A new multi-family rental project will break ground this month in central Denver’s booming Lower Highland district. The infill development, currently named 1560 Boulder Street, will be located at the corner of 16th and Boulder streets on the vacant lot across from the popular restaurants Lola and Vita. Here’s a recent Google Earth aerial view of the block:

As part of the small section of the Downtown street grid that’s located west of the South Platte River, the block’s history goes back to the city’s founding when General Larimer staked out a new town called Highland in December 1858, a few days after the founding of the towns of Denver City and Auraria, east of the river. The Town of Highland extended from the mighty Platte west to Zuni Street, the area today known as Lower Highland. In 1860, the three towns consolidated into a single municipality named Denver. Fifteen years later, in 1875, the Town of Highlands (with an “s”) was incorporated, covering the area west of Zuni Street over to Sheridan Boulevard. The Town of Highlands lasted until 1895, when it was annexed by Denver. But I digress… back to 16th & Boulder.

Given its historic roots, the site wasn’t always vacant, of course. Buildings once occupied the site in question. After searching the extensive online historic photos archive at the Denver Public Library, I found an image that gives us a good glimpse of the buildings once found along this side of the block. First, the entire photo is shown below (credit: Colorado Historical Society). The building on the right is the original Olinger Mortuary building, now home to Lola and Scarlet Salon. This photo is from the 1940s.

After a bit of zooming and cropping in Photoshop, here’s a close-up of the site. Click to embiggen:

As to when these buildings were demolished? May have been the ’70s, ’80s, or ’90s… I’m not sure. If anyone has info on this, please let me know.

Here are two views of the site today, with the one photo showing the stairs and retaining walls from the old homes still in place:


In the mid-1990s, the block (excluding the historic building at 15th & Boulder) was rezoned as a PUD (Planned Unit Development) that called for a total of six new buildings: two along 15th, one mid-block facing Central, and three along 16th Street. The first three of these buildings (two along 15th and one facing Central) were built in the late 1990s as the Overlook. In 2008, the fourth building was completed—the Highland Bridge Lofts—at the corner of 16th and Central, which features the ground-floor businesses of Living the Sweet Life and Masterpiece Delicatessen. 1560 Boulder will complete the plan for the block.

Now on to the new project…

1560 Boulder is being developed by Holland Partners Group of Vancouver, Washington, with Denver’s Sprocket as the architect. The project will consolidate the two remaining buildings in the block’s PUD into a single five-story, U-shaped building, with the open end of the “U” facing the interior of the block, as seen in this site diagram submitted to the city as part of the project’s development application:

Due to the site’s significant slope, two levels of structured parking will be mostly underground…tucked into the hillside. Ground-floor retail (with outdoor patio space) will anchor the project at the corner of 16th & Boulder. Four levels of residential apartments, a total of 130 units, will top the ground-floor uses, with a swimming pool, clubhouse, fitness center, and rooftop deck as project amenities.

The exterior design is still being refined, but here’s a preliminary rendering of the project, courtesy of Erik at Holland Partners and Matt at Sprocket Design. The building facade will be constructed of masonry, metal, and stucco:

Holland Partners is planning to break ground on the project this fall, with completion scheduled for 2013.

This exciting project completes the development of a prominent block on the edge of Downtown Denver, and will further enhance the vitality of one of Denver’s most vibrant districts.