Union Station Denver

Denver’s Love Affair with Rail

As Riverfront Park closed out the year the association shared an update that has residents buzzing.  There may be an effort underway to look at ways to reroute some heavy rail traffic outside of the Denver metro area.  Don’t worry, this doesn’t affect the very much desired commuter rail including the new RTD A Line connecting Union Station to Denver International Airport opening April 22nd, 2016.  The question being asked concerns cargo being transferred through Denver.  For some the view of the rail lines coming through is something nostalgic and picturesque.  We have seen almost every item imaginable traveling by rail including airplane wings (HUGE), tanks, circus cars, giant nuts and bolts (perhaps a massive bridge) and more.  Some photographers consider the rail lines a beautiful background for their sessions.

However many others would love to see the trains depart and reduce any noise they create.  The trains are required to slow down as they pass through our downtown to minimize noise.  Their horns can only be used in instances of public safety, for example a person on the tracks (which is dang near impossible with the fencing).  The questions being asked by downtown advocates isn’t so much about the rail noise but more so the safety risk.  Many cities, upon reaching a certain size and density, begin looking at rerouting train and and other cargo around their city limits.  Denver may be on the path to do something similar.

Here is the update from the Riverfront Park Association.

In the first week of December the RPA made the front page of the Denver Post with a good story on train safety.   This was a direct outcome of the RPA’s presentation of the issue in front of the Denver City Council in November.   This is the first time there has been any public acknowledgement of this growing concern and it definitely will help “get the ball in play.”   Additionally, we know that our efforts also helped push the Mayor’s office to form a safety study committee who recently held their first meeting.


We believe the best way to insure hazardous train incidents is to remove the threat completely by advocating for an rail bypass on the eastern plains.   Simple to say.   Hard to do.   It would require the construction of a rail line that could cost upwards of $2 billion dollars.   There’s a lot of politics and business complexity, but we believe that the climate is right to push this idea.   Of course the RPA is a very small entity, but we’ve developed a strategy and, in partnership with East-West Partners, have engaged one of the state’s top public affairs firms to identify and reach out to likely stakeholders with the idea of building critical mass for freight relocation.   This is very similar to years ago when a community-wide push was made to get FastTracks approved.

Transit Oriented Development

Proposed Light Rail

RTD Proposed Future Light Rail

So while the heavy rail traffic future is being questioned the commuter and light rail network is growing by leaps and bounds.  Riverfront Park and Union Station Residents live in what most consider to be the absolute best neighborhood for walkability and the ease of transit.  As the Hub of the light rail residents here are footsteps away from rail that goes to Denver International Airport and in every direction from downtown.   From a real estate standpoint properties at or near these transit hubs can hold value in price appreciation and cost of living.

Here is a December 2014 article from the Plantizen discussing Transit Oriented Development…

The new TOD Index provides solid information on Transit-Oriented Development impact and benefits. It indicates that home values near rail stations outperform the national market, yet they are also more affordable for residents.

  1. The financial performance of for-sale and rental housing in thousands of neighborhoods near rail stations across the United States significantly out-performs the national housing market. Among all station typologies, Transit Oriented Developments (TODs) are the leading performer.
  2. Despite the impressive financial performance of TODs, households that live in TODs spend the lowest percentage of their income on housing and transportation costs, providing $10,000 in additional annual disposable income, on average, compared to the average American household.
  3. Households in TODs demonstrate the lowest vehicle ownership rates and highest rates of transit, walk, bike commuting, which has important implications for environmental sustainability.
  4. The average home value in a TOD was $518 per sq. ft. compared to the Zillow Home Value Index of $149 per sq. ft. for the average home in the United States.
  5. Rental rates in TODs was $2.28 per sq. ft. compared to the Zillow Rent Index value of $0.89 per sq. ft. for the average rental in the U.S.
  6. Since the start of the economic recovery, in January 2012, TOD home values grew by 37% as compared to a 20% growth for the average American home.
  7. Since January 2012, rental rates grew by 18% in TODs compared to 8% growth nationally.

We just know we love it!

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Stay tuned neighbors and we will keep you updated. To learn more about new development projects, current availability, and life in the amazing Riverfront Park and Union Station neighborhoods contact us.

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