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The Confluence Project Update: 34-Story Tower Moves Forward

You may recall that before and even during the recent recession, developer Ray Suppa (Palace Lofts, Waterside Lofts) had been working on plans to build a major residential project at the corner of 15th and Little Raven next to Confluence Park Plaza. The project’s roots stretch back to the early 2000s. Please read this major summary of the project’s history that I wrote back in 2010.

With the rebounding economy and the strength of the rental market, the Confluence project is not only back, but has taken a major step forward towards getting underway.

The Denver Business Journal reports today that a partner, PM Realty Group, as acquired the site and has arranged financing for the project. You can read all of the details in the DBJ article here.

The Confluence will include 288 apartment units in a modern 34-story tower. Here is the rendering from the DBJ article:

This appears to be a view of the tower’s southeast side, looking along Little Raven towards 15th Street, with the Little Raven bridge over Cherry Creek in the foreground. Yes, I know that’s not what the bridge looks like (it’s two lanes, not six) and other details in the background don’t appear to be accurate either. But let’s skip past that issue for now, and consider this to be a concept image of the tower’s design. I’m sure in the future, more detailed drawings will be released as the design is finalized. The DBJ article suggests that construction could begin “in coming weeks” with completion in about two years.

The Confluence project is an exciting “exclamation point” to the redevelopment of the Central Platte Valley, which is slowly but steadily nearly completion. With all the development activity behind Union Station and with only a few remaining parcels in the Riverfront Park area, it is feasible that the entire CPV could be completely redeveloped by 2020. Amazing!   

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52 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    I think this is a great project! Has all of the approvals been given or is there still plenty of time for the NIMBYs in the hood to get all bent out of shape?

    • Ken Schroeppel says:

      I don’t think there will be too many NIMBYs. The project went through a rezoning a few years ago to allow for a building this high, and no one showed up to speak in opposition the night it was approved by City Council. That was due to Mr. Suppa’s exhaustive efforts to meet with all of the neighbors and to talk about how a thin tall tower is better than a big boxy building covering the whole site (which the previous zoning would have required).

      • Ben says:

        Ken, this is a great project. Really looking forward to more density in this area. I sent you a tweet about a week ago concerning the lot at 8th and Lincoln. It looks like it’s being prepped for development. Any idea what’s going on? Sorry to post here. Just thought it might catch your attention.

  2. Ginty says:

    Any hope for the Bell Tower?

  3. Wendy says:

    As one of those NIMBY’s, yes, I’m really dissapointed to hear about this project. It does not in any way reflect the building profile or charm of this neighborhood (the old brick low and midrises on Platte St. and the newer but appropriate-for-the-area buidlings in Riverfront Park . I could see putting a nice brick midrise there – that would make sense, and would be a great use of that lot. But 34 (!!) stories, next to the park and river, and nowhere near other high rises downtown? It’s going to stick out like an eyesore. And yes, those of us with west-facing views will have the colorful and charming buildings of LoHi and Highlands area partially obstructed by this building that in no way blends in. Yep, I’,m dissapointed, and wish we had known about this project before we purchased our unit. I think we still would have bought it, but I would have been one of the ones down there protesting at earlier stages of this. Development of that lot is great; this is just totally the wrong project for it.

    • Paul says:

      Wendy,

      I suppose that the Glass House, two 23-story pillars of shiny, blue glass, less than two blocks away from this site are also out of place? Or the host of 12 to 20 story buildings that are springing up behind Union Station that are decidedly modern with a lot of glass, concrete, and stone but little brick? Sure, it’s tall and sticks out, but I call that “iconic” instead of a “sore thumb”.

      I’ve never heard of the EIFS-clad, wooden clap-traps springing up in the LoHi being described as colorful and charming. That’s certainly a first.

      Thank god this project is already approved and the NIMBY’s can merely gnash their teeth. Though some will probably want to go “No Highrises in West Highland” route and unleash the lawyers.

    • John says:

      While I agree that its a strange development for that site, something interesting has to develop in that area other than what already has. I’m also wondering what satisfies you about that western view of yours. The highway? Those lofts in the highlands? Strange roaming homeless folk asking for change? This is a nice building and I hope it gets built. I think I’d like to rent from there too.

    • Ken Schroeppel says:

      Wendy, since you apparently are new to the area and were not around during the long neighborhood discussions that led to the approval of the rezoning to allow this tower, let me give you the 30-second recap: The previous zoning would have required a building of around 9-stories to cover the entire site, from 15th to Cherry Creek (well over 300 feet long–the length of a football field) and from Little Raven to the edge of the plaza. If you live just east of this site with a western view, then you would have lost 100% of your view. The developer (and pretty much everyone else) felt that was inappropriate for the area.

      The developer then proposed a rezoning to allow for a 14-story brick mid-rise (as you apparently would support), and the neighbors freaked out. Finally, after a year-plus long process, everyone realized that the best thing for the site would be a thin tower with a small footprint that occupies as little of the site as possible (turning the rest of the parcel into an extension of the plaza). There’s not much difference between a 15-story tower vs. a 30-story tower in terms of blocking views, as anything that you’d want to look at (say, the mountains) would be blocked by even a mid-rise building. Therefore, the best way to accommodate density on a site is actually to go very vertical, and opening up much of the ground level as possible, where pedestrians and the people in the lower-rise buildings nearby can actually still have views! At the city council meeting where they approved the rezoning for this tower, not a single person spoke in opposition.

      Finally, this property is within the boundaries of the Downtown Denver Area Plan, where high-rise development is strongly encouraged. If 34-story buildings make you queasy, perhaps a more low-rise neighborhood should have been your destination. As others have noted, there are two 23-story buildings just 0.2 miles from this property. My main disappointment is that aren’t more sites in the Riverfront Park area on which someone could build 34-story buildings. Being only 0.3 miles from the Union Station Transit District, we should be maximizing the density around our region’s primary transit hub. That’s called common sense.

      • Freddie says:

        Well said.

      • Wendy says:

        Hi Ken – Thank you so much for this background info. Yes, we are new to our complex, but also rented here in RFP before we moved here. We just had not heard about this project from anyone, including the realtors who sold us our unit. And yes, a tall, thin building will obstruct views less for those of us on the east side of the train tracks who face west, but it will still look very different from other buidings in our sight lines (when we look out out windows , we currently don’t see anything higher than 5 stories – that’s it a very big difference).

        Normally, I am very very pro-density. But the location of this lot is more of a recreation area for river-goers, and the building design and height does not fit with the charm of the older buildings on nearby Platte St. It is also 10 stories taller than anything in Riverfront Park – the scale is just weird for the area.

        I agree with you Ken, it would be great if Riverfront Park and the surrounding area was full of 34-story buildings; but because the existing buildings are at least 10 stories smaller, a building this tall just seems out-of-place. It will definitely change the skyline entirely for west-facing residents of our building. (John – the upper floors of our building have balconies with 180 degree views that span from Mile High Stadium to the Riverfront Tower building – we get spectacular sunset and mountain views – our property values are all about the view – this new building will be right in the middle of that view for some of our residents).

        And unless residents of that new building will walk, bike or use public transit (here’s hoping), it means a potentially huge increase in car traffic on 15th st. We try not to drive at all unless we absolutely have to, but when we do, almost everywhere we would drive involves 15th St. in some manner.

        Sorry, I am speaking as a biased resident, and not a planner. I can tell from their remarks that some of the commenters do not live in this immediate area, or they would likely feel differently about this. When it is your own property value and everyday life that may be impacted, it is a different picture :) I’m just hoping that my concerns about this will turn out to be unfounded, and that the building will turn out to be a good fit for its location.

        Ken, thank you so much for your blog posts; you are really an asset to our ever-evolving community:)

        • Ken Schroeppel says:

          Thanks, Wendy.

          I think having a few somewhat “out-of-place” buildings sprinkled here and there throughout the city is what makes cities interesting. They can become landmarks and points for orientation and navigation. They also become part of the view!

          I suspect, given the location and how popular biking and transit has become, that the many of the residents in this building will use alternative transportation as much as possible.

          • Wendy says:

            Yes, I agree Ken, out-of-place buildings can sometimes add interest to an area – I’m just not sure this one will. Again, since we live here, the “feel” of this particular area seems like it will change with something that big and that different. I think of that area as being the “little bit of nature in the city” – I think if it as Confluence/ Commmons Parks and the river/creek, not 34-story building. And unfortunately, the building will be so close to us and so tall that it may obstruct more than add to the view- I guess it will depend on how small that footprint really is.

            Ken, the building in that rendering does look attractive. But the other aspects of the rendering have so many errors, it is hard to figure out exactly where the tall part of the building sits on that lot. Is it right on the corner of 15th and Little Raven? Or, would you say that it is farther south, like directly across the river from REI?

          • Jim Nash says:

            Ken, thanks for standing up for a dramatic and totally appropriate development on the edge of Downtown. Point towers really energize an urban area, overcoming the dozens of — as you’ve said — “background buildings” around them. Really hope this project gets built, because it encourages other big, prominent projects.

            Wendy, sorry your mountain view might be impacted, but honestly, what did you expect, buying property on the edge of the downtown of a major city? Your objections sound like the people who move in next to a big airport, and then start complaining about all the noisy planes overhead. If you enjoy the rich variety of being close to the city center, then please accept that you’re living in a dynamic urban area, not out in the burbs, where zoning protects your mountain views forever.

            What’s most enduring about this NIMBY complaint in Denver is that it never changes. Wendy, I remember when the Central Platte Valley was envisioned by city leaders and planners as a full, high-rise extension of the Downtown. That would be 50-plus stories.

            But by then, mid-rise View Planes — up to about 20-some stories — were already imposed by NIMBYS across the city. So when the Union Station design emerged, planners were putting a “lid” on the area all around the station, seeing the Platte Valley as a mid-rise extension of Downtown, which actually begins in Lodo, under the arguments for “historic preservation” and preserving the “character” of the area.

            In fact, the entire Infill donut around high-rise Downtown is already zoned mid-rise. All in the name of preserving Mountain Views. If that’s what you want most, you’re living in the wrong location.

    • John says:

      Totally Wendy, I was hoping for a 7-11 myself…

      • Mark Barnhouse says:

        Given how that chain is proliferating, I would not be surprised to see one on this corner anyway, assuming there’s retail space in the base of the tower.

        • Randy says:

          In the DBJ article, it does specify first floor retail.

          Probably a good fit for this site, as the retail along Little Raven seems to do quite well.

  4. Chris says:

    Not sure how this can obstruct anyone’s views based on where it is and the other buildings around it? When we bought our unit in RFP I knew that we would get different views in the years to come….you call them obstructed, I call them ever changing…….

  5. Freddie says:

    Woohoo! *does a little dance*

  6. BALLPARK says:

    I really like the rendering – although I wish the top was a little more unique with multiple set-backs. But very surprised to see this announced with a quick turn-around on getting started.

    I imagine that with the CPV nearing completion, developers will soon be looking to the other side of Speer and think about the possibilities that might exist to mimic the RiverFront success story on the plot of land where Elitches is located. My $2 hunch is that Elitches will eventually sell the property, which has to be worth 10x what they bought it for in 1994 when the whole area was a wasteland. Take the money and build a better amusement park along the Light Rail/EMU to Golden or the Airport.

    In the meantime, it’ll be nice to see one more vacant lot turn into something positive for the neighborhood.

  7. Jeffrey says:

    This looks great. I’ve been waiting for more towers to be developed. I want to live in one!

  8. TakeFive says:

    Just for grins, I decided to check into PM Realty Group, or PMRG (.com). They are in final lease-up of this apartment building: http://www.pmrg.com/_posts/dev-multi-family-banner.jpg

    Not comparable:
    > Park Lane is situated on a 33.5 acre property across from NorthPark Center in Dallas’ vibrant Midtown neighborhood. At completion, the project will be a 2.9 million square-foot, mixed use development with 700,000 square feet of retail space. Park Lane will be anchored by the Flagship Whole Foods Market. <

    There will also be 750,000 square-feet of Class “A” office space. The apartments are super nice.

  9. Erin says:

    I am hoping as the CPV gets filled up with unique and useful new architecture, we’ll finally look into redeveloping the parking lots that surround the Pepsi Center and Elitch Gardens. I could totally see parking structures and lots of great development opportunities such as the ones Auraria is taking all along Speer Blvd. and Auraria Parkway.

    Working out the proper level of density, allowing for parking structures under and behind retail, mixed-use, with housing above and perhaps even town-home-style living along walking plazas that would funnel people from structured parking into those venues, making for more active plazas and perhaps even creating a more open amusement park that people can simply enjoy strolling through without having to buy a Season Pass, etc. truly integrating these venues into the heart of the city and welcoming all to come and play, stay, etc.

    There are lots of opportunities for future development – we just need creative thinkers and people/developers willing to take some risks…

    I’m all FOR a few more high-rise apartment buildings – I’m kind of sick of all the sprawling “Dallas Donut” styled 5 and 6-story apartment buildings going up everywhere… It would be great to see some more varied and exciting projects for sure!

  10. Cos says:

    Ken,

    You should go down there and see if ground movement or digging has started. Or even if there are contrustion trucks on the site yet. Weeks would be awesome if that was really the starting date for this project!

  11. Cos says:

    Just to get a grip on the size of the bldg. the Four seasons is 45 floors. Now this one will be 4 stories shorter, minus the spire too. So that gives you an idea of the height of this tower. Can’t wait!

    Kind of tired of these 10 or less floor projects lately.

    • Cos says:

      oh at right on par with the Spire height.

    • Freddie says:

      It will be 11 stories shorter than the Four Seasons actually. I think it was rezoned for 350 feet, and considering it’s normally only possible to cram about 32-33 floors into a 350′ building, I think it’s safe to assume the height of this building will be right at 350 feet. So it will be substantially shorter than the 565′ Four Seasons and the 478′ Spire. Nevertheless, it will be tall, and a striking addition to the skyline. I too can’t wait!

  12. Jeffrey Miller says:

    No argument from me this is a great project. BUT, can someone explain how Denver proposes to accommodate auto traffic with all of this urban growth? Platte St. is already a mess and the 23rd ave bridge and street connecting LoDo with Jefferson Park and it’s huge new housing development is old and narrow and the street is a disaster. It would be one thing if we had a subway system but we don’t, we depend on surface flow and I just see a cluster freak approaching. Please tell me I’m off-base.

    • Matt Pizzuti says:

      Yes, I think the plan to decrease auto traffic in the area is Union Station, which is why all this development is able to occur in this neighborhood in the first place. This is the most ideal neighborhood in all of Denver for people who don’t own cars.

  13. Corey says:

    I am very happy to see this lot finally developed! It is the best lot downtown for residential development. I think a highrise is absolutely appropriae for this site, which is the birthplace of Denver. I think of this site as equivalent to Chicago’s North Shore or Miami Beach for being ideal for highrises. I am surprised it will be rental units. Maybe it will “go condo” in the future.

  14. Michael says:

    I am thrilled to see the development.. and will be more thrilled to see the tower rise. I have not been this excited about a project actually turning out since Four Seasons… I hope the top is bit more architectural pleasing than a flat, square top. Hard to tell from the rendering.. excited none the less

  15. Timothy says:

    I am concerned that this development will become a disaster. Who will spend thousands of dollars a month to live right next to an area that fills with low-class people every weekend? I hope the developer has a solution to this and doesn’t wait until the disaster happens. I sure would hate to a see massive building located in such an historic area become a complete flop.

    • Corey says:

      I am glad to see you are not the least bit judgmental

    • Mark B. says:

      In great cities all over the world, people of every sort mingle in the public spaces–streets, plazas, and parks. That’s a major reason why we think of them as great cities, and spend thousands of dollars visiting them. I’ve encountered human excrement in a London doorway, crazy people on the streets of New York, and people living in cardboard boxes near Tokyo’s Ueno Station. They don’t make me not want to go back to those places.

      I often stop at Confluence Park–a PUBLIC place, not one that a developer can “have a solution to”–on the weekends, because after a long bike ride it’s a great place to re-energize before climbing the hill into my neighborhood. While I wouldn’t wade into the South Platte myself–it’s cleaner than it used to be, but it’s not really a good idea to play in it–I don’t begrudge those who do. Everyone uses that park–poor families (who have EVERY RIGHT to be there), urban hipsters, retired baby boomers living in downtown lofts, tourists, cyclists, kayakers, the homeless (who also have every right to be there), REI shoppers, you name it. If someone causes a real problem (being disruptive or abusive of others), most people have cell phones capable of dialing 9-1-1.

      I am 100% certain that no one buying a loft in this new tower will feel the least bit turned off by its proximity to the users of Confluence Park. Some of these will be the sorts of people who can afford to live in places like Cherry Hills Village, and will chose true city living over that city’s suburban mono-culture. They understand what it means to live in a city: not everyone is of the same socio-economic class or race–and that’s what makes cities interesting (and maybe one day, great).

      • Kio says:

        Wow! Thank you for such a well articulated comment.

      • Timothy says:

        Hello,

        I guess I think of this area as somewhat similar to Civic Park. I’ve just been reading how crime is still quite a problem there. Maybe this tower is just what the Platte river needs. What makes a succcessful development is so dependent on who lives nearby.
        i was thinking about when I lived in Caracas, I saw a beautiful building that had to have the windows of the bottom floors permanently boarded up due to bullets constantly shattering them….and I lived in an expensive part of Caracas. One other point…. I know London very well and you can’t compare Denver with London. There is absolutely no comparison in the quantity of homeless people between Denver and London. Denver must have 10 times as many.
        I love Denver and own a beautiful place downtown. Denver has so much potential and is obviously heading in the right direction.

  16. Ryan Dravitz says:

    Here is a very rough rendering I put together of the tower with the real background. It’s honestly not much different than the rendering but you can at least get a better feel for where it exactly is.

  17. Daniel says:

    Can’t wait for this to be part of my view!! And Wendy, I also own in glasshouse. I moved here to be a part of Denver’s ever changing core…new high rises and all. This ain’t Nebraska honey. And on a side note, I’m so tired of hearing people complain about traffic because of more people moving downtown. Get over it…we live in a city, not a village. Get out while you can, because more people are on their way.

    • Jeffrey Miller says:

      I’m not complaining. It’s a real issue. There is work to be done and I would simply like to know if there is a plan.

      • bryan says:

        Should we remove all the sidewalks and widen the roads throughout downtown? Hell no…

        Or, should we encourage enough density over the entire area so that there are jobs, retail and food / drink within walking, biking or cab distance?

        I sure know what kind of city i want to live in, do you?

      • Ted says:

        I just recently read an interesting book called Green Metropolis which makes the case that gridlock on our roads is actually exactly what we want if we desire good transit and pedestrian environments. The author cites places like Manhattan as an example of this… it is only once roads reach maximum capacity that people have a real incentive to invest in/use alternative forms of transportation like a subway. Trying to relieve or reduce traffic is counter-productive because it only serves to make driving more attractive to people and increase capacity on our roads. As others have said, this is a city, not a village! I think we should all expect (and I for one HOPE) that our streets will continue to get busier with traffic. The goal should be to slow these cars down… not to make them go away.

  18. Jeff says:

    Love the tower here! I live just on the other side of the 15th street bridge in Lohi. It’s annoying that people think 15th is a highway out of downtown. I think they should have street parking and bike lanes along the length of it and encourage Northwest Denver car commuters to use Speer, which is a boulevard after all and like 1/4 mile away…

  19. Jim Nash says:

    More than 40 comments on this project! Speaks to how energized we all are about our robust city. Big stuff popping up all over — and highrises most exciting, because they transform the whole scene. Great to be arguing over How Tall? And How Much Where? We could all be in Detroit, and the conversation wouldn’t be the same. So glad to be rooted in the Mile High City, where the future is bright. And thanks again, Ken, for creating this great forum!

    • Ken Schroeppel says:

      Except the project has been scaled down, so I’ve heard, so that’s not exactly what it’s going to look like, which is why I haven’t posted that rendering on DenverInfill.

      • kdnco says:

        Well, I thought I’d give the guy a glimpse of what is out there for him to see. Wasn’t sure you guys walked that far from “downtown” to reveal other projects like this, the build out of Belleview Station, the apartments adjacent to the DU lightrail station, Hampden/I-25, the monsterous build out of Northfield and of course the ever evolving landscape of GVR which is the gateway to the “inner city” from DIA. Yes, these may not all be high rises or 5 story apartments in the “hip” area of town but the growth of the city is from the entire city, all 155 square miles of it. Regardless of the final product, ANYTHING will be a welcome sight at 8th/Lincoln.

  20. Rob C says:

    Well said kdnco! This city is on fire!

  21. [...] site next to City of Cuernavaca Park), the 74-unit Colfax Marketplace development, and the 34-story Confluence project. We haven’t featured anything yet on a few of these projects in the Proposed column, [...]