LOOK: Construction kicks off for National Western Center project changing north Denver

“Let’s tear some stuff up,” Mayor Michael Hancock shouted before hopping in a backhoe Friday to start the demolition at the groundbreaking event.

Groundbreaking for the National Western Center at the old International Paper building in Elyria Swansea, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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City Council President Albus Brooks takes a sledge hammer to the old International Paper building. Groundbreaking for the National Western Center in Elyria Swansea, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; national western center; development; elyria swansea; construction;
City Council President Albus Brooks takes a sledge hammer to the old International Paper building. Groundbreaking for the National Western Center in Elyria Swansea, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

City officials celebrated the start of construction on a revamped National Western Center with a chorus of sledgehammer slams against the old International Paper building in Elyria Swansea.

“Let’s tear some stuff up,” Mayor Michael Hancock shouted before hopping in a backhoe Friday to start the demolition at the groundbreaking event.

“Two years ago, Denver residents overwhelmingly said ‘yes’ to the vision of the National Western Center, and today, we begin to realize that vision and deliver on that promise,” Hancock said. “That vote of confidence, and the phenomenal work of all the campus partners, has led us to this ceremony and the bright future for this campus and this community.”

Ana Campos, a freshman at Bruce Randolph, asked the crowd to not forget the social issues and community fear in neighborhoods surrounding the area.

Businesses near the center were forced to relocate ahead of the groundbreaking to make way for redevelopment. Residents in the area fear similar displacement especially since changes coming to the stock show are paired with plans to renovate and widen Interstate 70.

The city’s goal is to transform the National Western Complex and Denver Coliseum from the home of a roughly two-week agriculture event complete with professional rodeos, a horse show and a Western trade show to a year-round destination and global hub for agriculture and innovation.

Mayor Michael Hancock speaks at the groundbreaking for the National Western Center at the old International Paper building in Elyria Swansea, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; national western center; development; elyria swansea; construction;
Mayor Michael Hancock speaks to the crowd. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Bruce Randolph freshman Ana Campos. Groundbreaking for the National Western Center in Elyria Swansea, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; national western center; development; elyria swansea; construction;
Bruce Randolph freshman Ana Campos, who spoke during the ceremony. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Mayor Michael Hancock tears some stuff up from inside a backhoe. Groundbreaking for the National Western Center at the old International Paper building in Elyria Swansea, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; national western center; development; elyria swansea; construction;
Mayor Michael Hancock tears some stuff up from inside a backhoe. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Mayor Michael Hancock takes a sledge hammer to the old International Paper building. Groundbreaking for the National Western Center in Elyria Swansea, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; national western center; development; elyria swansea; construction;
Mayor Michael Hancock takes a sledge hammer to the old International Paper building. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Mayor Michael Hancock speaks at the groundbreaking for the National Western Center at the old International Paper building in Elyria Swansea, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; national western center; development; elyria swansea; construction;
Mayor Michael Hancock speaks to a large crowd. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Mayor Michael Hancock (left to right), City Council President Albus Brooks and National Western Center real estate director Jeff Steinberg chat before the ceremony. Groundbreaking for the National Western Center at the old International Paper building in Elyria Swansea, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; national western center; development; elyria swansea; construction;
Mayor Michael Hancock (left to right), City Council President Albus Brooks and National Western Center real estate director Jeff Steinberg chat before the ceremony. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
City Council President Albus Brooks high-fives 15-year-old Bruce Randolph student Jesus before the National Western Center's groundbreaking. Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; national western center; development; elyria swansea; construction;
City Council President Albus Brooks high-fives 15-year-old Bruce Randolph student Jesus. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Groundbreaking for the National Western Center at the old International Paper building in Elyria Swansea, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; national western center; development; elyria swansea; construction;
Ceremonial hard hats and sledge hammers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Groundbreaking for the National Western Center at the old International Paper building in Elyria Swansea, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; national western center; development; elyria swansea; construction;
Groundbreaking for the National Western Center at the old International Paper building in Elyria Swansea. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Cowboy hats and boots at the groundbreaking for the National Western Center at the old International Paper building in Elyria Swansea, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; national western center; development; elyria swansea; construction;
Cowboy hats and boots. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Kevin Beaty

Author: Kevin Beaty

Kevin Beaty is a media producer with experience in a variety of settings spanning Hollywood film sets to international backpack journalism expeditions. He is on a never-ending quest to meld artful imagery, functional design and intimate storytelling. His biggest struggle in any given moment is whether to shoot stills or video. Find him on Twitter and Instagram at @kevinjbeaty.