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River of Revitalization Runs Through Pueblo, CO

The city's Riverwalk flows with divine dining, entertainment, opportunity and much more.

By Rebecca Treon on April 12, 2023

The Riverwalk in Pueblo, Colorado
Jeff Adkins

Pueblo from the 1980s is unrecognizable compared to today. Suffering from an economic downturn, the downtown area was bare parking lots and empty storefronts.

Pueblo residents, though, are a resilient collective of concerned citizens, businesses and community leaders who came together to change the face of the city.

“The Jewel of Pueblo”

The biggest initiative involved a revamp of downtown, creating the Riverwalk in Pueblo along the Arkansas River that would bring visitors into downtown.

“We knew that one of our greatest assets was the abundance of water, so we needed to utilize that,” says Lynn Clark, executive director of Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo (HARP). “We knew we needed to diversify our businesses and our image about what kind of recreation was possible in Pueblo.”

Clark says the commission visited with city leaders in San Antonio, who helped Pueblo develop a plan of their own. In the 1990s, that community effort became a large-scale master plan, approved by voters with a $12.85 million bond issued to fund the project.

Headwaters Fountain at Pueblo City Center

Over the next 20 years, concrete and pavement became gardens and sculptures, and the Arkansas River was returned to its original path. Veterans’ Bridge was constructed to honor the Home of Heroes, new shops and restaurants opened, and the Center for American Values was built.

Today, the Riverwalk is home to over 60 pieces of public art, leisure boat rides and numerous community events.

“It’s beautiful and people feel comfortable here,” Clark says. “Locals are excited and the community is proud – the Riverwalk is the jewel of Pueblo now.”

Brues Alehouse Brewing Co. in Pueblo
Pueblo Riverwalk

Activity Brewing in Pueblo

One of the cornerstones of the Riverwalk area is Brues Alehouse Brewing Co. and The Station on the Riverwalk, owned by the Garcia family. The family converted a former jail into a seven-room boutique hotel with a lounge called the Clink and put a brewery and restaurant into the building next door, which had been used as a police training facility.

“You wouldn’t ever imagine a restaurant or brewery going into that space – it needed a lot of work, the place was just destroyed,” says Tony Garcia, founder and master brewer. “It took us three years to get open, but we really changed the whole face of the building.”

Garcia says that his family’s business was just the start of the downtown and Riverwalk areas being revitalized.

“There was a little bit of a boom with us coming in – nothing is quite like us, but it’s opened the door for other businesses that are doing things that are more innovative,” he says.

“I think investment in city spaces goes hand in hand with local and bigger investors – and it wouldn’t hurt to have more energy here and making this a bigger tourist draw. We’re in support of anyone coming in and creating a little more life here.”

The Fuel & Iron Food Hall pop-up series features restaurants like Bingo Burger.
Fuel & Iron Food Hall

Divine Dining in Pueblo

From bare parking lots to a flourishing Riverwalk, downtown Pueblo continues to evolve, creating a place where residents from all walks of life – artists, entrepreneurs, families, athletes – can be proud to call the region home.

One notable addition is Fuel & Iron, a forthcoming food hall and apartment building. Its restaurant projects include a green chili hot chicken concept from the owners of Bingo Burger.

Another restaurant, The Cutting Board, serves a plant-based slopper, the legendary Pueblo creation that is a hamburger smothered in red or green chili sauce.

Kanastakos sells tacos using locally sourced ingredients from Denver star chef Jose Avila.

“When we found the Holmes Hardware Building, it checked all the boxes: location, size, within the historic district. There are 2 acres we’re using for an urban farm and event/performance space, additional housing and parking,” says Nathan Stern, project co-founder and a real estate developer in Pueblo.

“Union Avenue is this incredible, well-preserved historic Main Street with a number of independent businesses and a beautiful streetscape that’s going to get even better with the improvements that they’re doing,” he says.

“The Riverwalk is an incredible component to it because when people are creating an itinerary for what they’re going to do, the more things there are to do, the more likely they are to visit that location. The more attractions there are in this radius, the more they build on each other and the stronger downtown will be.”

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