Well, the future is cloudy. But Denver may look different when this virus subsides – whenever that might be.
In the meantime, my eyes flew open when I was reading about the new companies buying into Broadway Park. Broadway Park is near Broadway Station, otherwise known as the Blight on Broadway.
According to the Denver Business Journal, the AMLI project of some 370 apartments has been in the news this week. Broadway Park is a 75-acre mixed-use project bounded by West Alameda to the north, South Broadway to the east and the Regional Transportation District’s Alameda and Broadway light-rail stations to the west, the Journal reports.
The master developer of Broadway Park is D4Urban, which “has been entitled for up to 10 million square feet of future development.” Ten million square feet. Other developers have weighed in to buy into other acreage in Broadway Park for new apartments and retail.
This probably will happen over many years, though with the current situation, who knows anything. Except that many of the small shops on Broadway in a stretch of older buildings have been boarded up. These shops have faced higher rents, as is true throughout the city, because valuations have climbed and owners have passed along the higher costs to the shops’ owners.
Will they be able to hang in? Will restaurants survive? Many are doing take-out, but a restaurant I wanted to try near my home has given that up. These restaurants are doing yeoman work. Will Denver continue to be a high-priced city? Will some who rent apartments here realize they can’t continue to support this, will they move away to places that are more affordable?
As the wheels of commerce continue to roll in some areas – such as Broadway Park – what will happen elsewhere when things might sputter. The third contract for the Sports Castle submitted over the past 14 months was reported in BusinessDen.
In the meantime, historic buildings are sitting ducks.
For almost a month, there have been no meetings of Denver’s Landmark Preservation Commission. It’s understandable: The commissioners and some staff sit around on three sides of a rectangle of tables. The fourth side is set aside for those applying for historic buildings for things like a new infill project or solar panels or a new garage or a new fence. The Denver Landmark Preservation Commission says on its page on the city’s website that meetings will not happen until May 11 because gatherings cannot be held with more than 10 people.
But, life goes on in a different world. A check of the list for Demolitions & Certificates of Demolition Eligibility has some interesting items, and I expect a fourth one will be listed soon, as per a story in BusinessDen. (Two others are listed, but the paperwork has been withdrawn.)
The story focuses on one of the few industrial properties remaining along Berkeley’s Tennyson Street. We know what Tennyson looks like now, though people, including City Council representative Amanda Sandoval, have been working on an overlay to fix some zoning issues. The property in the 4500 block of Tennyson has sold, but the buyer told the reporter he doesn’t have immediate plans to redevelop it. The story, though, says they are going to apply to receive one of these Demolitions and Certificates of Demolition Eligibility.
If no one takes on an owner-opposed application to save a building, these certificates can last for five years. If the demo has not been done, it no longer is in effect when the certificate expires. While this list does allow people to submit an application and pay a hefty fee to fight for a building, it also points out where the next development will happen. And, boy, are we feeling that.
Right now, there are three interesting properties on the list:
- 1860 East Cedar Avenue, a 1982 Postmodern home that has plenty of land around it. It was designed by Richard L. DeGette, who designed project as the Colorado Mine Company building and the Regency Hotel; he also headed up construction of the Denver campus of Regis University. Three years after building the home on East Cedar Avenue, he moved to Florida and continued working as an architect.
- 900 East 1st Avenue, 1925, Carmen Court, which began as a six-unit apartment building, but later became condominiums. They are part Pueblo Revival and part Spanish Revival, but even the dreary photographs in the application requesting to demolish this complex can’t hide the buildings’ graciousness. The architect was Bert L. Rhoads, who also was the chief engineer for Gates Rubber Company. He designed some of those handsome industrial buildings that are now long gone. BusinessDen has reported on this application.
- Then, there is a five-building situation at 777 East 17th The city has listed this under one address. The 777 building dates from 1910 – think of it as the purple building — housed offices for years, but then became a haven for restaurants. It has been closed for a couple of years. One of the other buildings is still a restaurant, and the third building houses a salon, though both are closed now by order. The other two buildings are vacant homes turning the corner onto Clarkson Street.
No architect has been listed for these buildings, but the full site will undoubtedly become an apartment block. It will be part of the loss of history in that neighborhood and its pedestrian charm.
The staff brief, which offers a lot of information of the history of the purple building, notes this: “The commercial corridor has also been known as ‘Lavender Row’ due to the number of LGBTQ+ friendly businesses along 17th Avenue.” J.R.’s gay bar was located in that main building, but it went out of business, then was filled by Tony P’s. The building that housed Hamburger Mary’s shuttered a couple of years ago; the owner didn’t find a buyer or perhaps didn’t want one, waiting for better times.
So far, CHUN, the Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, has been talking to the developer (Corum) which wants to buy 777 East 17th for redevelopment. CHUN members suggested that the developer should talk to Historic Denver. The RNO’s discussions have included concerns about the pedestrian environment, but also “Concern for quality. Neighbors were unhappy with the current design quality of new buildings in the neighborhood.” Well, really?
There also were suggestions that the economy might warrant waiting until the plans and financing for the new construction were confirmed before demolition started in order to avoid the “vacant lot issue,” which we all remember in the Great Recession. At that time, buildings came down, the fences came down, and the scrims with information on the builder and architect came down. It was eerie.
So what will Denver look like? Who will still be able to live here? Will we still have the lively restaurant scene? Will mom-and-pop stores still be around? We’ll have to wait and see. There have been numerous stories about houses being withdrawn for sale, though I have read conflicting reports, and there have been other stories about whether construction should continue, but, who knows as this virus continues to spread through our state and country.
The links below lead to stories referenced to topics above .
Owners of condo complex off Speer apply for demolition eligibility