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The new owners have promised to make a multimillion-dollar investment in Elitch's; presumably, they also will protect the city's money. "I think, in general, the city will be better off having a stronger financial presence there," says Wallach.

That certainly doesn't describe Colorado Ocean Journey, the most recent in a school of aquariums proposed for the Central Platte Valley. Despite a slew of big fish backing the proposed $75 million project, this month's ground-breaking was postponed while Ocean Journey looked for new funding sources. Wallach acknowledges that the city may again come to the rescue, throwing out another loan from the economic-development office.

Elsewhere along the Platte, the river is riding high. Wallach points to expansion plans for Grant Frontier Park, giving more open space to the Overland neighborhood, which is currently being graced with a giant hill of entombed radioactive waste from the Shattuck plant. Further down the river, the city is working with Public Service Co. of Colorado to create a PSC-funded park around the plant at Zuni Street. Those changes would also benefit Ascent Entertainment, owner of the Nuggets and the Avalanche, which committed to Phil Anschutz's old property in the Platte Valley (as well as his 13 percent of Elitch's) for the Pepsi Center. If that project is to go through, Ascent has warned, it will require a flood of friendly financing.

Then there's the Children's Museum. Although on Tuesday Mayor Wellington Webb saluted Gurtler and Elitch's as "the first development pioneers in the Central Platte Valley," the museum built its current home on the river over a decade ago. After some rough sailing recently, the museum is rebounding quite well--without a city subsidy.

More parks are being floated downstream: Gates Crescent Park, where the Platte project recently tore down an old warehouse; that pricey thirty-acre Commons Park near Coors Field (two years ago the land that became Elitch's sold for $100,000 an acre; the city's committed to eight times that for Commons Park); Rockmount, another thirty-acre park now under construction; and another new ten-acre park just south of Adams County. In all, about $40 million will flow into the Platte River Corridor project, with the city providing half of that.

Not including the melancholy stream of loans and other bailouts for drowning developers.

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