You may have read about this a few days ago in Margaret Jackson’s article in the Denver Post, but Stonebridge Companies, a major Denver-based hospitality management and development firm, has recently purchased the former Colorado National Bank building at 17th and Champa in Downtown Denver.

The historic bank building, built in 1915, is a contributing structure to the Downtown Denver Historic District. Its neoclassical design was intended to convey a sense of respectability and security that one expects from a bank. In fact, when it opened, the bank’s boast was “the bank that looks like a bank”. The original 1915 structure included only the first three floors.  In 1926, an addition matching the original design was added along Champa Street, and then in 1964, an additional three floors were added featuring a design with a modern interpretation of the neoclassical base. On the left is a DenverInfill photo of the building from 2006 and on the right a Bing maps bird’s eye photo (click to embiggen):

Colorado National Bank at 17th & Champa 2009-12-24_cnb_birdseye

For more on the building’s history, please read Shawn’s post over at the Denver History Tours blog.  Shawn also has a follow-up post about the building’s beautiful murals inside. Also check out the building’s page at the Historic Denver website.

The building has sat vacant since 2007, and the building’s Champa Street side near the bus stop is particularly shabby looking.  Anyway, the good news is that Stonebridge is planning on converting the building into a boutique hotel and adding a few floors in the process.  JG Johnson Architects has been given the task of adding a contemporary addition above the 1960s addition which sits above the 1915 original base. That will be an interesting architectural challenge. I have no problem philosophically, however, with adding yet another addition to this building. Buildings, even historic buildings, need to evolve and flex over time to stay relevant and contributing to the vibrancy of the city.

Hopefully this proposal will stay on track and, in a few years, we’ll have a new hotel operating along 17th Street in a repurposed and scrubbed-up and slightly taller historic building that will thrive well into the new century.