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New Uptown Project: Alexan Uptown

A development application for a significant new residential project in Downtown Denver’s Uptown district has been under review with the city since December 2013.

Alexan Uptown is planned for the full half block along the west side of Logan Street between E. 19th and E. 20th Avenues. Here’s a Google Earth aerial photo showing the project location:

Trammell Crow Residential‘s Alexan Uptown project is a 12-story, 372-unit apartment community that will include 440 parking spaces located on one below-grade level and four above-grade levels. Residential units will wrap the structured parking along the 20th and Logan sides. Alexan Uptown will replace a full half block of ugly surface parking—a condition that has plagued the Uptown district for decades. Fortunately, thanks to nearby projects such as Uptown Square, Tower on the Park, Uptown Apartments, Grant Park and, most recently, One City Block, that condition is changing. Uptown is steadily transforming into a dense, vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood and this new Alexan Uptown development will substantially contribute to Uptown’s evolution. Here’s a Google Street View image of the Alexan Uptown site at the corner of Logan Street and 20th Avenue:

Really, what could be more anti-urban than a wasteland surface parking lot like this? Alexan Uptown will help heal another gap in Uptown’s urban fabric.

The project architect is Kephart. Here’s a current rendering of Alexan Uptown, courtesy of the good folks at Kephart, showing the project from across the 19th and Logan corner—19th Avenue is on the left, Logan Street is on the right (click/zoom to view at full 2,400-pixel-wide resolution):

Construction on Alexan Uptown should begin Fall 2014.

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26 Comments

  1. TakeFive says:

    IIRC, there used to be a lot of historic property along there. Well, at least they wee old.
    Incredible upgrade.

  2. Ben says:

    Great to see another lot get taken off the map. Unfortunately that was one of the cheapest lots to park at downtown. Oh well, I’m all for the development.

  3. Adam says:

    I’m starting to think the parking lots are a better option than some of these buildings…

    It’s time for us to realize that not all development is forward progress. There is such a thing as too much, too fast, and unfortunately, too cheap.

    • Ken Schroeppel says:

      I don’t think these types of projects are “cheap,” in fact, if anything, one of the biggest complaints about all the new development in the downtown area is how unaffordable it is to a lot of people. As a center city, Denver has to accommodate several hundred thousand new people in the next two decades. Infill development centered around transit and walkable neighborhoods with mixed uses is clearly the way to do that. The pace currently may be fast, but that’s partly due to the fact that there was a dearth of apartment construction in the city for much of the Aughts.

      • Mark B. says:

        Amen!

        And let’s not forget, this is easy walking distance to the light rail stop at Broadway/19th/Welton. A person could conceivably live here and commute to a job in the Tech Center or other places.

        “Cheap” materials are always a concern, however. It looks like they’re using brick through the 4th floor, but what is the material above the cornice that separates 4th from 5th? Synthetic stucco looks cheap when new, and even worse after a decade of weathering.

        • James says:

          I currently live near by and can say this area is a walkers/bikers dream. Haven’t needed my car since December and don’t plan to activate my insurance any time soon.

          And I don’t work downtown. I reverse commute which is quite nice… With the addition of CDOTs express buses too FC, CS and GJ this (Summer/Fall) plus the finished commuter lines to the airport. We will need 15 more of these scale developments. Living at the spoke of a radial transit network is quite advantageous.

      • UrbanZen says:

        Reminds me of 2020 Lawrence in some ways. Not cheap, more like serviceable, with its most important contribution being the addition of 400+ people right across from the park.

      • Brent says:

        The need for more density and housing – which I wholeheartedly agree with – does not excuse monolithic forms and bland block-length facades. We need to be requiring that these frontages get broken up more effectively. I don’t care about materials so much – I care about form. And this building is undeniably “cheap” in terms of the urban form it presents. (I also believe that would help with the “cheap materials” complaints – if this was three buildings to the eye – even if functionally still one – the materials would present themselves better.)

        • TakeFive says:

          Brent… I can’t disagree with this thinking. Yet, Adam suggests maybe preferring less of “architectural tricks” and Ken, the allure of “bland boxy modernist” buildings.

          My view is more practical. The “Alexan” product while a little more pedestrian is important for its addition of product mix. For this location and site having 12 stories, 372 units in a quality project like this is awesome. I think the exterior is nicely done, even if less than inspiring.

          Lastly, it is fortunate that the overall economy and energy of the city still attracts investment in a new project like this. Certainly better than a parking lot languishing for a couple of more decades.

      • Adam says:

        I just think its time that we start to be critical of some of these developments, and not necessarily praise them because they are not a parking lot. By all means they will not be “cheap”. However, my fear is that they lack any real substance that will keep them an integral part of the city past the near future – at least from a design and quality sense. This doesn’t mean more expensive or permanent material are the solution. Perhaps it simple means less architectural tricks and gimmicks. There’s nothing wrong with a good, solid building. Why try to be more if a budget won’t allow? The architectural “jewels” need a good solid backdrop.

        • Ken Schroeppel says:

          How in the world does a 12-story building lack “real substance” that keeps it from being an “integral part” of the city? I can point to 100 bland boxy modernist apartment buildings in Capitol Hill that today are part of the eclectic mix of messy urban forms and architectural ingredients that is Capitol Hill, which makes Capitol Hill one of Denver’s most diverse, interesting, and relatively affordable neighborhoods.

          I do praise projects like these for being “not a parking lot” because even the most blandest building (which I don’t think this building is… this is being developed by a major national developer that has a reputation for pretty high quality work) is better than a parking lot in a downtown setting. Surface parking lots are antithetical to what “urban” means. With this project, the addition of 400 units, about 600 people, with their economic activity and their simple presence on the sidewalks of Uptown, far exceeds any negative influence that could possibly be generated by people thinking “oh, that building is ugly”! Cities are about people, not fancy architecture. This project adds people, and that is far more important to city-building than the design of any particular building.

          • Jim Nash says:

            Ken, really surprised at the criticism of this project, which fulfills the whole objective of Infill: replacing the desolate ring of surface parking lots all around Downtown, with urban density and all that comes with it. 50 years ago, I lived in a modest apartment in the 1900 block of Logan, as Urban Renewal was beginning the devastation of Downtown, creating the ugly gaps of surface parking lots that persist to this day, all of it driven by foolish government idealism and private greed. That greed spread out all around Downtown, destroying thousands of affordable housing units, many in elegant old buildings that could have been saved.

            Until the last decade, most of those ugly surface parking lots have remained, as a depressing reminder of how misguided city development and planning policies have been — and how hard they are to re-direct.

            This new project is wonderful news for Denver, a big step in transforming the neighborhood from a Car Culture to a Sidewalk Society. Let’s hope we see a dozen more projects this size — and bigger, taller — in the same neighborhood.

            And as for the “cheap” criticism, I guess it’s simply a matter of subjective taste. I’ve used the word, to describe building materials — basically wood (cheap) construction versus concrete and steel (much more expensive) construction, as it figures into the profitability of some projects, but not about the “look” of a building. This project may not stand out as iconic, but it sure isn’t cheap.

            Thanks, Ken, for standing up for what Denver Infill is all about.

        • jss54321 says:

          Adam I agree it seems like everything is just a box. An unimaginable box. You also need to remember that this is site to promote development. Not to question if it is good or bad. The underlining message is more boxes to house people and all cars are evil. Ours is not to question why but to support all and any development. I think I am suffering from construction fatigue.

          • Jeff says:

            The more buildings like this we put up the better rents we will see downtown, which benefits most everybody. Its simple supply and demand with rent and we are very short on supply.

            If you don’t like the look of it, you can rent or own in a better looking building, but the impact on the neighborhood and street life is undeniable. Win for Uptown!

          • Ken Schroeppel says:

            Since the dawn of civilization, the basic form of every building has been a box. Not spheres, not pyramids, not cylinders, not dodecahedrons, but boxes. That’s what buildings are, whether they are single-family homes or 50-story towers. They are basically boxes with, perhaps, a pointy top or a minor notch or angle here or there. About 99.99% of all buildings on earth are some form of a cubic structure.

            I don’t understand this obsession with what buildings look like. It’s largely irrelevant, with rare exceptions, to building great cities.

            This site doesn’t promote development for development’s sake… it promotes Denver’s continuing evolution as a vibrant dense city, which requires people–lots of people–and the restoration and expansion of the city’s physical urban fabric (once decimated by surface parking lots) to create sustainable urban places. City building is relatively simple, and doesn’t require fancy non-box architecture to succeed.

            Cars are not evil. It is designing cities that overly subsidize and effectively require automobile dependency that is the evil. We’ve been consistently clear on that point on this blog.

            Critiquing a development or a point of view is fine and welcome here (we’ve had over 10,000 comments on this blog to date, many of which are critical in nature), but only as long as it is an informed and thoughtful critique.

    • Al says:

      I think we all need to remember that these building are going to be around for a while. Give it 20-30 even 50 years and these “boxs” we’ve seen lately will be tangled into out city with other architecture of the times. Denver is still such a young city. It needs centuries to develop, and with that comes a vast array of architecture and style.

    • James says:

      Great architecture generally is only built in locations of critical mass. This is enabling that. So its a necessary ‘evil’ if you want to call it that.

      Based on the renderings I think this will fit in quite nice. As someone who will have their cities views altered by it, I think that says something.

  4. Isaac Z. says:

    I’m all for density and height…we need a partner for that towering apartment on park ave.
    I’m hoping more more and more height come with these projects.

  5. John R says:

    How many units to go along with all that parking? Once you take out the garages it’s only eight stories of residences.

    • Paul says:

      Just like it says in the description of the project: 372 units. One of the larger projects proposed in the DT area.

  6. Tim says:

    Great addition to the neighborhood. That parking lot is an eyesore to the area, and this development will improve the fabric, energy, and density of the area. With One City Block, this development, the updated park, DHA’s development, etc., Uptown is taking off. As a resident of the neighborhood, there is still plenty of parking available (street, parking lots, and parking garages) for visitors who don’t reside in the area.

  7. James says:

    As someone who calls Uptown home. This is VERY exciting news. Uptown is easily one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the city and so the more the merrier! Its only vertical from here.

  8. Albertsmum says:

    I’m very sad about this. I work close by. There will now be no affordable parking for people who live in suburbia and work downtown. I’ve seen housing come and go in this area. It’s only a matter of time before these are mostly vacant, and then what? They will be razed for parking lots.

  9. anon says:

    Being that there is a lot of criticism of this project’s design, it made me think of a larger topic which Denver Infill/Urbanism might cover. If you’ve ever been to comparably sized cities (I’m thinking Minneapolis/St. Paul, Austin, Portland, Seattle, etc) the quality of design in the buildings being constructed in those cities seems several steps above that of the design we are seeing built in Denver. Ken, I wonder if you’ve ever considered doing some macro level comparisons to see where Denver stacks up?