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New Jefferson Park Project: Element 47

Those of you who have been following DenverInfill for many years will probably remember the Pinnacle Station project proposed by the Spanos Company for the former Baby Doe’s/Chili Peppers site in Jefferson Park. Although the project was ultimately approved by the city, it traveled a rocky road with the Jefferson Park neighborhood, due to the scale and design of the project that seemed incompatible with the adjacent housing. Before the project could get under construction, however, the economy tanked, and so the project was put on hold.

The project is now back, but with a new architect and design, a new name, and at a smaller scale.

Element 47 (the atomic number for silver) is a four-building, 265-unit apartment project. That’s about 100 units less than the 2007 Pinnacle Station version of the project. Each building will be four-stories in height, with one building having a 4,000 square-foot retail space. Here’s a GoogleEarth aerial where I’ve marked the project location:

The new project architect is Denver-based Kephart. All of the following images are from Kephart’s website. First, here is the site plan:

Next, a few renderings:

 

 

Construction on Element 47 is essentially underway. A building permit for the project was recently issued and, two weeks ago when I visited the site, construction equipment was being mobilized and the grounds were being cleared of its old parking lot asphalt and landscaping.

Finally, after a five-year hiatus, Jefferson Park will see this important site be developed, and with a massing, scale, and design that is more compatible with the neighborhood.

 

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8 Comments

  1. Rob C says:

    For the most part, the neighborhood scored a win! I got to hand it to Spanos that they made the decision to use a Denver based architect. I’m truly pleased that this will no longer be a weedy unkempt lot!

  2. Ryan Nee says:

    I’m perplexed as to how this is better than the previous round.

    — It seems like much lower architecture quality
    — It is the exact same amount of retail as the previous round, which was the neighborhood’s biggest complaint
    — It has much more surface parking (thankfully on the I-25 side)
    — It is lower density

    I thought the criticism of the previous version was that it was too suburban. What makes this project less suburban? For what its worth, I’m not opposed to this plan — past or present — I’m just unclear how this is an upgrade.

    • Ken Schroeppel says:

      Ryan, I think the neighborhood’s main issue was the scale of the project. The previous version had 5-6 story buildings fronting one-story home. Now they’re 4-stories. That’s the main improvement, plus 100 fewer units will result in less traffic.

      • Jim says:

        Whether it is 5-6 stories or 4 stories, it’s still going to block every view of downtown anybody on the west side had. Sounds pretty awesome for all the new home owners at Frontview 40.

    • Larry says:

      Ryan, on the previous round, the architecture was very suburban in nature. In general, they used lots of stick on architectural elements that can look okay in a rendering but generally look very poor once executed. While this new style may not be your cup of tea, it is more keeping with the current trend in these areas. And, regardless of how this turns out, my personal opinion is that this is an architectural improvement over the previous iteration -and more appropriate for the area.

      In general I am also under-whelmed with the suburban site plan and I’m not confident that any residential along I-25 is a good option.

  3. Dan says:

    I have to agree with Ryan. In addition, more than any other neighborhood on the NW side, Jefferson Park has the least to preserve in my view, so I am perplexed by the neighborhood association’s objections. Especially the houses closest to this development are poorly kept and are only valuable to those who own them. It seems at some point you have to wake up and smell the coffee, and realize the neighborhood you knew will be no more, and you might even profit from that trend if you go with the flow. I know that is not everyones value system, but do these neighborhood association members really think their neighborhood will remain viable the way it is, or that it will renew with newer single family homes that look like they were built in the early 20th century?

  4. JC says:

    All very relevant points. Architecture, blocked view(s), and overall value this project will bring or not bring to the neighborhood/community will be from the perspective of the individual. One item, I would like to point out is the demand for prime real estate. I think one of the main reasons we see multiple developments in the area(highlands, townhomes, element 47, etc..) is for the growing demand for an optimal location. Aside from the irritating noise, obstruction of views, and additional traffic flow, I am confident this project will be a kick start; expanding the highlands/creating a vibrant culture, thus increasing (longer term the values of land/sf in the area). Regardless of the short term repercussions, I think this project will bring new life to the area. Personally, I purchased this place on the basis of the location; being close to I25 N & South, adjacent to the highlands, across the street from downtown denver, etc.. If I purchased this to live in surburbia, I think I would’ve gone closer to Stapleton or other places where I would’ve found more space for much cheaper. All in all, I think once we are able to overcome these short term nuisances, I strongly believe we will see the value of our relatively large places rise in value by holding tight.

  5. Suzanne says:

    Change can be uncomfortable, but at the same time it allows neighborhoods to be dynamic. When I first saw residential units going up farther north along I-25, I thought the builder was nuts and was going to lose money. But those units sold and many more followed. Obviously the demand is there. Those new owners and renters are numerous. Multiple their numbers by their happiness in living close to downtown, and overall these developments add up to a lot of desirable places for people to live. While I hate to see charming brick bungalows torn down to squeeze in mega mansions that house one family as happens in Cory Ellison or West Highlands, I can see the value in replacing inexpensive Victorian homes that are not architecturally unique with higher density properties, especially in inner city locations. Density also provides enough of a customer base to support coffee shops, etc., which can be valuable for the whole neighborhood.
    It’s interesting to watch how downtown Denver has become more hip with young adults than Boulder!