By Derek Glanz
Denver city officials, their private-sector partners, and the community recently celebrated the opening of the Arkins Promenade, a new pedestrian and bike connection to the Five Points, Globeville, Elyria, and Swansea neighborhoods.
The promenade transforms the South Platte riverfront, from 35th to 38th Avenues, into part of a mile-long pedestrian corridor from Globeville Landing Park to the RiNo Art Park at 35th Street and Arkins Court.
The $5.5 million project, primarily funded by the Elevate Denver Bond Program with support from the Denver Parks and Recreation Capital Improvement Fund, includes walking and bicycle access as well as gathering and play areas. The centerpiece is an eye-catching elevated walkway with seating and overlooks of the South Platte River and Rocky Mountains.
Permanent art installations adorn the promenade, as does updated landscaping with trees, native grass areas, and planters designed to filter stormwater and improve water quality in the river.
Mayor Michael Hancock, Parks and Recreation executive director Happy Haynes, and their partners shared remarks before participating in a ribbon- cutting in July.
Organizers regaled the public with performances by local musicians and artists and free food and drink from area vendors. Both Haynes and Hancock put the opening in historic and future contexts—Haynes in terms of the local heritage and Hancock in relation to the economic development boom of the surrounding area.
“Of the many goals that we have accomplished with this project, the first and foremost is reclaiming our relationship to the South Platte River,” Haynes said during the grand opening event. “The South Platte River, along with the Cherry Creek, brought life, native communities, and ultimately the founding of our city.”
Haynes further acknowledged that the land was indigenous to Native American tribes and reaffirmed her office’s “commitment to dismantling the ongoing legacies of oppression in and recognize the current and future contributions of Indigenous communities in Denver.”
Taking the podium after Haynes, Hancock harkened back to 2012 when his chief financial officer presented him with a $40 million fund balance. With the extra resources, Hancock decided to redo Brighton Boulevard as part of his “vision of a corridor of opportunity” stretching from downtown to Denver International Airport.
“We felt at the time that if we drop a pebble in the water, it would ripple to attract additional economic development dollars and create new opportunities like new parks,” Hancock said. “We didn’t think about the promenade at the time, but here we are.”
Standing before the crowd at the promenade, Hancock shared a broader vision for the promenade itself.
“This will be a place where Denver will really take hold,” he said. “We’re going to finish the north part of this, where it connects to the National Western Center, and you should be able to walk or bike from the National Western Center all the way downtown by using the promenade.”
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