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Colorado National Bank Hotel Conversion Underway

I recently had the opportunity to view the interior of the historic Colorado National Bank building that has sat vacant at the corner of 17th and Champa for about four years. As you may recall from a DenverInfill blog post from December 2009, the building will be renovated and expanded to become a new botique hotel. Here’s a bit more about the project:

The owner/developer is Stonebridge, a Denver-based hospitality development firm, which recently completed the Hilton Garden Inn at 14th and Welton, and the project architect is JG Johnson Architects, which specializes in hospitality design. The plan is to add two floors to the top of the building (set back from the existing roof line), renovate/restore the existing six-story structure, and add a new stairwell and entryway on the building’s southwest side that faces a small surface parking lot. That surface lot is also owned by Stonebridge, so it will be used for a new glass porte-cochère and a few spaces for short-term guest check-in parking. All other parking for the hotel will be provided as a valet service to leased spaces off site. The main pedestrian entrance faces 17th Street and features the bank’s grand metal doors.

Here are a couple of images, courtesy of JG Johnson Architects, showing the proposed addition:

2011-01-17_cnb1 2011-01-17_cnb2

As the first image shows, the shape of the addition is like a square donut, with the hole serving as a light well for rooms that will face the interior. For this reason, a hole will be cut into the center of the top three floors of the existing building so that light can penetrate down through all but the first three floors.

The facade design and materials of the addition have not been finalized, but as these concept images above show, the addition will clearly reflect a contemporary design and feature a contrasting dark color to the historic building’s white facade.

A few other facts about the building: It will have 230 rooms, banquet/meeting rooms in the basement (including one inside the bank’s vault), a ground-floor restaurant and retail space, and a lounge in the mezzanine overlooking the lobby. The hotel is planned to be branded a Marriott Renaissance, a Marriott brand not yet found in Denver but one that often features hotels in historic or converted buildings (thus, the name “renaissance”). Currently, some remediation and interior demolition work is taking place. In May or June, the curb lane of Champa next to the building will be closed down and a crane positioned there to begin actual construction of the addition and major renovation work. If all goes as planned, the hotel will open in Fall 2012.

One other note about this building: it is absolutely beautiful inside and, once finished, in my opinion, it will become one of Denver’s swankiest and hippest hotels. The lobby is spectacular, and features a three-story atrium with classical marble colonnades and 16 large murals by famed artist Allen Tupper True. The murals will be protected during the restoration and will remain as one of the building’s prominent features.

Here are a few photos of the lobby I took several months ago before interior work began. I was using my phone camera and no flash so the quality isn’t the greatest:

2011-01-17_cnb3 2011-01-17_cnb4

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of the Downtown Denver Historic District. The project team has already received all of their approvals from the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission and also has its financing in place. So, it’s full steam ahead for the transformation of this historic landmark on 17th Street into a new four-star hotel!

 

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14 Comments

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  2. Matt Pizzuti says:

    This project is a wonderful thing, it looks great and it’s a great way to revitalize an historic building, but please, no more windowless elevator shafts/stairwells on the exterior of buildings! No more windowless surfaces at all, in fact.

    This is still a pretty good upgrade for the block, though. Lets hope something else comes of that parking lot in 10-15 years.

    • Matt Pizzuti says:

      Or maybe someday there could be a glass atrium, or some kind of structure, since I just realized the main entrance to the building is on that side so they don’t want to seal it off with another building.

      • Larry says:

        I am guessing that the entry on that side is for vehicle arrivals (porte cochere) and that there will still be a prominent entry on 17th for pedestrian access – as I recall there is now. I think that as long as the area is treated well and maintained it won’t have the negative appearance that a parking only lot has. Of course, it would also make a great urban park like Paley Park in NYC.

  3. chachafish says:

    Denver keeps getting more attention. In this article it is listed as the world’s best location to host a convention.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/travel/the-10-best-cities-to-hold-a-business-convention/article1856291/

  4. Phillip says:

    I agree – something needed to be done with this awesome building, and I think a hotel is a good choice, but I don’t like that design at all. So un-beautiful for a beautiful building. Glad to hear they are keeping the murals inside.

  5. Kevin says:

    Any idea on who the general contractor is?

  6. chocolo says:

    Happy this structure will be renovated and re-used. The murals and interior are irreplaceable. I wonder if new owners will be able to find a spot for the huge Christmas tree that US Bank formerly set up every holiday season…..

    Hard to believe it’s been four years already. Meantime, wonder how long it will take for the Garts to find a new use for the California Street food court. And while I’m on the underused/ridiculous bandwagon, will someone please buy Writers Square and do something with the ever-growing number of empty retail spaces that now pepper the complex? A new jewelry store opened there in December. It’s already out of business. So glad the new owners renovated the place so successfully….

    • MarkB says:

      Amen!

      The irony of the California Mall is that it was built as a temporary place-holder building. J.C. Penney used to occupy that corner, with a six-story store. It was torn down in 1981 while the Mall was under construction, for a highrise office tower that never got built–so they built the food court instead, vowing to build the highrise whenever conditions improved, and now it just sits empty.

      Fond memory: singing, as a member of the Cory Elementary 6th grade choir, in front of the Colorado National Bank Christmas tree, in December of 1973.

  7. gash22 says:

    Yuck! How did that elevator shaft/stairwell on an prominent corner of the building get approved by the Landmark Preservation commission. Its great to see a building get re-used, but is it really necessary to totally mess with the historic character of it? Why not have the new elements blend in with the historic architecture?

    • Toes says:

      Dear gash22. There are certain structural and functional constraints when renovating historic structures. Such as adding stairs for life safety and shear reinforcement. The secretary of the interior’s standards for historic preservation also state clearly that any new additions shall clearly read as such. Buidlings evolve through the decades and centuries as their uses change. Have you looked at what you call the “prominent corner” looks like currently? It’s a brick firewall without any windows and extended three stories up and painted white in the 1964 3-story addition.

      • Matt Pizzuti says:

        A stairwell could be placed inside the building at the spot where it is in this rendering, or it could be built somewhere else on the interior in the building completely invisible to the outside. The stairwell in the rendering already cuts a bit of the way into the building anyway so it is clearly possible, and besides, I’m guessing there’s going to be a lot of structural retrofitting going on to support the third floor – AND they’re cutting away at 3 floors of the inside – so that’s not outside the scope of this project.

        I’m assuming that there is some economical reason that this is being built on the outside – it saves interior floor space and perhaps lessens the structural changes, to a degree. But in that case I really want to ask why developers are so averse to having windows on their stairwells. For goodness sake just make the stairwell match the surfacing of the new wall adjacent to it, which has windows.

  8. Dan W says:

    Thanks for the heads up, chachafish!

  9. scott says:

    Really cool project. Wouldn’t have guessed they could get 200+ rooms with the size of the addition they are doing. This will be a great location for an new upscale restaurant ( I would assume the hotel would have one?) and hopefully rooftop patio/bar… It will be nice to start extending some of the vibrancy of the city North towards 20th street.