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Rossonian, Five Points, Set for Major Revitalization

Great things are about to happen in Denver’s historic Five Points district along Welton Street. The former Rossonian Hotel, once the center of Denver’s jazz scene in the early 1900s, has stood vacant for years at the five-point intersection of Welton, 27th Street, E. 26th Avenue, and Washington Street. That is about to change.

Many people have been working for many years to jump start the Welton Street corridor’s revitalization, and finally those efforts are paying off. Two of the leaders of the Five Points revitalization effort are Carl Bourgeois and Chris Coble, both with Civil Technology, Inc. Carl, Chris, and their team are about to transform the historic Rossonian into a mixed-use project with ground-floor restaurant and office spaces above, while preserving the building’s historic facade. You can read more about the Rossonian’s renovation and the evolution of Five Points at Chris’s blog. Here’s a photo (courtesy of Chris) of the Rossonian during the Five Points Jazz Festival.

2011-03-24_rossonian

The Rossonian renovation project will be complete in 2012.

But that’s not all. Civil Technology, Inc. has four additional projects planned for some of the vacant parcels in the vicinity of the Rossonian. These new construction projects include:

– A boutique hotel (125 rooms) with 30-50 residential units above and ground-floor retail, scheduled for 2013 completion

– A mixed-use project including approximately 20,000 SF of retail and 80,000 SF of office space with residential apartments above, scheduled for 2014 completion

– A shared parking garage facility with ground-floor retail, scheduled for 2014 completion

– A 15-unit upscale urban brownstones project featuring 3 and 4 floor units, scheduled for 2015 completion

The Welton Street corridor is one of the city’s oldest commercial districts surrounded by some of Denver’s best Victorian-era homes. The transformation of the Rossonian and associated projects will likely be the catalyst that restores the historic vitality to this important Denver neighborhood.

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19 Comments

  1. Alex Tooke says:

    Such great news for this incredible area… I love finings all the little treasure that five points has hidden and showing them to clients when I introduce them to the area. This area I know will see a huge influx of people wanting to find out more when all of this starts to go up!

  2. Benjamin C says:

    These developments are great, so long as adequate affordable housing is available in the area. The last thing Denver needs is to push the lower income populations out to the suburbs.

    • UrbanZen says:

      My gut feeling is that the immediate 5 points area and the adjacent San Rafael neighborhood are going to re-gentrify, and probably will do so in a way that pushes out the lower income popolution. But I wouldn’t worry too much about pushing them into the burbs, as there is plenty of lower income housing stock in the greater Curtis Park neighborhood and just northeast of Downing. It’s all basically in the same community, and should serve the area for decades to come.

  3. Aaron says:

    In my lifetime I have heard Five Points is about to be revitalized more times than I can count so I am a little more cautious when I hear about this area than I am about other areas in Denver.

    The main reason I think it has failed in the past is that those living in five points have resisted the change as they did not want the gentrification that revitalization brings.

    If this revitalization fully takes hold I hope they do it in a way that respects those that currently live their and why they have resisted it in the past by not economically evicting the current residents.

  4. Patrick says:

    Great news!! Its about time!

  5. Morgan says:

    This is wonderful. I have been living in the Whittier neighborhood over on Race street for about 6 years, and the area is desperate for some restaurants and entertainment within walking distance. The stuff on 17th Ave is just too far away. Whittier is full of people like me that want to support great local businesses. Bring it on!

  6. Beth Partin says:

    I agree with Benjamin and Aaron. I have walked by the Rossonian many times, wondering why there was all this paper covering the windows, indicating a renovation, and yet nothing ever happened. I think redoing the Rossonian will be a great thing for the neighborhood, but a boutique hotel in Five Points? I don’t see that being successful there yet.

  7. I am very happy to hear about this new project and believe it will continue to vitalize the area! I have a restaurant building for sale just on the boundaries of the Five Points neighborhood and believe news like this adds value to the property! Thanks for your work!

  8. Matt Pizzuti says:

    It’s interesting to see a picture of a crowd in Denver’s most famous historically Black neighborhood and there isn’t a single person of color visible in the shot.

    Responding to the comments on this forum…I think that we are using “gentrification” and “revitalization” interchangeably. I think that when lot of people from outside a community hear about gentrification, they understand the criticism against it but shrug and say “eh, it’s either gentrified or it’s a ghetto.” I think that black-and-white view represents bias against the communities.

    I would say that gentrification is when wealthier urban groups begin developing inside a distinct community, but refuse to integrate into it, and essentially scatter that community and detach its history and its relationships.

    I would say that reasoning that they’re just going to re-locate to Montbello (rather than having to go all the way to Aurora or something) is a dismissal of the problem and really not a compromise; it’s just accepting a pretty disastrous problem.

    I would say that re-vitalization, unlike gentrification, is when a community can take leadership in its own development and change – new businesses go up but those businesses maintain a cultural flair and are run by members of the community. It means that outside developers who do come in to the neighborhood take significant measures to honor and maintain the historic community.

    I think that it’s great if development happens in Five Points, and Denver already has processes for building and maintaining mixed-income housing. It also has processes for declaring buildings historic.

    On top of that, how about developers in the neighborhood pitch towards a fund to expand the Black American West museum, or build a much larger Black History museum nearby? How about the city of Denver invests in some other civic institutions – say a Black arts museum or a rec center?

    How about creating much more generous criteria for declaring a building historic in places like Five Points, because a lot of the structures there that have historic value were not built very ornately. How about using some zoning regulations to maintain some elements of the existing architectural styles in Five Points, which really are unique – the buildings are far more colorful and the houses look different from other similarly-sized homes in other neighborhoods. How about increasing the percentage of units in a residential project that must be low-income, for special districts like Five Points?

    I don’t think it’s very difficult to bring wider coalitions of people on board. There is perceived “resistance” to redevelopment from the community but with a few key concessions and provisions and by letting the community itself take leadership, I think good things could happen in Five Points.

    • Vicki H. says:

      In response to your point about civic institutions and a museum — don’t forget there is a major civic institution on Welton that includes an African-American history museum: the Blair-Caldwell African-American Research Library, which is a branch of the Denver Public Library. That building houses a regular branch library on the first floor, the African-American research libary on the second floor, and a gallery and exhibition space on the third floor, dedicated to the history of African-Americans in the West generally and in Five Points specifically. There are permanent displays and temporary exhibits throughout the library. It’s worth checking out. http://aarl.denverlibrary.org/events_exhibits/western_legacies.html

    • Vicki H. says:

      Also, there is a City recreation center in Five Points, at 28th and Glenarm: http://www.denvergov.org/portals/626/documents/programbrochures/northeast.pdf

      And for a great resource on the history and life of the Five Points community, look at the Denver Public Library’s Creating Communities website, which has pages dedicated to the community, specific people, and historic buildings in Five Points: http://creatingcommunities.denverlibrary.org/content/five-points

    • Austin says:

      One note of caution with increasing the affordable housing requirements…if a developer must increase the percentage of units in his building that are below market rate (affordable), then the remaining market rate units in the building will need to be more expensive in order to subsidize the affordable units.

      If you don’t balance it correctly, you could be encouraging a wider income gap between the current residents and the outsiders moving in.

      Finally, there’s already a boatload of subsidized housing in Five Points and the immediate area…a much higher concentration there than elsewhere in the city.

      The best thing that Denver and other American cities can do to help with gentrification issues to simply increase the supply of great urban neighborhoods so that the limited instances near each of our downtowns don’t get overwhelmed by the wealthy folks who can afford to snap up the short supply. In the end, it’s a zoning and land use issue; we have to make it easier (and in some cases just plain legal) for quality urban neighborhoods to grow.

  9. BallPark Resident says:

    I just see a bunch of people out and about – enjoying themselves. That’s a good thing.

  10. First, I agree with Matt that there is a huge crown of people in the middle of Five Points and there is not a black face in sight. That in itself is a phenomena and as a black was the first thing i noticed. I have never seen this happen. What event is this?? I agree with many of the ‘points’ Matt made.

    I have heard that some of these concessions have been made in the negotiations to revitalize the Five Poins area and there will be some benefits to some of the current businessess. Much of this has been discussed in the ongoing talks with Five Points development committes. We shall see. Some of this is discussed in some of the liks in my earlier blogs. See this one –

    http://therobertmcguire.com/denvers-five-points-latest-news-rossonion-renovation/

    Finally, let’s keep up the discussions as this ‘revitalization’ and so-called ‘gentrification’ proceeds in the Five Points area. As a real estate broker, I am not opposed yo gentrification in that I have had ‘some’ clients come in from the suburbs with the full intent of specifically living ‘next door’ to and in the community with a diversified population. Wanting their children to grow up in a different world and befriend and be an integral part of a world that does not look and act as exactly they do. Alas, there is good things and hope in all of this.

  11. Josh Pauletic says:

    The photo is from the Dancin’ in the Streets festival. Despite what the article states, I actually took that photo in August of 2009.

    • Ken says:

      Thanks, Josh. I received the photo from Chris’s blog.

    • Austin says:

      At the risk of relying too much on a stereotype, someone please show me a jam music concert that isn’t full of white people (ie. Dancin’ in the Streets). I’ve never seen one in any city, anywhere.

      My point is, this is a paid music event, and the demographic for it is exactly what you’re looking at in the picture. Enough said.

  12. Alicia May says:

    This, as well as Chris’ blog, is short on details. Where are the four lots for these projects? What restaurant is going in at the Rossonian? I too have seen several revitalization efforts on the Welton Corridor. With the exception of the library, those expensive efforts don’t seem to have worked. I would gladly welcome a vibrant Welton St., especially if it served the surrounding neighborhoods. But all I’ve heard is wishful talk. Note to all: we have plenty of good affordable housing in the neighborhood. What we don’t have is neighborhood services. A boutique hotel is a nice thought but a GOOD thrift store would be great—why can’t something like that go in at the old VFW building rather than it sitting empty? We want restaurants. We all would love a Sunflower market but is anyone talking to them or trying to bring them here? I wonder what the 2010 census data says about who lives in the Five Points Area? I know
    Civil Technology does a good job of physically renovating buildings but can they be business developers?

    • Ken says:

      Alicia, I am hopeful that the details will be available as things progress over the next year or two. I think we all agree that Curtis Park/Five Points is set for a significant revitalization.