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The placement of the final steel beam of the Hydro building at the new Colorado State University Spur campus took place Sept. 16. Focus of activities in the building along Interstate 70 north of downtown Denver will be, as the name suggests, water.

It’s a milestone event in a redevelopment project in an industrial part of Denver that once was home to several meat-packing plants and large cattle yards. The site of the new building, one of three rapidly moving toward completion, was the site of a Sigman meat-packing plant until the early 1970s. Since then, the area has languished.

What is now emerging sparkles. Comparisons to what has happened in the last 20 years in the area west of Union Station are tempting, if a bit of an overstatement. Still, there will be a very different feel to this area near Globeville in the next two years.

The 122,000-square-foot Hydro building will be home to programs that allow the public to connect with and understand the significance of water by inviting experts and researchers and giving visitors an opportunity to connect with those experts.

Denver Water will have its water quality laboratory on the third floor of the building, which is scheduled to open in November 2022. Behind glass, the public will be able to see researchers at work testing for water quality.

A theater space in the building can hold up to 300 people. It’s safe to bet this will be a place where conversations about the future of the Colorado River, a major source for Denver Water, will take place in coming years. The venue is located along the South Platte River, Denver’s original and still substantial source of water. About half of Denver’s water comes from the Colorado River and half from the South Platte.

The building is also relatively close to the Denver Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant. Denver already uses treated sewage directly for irrigation, but has no plans for direct potable reuse. It is permitted to reuse water that it has imported into the South Platte Basin.

“This puts us right in the heart of a new research environment, in a spot where we can work far more closely and readily with academics and other innovators studying a wide spectrum of emerging and current water quality issues and solutions to ensure we can continue to deliver safe, reliable, great-tasting water to the Denver metro area not only today, but also well into the future,” said Tom Roode, chief operations and maintenance officer for Denver Water.

The utility delivers water to 1.5 million people of the metropolitan area’s nearly 3 million residents.

Construction started on the campus in 2020, part of a broader and a longer-term redevelopment of the Denver Western Complex, where the stock show is held every January.

The complex also includes the Denver Coliseum. The CSU Spur campus will also have buildings called Vida and Terra that will be devoted to health and food. The three new buildings altogether will have 300,000 square feet.

The primary goal of the campus will be to appeal to K-12 students and the general public instead of higher education students, a first among CSU campuses and, CSU officials believe, other academic institutions as well. The work was seeded by a $200 million allocation by the General Assembly in 2015.

The Spur campus is part of a broader redevelopment in the Coliseum and stock show area. See January 2020 story I wrote in Colorado Biz: Denver’s National Western Center aims for year-round impact. And learn more about the Spur campus at the CSU website.



Looking at Hydro

Looking at at the Hydro building taking shape where a meat-packing plant once operated in Denver’s National Western Complex. Photos/Allen Best

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