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New Cherry Creek Project: 1st and Steele

Zocalo Development has been bullish on Downtown Denver with recent developments such as Solera, 2020 Lawrence, and the still under-construction Cadence adding close to a thousand rental units. Now it’s time to look at their first project in Cherry Creek, which is also experiencing a significant building boom. Zocalo’s new apartment building will be located on the northeast corner of First Avenue and Steele Street; right across the street of the new 88 Steele Creek development. Currently the site is just a dirt lot with some torn up pavement. Here is a map with the site outlined.

This LEED-Gold apartment building will rise 12-stories and provide the Cherry Creek neighborhood with 185 rental units. Amenities will include their famous “Velo” bike room, a rooftop deck, fitness room, and ground floor retail. Here are a couple of renderings courtesy of their website.

 

Back in April, Zocalo received an approval from the city to change the zoning on this parcel to be able to build a 12-story building. This caused a slight neighborhood uprising concerning over-development, and traffic congestion issues. Zocalo responded by offering $80,000 on bikes, car sharing programs and other congestion relief measures in hopes of avoiding a lawsuit from the Cherry Creek North Neighborhood Association. Completion for this project is 2015 with the construction time frame still unknown.

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11 Comments

  1. Ryan Nee says:

    The rapid densification of Cherry Creek North is making its lack of major transit connections more and more noticeable. I know there have been many other studies done on other corridors potentially in need of more significant transit infrastructure (e.g. East Colfax streetcar), but I can’t recall seeing any transit studies serving Cherry Creek North.

    I’m sure the Nimbyism would be at record highs at us public transit riffraff riding into the neighborhood, but I’m just curious if there is any momentum at all toward a rail or streetcar connection toward Cherry Creek via Speer or even via 8th/6th avenues. Does anyone know?

  2. Jason says:

    I agree with Ryan. I’ve always hoped there would be a light rail along Speer then Leetsdale then Parker.

  3. SVC says:

    I hope the owners and operators of the Cherry Creek Mall are paying attention to all the development around them and start planning a major facelift! The mall as it sits now, has a very suburban feel and doesn’t relate well with CC North, Pedestrians or the Creek.
    I would love to see beautiful new store fronts, lining 1st St. from University all the way around to Steele and Bayaud St.(built up to the sidewalk). I’m also in favor of extending Cherry Creek Dr. North, along the “back side” of the Mall to University. Doing so would help absorb added traffic and open up great potential for a River Walk, similar to Glendale’s new City Set or even a more dense development,(where Container Store, BB Beyond, Elways, Brio are located.)
    I would also like to see a raised walkway from the second story of the Mall, crossing over 1st St. Or at the very least a Pedestrian bridge over 1st St, which in a perfect world, would be integrated into a Mass Transit stop. However, I’m only in favor of Mass Transit if it can share the road with cars instead of wasting a dedicated lane.
    Does anyone know of new plans for the CC Mall/Property and or transit improvements planned for the area?

    • Dan says:

      These are great ideas! I was thinking the same thing about those departments store fronts along 1st as I drove by the other day. It would be great if they were more walkable and visually pleasing.

    • Jim Nash says:

      Seems like the continuing “suburban” mentality in the Cherry Creek area is the main reason for resistance against rail development. Remember, Cherry Creek was really the first big suburban shopping center outside Downtown — and the beginning of the demise of large Downtown department stores, like May D&F. The success of CC Shopping Center was in that it was so NOT Downtown — with lots of easy surface parking, in an affluent neighborhood of mostly single-family homes and an exclusive country club.

      More than half a century later, even with thousands of apartments and condos, Cherry Creek is still the most high-end retail center in the Denver area. The CC North and other homeowners associations will continue to resist rail, because with it comes more density. Arguably, CC has evolved into an emerging Second Downtown — including Colorado Blvd. and Glendale — but the NIMBYS are wealthy and well-organized, especially in resisting a rail line along First Avenue, past the entrance to the Denver Country Club.

      SVC, it’s ironic that when the shopping center was re-built 25 years ago, the design retained the same traditional surface parking lots (along with a new parking structure on the east side). The opportunity to create more pedestrian-oriented retail along First Avenue, by building up to the sidewalk, was ignored. The shopping center stands today as an odd contradiction to the urban retail “village” that is Cherry Creek North. Retailers and renters will support a rail line, but most homeowners will oppose it.

    • Mark B. says:

      SVC, those are great ideas. Prior to the construction of the mall (opened in August, 1990), Cherry Creek Drive North went through unimpeded from Colorado to University. At the same time, First Avenue was a straight (sort-of) line; you didn’t have to turn left at Steele to continue eastbound on First, instead of being forced south on Steele and then southeasterly onto CC Drive N and then easterly onto Alameda. In the interest of better traffic flow, the city adopted the current configuration (which also entails a forced right turn at Monroe if you want to continue on CC Drive N all the way to Colorado Blvd.). The stub street that connects the mall’s west garage with University is a remnant of Cherry Creek Drive N.; the cement fountain (part of the City of Karmiel Park) near the southeastern corner of the mall property used to sit isolated, surrounded on three sides by streets.

      The current road configuration has never been popular with a fairly large swath of people who have to use it (anecdotally, anyway). Personally, I think a traffic circle at this intersection would make more sense than the forced left onto First and the forced right onto Steele. But most Denverites freak out when we encounter traffic circles (I’ve seen reports of multiple accidents at the new Pecos Street double traffic circle at I-70), and the traffic volume is probably too high anyway.

      As for redeveloping the remnant of the Cherry Creek Shopping Center (the BBB-Elway’s, etc. complex, developed by Denver architect Temple Hoyne Buell around 1952 and cheaply renovated when the mall opened), I believe the mall’s owner is hampered by the original agreement with the Country Club neighborhood association. Those folks (the same ones, I imagine, who got the speed limit on six-lane First Avenue between University and Downing reduced absurdly to 30 mph–it used to be 35, and it’s always a speed trap) got Taubman to agree to a square footage limit, and that the center would not be redeveloped in such a way as to include a supermarket (heaven forbid!) facing University, which was one of their major fears at the time (this was before anyone had ever heard of Whole Foods Market, which is extraordinarily successful, and certainly shopped in by some of those same Country Club residents, just across the street from this property).

      Taubman has always maintained that the old CCSC complex was going to be eventually redeveloped, but they came closer to their square footage limit in the later 1990s when they expanded the mall, and both the Saks (now empty) and Neiman-Marcus buildings were designed in such a way that third floors could be added at a later date without having to re-do the facades, and I think doing so would make them reach the square footage limit.

      Stupid stuff, to be sure. But that’s why Safeway renovated in place, rather than moving to the University end of the property–they didn’t to lose their presence in CC, and even the prospect of a Bloomingdale’s being built in their spot was not enough to make it happen (this was the talk at about the time that Safeway spent all that money renovating to compete with Whole Foods). Of course, ideally Bloomingdale’s could take the now-vacant Saks building, possibly adding that third floor.

      Look also for Sears to go away entirely. Just in the last 24 hours this failing retailer announced it is planning to spin-off its Lands End brand; currently, most of the first floor of their CC store is taken up with a Lands End department. Once it’s spun off, they won’t be devoting that space to it, and I doubt seriously that they’d want to just fill it up with regular Sears merchandise, because that doesn’t work anymore. If they go away, watch for WFM to take most of that space, to expand what is already one of the busiest stores in the chain, and if they do, they’d probably re-orient it with more glass, outside seating, etc. along First.

      One more bit of historical trivia: prior to the mall’s redevelopment, there was an underground tunnel connecting the Cherry Creek Shopping Center with Sears. It was removed when First was widened in 1988-89 preparatory to the mall’s construction; there were two little entrance buildings on either side of the avenue; the one on the north side was approximately where the Orvis store is now, or maybe a little to the west, right around Crate & Barrel.

  4. Shawn Snow says:

    I was recently giving a talk on the history of the Cherry Creek neighborhood at the Ross-Cherry Creek branch library. A woman in the audience (who turned out to be a very long-time resident of “old” Cherry Creek), stated that the Temple Buell family/descendants still hold a lease on the Safeway and drugstore property on the east side of the mall. She said it was a 25 year lease that will expire in 2015. At that time, she felt that the whole Steele Street frontage of the mall would be redesigned and that Safeway would be saying its good byes to Cherry Creek. I haven’t found any evidence to support her statements but I have always found it odd that Safeway and the drugstore were never redeveloped or forced out since they don’t really fit into the “new” Cherry Creek model–especially with how dense it is becoming over there.

  5. spr8364 says:

    Of course, that Safeway is a grocery store and anytime someone mentions getting rid of it, the neighbors get up in arms because it’s the only walkable grocery store around there. I’m not too sure it makes sense to get rid of one of the most important walkable stores in Cherry Creek for more generic high end retail stores that are walkable – from the parking garage.

    Besides, it is really a nice little storefront with all that architectural detail. I would hate to loose this relatively nice and useful building in Cherry Creek.