Bell Park Mixed-Use Update #1

In our first post on the proposed redevelopment of the two parking lots along Cherry Creek between Larimer and Market where tiny “Bell Park” is located, Denver-based Paradise Land Company and international developer Hines were exploring a hotel/residential concept featuring two buildings with a narrow connecting structure spanning across the creek. The project team worked closely with city planning staff to see how that concept might fit with existing zoning and LoDo development standards. The consensus was that an even better design for connecting the two sides of the site would be to have a pedestrian plaza, not the building, span the creek. Consequently, the project team has come up with an exciting new design concept for the site.

The possible uses for the site are also still being evaluated, given the new configuration. While hotel and/or residential uses are still a possibility, office uses are also under consideration. Fortunately, the location works well for any of these uses, so the ultimate mix has yet to be determined. Thus, we’ve changed our name for this project to the more general “Bell Park Mixed-Use” until the developers have finalized their plans.

Thanks to Buzz Geller and the rest of the project team, we are pleased to share the latest renderings of their new concept for the Bell Park site. As before, these are preliminary designs subject to change and further refinement, particularly once the specific use or uses for each building have been determined.

Left: Bird’s-eye view looking northwest. Center: Ground-floor site plan. Right: Street-level view from 14th and Larimer. Renderings are courtesy of HOK.

Thank you again to the project team for sharing their design concepts with DenverInfill as they continue their work to transform a very high-profile LoDo site from surface parking to an exceptional addition to Downtown’s urban fabric.

By | 2017-02-26T08:13:09+00:00 February 24, 2017|Categories: Infill, Lower Downtown, Public Spaces|Tags: |26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Aaron February 24, 2017 at 11:04 am

    This is the exact sort of aesthetically pleasing development Denver needs. Not let’s just hope they don’t water it down to something unrecognizable. Especially the green roof! Denver needs a lot more of those (and I’m sure we could crowdsource a green roof for the Convention Center for when the city builds the expansion!).

  2. TL February 24, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I’m blown away by this incredible design. I’m hoping that their close work with the city planning means this design will stay largely intact. We need more of these landmark-style developments. The flat rooflines of Denver’s developments are so visually boring and unremarkable. If someone from the city can read this: please, please, please. Encourage creative and innovative development beyond the profit-maximized stucco cube. In ten years, true quality will shine.

  3. Ballpark Resident February 24, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Wow.. didn’t anticipate this kind of design. But I like it. However, why does it appear the Creek pathway is boarded over? Would they seriously do that over the current cement foundation? That has to be a misprint, right?

    • Kyle February 24, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      I am assuming those are some sort of stone paver and not wood boards. If it is wood boards, I think that would be a huge mistake for the bike path. I really like the original Bell Tower but I understand that this might not be the right location for it. Hopefully they put it somewhere else downtown. I will happily take this as the next best thing. It is a little blocky and flat for my personal preference but it makes sense being in LoDo. Regardless, I can tell the architects and developer actually care about aesthetics and creative design. Well done!

  4. Ty February 24, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    WOW! this is an incredible design that will undoubtedly bring new life to this wasted parking lot space. Not only is the building design beautiful and architecturally innovative, this will bring a much-needed visually-stunning addition to Speer. I hope the review committee keeps much of the proposed elements.

  5. Elizabeth Worthington February 24, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Love the lower profile which makes the buildings seem more connected to the green spaces. What about the actual bell? I don’t see it in the renderings.

  6. Dan February 24, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    Whoa, this is AWESOME! Possibly the most aesthetically pleasing new project I’ve seen in a while. Assuming the city planning staff and project team continue to work together on this as they have, perhaps we can avoid a potential repeat of the dumbing-down of 1776 Curtis / 999 17th. (please don’t mistake this little blurb about 999 17th as an invite for criticism; I sincerely enjoy this rendering so much that I’d prefer the overall design doesn’t change much, if at all)

  7. Jeffrey February 24, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Much better than the gimmicky building-connection of the previous plan. I love it.

  8. Vlad February 24, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    What’s that weird little waterfall in the lower left of the rendering?

    • Jeffrey February 25, 2017 at 6:36 am

      Agreed, they should drop the waterfall.

    • UrbanZen February 27, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      Double agreed. In fact, the city should really be considering some type of grand pedestrian tunnel under Speer like they have under Broadway in Boulder. This corner would be a great place for the north inlet/outlet. The south one could be located in the green space in front of the older CU Denver building south of Larimer. This could be a once in a lifetime partnering opportunity.

      • Shane March 6, 2017 at 10:11 am

        Surprising there aren’t multiple ped tunnels connecting Auraria to the surrounding neighborhoods.

  9. Jp February 24, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    Woah, can you really get all of the parking underground there? I hope so, this is dope.

  10. Edward Brennan February 24, 2017 at 10:29 pm

    Based on the ground plan, it looks like the waterfall is exactly that. A waterfall. I love this design though, more than the previous ones. It is the first one that really seems to say park to me.

    It makes me wonder though, just because it is so good. Is there any way to work with CU to better connect up their park and plaza spaces to better flow into each other and create more of a waterfront area at the end of Larimer Square there. The CU stuff seems to deaden the area, and the back park area of CU has been sort of lost, though peaceful. Honestly, better hardscape and landscape for the Cherry Creek Trail through there would help. Right now the area under larimer street can be a little unkempt and uncomfortable- the horrible under concrete bridge feel, instead of a well planned underpass for pedestrians.

    The entire aspect here for lower park, higher up plaza, and then buildings with terraces and green roofs on top of that just seems like one could have a cafes over looking gardens area here that could be an expansion of the quality of Larimer Square.

    Hell, put a large sculptural element where the biennial of the Americas had one that does a night light show (muted) to visually pull from larimer square even better…

  11. James J. February 25, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    Oops, not nodding along…I’d rather see trees and large boulders than another clump of low rise -mid rise buildings here. Denver appears to be becoming a D.C. wannabe sister city and in not blocking the Capitol dome’s view of what Casa Bonita? Besides Denver is too far from the mountains to see them from street view and the most enjoyable views of the mountains from downtown are from towers. It’s always about ‘the market’ and not esthetic. Or is it developer insurance? Why do we have a downtown at all if “everything” within it can’t be an example of a centerpiece stature. No disrespect to the architects but this looks like it belongs in Cherry Creek or The Denver Tech Center. LODO has enough of the clumpy mid-rise look. These kinds of restrain from the real potential in the inner city are no less than a Boulderization of real estate values. Rant over : )

    • tommyc February 27, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      read up on the zoning buddy, that’s why they don’t have height here. Stop complaining, this is an amazing project.

  12. Chris M February 25, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    I have to admit, I don’t get all the “wows” in earlier posts…frankly, my response is “Wow! What a mess!”. This plan has so many disjointed elements that it starts to feel like they’ve tossed everything into the pot…hoping that it all adds up to something (really? waterfalls!). This might be good enough for Cherry Creek, but is it really worthy of its proximity to Denver’s first street -Larimer, or the site of the old City Hall? I don’t think so. It’s not clear to me how this design speaks to It’s prized location (other than the Bell reference) or its unique place in Denvers early history. What a great opportunity to connect our past, with our present/future on this site. To quote Jane Jacobs –“Every place becomes more like every other place, all adding up to no place”. This design could be built in any American city…and that’s a shame for Denver, and for this specific site.

  13. JulieMG February 25, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    i think some are missing the overall point here..Denver is growing.. our economy… jobs.. doesn’t matter how it looks on paper . In today’s world … growth that’s fantastic

  14. Freddie February 26, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    I absolutely love the design – bold and modern and yet it manages to complement neighboring LoDo. The pedestrian bridge is a huge improvement over the sky bridge. Sky bridges don’t make sense in Denver and I don’t understand why Denver even has any of them. This isn’t frigid Minneapolis.

    The waterfall is a bit tacky. That sort of thing never ages well. I guess since this is only a concept, we don’t yet know how serious they are about the waterfall.

    This is a really strange parcel with some bizarre zoning. There’s a lot I don’t understand about it. The zoning seems arbitrary. Why only two, very specific options? Either impractically slender and several hundred feet tall, or short and squat? That’s it? Nothing in between is allowed? And maybe I’m crazy but from what I can tell, Bell Park is that little patch of grass on the corner. Why on earth does a little patch of grass need its own view plane? Does anybody ever visit that little patch of grass? Are people really crossing that busy intersection to visit that little patch of grass? A massive swath of Pepsi Center parking is smack in the middle of that view plane. That doesn’t bode well for the future.

  15. DW February 27, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Glad they are at least trying to make it unique despite the absurdly constrictive zoning here. Is it extremely difficult to get a zoning variance?

  16. James February 27, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    This is the downtown (area). Where else in the city does it make most sense to build height grasping the opportunity for density and street level viewable space? That could be a new urban planning phrase, street level viewable space when filling in the entire block blocks out more of the view from the street than a vertical tower. Seriously with a company with the developer experience and financial status as this I would think the city would take the leap on density where it can. A tall slender building would fit just as well if not better leaving a bit more space for sunlight making it’s way to street level of Larimer Square than a blocky mid-rise. In the winter months on many of those mild sunny Colorado days when the sun is low in the later afternoon sky it makes all the difference in the world to the outdoor cafes on that block. Does the Review Board relate to the seasons and the sun here?. It seems the original highrise was originally planned for the outlying block on the west side of Cherry Creek which would have blocked the sunlight for the least amount of time during the day. Then we have the vertical structure at confluence, how does that development pass the process and not one at this property? Personally I don’t think there’s anything of measurable ‘sense’ being played out here other than how the planning or review board sees it and then we’ll just edit the verbage as everything else falls into place.

    • JerryG February 28, 2017 at 8:29 am

      The prior posts on this explained that there are two build option: (1) what you see here, two shorter buildings that take up most of the block and (2) smaller footprint buildings, one of which is a tall slender tower. At this point, the developers are considering using option 1. That may change, or it may not. I agree with those that having just the two options is overly restrictive, but it is what it is.

  17. Cherry Creek February 28, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    What a great design. Will be a signature “welcome” to LoDo and Larimer!

  18. Kate February 28, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Really like this overall. The waterfall can go, and I wish zoning would allow some real height (grrrr), but I like it a lot more than the previous design. 15 years ago this area felt dead, and I’m enjoying watching it become more people-friendly. Hoping they incorporate a good amount of retail to continue making this stretch of downtown more walkable.

  19. Landon March 1, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    This only speaks to the need of cleaning up cherry creek. The recent influx of dvelopment along speer is creating some great site lines but ultimately is marred by the industrial aesthetic of the current area

  20. JoeyF March 2, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    “It ain’t over ‘tll the fat lady sings at the opening of the new Starbucks.”

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