This week two proposals for two hotels in two Denver neighborhoods were reviewed. One didn’t get the go-ahead from the Landmark Preservation Commission, while another was given the OK to proceed – with conditions – by the Lower Downtown Design Review Board.
On Tuesday, the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission expressed concerns about two items involving a hotel to be built next to the Rossonian. One concern is the use of glazing on upper floors over the point of the historic building. The other is the articulation of the hotel’s façade facing Welton Street, with an irregular pattern of windows that does not quite mesh with the architecture of the Rossonian on one side or the mixed-use project being built on the other side.
Then, on Thursday, the Lower Downtown Design Review Board gave the OK to a design for what is now called the Blake Street Hotel (the elevation is above). The concerns focused on the fact that the building didn’t really have a top. Instead, there would be a sort of deck with planters on the roof, but no real top when describing the usual parts of a building. There were other concerns, too, considering that this building is a truly new infill project and eight stories tall.
In the Denver Business Journal story pasted in below, the best paragraphs were:
“ ‘The challenge is the simpler the project, there are things we’re asking for that aren’t automatically given,’ (board member and architect Tania) Salgado said. ‘Unfortunately, when there’s so much detail in a proposal, the more we critique the submittal.’
“After the meeting, (the applicant and architect Christopher) Shears said he wished he would have received that type of conditional approval in April because it would have saved his firm and client money. He said it costs about $10,000 for the work that goes into each submission.”
The hotel, at 1637 and 1655 Blake Street, would be built on a parking lot where old commercial buildings were scraped in the 1960s or 1970s. If you look at the elevation for the front of the Blake Street Hotel, it does seem somewhat severe considering that it is adjacent to the historic Barth Hotel. Still, the new hotel can’t mimic the architecture of the historic buildings. Setbacks do help, considering the hotel building’s height of just shy of 84 feet. The Barth is 65 feet tall.
In both cases, the two projects will return for more discussions with the two boards at some point in the future – part of the boom in new hotels in the Denver market. And the continuing trend of super-sizing everything.
Below is the text of a Denver Business Journal story on the Blake Street project’s review, plus links to the Lower Downtown Design Review Board documents and a link to a BusinessDen story from April when the Blake Street project first came in front of the board. There also is a link to the DBJstory.
Board approves design of new LoDo hotel, but with conditions
|By Andrew Dodson – Reporter, Denver Business Journal
Jun 6, 2019, 1:57pm MDT UpdatedJun 6, 2019, 6:02pm EDT
The Lower Downtown Design Review Board approved the first phase of design for a new hotel at 1637 Blake St. but told the architect that he needs to do a better job at identifying a distinct top for the building so that it better conforms with the historic neighborhood.
The conditional approval came Thursday morning, two months after the board rejected initial design plansand asked Denver-based architect Shears Adkins Rockmore to make a handful of tweaks to its plans.
Shears Adkins Rockmore is designing the 190-room hotel for California-based T2 Hospitality. The hotel, located across from the new Market Station development, will max out at eight stories, but the construction that abuts the sidewalks on Blake Street will only go as high as five stories. The setback of the taller building allows for private outdoor space on the roof for more expensive suites. It’s one of the first true infill projects in LoDo, nestled between the Barth Hotel assisted living building, and the Carter-Rice Building.
The design review board discussed the issue for about an hour at its monthly meeting Thursday. The main sticking point centered around the building needing a distinct base, middle and top to best conform with the neighborhood. A few of the board members argued the design was too modern and that a top of the building wasn’t specifically defined.
Board member Mike Coughlin, though, said the top is vaguely defined at this point, but would become more clear once the architect submits a more detailed report as part of a second phase submission later this year.
“It feels like we can get there through the details,” he said.
Christopher Shears, a principal at the architecture firm, said he was satisfied with the outcome of Thursday’s meeting, but he did question the level of scrutiny from the board with regard to the level of detail for a first-phase submission from the board during his presentation. He previously told Denver Business Journal that this design plan was the most detailed plan he has ever submitted to the board.
“We provided more detail for the last hearing at the request of staff and that’s fine and we were happy to do that … but something needs to be clarified to applicants at this point because it is a systematic change in the process,” he said.
Board member Tania Salgado admitted that the level of detail in an initial proposal is tricky.
“The challenge is the simpler the project, there are things we’re asking for that aren’t automatically given,” she said. “Unfortunately, when there’s so much detail in a proposal, the more we critique the submittal.”
After the meeting, Shears said he wished he would have received that type of conditional approval in April because it would have saved his firm and client money. He said it costs about $10,000 for the work that goes into each submission.
A concept and flag for the hotel is still being finalized.
T2 purchased the site — a parking lot — in September 2018 for $3.6 million, according to public records. The site was once home to the W.C. Nevin Candy Co., a business that in 1914 employed 125 people with a payroll of more than $100,000.