After helping fuel the revitalization of the Jefferson Park district with their Zocalo Condos and RiverClay projects, Zocalo Development aimed their sights on Downtown Denver. In late 2010, they opened Solera, a sharp, 11-story, LEED-Gold residential building at 20th & Lawrence. Solera sits on the border between the Central Business District and the Arapahoe Square district, and is a catalyst project for restoring the urban fabric and infusing activity into that part of Downtown. So when you’ve got a good thing going, why not expand on it, right? That’s exactly what Zocalo Development is doing. They’ve moved their sights across the street (20th that is) and are now under construction on an even bigger and greener project: 2020 Lawrence.

2020 Lawrence fills the entire half block along the southeast side of Lawrence between 20th and 21st Streets, except for the small historic building at the corner on 20th. Originally conceived as a condo building, 2020 Lawrence’s design has evolved to become a 231-unit, 10-story, apartment building with plenty of LEED-Gold green features and a clean, modern design like its sibling Solera. Here’s a high-resolution rendering of the project, courtesy of the architect, MBR Studios, and Zocalo Development (click to embiggen):


The $60 million project will feature about 9,000-SF of ground-floor retail space and roof-top amenities such as a fitness center, entertainment deck, dog-walking area, and hot tub. Units will range in size from studios to 2-bedrooms with rents in the $900-$2,000 range.

This project is significant. It demonstrates confidence in Arapahoe Square’s future as Downtown Denver’s next great urban district. The recently completed Northeast Downtown Area Plan sets the vision for Arapahoe Square, and the City, DURA, and the Downtown Denver Partnership are actively working to put in place the necessary policies, programs, incentives, and capital investments to help spur the district’s revitalization.

While LoDo is an established historic district with scattered infill opportunities, and the Central Platte Valley was mostly a blank slate within a reclaimed historic context, Arapahoe Square is a swath of parking lots interspersed by an eclectic mix of historic, contemporary, and industrial properties. Arapahoe Square is the urban district in Denver that reminds me the most of what Portland’s Pearl District was like years ago. If 20 years from now Arapahoe Square is anything like Portland’s Pearl today, we will have successfully transformed the last underdeveloped edge to Downtown Denver into a thriving urban community. 2020 Lawrence, scheduled to open in late 2012, is an important step in that transformation.