Once upon a time, there was a booming manufacturing plant on South Broadway. But in the 1990s, much of the Gates rubber plant closed, and then Gates was sold to the British company Tomkins PLC for $1.1 billion.
Since then, the redevelopmentof the massive site has gone through many twists and turns in a convoluted saga. Last week, though, the Austin-based firm Endeavor Real Estate Group and Denver-based Legend Partners closed on 7.5 acres of land on the west side of South Broadway.
On the east side of Broadway, development has been somewhat less tumultuous, though early in that process, merchants in small shops had to move out when a then-new owner, Cherokee Denver, wanted to clear the land and work to clean up contaminants. So merchants moved, with no financial help. Some found spaces farther south on Broadway, only to face a massive and lengthy roadwork project that closed lanes and removed parking. Some merchants went out of business. It was the proverbial one-two punch.
Then, Cherokee could not financially support the necessary remediation, and the land went back to Gates. After all, the fiscal blow-out starting in 2008 — the Great Recession — hit developers and anyone in the AEC world hard, along with a lot of others workers who lost their jobs.
Things have bounced back, as can be seen all over Denver. That includes development on the east side of South Broadway, with a long stretch of apartment buildings now in place. And if you drive that stretch of South Broadway, on the west side you’ll see plenty of earth-moving vehicles and a lengthy scrim on the fence with a big sign for Broadway Station Partners.
Endeavor and Legend plan to break ground in 2020, for the buildings they want to develop. The mix of buildings is still being decided, in terms of office buildings and multi-family buildings.
According to BusinessDen’s story, Endeavor has hired Denver-based Shears Adkins Rockmore as the master architect; Rios Clementi Hale Studios of Los Angeles will participate in the design of the office buildings. Shears Adkins also is doing a master plan for another large-scale development in Denver – the Loretto Heights campus – and has designed numerous multi-family residential buildings in Denver.
The only true remnant left of Gates is the administration building, which was originally constructed by the Ford Motor Company in 1913. Ford sold the building to Gates in the 1940s. It now houses commercial enterprises and offices.
And although some of us thought the old Gates factory buildings would have made great lofts (like real lofts, not soft lofts), there were concerns about contamination. There was a slight flicker of interest in designating the plant as an historic landmark, but that didn’t gain traction with the city. (Surprise.) In 2017, Denver City Council approved a redevelopment and tax support plan, kick-starting more development on the site. The Denver Urban Renewal Authority has been involved for a long time.
Links below lead to two stories on the sale of land to Endeavor and Legend, to a timeline on the Gates redevelopment on DenverInfill, to the Broadway Station Partners website, some stories about past attempts to redevelop the Gates site, a story about the Urban Explorers who would sneak into the Gates buildings to explore (including a person who lost his life after falling down an elevator shaft), and a history of the Gates factory posted on the city’s website. The timeline posted on the Broadway Station Partners website spells out the many steps to redevelop the site.