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New Prospect Project: 3500 Rockmont

At the site of the former Mail-Well Envelope factory immediately north of City of Cuernavaca Park in Downtown’s Prospect District is a new multi-family residential development: 3500 Rockmont. The project is being developed by Carmel Partners. Here’s a GoogleEarth aerial showing the site outlined in yellow (click to biggify):

The 3500 Rockmont project consists of 390 rental units distributed across 16 garden-style apartment buildings (three-story walk-ups) that matches the character of the nearby historic Platte Street. The project also features an approximate 10,000 square foot three-story clubhouse at the project’s entrance which will feature an outdoor deck with a pool, a spa, and an outdoor fireplace. Additional amenities at 3500 Rockmont will include a fitness center, clubroom, bike storage and repair room, a pet spa, and a roof deck with views of the Denver skyline. Here’s a site plan, courtesy of Carmel Partners:

The various buildings will be connected via landscaped walkways. Parking is provided through a combination of garages attached to the buildings, structured podium parking at the clubhouse building, and some surface lots.

Here’s a rendering of the pool area at the clubhouse building, which provides some sense of the scale and architecture of the overall development. The architect is KTGY Group.

After many months, environmental cleanup of the site was completed Spring 2013 and the industrial building on the property was demolished during the summer and fall. Construction began in September 2013 and the first residents should begin moving into 3500 Rockmont in September 2014.

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38 Comments

  1. Ryan Nee says:

    I’m glad this is being developed, but this is a disappointing and uninspired use of this land. This area could have easily been the next Riverfront Park or Lower Highland (a stretch, perhaps) or Prospect or Taxi (not that big of a stretch), but instead will permanently be a weird no-man’s land because of its single-use suburban nature. Even if this was mostly office and residential (like Taxi), it might be sustainable. Maybe a touch of restaurant/retail on the park-facing side could finish out a final phase of the project once a critical mass of people moved in. It’s too bad this opportunity was wasted, but so it goes.

    • Ryan says:

      I cannot agree with you more – what a terrible plan and quite honestly, I’m not surprised as Denver’s developers aren’t exactly known for their “outside the box” and/or “pushing the envelope” approach. In 15 years we’ll look at this project, along with most of the new downtown rental product and say, “it was an ugly era and now we’re cleaning up the mess they made”.

      • Nathanael says:

        Agreed. This is a big yuck. Replace a large, urban industrial building… with a bunch of tract houses at the end of a cul-de-sac.

        Of course, the core problem is that the location stinks. Who wants to be between the fume-belching expressway and the diesel-operated freight tracks?

        And three-story walkups? Those are illegal under the ADA, aren’t they? Elevators are required for apartment buildings with more than two floors, I believe?

        Also, MY GOD THE ASPHALT. There’s so much of it planned.

        This is going to, very quickly, become a low-rent slum.

        I suppose you need low-rent slums near downtown, so perhaps this is a good thing.

        But I am imagining a nice set of taller buildings — something with the parking on the expressway side, turning a blind face to the expressway with asphalt-free views pointing at the park and the river. It might have been possible to do something nice with this site. This isn’t it.

        • Nathanael says:

          Arguably the highest and best use for the site is industrial, with its location next to the freight tracks.

        • Nathanael says:

          I see others noticed that it will be gated.

          A gated slum. It’s going to be hilarious.

  2. Phillip says:

    I agree with Ryan. It’s like bringing all the crappy parts of suburbia right downtown! You have a disconnected residential area that you must drive to. No services or retail nearby, so you have to drive to all of those. You build sloppy, disconnected, inefficient townhome style apartments because you know your residents will be moving here from the suburbs – they want something kind of like downtown, but without having to share walls with more than 2 people. None of the area around it can be developed, so you’re on a suburban island in the middle of the city. Oh, and you’re RIGHT next to the highway, so you can listen to people drive all night before you get up in the morning and drive to work! Woo-freaking-hoo.

  3. Jerry G says:

    I am very surprised that, a plan that looks to be a suburban-style, gated apartment community that would be more at home in Broomfield or Longmont, was allowed to pass and be developed in an area that is zoned C-RX-12 (urban center, residential mixed-use, 12 stories max). It seems like the developer just wanted to fill up all their land with whatever they could get in there now rather than developing it piecemeal with developments that really do match the surrounding neighborhoods and that come much closer to fulfilling the real potential of that site. I do not expect a development there to reach 12 stories, but this does not even come close to what is possible.

  4. Some guy says:

    I’m sure the views are great, and it’s a much better use of the space than the previous low-rise industrial zoning, but who would want to live that close to the highway? They’re going to have to put in some serious noise-reduction if they expect anyone to move in.

    • Brent says:

      Why is it a better use than low-rise industry? Cities need warehousing and light manufacturing as well as residential. And this location is perfectly suited for those uses (and the necessarily car dependent jobs that go with them). Instead, this is 400 unnecessarily car-dependent units that are not going in a more appropriate place like Arapahoe Square.

  5. bryan says:

    it’s worse than we had feared…this is a GATED community in the city…it just screams “parking and the automobile matter most”.

    this area could have easily absorbed a few thousand people.

  6. Dan says:

    I share the disappointment. Especially the lack of density and height. Commercial is only a few blocks west and south so I’m OK there. If you can get 400 apartments in at 3 stories, you could have done 1600 apartments at 12 stories – and it would have looked more appropriate. And it would have buffered I-25 better. I agree – this is suburbia and belongs in Aurora – definitely not urban Denver. Too bad.

  7. Al says:

    I’m not so sure I agree with everyones disgust with this project. Sure, 3-4 stories arent exactly what we all had in mind, but think of this project as opening up the area! The area around the Cuernavaca Park, which has always been industrial, is now changing. In 10 or so years the majority of these industrial buildings will be redeveloped as the boom of Denver continues. I think its a great location. You are right on the park and I’m sure those buildings directly west of Park Avenue will change moving forward. You’re a mere walk to Platte St (which in its own is now booming) and you have the apartment cluster right across the Platte. Sure, its not ideal, but I think its a great way to continue the transition North. The times they are a-changin.

    • TakeFive says:

      Al… Your perspective is a good one.

      It take all kinda people to provide for a good labor pool. I’ll assume that this project will offer a more affordable option for those that need this. Given the site being next to the freeway and its out of the way uniqueness, it should be fine. Certainly it’s nice to have the development.

  8. The Dirt says:

    Can anyone say wrecking ball ready the day that it opens? I hope someone loses their job for even suggesting such garbage to be built within sight of downtown. I’m embarrassed for the city of Denver for approving this. The only up side is that it’s stick built and cheap so, it’ll be easy to demolish.

  9. Dan says:

    Is this a bad joke? What is going on in Denver with the crap that is being developed right now? Ridiculous.

  10. Django says:

    I can understand anyone disliking this project or any other project for that matter since there is always a level of personal taste involved but I love the over the top vitriol concerning this project. Well this project is crap and so is pretty much everything else being built in Denver now. Right. From the renderings you can’t even tell for sure what the buildings will look like since all you can see are some roof lines from the pool areas. No doubt something better probably could be going up there but I don’t think this is the abomination people are making it out to be.

    • Artur says:

      I think how it looks is the least of this project’s problems. It’s an gated suburban-style community a stones throw from Downtown. I’d say it’s certainly an abomination.

  11. Octavian says:

    I don’t really like it, but the retail wouldn’t survive in that spot since there’s very limited access to the site.

  12. Django says:

    Denver is an essentially suburban style city so it should fit right in.

  13. Jerry G says:

    The developer could have addressed the deficiencies in the parcel by proposing a land swap with the city. Move the open space to the east side of the development and then place the, preferable structured, parking next to the high way. Then create more of a grid-like arrangement for the development and not make it a GATED community.

  14. Jim Nash says:

    Drive around Capitol Hill, Uptown, East Denver, Baker and you’ll see the same kind of crap, mixed in with all the other stuff, good and bad. For generations, the same kind of low-grade housing has sprung up, all over Denver. The important thing to remember is that this is but a pixel in the wide swath of Infill around Downtown. So what? They’ll still be shopping at the new King Soopers, and adding to the local economy. We have to get used to the idea that a lot of the stuff going up is designed with a specific rental market in mind. Overall, it’s still urban density, and don’t forget: Denver is still pretty low-rent, overall, compared to bigger cities. This is housing that’s appealing to families with children. Single Urbans, get used to it — big cities are for every demographic, not just hip young singles who want to live in the Amsterdam of America.

  15. chachafish says:

    I’m happy to see this development. My condo is in Jack Kerouac with a northern exposure facing the river, the highway and these units. I’m thrilled to see the industrial building go away and see families moving in. To me, this place screams bicycle use. For those not familiar with the area, you’ll note the bike trail which meanders to the north under the freeway into North Denver; numerous restaurants there. Of course, the residents will have access to Cuernavaca Park and the river. Hopefully, this will encourage the city to build a bicycle bridge between the two halves of Prospect so they can be properly linked. This area is not as isolated as one might think. Just east of the units is the police station. South of the police station is a bike trail that residents will be able to use to get to Park Avenue West and to the retail there. Maybe a 15-minute walk? It would be much less on a bicycle. The claim that there is no retail nearby is dead wrong.

    • James says:

      I really hope they build a bridge there too. Basically next to the east most bridge at guenavaca over the tracks. That would be very great and really help connect Prospect and this new development to the city a little better.

    • Jerry G says:

      It is not so much that the density is too low (it is) or that the development is entirely residential (low density inherently limits the mix of uses), but it is that the design is entirely inappropriate given the location. I think that most people here would have been okay with three story, residential-only buildings that are a part of a walkable, urban-type development. This plan is so far from that acceptable concept that it seems to be making a mockery of what Denver’s grand rezoning was suppose to accomplish. It just baffles me how this plan was ever approved.

    • Nathanael says:

      The design of this gated subdivision seems to specifically reject any connection to Cuernavaca Park. If they’d meant to engage with the park and the trails, they’d have a VERY different design.

      The police station is unreachable on the far side of the tracks; the shortest route is either under the freeway and backtrack along very busy streets, or more likely cross the river twice, and go down and up, in order to use the trail on the south side of the river.

    • Jim Nash says:

      Totally agree, chachafish. Not every project is an architectural masterpiece. But the positive impact on the economy is just as good. Residents, jobs, shoppers. Most of these comments are elitist. For some people, this is an ideal place to live. Their money is just as good as anybody else’s. For young people with children, this place provides a level of security in a rougher part of town, which will soon be transformed by lots of families using the park. If these are 3-level apartments, they’re really rental townhouses. They tend to have longer-term tenants, because they don’t turn over as fast as singles living in smaller apartments.

  16. Ryan says:

    I just threw up. All over.

    This is total crap.

    • UrbanZen says:

      Yes..barf. But I think a lot of people here are forgetting that this site doesn’t exactly scream walkability. You’ve got 2 major, immediate obstacles; interstate and train track. The only walkable side is the river/park side, and it’s already bridged. So the people who want to walk to this god forsaken sits already can.

  17. John says:

    Well, what do you expect from a crap location? Sure it’s a stones throw from downtown, but it is also sandwiched between the highway and the railroads. This is one of those areas that I just couldn’t give a rip about. Now if this were by the Pepsi Center, Mile High, or Eliches then I would be pretty pissed off.

  18. Kyle says:

    I agree, this is an abomination. Not so much because the style sucks but because of the waste of a good opportunity. It looks like the developers are primarily based out of town. I wonder if they set up the “satellite” office in Denver to appear local to the building authority. Also doesn’t help that they use cookie-cutter architects.

    Anyone else notice that the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is opening a shelter this year in downtown that looks AT LEAST as good as these so called luxury apartments going up in other parts of downtown? Good for the Coalition but what does that say about how cheap our other developers are…. I’ll laugh when people start showing up at the shelter looking for a friend that lives in the new apartment by Union Station!

    • Rob C says:

      Kyle,

      Carmel has a long history in Denver. This is taken from insiderealestatenews.com on May 12, 2011. http://insiderealestatenews.com/2011/05/12/denver-apartment-deal-largest-in-u-s/

      “Carmel Cos. was started by the late Kal Zeff, who built the largest empire of apartment units in the Denver area. Zeff died in 2005 and is survived by four children that are selling the apartment portfolio, according to sources.

      CBRE’s Multi-Housing Group was retained the board of directors of the family owned Carmel Cos.

      Team leaders include Dan Woodward in Denver and Tyler Anderson in Phoenix. Additional members of the marketing team include Sean Cunningham and Asher Gunter in Phoenix and David Potarf and Jordan Robbins in Denver. This group has been assigned to market and sell the entire portfolio, either as a bulk purchase or on an individual one-off basis.

      “The Carmel Companies portfolio presents a tremendous opportunity to purchase multifamily assets within the Denver market in preparation for the substantial increase in rental rates we expect to see over the next five years,” Anderson said in a statement.”

      • Kyle says:

        Rob C, I stand corrected about Carmel Properties experience in Denver. I was basing it off of their corporate headquarters being in California along with the majority of their projects. However, I do still think this project is a giant swing and a miss from an urban design, planning and architecture standpoint.

  19. Rob C says:

    Abomination? Come on seriously? I feel like I’m standing in the middle of a group of church ladies and it’s the beginning of Sunday service when Mindy, the town harlot, shows up in a red dress. Calm down ladies, is this drama really necessary?

    Look at this site. It sucks! It’s surrounded by railroad and highway. The only redeeming qualities are that it sits up against a lovely park and has access to the bike path and Platte St.

    We all know that not every site is going to be built to it’s max zoning. I would have to believe that the powers that be at Carmel looked at this site and did their due diligence and ROI to ensure that not only money would be made, but that they could eventually sell the property in the future and make a profit.

    I haven’t seen a single rendering of the actual buildings except for the view over a pool. I can’t make a determination on it’s architectural style until I see renderings. Can I bitch about the site plan? Oh sure why not. Can I complain that it’s gated? Well yeh gates are terrible especially in what’s supposed to be a downtown urban setting. To me this is always going to be a wasteland. Once you pass under the 20th street bridge you get the feeling that you’re just lost. There’s never been through street access so I cant see how retail would thrive here. To me it’s very reminiscent of Prospect closer to Union Station and we know for years retail couldn’t survive there. I’d agree with Brent that this should have remained as light industrial but I cannot see for how long that would last. With the way Denver is growing, I doubt there will be much light industrial left on this side of the highway not to mention what’s happening on the other side of the highway.

    With the new Fox Street Shops, the Villas at the Regency and the new rail station, we’re gonna see a lot of light industrial disappear. There are plenty of properties over there that are up for sale with the signs reading “Great Redevelopment Opportunity” etc.

    Would Carmel have built 16 12-story buildings on this site? I really don’t think so. That would have been a lot of units to bring to market and probably higher construction costs. Well what about 10 story? 8 story? 5 story? I guess someone’s gonna have to ask Carmel directly, but I’m guessing this was a safe bet for them.

    Not every development makes me sing praise in this town, but I do prefer buildings over empty lots and parking areas. Nonetheless, this is three story wood construction. Who knows, maybe in a decade or so, someone will buy up the property and bulldoze it. Perhaps, they will even build a Wal Mart!!! Woohoo!! (j/k)

  20. Dan Cord says:

    In my humble opinion the city should’ve just put up a big chain link fence with barbed wire right before you get to the 20th St overpass and thenwe could use the area for quarantine when the zombie apocalypse is upon us!

  21. Dan says:

    The ‘gated community’ argument doesn’t fly. Any apartment building of any size in a downtown area is a ‘gated community’. There is no generalized uncontrolled public access into the building or its associate facilities like parking garages. The project is still a disappointment relative to the opportunity.