National Western Center Redevelopment

Learn how Jacobs is working alongside the City and County of Denver (CCD) to transform a 110-acre historic site into a 250-acre sustainable, year-round destination for agriculture, education and entertainment.

National Western Center

National Western Center

As travelers began to settle in the U.S. West, they created a rich set of cultural traditions unique to the landscape and community. While it might no longer be the ‘Wild West,’ those historical roots still stand strong in facilities like the National Western Center (NWC). This 250-acre historic site located just two miles north of downtown Denver provides a unique opportunity to connect the rural and urban economies. 

While initially a bustling livestock market, this year-round hub will now host concerts and festivals, farmers’ markets, sporting events, trade shows and conventions, office space, business incubators, classes, public art, cultural events, family activities, shops and more. Since 2016, Jacobs has partnered with the City and County of Denver to make this dream a reality. 

As program manager, we’re delivering land acquisition, rail consolidation and site remediation in support of the program’s first two phases, including connection facilities for a new commuter rail system, a 20‐acre stock yard/event center multi‐use space, surface road network and utilities, a new bridge over the South Platte River and 6-acre riverfront restoration/open space, and a 357,000 square foot multi-use space with a 4,500 multi-purpose Arena, Expo Hall and Auction/Banquet Hall. 

Through this transformative program, Jacobs, CCD and the National Western Center are honoring the history of this critical site while creating a brighter future in the heart of Denver.

  • 250

    acre expansion from 110-acre historic site

  • 48 K

    square foot multi-use flexible space Stockyards Event Center with 500 seat arena

  • 357 K

    square foot multi-use space Livestock Center with 185,000 sq ft expo hall and 4,500 seat arena

  • 2.2 M

    visitors annually

  • 1 st

    pilot workforce program in City benefitting underserved communities

  • 6

    acres of riverfront restored and opened for public access

Putting the past out to pasture

The National Western Center is an integral part of the history of Denver and the Old West and is home to significant and nostalgic resources. In 1881, the Denver Union Stock Yard Company was founded as a central unit of sale and commerce in Denver. The site had three major rail lines parallel to the South Platte River, making it the ideal location for a bustling livestock market. With rail came booming opportunities for trade, the open range, and rich mountain soil for cultivation. 

Today, these historic buildings and features on the National Western Center site tell the story of the stockyard and early show days, creating longstanding landmarks of the community.

“Being a part of this transformation project has been a career highlight. Jacobs has been a critical part in delivering a sustainable, year-round space that improves the surrounding community.”

Kristin Lang

Kristin Lang

Jacobs Program Manager

Wrangling the future

Integrating and connecting the revitalized National Western Center to the surrounding communities was one of the primary focuses of this massive project. As the grounds continue to transform, we worked alongside the CCD to deliver a new three-span bridge over the South Platte River that connects the campus, neighboring communities and South Platte River Regional Trail. The bridge features public art as part of the city's public art program. Local artist David Ocelotl Garcia created the Peoples' Bridge of the Sun, which connects the Hispanic heritage of the region's many residents to the physical environment. This bridge is the first multiple Jacobs plans to deliver, joining the National Western Center to the broader city.

Jacobs is also working to revitalize a 6-acre segment of the South Platte riverfront alongside this infrastructure, making it accessible, healthy and safe for recreation — for residents and visitors alike year-round. This restoration has enhanced public access, provided open space amenities, flood protection and enhanced wildlife habitat. The new riverfront open space will feature signage to educate an estimated 2.2 million visitors annually about the South Platte River's history and how conservation partners helped improve this cherished river's functionality and resiliency.

While Jacobs has provided integral support for the first two phases of this impactful project, there are many milestones ahead. As program manager, we’re delivering the ambitious goals set by the National Western Center Master Plan, including full rehabilitation of the site and creating a new series of green and healthy spaces that will help launch a new era for the National Western Center, adjoining neighborhoods, and securing and growing the National Western Stock Show for the next century as Colorado’s largest agricultural convention, as well as providing year-round educational and agricultural programming.