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:

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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:

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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!