Sun Valley Riverfront Park

Denver, Colorado

How can a re-imagined riverfront park elevate people’s lives in one of Denver’s most vulnerable neighborhoods where 83 percent of the households live below the poverty line and simultaneously contribute to the enhancement of the South Platte River open space system? Working alongside Denver’s Sun Valley community and in partnership with the Denver Housing Authority, River Sister’s Initiative, and Denver Parks and Recreation, the riverfront park is being re-envisioned as a new open space with community-focused amenities for Sun Valley residents as well as regional users of the South Platte River. For the Sun Valley community, the new riverfront park will offer open space and programming that reinforces the desires of the community, celebrates their culture, and tells a story of water that connects Colorado and Mexico.

The park is envisioned to be the outdoor living room for the Sun Valley community and a destination of activity along the South Platte River. Weaving together community and nature, the park creates a new public space with community gardens, playgrounds, courts, picnic areas, and gathering spaces alongside an expansive river promenade that celebrates the natural ecology of Colorado’s landscape and rivers. Residents can explore the various amenities and gardens as they walk or bike along the promenades and paths leading to the river, The River Promenade and Neighborhood Promenade frame a series of smaller rooms that provide different park amenities and programs. Pathways leading from the neighborhood promenade to the river organize the amenity spaces into various rooms.

Livable Cities Studio led the master planning and conceptual design of the park. Ongoing stakeholder and community involvement process resulted in a clear direction for the programming and design that focuses on the needs of the community, which were balanced with the citywide goals of Denver Parks and Recreation and regional goals of Mile High Flood District.

The result is a riverfront park and open space that provides play spaces, outdoor classrooms, a multipurpose field, areas for sitting and relaxing, experiential trails and paths, places for direct interaction with the river, increased riparian areas as well as the integration of stormwater detention within some of these spaces. The diversity in spaces create places for people in the community to gather, socialize and enjoy Denver’s beautiful climate and natural setting while also improving biodiversity and managing stormwater.