The website will serve as the primary source of information to the public and will be updated regularly as new information and materials become available. Communication information may include presentations to RNOs, public surveys, study report updates, press releases, and more.
The purpose of the Burnham Yard Project is to develop a vision and master plan, that is community-centered and regionally focused, for the future development of Burnham Yard. In 2021, the State of Colorado purchased the Burnham Yard site from the Union Pacific Railroad and is now focused on creating a master plan to guide future investment, consider future rail/transit alignments, integrate concepts of equity, and conduct a market analysis to shape future land use strategies through stakeholder engagement and community feedback. Approximately 58 acres in size, Burnham Yard is located between 6th and 13th Avenues to the south and the north, and Seminole Road and Osage Street to the west and the east. The Burnham Yard Project is being directed by the State of Colorado’s Public-Private Partnership Office (P3 Office), with a consultant team led by WSP that will provide technical analysis, community engagement, and master plan options by May 2024.
The Burnham Yard Project follows the Burnham Yard Transportation Study (sponsored by Colorado Transportation Investment Office (CTIO), which is currently completing an analysis of alternatives to potentially realign existing rail lines throughout the site. The realignment alternatives will ultimately allow for future development and enhanced rail transportation options. To learn more about this study, visit the Colorado Transportation Investment Office (CTIO) Burnham Yard Transportation Planning Study page. The Burnham Yard Project team encourages you to become involved and engaged throughout the master plan process for this important site in Denver. This website will be regularly updated with information, ways to participate, meeting dates and times, and other pertinent Project information for members of the community to stay involved. Please sign up for email updates to receive more information and notices about ways to participate and become involved with the Burnham Yard Project moving forward.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What and where is Burnham Yard?
Burnham Yard is commonly known as the former railroad facilities used for the repair, maintenance, and refueling for Denver railroad operations. It is located east of I-25 between the Sun Valley, La Alma Lincoln Park and Baker neighborhoods. Historically, the site served as Camp Weld – where Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes gathered with U.S. forces to negotiate peace in advance of the tragic Sand Creek Massacre in 1864. Approximately 58 acres in size, Burnham Yard is generally located between 6th and 13th Avenues to the south and the north, as well as Seminole Road and Osage Street to the west and the east.
The central location of Burnham Yard - with adjacent freight rails, light rail, the South Platte River, downtown Denver, historic neighborhoods, and nearby redevelopment - means the development of the site is important not only for surrounding residents and businesses, but also to the City of Denver as a whole through the accrued benefits of the site’s location.
- What is the Burnham Yard Project?
In 2021, the State of Colorado purchased the Burnham Yard site from the Union Pacific Railroad. The State of Colorado is now launching the kick-off of the Burnham Yard Project – a project focused on creating the vision and plan for the future of Burnham Yard. This includes the creation of a master plan that guides future investment, considers future rail/transit alignments, integrates equity and market analyses, and incorporates land use strategies through stakeholder engagement and community feedback.
The Burnham Yard Project is being directed by the State of Colorado’s Public-Private Partnership Office (P3 Office), with a consultant team led by WSP that will provide technical analysis, community engagement, and master plan options by May 2024.
- Who is involved in the Burnham Yard project?
Acting on behalf of the current property owner (the State of Colorado), the P3 Office will coordinate with the City of Denver and other community stakeholders to help shape the vision and plans of the Burnham Yard site. Importantly, community members such as neighborhood leaders, residents, business owners, registered neighborhood organizations (RNOs), elected officials (state and local), the Denver Housing Authority, and other surrounding community groups will be engaged to assist in the development and review of alternative development plans for the site that creates social and economic value for the community, Denver, and the State of Colorado.
The City of Denver will develop the Small Area Plan for the surrounding area, in coordination with the State of Colorado’s Burnham Yard Project. The City’s Small Area Plan development process is scheduled to begin in October 2024.
- What opportunities and value does the Burnham Yard project generate?
The future of Burnham Yard is centered around creating social and economic value for the community, Denver and the State of Colorado as the landowner. New transportation options, development opportunities, economic development, job growth, open space, and other community-driven benefits are core to the success of this Project. In short, Burnham Yard will be key to the future growth, development, mobility, health, and economic security of nearby residents, families, businesses, organizations, and transit users who are connected to the site every day.
- What work has been done leading up to the Burnham Yard Project?
The Colorado Transportation Investment Office (CTIO) is currently completing a transportation study that evaluates opportunities to potentially adjust the alignments of existing rail lines throughout the site. The realignment of these rail lines is intended to allow for future development and enhanced transportation options. The Burnham Yard Transportation Planning Study will eventually provide several rail alignment options, and ultimately a preferred alignment option to be reviewed by the Federal environmental process. To learn more about this study, visit CDOT’s Burnham Yard Transportation Planning Study page.
- Are the railroads’ involvement and environmental reviews a part of this Project?
Yes, the Project involves a significant level of stakeholder engagement that will be focused on the development and review of rail alternatives. This includes working closely with railroad operators, including the Regional Transportation District (RTD), Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and Union Pacific (UPRR).Ultimately, a preferred alignment will be identified and advanced into the Federal environmental review process. The Burnham Yard Project team will provide engagement support as part of the environmental review process. The State (CDOT/CTIO) is involved with the necessary Federal environmental reviews and approval of the site’s rail alignment studies and will coordinate the environmental approval of the preferred rail alignment alternative.
- History of Burnham Yard
For close to 150 years, Burnham Yard was a central agent of economic activity for the Denver Metro region. The land was acquired by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (DRG&W), in 1871, five years before Colorado became a state. Throughout the latter part of the 19th century and for most of the 20th century, Burnham Yard was a driving force of economic activity, vitality, and commerce. It served as a repair, refueling, maintenance, manufacturing, and storage facility for the DRG&W, Southern Pacific (SP), and then the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR). Activities formerly at Burnham Yard over the past century-and-a-half created employment for hundreds of individuals in the Denver Metro area.
With the turn of the 21st century, Burnham Yard’s importance as an economic engine became less pronounced, and other modes of freight and individual transportation rose to primacy. Burnham Yard is located in central Denver between four of Denver’s main road arteries: I-25, Colfax Avenue, Speer Boulevard, and 6th Avenue, and is less than one mile from Empower Field at Mile High, the Denver Art Museum, and Denver’s Central Business District. It is a centrally located area that is currently not being utilized. The site sits across from the Denver Housing Authority’s Mariposa District redevelopment and the Santa Fe Arts District to the east, with the Regional Transportation District’s (RTD’s) 10th & Osage light rail station located near the center of the site. The banana-shaped property is approximately one mile long and extends from 13th Avenue at its northern extent to 4th Avenue at the south. Reaching its maximum width of approximately 0.20 miles between 8th and 9th Avenues, the site is bounded by the RTD’s light rail lines and UPRR historical right-of-way to the east, and a mixture of commercial and industrial properties to the west.
UPRR decommissioned Burnham Yard in 2016, leaving it mostly unused for the past five years. Since late 2019, the Colorado Transportation Investment Office (CTIO) worked with the UPRR towards the purchase of the Burnham Yard property, which culminated in an Intra-Agency Agreement with CDOT in September 2019 that requested qualified developers to submit proposals that would add value to UPRR’s solicitation. Despite the developers’ best efforts and UPRR’s willingness to negotiate, CDOT and CTIO found little value added based on the proposals received. As a result, UPRR and CTIO agreed to negotiate in good faith with one another for a fee simple transaction with no third-party developer.
To acquire the property, CTIO financed $40 million through two bank loans. CDOT contributed $7.5 million from SB 17-267 transit funds, and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) contributed $7.5 million. CTIO set aside approximately $5 million to cover environmental, land use planning, and/or other costs to be spent during the next three to five years on improvements to the property, which would be expected to increase property value and facilitate a disposition to a developer. CDOT and CTIO anticipate retaining around 17 acres for future transportation uses and, after planning work associated with this RFP is near complete, CTIO will be working with the City and County of Denver and stakeholders to complete a small area planning process, determine specific community, land use, mobility, and other infrastructure needs, and potentially identify purpose and need for other potential projects.
The land was acquired by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad in 1871—five years before Colorado became a state—and remained a driving force of economic activity for several decades. The Burnham Yard Research Report (PDF) was prepared by Historic Denver, Inc. in partnership with Square Moon Consultants in 2016/2017.