For several months, anyone who lives on or near East 17th Avenue has wondered what will happen to a couple of parking lots and a couple of restaurants that have been vacant for months.
The stretch of East 17th Avenue heading out of downtown has for decades been called Restaurant Row. The buildings generally have been one or two stories, many of them historic, though not necessarily ripe for landmark designation. But it’s a great neighborhood for walking, and great to have a variety of restaurants nearby. Plus, it’s human-size.
But now Bill Ferguson, the long-time owner of the Avenue Grill building at East 17th Avenue and Washington Street, has asked the city to rezone the parking lot across the street to build, you guessed it, a five-story residential project with, as BusinessDen put it, “more active street frontage.” Can never have too many yoga studios, right? I’d vote for ice cream.
The City Council committee that handles zoning changes voted to send the rezoning request to the full Denver City Council, where it will need to receive majority approval to move the project ahead. It is too soon to know how many apartments will be in the project, but I’m sure the residents will love the NASCAR-like traffic on East 17th.
The neighborhood already has an active construction site for the 17th and Pearl Apartments, which covers half a city block, but which also has incorporated the Tavern Uptown building and a glass façade heading to the west. That project apparently will house more than 300 apartments.
When I started driving around Denver early last year to get caught up on the radical growth going on, I was looking at all the new apartment blocks built right up to the street with ground-level space for businesses. Welton Street suddenly was like a canyon, and as for Brighton Boulevard – I have no words. I knew this would hit North Capitol Hill pretty soon.
Now it’s back in my back yard. I’m not whining; other neighborhoods have been hit harder. And it’s been two decades since the stretches of apartment buildings nearby were erected along East 20th Avenue and on Pennsylvania Street, and elsewhere in the neighborhood.
If the owner of the empty Tony P’s and the owner of the empty Uptown Mary’s decide to scrape their buildings and build more apartments, we’ll need to import a lot more scooters. It’s time to cash in, all over the metro area. Lucky them.
Here’s the link: