Grocery-Anchored Project Moving Forward

The Nichols Partnership, developers of the successful Spire residential tower in Central Downtown, announced back in June 2007 that they had purchased almost the entire block bounded by Wewatta, 19th, Chestnut, and 20th in the Union Station district. At that time they proposed for the site a mixed-use concept consisting of a ground-floor grocery store with residential and possibly other uses such as hotel or office above. The project didn’t proceed, however, as the pending economic collapse and other factors intervened.

Four years later, I’m happy to report that the Nichols Partnership, along with partners Loftus Developments and the Mulhern Group, announce that the project is now ready to go!

The project (named “20th & Chestnut” for now) will be built in two phases. The first phase will cover about three-quarters of the block fronting Chestnut Place and will feature a 42,000 SF urban grocery store (national chain TBD) and an additional 13,000 SF of retail, plus 307 apartments above in a five-story building. Included within the ground-floor level are 104 parking spaces reserved for the retail uses, with vehicle access to these spaces from Chestnut Place. Below grade are two levels of parking containing 447 parking spaces for the residential uses, accessed via 19th Street. Here’s the street-level site plan:


The building will feature a prominent glass corner entry at 20th and Chestnut and a facade consisting primarily of glass and brick. Here are renderings looking toward the 20th & Chestnut corner and the 20th Street side:



Here’s a view from above showing the overall building orientation and footprint. The remaining one-quarter of the block fronting Wewatta Street will be developed as a future Phase 2 as a 12-story mixed-use tower.


If all goes as planned, the project will begin construction in December, 2011 and will open in 2013.

It looks like Downtown Denver is finally going to get a full-service grocery store!

By | 2016-12-21T20:59:04+00:00 April 26, 2011|Categories: Infill, Residential, Retail, Union Station, Urban Design, Urbanism|Tags: |26 Comments


  1. Leslie April 26, 2011 at 10:56 am

    My vote is for a Whole Foods or Trader Joes- pretty please???

  2. BeyondDC April 26, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Great project.

  3. SAzcuy April 26, 2011 at 11:38 am

    “It looks like Downtown Denver is finally going to get a full-service grocery store!”

    It will be exciting to see what retailer goes into this space. Altough for the southern half of the Central BD, the KSoops will still be way closer. Also for those in LoHi or the valley, there is a Safeway just at Federal and 26th.

    Is Speer still too big of psychological divide?

  4. David April 26, 2011 at 11:59 am

    What will the 2nd phase involve?

  5. Rob April 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    I’m thinking it will probably be a Whole Foods. This is great great news!!!!!

  6. Eric April 26, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I asked about this in a comment about a month ago, but in light of this development, thought it might be worth another mention – is there any news (old or new) concerning how the land behind union station (between 16th and 19th) is going to be developed? Mock-ups in the masterplan show retail/commercial flanking the bus terminal, but as far as I know there aren’t any officially announced projects planned for those parcels. Do you know of any more details about their development? Even if nothing is official, is there any insider speculation or information you might be able to share with us?

    • Ken April 26, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      Hi Eric. All of the land behind DUS has been master planned as part of the Commons PUD. For each parcel on each block, the maximum height, setbacks, and other building massing measures have been set, as well as the allowable uses. Beyond that, however, it is up to the private developers to implement those developments, and specifically which ones are “in the works” remains somewhat at the rumor stage at this point.

  7. christopher April 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    typical and ordinary just as denver likes it

    • Alex May 17, 2011 at 8:14 pm

      Denver is trying really hard to be one of the ugliest cities in the US. Which is fine, since at least it’s a vision. Boxes, asphalt and crappy glass towers.

  8. BallPark Resident April 26, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Best news out of Denver in a long time. I’m a little confused how the parking arrangement will be set up, but it’s nice that it’s a multi-use building.

    • Ken April 26, 2011 at 7:36 pm

      Look closely at the site plan. Residents will turn in off of 19th and go down the ramp to 2 levels of underground parking. Meanwhile, grocery shoppers will turn in off of Chestnut Place into a ground-level garage surrounded on the edges by retail, lobbies, etc.

  9. Chris April 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Looks like a regurge of the just released Manhattan ph II vanilla design.

  10. chachafish April 26, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Awesome, fantastic, brilliant news! Thank you. 🙂

  11. Paul S April 27, 2011 at 2:38 am

    I hope it’s not a Whole Foods. A “run-of-the-mill” grocery store downtown would be optimal. Downtown can focus on getting a Whole Foods in another part of downtown at some point. Now, let’s keep crossing our fingers for an urban Target downtown (Makovsky block?)!

  12. Chris from Downtown April 27, 2011 at 7:30 am

    Could the Nichols Partnership partner up with RTD to provide a station at this site for the 16th Street Shuttle or the new Downtown Circulator? That would provide nearly door-to-door grocery shopping transportation for the growing population of CBD residents.

    • R. W. Rynerson April 27, 2011 at 9:15 am

      It’s understandable that Downtown residents would enjoy having the FREE Mall Ride deviate over to the grocery store. However, that is not why the entire metro area subsidizes its operation. Going to the grocery would interrupt the journey for people trying to make Light Rail connections and/or would result in service cutbacks elsewhere to pay for the additional shuttles this would consume. Running in mixed traffic to get to the store and back would trash performance on the shuttle, increasing the number of long gaps followed by double or triple-heading buses.

      RTD Rte 6 already runs the length of Downtown Denver and goes right past this site. It has as much or more service as other basic neighborhood routes that non-Downtown residents use for shopping.

      Or, as I do in Capitol Hill, a shopper could walk a bit. The Mall loop will let passengers off at 17th & Chestnut and they’d need to walk two blocks to the store. There are some suburban parking lots that have longer walk distances.

  13. Stephanie April 27, 2011 at 8:43 am

    I am disappointed in all the parking. The Denver Union Station development was designed to be transit-oriented development, in other words to get people out of their cars and give them mixed-use development where they can meet their needs without needing to use a car. To encourage transit, walking and biking in our downtown and in the heart of the Fastracks system. Putting a big parking garage a few blocks away is really going to hamper that. Bad choice Denver.

  14. Alex April 27, 2011 at 8:57 am

    This is just fantastic news, and I’m thrilled to read it.

    I’m a little concerned as to how the HOV viaduct next to 20th, and the 20th street underpass under the railroad, are going to impact the site from an urbanist perspective. I notice that the mockups kind of gloss over their combined presence with the pov chosen for them.

  15. Rob April 27, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    there is nothing wrong with this design. The whole plan is to get more people downtown. It is not necessary for every single building to be iconic. We will have iconic buildings when they mke sense…right now I am just so damn happy that we will have another apartment building getting built. Just spent a week in Barcelona and Madrid…there are tons upon tons upon TONS of buildings that are just drab and look the same. But, they bring more and more people into the urban core and THAT is what Denver needs most of all!!!! Oh yeh and maybe a really beautiful fountain in Civic Center Park…but that’s another story.

  16. sewin April 27, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Trader Joes would be perfect!

  17. jeffrey April 28, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Trader Joe’s, as awesome as it would be be, won’t happen until the grocery/liquor laws change

    • MarkB April 28, 2011 at 8:58 pm

      That’s not what’s keeping them out of Colorado. Plenty of other states have similar laws, and have TJ’s in them. As a privately-held company, Trader Joe’s is very close-lipped, so we’ll never really know why they haven’t yet decided to come here. They will, one day.

  18. Kyle April 28, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Being a downtown resident, I too am very excited to hear this news. It can’t come fast enough for me. I think the Nichols partnership always seems to meet the demand of what is needed most.

    However, I am sorely disappointed in the architecture of this. I don’t expect an iconic building but this would be mediocre in the suburbs. I guess I expect a lot more because this is the Union Station neighborhood. What I consider the last big infill project of downtown and what will become the new “center” of downtown because it is the focal point of all the transit. We should have bar set higher in this area. I understand that it is a huge accomplishment to get something of this size moving forward in this market. It is the bland and uninteresting architecture that leaves me wanting more. So, here is to me getting my cake and wanting to eat it too.

    • Dan April 28, 2011 at 6:34 pm

      My sentiments exactly, Kyle.

      Seems like it should be taller too. But all in all and at this stage of the neighborhood’s development, this is excellent news.

  19. Alex April 29, 2011 at 7:47 am

    My thoughts are the building is boring, however the importance of this project supersedes the lack of architectural importance. Sad really, they could do better on designing a non-suburban looking building… But, hey at least we will FINALLY have a grocery store… Trader Joes… please!

  20. william johnson May 26, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    i read your blog its really great i really like it…

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