1933 aerial of Denver Union Station. Courtesy of City and County of Denver, Technology Services

In a few months, JTA plans to open the Jacksonville Regional Transportation near the old Jacksonville Terminal passenger railroad station in LaVilla. When complete by the end of March 2020, the $59 million transportation center will feature enhanced connectivity between intercity bus, local bus, JTA Flyer bus rapid transit and JTA Skyway services. In the future, JTA hopes to expand the transportation hub to include commuter rail and intercity rail, making the JRTC a major transit oriented development destination.

A similar multimodal project in Denver provides Jaxsons with a glimpse of what can happen when support land use policies are seamlessly integrated with public transportation and infrastructure investment. Like downtown’s old Jacksonville Terminal, once the largest railroad station in the South serving 142 daily trains, Denver’s Union Station was constructed as an early 20th century Beaux-Arts style railroad terminal on the edge of the city’s urban core. At its height, during the 1920s and 1930s, it was served by over 80 daily trains and surrounded by railyards of various railroad lines.

Analogous to the Jacksonville Terminal, Denver Union Station’s importance as a transportation hub decreased with the national decline in passenger rail traffic during the 1960s and 1970s, eventually only being served by two daily California Zephyr Amtrak trains between Chicago and San Francisco Bay Area.

In 2001, Union Station along with its old rail yards were acquired by RTD who then developed a master plan for the future of the 19.5-acre site in 2002. In 2006, two years after voters approved the FasTracks program, the Union Station Neighborhood Company was selected as the master developer of the old terminal site. Planned as a single phase, $500 million multimodal transportation hub where bus rapid transit, local bus, commuter rail, light rail and intercity rail would come together, construction commenced in 2010.

Various components of the new transit hub emerged incrementally in following years, including the opening a light rail station and MallRide stop in 2011, an underground 22-gate bus concourse and return of Amtrak in 2014 and the implementation of commuter rail services in 2016. The iconic historic landmark itself, built between 1894 and 1914, re-opened in 2014 as a train hall with a 112-room hotel and multiple chef-owned restaurants, bars and boutique retail shops. In addition, over $1 billion in private office, residential, hotel and retail development has sprouted up around the transportation hub in recent years.

The scene surrounding Union Station in 2000 is dramatically different what the area resembles today. The transformation is one that can’t fully be expressed in words. As a result, we’ll visually show the transformation with a series of aerials and photography.

1999 aerial of Denver Union Station. Courtesy of Google Earth

2005 aerial of Denver Union Station. Courtesy of Google Earth

2010 aerial of Denver Union Station. Courtesy of Google Earth

2018 aerial of Denver Union Station. Courtesy of Google Earth

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