Skip navigation

Mayor Hancock, City Officials, and Community Members Celebrate Grand Opening of the New Carla Madison Recreation Center

The four-story facility is Denver’s 28th and largest community recreation center located in one of the most densely populated areas of the city

DENVER – Surrounded by community members, city officials and employees and honored guests, Mayor Michael B. Hancock and Denver Parks & Recreation Executive Director Allegra “Happy” Haynes today celebrated the highly anticipated opening of the new Carla Madison Recreation Center. The opening featured a ribbon cutting, public art dedication and community tour of the new facilities amenities.  

“This new recreation center represents what makes Denver great – health and wellness, new opportunities, community, and innovation, ” Mayor Hancock said. “Our rec. centers bring our neighborhoods and residents together, and I’m certain that Carla Madison Rec. will become a new central gathering place for central Denver residents to enjoy.”

The state-of-the-art 67,000 sq. ft. LEED Gold Certified building is located at the corner of E. Colfax Avenue and Josephine Street and is Denver's largest recreation facility. The center provides much needed recreational opportunities to the central Denver region where a 2005 recreation needs assessment determined there was a gap in services. In 2007, Denver voters overwhelmingly supported the Denver Better Bond Program that allowed the city to enhance and construct facilities that touch the lives of all residents. The acquisition of land for a recreation center in central Denver was among those projects. In 2014, to fund the design and construction of the recreation center, the Hancock Administration applied proceeds from the sale of Market Street Station and Denver Mini Bonds to finance the majority of the costs, supplemented by revenue from the city’s TABOR Special Revenue Fund.

An estimated 35,000 individuals who visit Carla Madison Recreation Center each month will be able to access the center via multiple modes of transportation such as bus or B-Cycle. It is projected to be the most highly used center in the Denver Parks and Recreation system.

“We are proud of our park and recreation system and the role that centers play in defining the health of our communities” said Happy Haynes, Executive Director of Denver Parks and Recreation. “Not only do they offer a place to exercise and stay active, but they provide arts and culture and serve as a gathering place for the neighborhood. Carla Madison will be a community hub supporting central Denver in maintaining active, healthy lifestyles.”

During the event, two of three public art commissions for the recreation center were dedicated as part of Denver’s public art collection.  Thomas Evan’s portrait of Carla Madison, who served as the council representative for District 8 from 2007 to her passing in 2011, depicts her colorful and eclectic personality.  “CIRCUIT” by Erik Carlson, located on the outside of the building, is interactive and represents the vibrant character of East Colfax Ave. It is connected to cardio machines on the second floor and the more effort you put into your workout, the more animated the lights become. The third public art project, “Aegis”, by Denver artist Kelton Osborn, is scheduled for completion in spring of 2018. “Aegis” will consist of a series of suspended aluminum rings that interplay with the building’s breezeway columns.

“Art has many functions:  it can surprise, delight and be a social commentary,” said Kent Rice, Executive Director for Denver Arts & Venues. “Carla Madison’s friends and colleagues describe her as larger-than-life and the goal of these pieces is to reflect the various vibrant and unique influences on this center.”

The landscape and building configuration of the new recreation center is designed to physically and visually link the site from every direction, creating new venues for community gathering.  The facility includes two swimming pools; gymnasium with a full-size basketball court and cardio-weight room; group exercise rooms; multi-purpose room; child watch area; outdoor amenities and diverse programming.  Future site amenities include an outdoor climbing wall, quarter-acre dog park, table tennis, slackline area, picnic tables, bicycle parking, B-Cycle station, climbing boulders and 130 parking spaces. There is also a rooftop deck and event space featuring sweeping views of Downtown Denver and the Front Range.

Membership is free to students through the MY Denver Card and free to all residents ages 60 and older with MY Denver PRIME.