As part of an urban-renewal project to create a downtown area for West Valley City, Utah, decorative concrete contractor Colorado Hardscapes helped turn a deserted lot with abandoned housing into a playground and water feature for children, and an open recreational space for all residents.

A wide, linear swath of green space now connects the city’s train and bus station at one end to the city hall and a revitalized plaza at the other. Flowing through the grassy pedestrian promenade is a concrete stream, but not a typical utilitarian concrete channel. The stream meanders around small, boulder-like islands and flows over integrally colored concrete that looks like sand. Embedded blue glass sparkles under the water.

To create the sand-like texture the contractor used the company’s very own Sandscape, a cast-in-place concrete finish with dozens of color options. An alternative to sand-blasting, the contractor removes the surface of the concrete, via surface retarders and special mix designs, to reveal fine sand. The blue glass was embedded using Lithocrete, a patented process of embedding and fully adhering materials and concrete together in a concrete matrix to produce dramatic — and durable — concrete paving.

Three Bomanite stamped concrete bridges with a 6-inch boardwalk plank pattern cross the stream. The stamped, or more accurately, imprinted concrete's pattern and texture simulate real stone. It’s created using two colors to give it depth: a color hardener and a release agent.

The multimodal plaza includes a performance canopy and concrete stage for public events. On one side of the stage, water spills out from custom wiers built into the steps. The contractor used uncolored Sandscape and specialty exposed aggregate in the pavement surrounding the stage to embrace the stage in a radial design.

At the grand opening in August 2012, the sounds of water flowing, music performing, children playing, and people laughing made the scene perfect, says Karen Van Heukelem, business developer and rock specialist with Colorado Hardscapes.