South Platte River in Denver – Confluence Park, Platte Farm Detention Basin, and 39th Avenue Greenway, just to name a few. We are thrilled to announce that one of our newest projects, RiNO Promenade, is continuing the beautification of this region and will provide recreational opportunities for generations to come.

 

A New Space for Recreation in Denver

The RiNO Promenade will combine recreation, leisure, the natural environment, and the vibrancy of the neighborhood to create one all-encompassing linear park along the South Platte River. The elaborate outdoor space will span from 29th Street to 38th Street and connect the new River North Park at 35th and Arkins with Globeville Landing Park at 38th. Promenade visitors will be able to enjoy numerous unique elements, such as an elevated walkway with seating areas, outdoor classrooms, and viewing platforms 16 feet above the river bank to fully take in the beauty of the South Platte River.

 

In addition to providing new recreational experiences, the project will also enhance natural vegetation. Stormwater will be treated using landscape-based water quality areas, which will hydraulically connect vegetated swales with chase drains and shallow conveyances. Existing outfalls that served Arkins Court as a street will be reused for the stormwater from the Park and adjacent roads, but with added water quality areas to clean the water before it goes into the river.

 

A Vision in the Works for Years

The RiNO Promenade – and revitalization of this entire region – has been a Denver dream for many years and has involved the leadership of several entities. Two primary key players have been The Greenway Foundation and Wenk Associates.

 

The South Platte River had historically been treated as a landfill, due to the booming industrial activity in this part of Denver during past decades. With an emphasis on sustainability and environmental preservation, ideas of improvements have circulated for numerous years. Starting more than 10 years ago, The Greenway Foundation began working with the City and County of Denver to create a plan detailing how river corridor restoration could turn RiNO into one of the most thriving areas of Denver. Thanks to this organization’s tireless advocacy, several stretches of the South Platte River have undergone complex improvements in recent years that have resulted in significant environmental and economic benefits.

 

Wenk Associates has served as the project’s lead consultant and architect, as well as the master planner, since 2015. The original goal for this stretch was to accommodate population growth by creating a park where people could work and play, while also enhancing the South Platte River. Since then, the vision has evolved to meet the demographic and ecological needs of the area. Under Wenk’s leadership, the initial phase, RiNO Park, has been completed and opened to the public in August 2020. The current section, or “Promenade Phase I,” is expected to be completed in fall 2021.

 

Long-Lasting Impacts on Five Points and Globeville Neighborhoods

While all Coloradans will have the opportunity to enjoy RiNO Promenade, the project will have a profound impact on the nearby Five Points and Globeville Neighborhoods. This region has lacked comfortable green space in the past, and the new promenade will provide a much-needed flexible space for residents to gather and play in a welcoming environment, while still retaining the arts and culture landscape for which the region is best known.

 

“It is our hope that the RiNO region continues to celebrate and steward the River that is the heart of its name,” said Devon Buckels, Director of The Water Connection, the water resources and policy initiative of The Greenway Foundation. “This celebration can take the form of supporting and advocating for funding measures for continued improvements and enhancements, taking steps to protect the water quality in the River by supporting projects to clean stormwater flow before it enters the river, and welcoming people of all generations and backgrounds, RiNO residents and others, to enjoy the City’s most magnificent natural resource.”

 

Navigating Challenges and an Everchanging Landscape

As with any complex project, the RiNO Promenade won’t come without its challenges. One potential obstacle involves two major Metro Sewer interceptors that carry sewage beneath the project site to the treatment facility downstream. Furthermore, the area surrounding the project site is built on fill that is more than 100 years old, requiring the construction team to delicately treat all soils as though they are contaminated. Fortunately, ECI has ample experience responsibly dealing with contaminated soil from our work on Confluence Park in 2015-2017.

 

In addition to these known challenges, the unknown factors will also demand extra attention and flexibility. Because the neighborhoods and environment in this region are constantly evolving, the Promenade will have to adapt with its surrounding to maintain accessibility and functionality for its many visitors.

 

A Collaboration Among Numerous Entities

The RiNO Promenade is a collaboration among numerous dedicated entities. Special thanks to the following for being a part of this iconic project:

 

Owner/Client: Denver Parks and Recreation

Project Management: Denver Public Works

Client: North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative

Lead Consultant & Landscape Architect: Wenk Associates

General Contractor: ECI Site Construction Management

Project Partners: The Greenway Foundation and RiNO BID

Neighbor and Advocate: RiNO Arts District

Public Art: Denver Arts & Venues

 

We look forward to sharing updates as RiNO Promenade progresses!

 

Rendering courtesy of the City and County of Denver.

View more renderings of RiNO Promenade from the City and County of Denver here.