Centerpiece of a Vibrant New Neighborhood

Denver began where the Cherokee Trail met the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. This site had been a gathering and exchange place for native Utes and Arapaho tribes for many generations before General Larimer bought the land from Chief Little Raven to make his new city, Denver. Even though the area had been railyards and warehouses for over 100 years the soul of the city lives here.

Civitas has worked on over 30 initiatives in Denver’s Central Platte Valley, culminating in the design of Commons Park. One by one our projects addressed failing infrastructure, historic preservation and new land use but the big move was a vision to turn the valley into a walkable center for new people to visit, live, work and play in an expanded downtown. There were many skeptics but once the land for the park was acquired, things changed fast.

We led years of public meetings on the idea of giving life back to the Platte River, so that it could bring life back to the city as it once had. The park has become a flowing landscape that includes over 10 acres of habitat restoration, wetlands that buffer and cleanse stormwater, upland songbird habitats, and a half mile of reconstructed river bottom to support aquatic habitat and boating.

Commons Park has been the most catalytic investment in the history of the city. New people have flocked to the park which is always buzzing with activity, and over 4,000 new people and businesses have grown up on both sides of the river. Civitas also led the design of three bridges that connect across railroads, the river and a freeway re-uniting both sides of the city around their home.

Client: Denver Mayor’s Office
Collaborators: Jones and Jones
Completed: 2001
Budget: $25 million +

Landmark Award, Commons Park, ASLA Colorado