The Latest on the “RiNo Promenade” and Arkins Court

Arkins Court would be slimmer and safer than the current truck-first road. Pedestrians would have a path alongside it. Image: Wenk Associates for Denver Parks
Arkins Court would be slimmer and safer than the current truck-first road. Pedestrians would have a path alongside it. Image: Wenk Associates for Denver Parks

River North businesses, residents, and developers have been working with Denver Parks and Recreation and Denver Public Works to transform a soulless stretch of road with heavy truck traffic along the South Platte River into a place for people to safely walk, play, and get closer to nature.

If all goes according to plan, Arkins Court will become the “RiNo Promenade.” Last night, designers with Wenk Associates gave an update on the project, which would stretch from 29th Street to 38th Street.

The project would help connect people to other parts of the city and to the transit hub at Union Station. Image:
The project, along with a planned pedestrian bridge across the river at 35th Street, would help connect people to other parts of the city and to the transit hub at Union Station. Image: Wenk Associates

Among other things, the project would give people a safe path to walk above the banks of the South Platte River, dotted along the way with places to sit, gather, and play. It would also slim Arkins Court down to a 22-foot-wide street designed for calmer traffic and safer pedestrian crossings.

Planners estimate that the entire RiNo Promenade will cost between $12 million and $18 million, depending on the final design. It might take about two years to complete — after they find funding, which is a question mark. Right now officials are banking on the city’s 2017 bond initiative for a big chunk.

“There’s gonna be a lot of competition all over the city for that,” City Council president and River North rep Albus Brooks told the crowd. “This is one of the most incredible projects, and I will be advocating for this. So you have my word on that.”

Planners see the promenade as a walking path to complement the existing riverside trail, which is better suited for biking, but they also view it as a neighborhood park and tourist attraction. They drew parallels to New York’s High Line, an elevated park repurposed from an old freight railroad. The promenade would not be elevated, but like the High Line, it would recall the neighborhood’s history. RiNo’s background as a brick-making center and an enclave for artists, for example, would inform “simple, bold, and honest” themes, designers said.

Few neighborhoods exhibit Denver’s urbanization as starkly as River North, where a string of industrial buildings and surface parking lots are giving way to walkable homes, offices, restaurants, and retail space. Public Works is changing streets to accommodate people too — two-waying and adding bike lanes to Blake Street and overhauling Brighton Boulevard. Arkins Court is the latest example.

Here are some of the other concepts the designers are considering:

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An observation tower repurposed from old materials. Image: Wenk Associates for Denver Parks
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The “river theater.” Image: Wenk Associates for Denver Parks
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A gangway and playground. Image: Wenk Associates for Denver Parks
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A pavilion. Image: Wenk Associates for Denver Parks
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Platforms extending out from the main path with river views. Image: Wenk Associates for Denver Parks

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