Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Adaptive Reuse category.

Denver Union Station Update #128: The Historic Station Opens!

As we near our final update on the Denver Union Station redevelopment, there is one final milestone in the project that has been reached: the historic station is now open to the public! On Saturday July 12th, Union Station had a soft opening, meaning only a portion of the ground floor retail and amenities inside the building are open. The grand opening and block party will be on July 26th!

To sum it up in a few words, the inside of the historic station looks absolutely incredible. Everything from the new benches and couches, to the historically accurate chandeliers, this building has gone through a complete transformation. I encourage you to head to our post from December 2012 to see the before photos!

2014-07-13_UnionStation-01 2014-07-13_UnionStation-02

2014-07-13_UnionStation-04 2014-07-13_UnionStation-06

2014-07-13_UnionStation-09 2014-07-13_UnionStation-08

There will be two bars in the station. One on the ground floor and the other on the mezzanine level. The ‘Terminal Bar’ on the ground floor will feature benches on the outside as well as a seating room inside the bar.

2014-07-13_UnionStation-03 2014-07-13_UnionStation-10

The second level bar will feature multiple couches and chairs along the eastern portion of the mezzanine. Bar seating is also available with a great view of 17th Street!

2014-07-13_UnionStation-05 2014-07-13_UnionStation-07

The ground floor retail outside the station is done incredibly well. The patios hug the station closely with entrances scattered throughout the wing buildings.

2014-07-13_UnionStation-11 2014-07-13_UnionStation-12

Last but not least, here are two views I was able to capture from the mezzanine level; one from a hotel room looking towards the Union Station neighborhood and the other from the mezzanine bar!

2014-07-13_UnionStation-14 2014-07-13_UnionStation-13

This project will be complete by July 26th! We will see you at the grand opening! As the date nears, we will provide you with more information and details about the event.


Cherry Creek: The Residences at Fillmore Plaza Update #1

Next up on our Cherry Creek tour: The Residences at Fillmore Plaza. This is a very unique project due to the fact that it is being built on top of an existing parking garage! Since our previous update, the new structure has topped out and we are able to see some of the materials that will be used for the facade.

Here are two ground level photos of the project. The facade is comprised of glass curtain walls on the corner, and metal paneling throughout the rest of the building. Each unit will also feature a balcony facing north.

2014-05-10_FilmorePlazaResidences-02 2014-05-10_FilmorePlazaResidences-01

This project now brings the existing structure up to 8-stories with the southern portion of the garage still used for public parking. Here are some views from a neighboring parking garage.

2014-05-10_FilmorePlazaResidences-04 2014-05-10_FilmorePlazaResidences-03

The Residences at Fillmore Plaza will be adding 26 apartment units to the Cherry Creek neighborhood and are expected to be delivered by this summer.


New Cherry Creek Project: The Residences at Fillmore Plaza

The next stop on our Cherry Creek infill tour is a project named The Residences at Fillmore Plaza that has already been under construction for a couple of months. This is a unique project as it is being built on top of an already-existing parking structure. Here are some photos of the project from a couple weeks ago:

 

A tower crane has been put up on the parking garage, and the new structure is already about halfway up.

 

The Residences at Fillmore Plaza will be along East 2nd Avenue between Fillmore and Milwaukee streets. Here is a map with the project site outlined:

Last but not least, here is a rendering of the building. The 3-story structure on top of the parking garage will feature 27 apartment units with 6,700 square feet of ground floor retail. Judging by this rendering, it also looks like the garage will be receiving a face-lift.

The Residences at Fillmore Plaza is being developed by Realty Management Group and will cost a total of $12 million. Completion is expected for this summer.


City Approves Redevelopment Plan for Former St. Anthony’s Hospital Site

On Wednesday, December 18, 2014, the City of Denver Planning Board approved the general development plan (GDP) for the redevelopment of the former St. Anthony’s Hospital site on the south shore of Sloan’s Lake in the West Colfax neighborhood of Denver (the GDP was officially signed on Tuesday, January 14). The GDP will transform the old hospital site into a mixed-use urban town center across from one of Denver’s largest parks and minutes away from the new Perry Street light rail station on the new West Line. With passage of the GDP, EnviroFinance Group (EFG), the owners and horizontal developers of the property, (i.e. they don’t build buildings) now have the go ahead to build new streets, install infrastructure, and sell parcels to vertical developers (i.e. those who DO build buildings). The following diagram (courtesy of RNL, the site planners of the project) shows how this project intends to link to the park and the existing transit stop.

The plan for the site reintegrates the Denver street grid, by extending Raleigh and Quitman Streets as well as West 16th Avenue into the site, creating six new Denver-standard blocks. Raleigh Street is to become a new main street through the development complete with ground floor retail, restaurants, office space and an exciting new anchor development (similar to the Lowenstein project on East Colfax) where it meets West Colfax (the circle labeled “identity” in the above diagram). The right-of-way along the new Raleigh Street will be wider than Denver’s minimum requirements in order to accommodate additional pedestrian amenities, street trees, and sidewalk cafes as shown in the following conceptual rendering:

In 2006, a task force of local residents set forth a vision for the site that included the reintroduction of the street grid, a dense mix of uses for the site, and preservation of some of the existing buildings. The developer has followed their instruction and is retaining four buildings on the site: The 1940’s Kuhlman building (a former nurses dormitory which is slated to become a new boutique hotel), the existing 4-story parking garage, a 4 story-office building on the block near Colfax (which will be re-skinned), and a historic chapel on the site. The historic chapel happens to fall within what would have become the West 16th Avenue right-of-way, but the developer has chosen to stop the street short of the chapel and create a 1-acre public plaza in front of the chapel as part of the project’s open space requirement set forth by the city. West 16th Avenue will be designed in such a way that it could be closed down to extend the plaza for festivals, farmers markets, and other events in the neighborhood. As part of EFG’s efforts to achieve LEED-ND Platinum certification for the project, they are planning on installing natural storm water management features along West 16th Avenue as well. The following is a conceptual site plan of the project:

As of now, EFG has almost completely demolished the hospital and is currently grinding up all the old concrete to be reused as road base for the new streets. Early this year, they’ll start re-grading the site, installing utilities, and creating the new streets. The photo below is  a panorama of the site taken from the top of the Metro Village Apartment tower at Colfax and Quitman Street. The photo shows the breadth of the site and some of the great views that will be had by the new residents. You can also see the Kuhlman building (on the upper right) the parking garage (on the left) and the little chapel (behind the parking garage) that are being saved as part of the development.

When the project is complete, the seven city blocks under redevelopment will likely contain 800-1,200 new residential units and 75,000 – 150,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving office/retail space in buildings that range in height from two to twenty stories (although anything over 5 stories will have to go through a re-zoning process). According to the developer, “the redevelopment of the former St. Anthony Hospital campus will create a new sustainable urban neighborhood that has a unique identity, informed in large part by its engagement with Sloan’s Lake Park.” The mixed-use project certainly capitalizes on its proximity to multiple modes of transit, and brings neighborhood-serving retail to a currently under-served neighborhood. The St. Anthony’s project should be a very exciting infill development in Denver and will hopefully be a catalyst for significant reinvestment along West Colfax Avenue.

For more info on the Plan for this development, go to: www.sloansdenver.com. EFG currently has three developers on contract to develop Phase 1 of the development. Each developer will be unveiling the plans for their buildings at an open house on January 22, 2014 from 5:30-7:30 PM at 1400 Quitman Street (just south of the project site). After the unveiling, EFG will post the developers’ plans and renderings to their website, so stay tuned. St. Anthony’s should be an exciting urban infill project!


Denver Union Station: A Final Look Inside Before The Restoration

Last Saturday, DenverInfill and Union Station Advocates co-hosted an informal public open house at Denver Union Station for anyone who wanted to stop by for one last look inside the historic station before it is closed for the next year and a half for its long-awaited restoration and conversion into a mixed-use transit center with shops, restaurants, and a boutique hotel.

Despite the number of times I’ve been inside the station—I’ve given about 50 Union Station tours since October 2010—I realized I didn’t really have many decent photos of the inside of Union Station’s great hall. So, I arrived at the station about an hour early on Saturday to take some photos before the crowds arrived. It was a beautiful summer-like December 1st, already pushing 60 degrees by 9:00 AM. As I expected, the station was deserted. Since 2011 when the light rail station moved to its new location at the other end of the Union Station transit district and Amtrak moved to its temporary location at 21st and Wewatta, Union Station has been even quieter than normal, and “normal” for the past few decades has been pretty darn quiet already.

I had the great hall to myself for nearly half an hour. The intense Denver morning sun was streaming through the big east windows, as it has for the past 35,000 mornings. I was alone, yet I could sense the enduring presence of the millions of people who have passed through that voluminous space over the past century: people eagerly awaiting visitors from far away, people saying goodbye to friends and loved ones for perhaps the last time. The complete absence of people in such a historic public place left me feeling pensive—not in a sad way, as if the building was about to be torn down—but in a serene way, knowing that a momentous and welcome transformation was about to begin.

Here are a few photos of Denver Union Station’s last sunny Saturday morning before the renovation begins:

In 2016, pass through these doors and step onto a train that will transport you directly into the terminal at Denver International Airport:

Let’s head up to the great hall’s mezzanine. There’s something special about this space. I always feel content there. Maybe it’s the awesome view down 17th Street or just all the natural daylight. Regardless, this is going to make a great hotel lounge:

 

The view overlooking the great hall is special too:

 

 

The old station will be getting some well-deserved TLC and, yes, those hideous florescent chandeliers will be replaced with replicas of the original light fixtures:

 

The stairways and hallways leading to the mezzanine:

 

 

Finally, the world’s most uncomfortable benches (maybe some cushions are in their future?):

 

Take care, Union Station. See you in 2014!

 


Aria Denver Breaks Ground and Breaks the Mold

When infill is discussed here on the blog, we are most often referring to an instance of revitalizing the entirety, or part of, an urban city block. Well, a little over a week ago, Denver saw the groundbreaking of one of its largest infill redevelopment projects in years. Immediately east of Regis University at W. 52nd and Federal Blvd. (eight blocks from the Gold Line light rail), Aria Denver has positioned itself to be not only pronounced in size, but also in its distinct flavor of design.

The unique aspects of this development are the product of its wholesome past. Once a fruit orchard, turned convent, the 17.5 acre site has been occupied since the late 1930s by the The Sisters of St. Francis. After the Marycrest Convent saw their resident population fade from several dozen nuns to just seven, they began exploring options for redeveloping the site into something that met their needs, and also the community’s. After searching for a developer that could understand and respect their vision, the sisters teamed up with development partners Urban Ventures and Perry-Rose.

As Susan Powers explained, “The sisters placed a great deal of trust in us to develop the land in a way that would align with their mission and their values.” At the heart of this development, community has really become the focus. Though many residential developments may jump to make that claim, it is completely evident in this case. It is shown through the amount of intelligent planning, programming and quality of design represented throughout each component of Aria.

In 4 phases, 380 new homes will be built in the form of townhomes, apartments, condominiums and senior housing. What takes the community aspect beyond the typical neighborhood is its co-housing component. A portion of the housing will be designed and programmed in a way that connects people and encourages interaction. In co-housing, residents play a large part in developing their community by helping to design, and eventually share, certain amenities like a community kitchen, gardens, green spaces, and other common facilities. In Colorado, several examples of co-housing can be found in Boulder, but the concept is still quite innovative for Denver.

In addition to internal community functions, developers also provided opportunities for the greater neighborhood outside of the development. Approximately 20,000 sq. ft. of retail space will sit as the hood ornament of this development to provide new commercial assets to residents of Aria, but also to enhance Federal Blvd. One other community-building element is that both affordable and market rate housing will be available to make the lifestyle accessible to more people.

Taking a step away from programming, aesthetic design is one of the other outstanding attributes of this redevelopment. In addition to Urban Ventures and Perry-Rose, other collaborators include Oz Architects, Humphries Poli Architects, Wenk AssociatesCalthorpe Associates and award winning architect, Michelle Kauffman. Kauffman is known for her modular sustainable designs that have a distinct contemporary flair. As a result of being modular structures, they will be prefabricated and, therefore, will reduce waste, eliminate weather damage to materials, expedite construction, cut back on construction site pollution and prevent cost overruns.

     

Other sustainability wins in the project are evident through the conformity of all residential uses to follow the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria. As part of that standard, recycled materials will be used throughout, units will be equipped with low VOC products (exterior materials, windows, etc.), alternative energy will be sourced, and energy/water conserving appliances will be installed into each home. The entire site will also utilize innovative storm water designs to boost sustainability and water-conserving native plants will dress the landscapes.

Aria brings sustainability, co-housing/community building, and high design to the same table and delivers the final product in a way that pays tribute to the good intentions of The Sisters of Saint Francis. At the same time, it will also bringing Denver a totally new alternative lifestyle. Ground was broken on August 8, 2012 and the first batch of units should be available for move in by Spring 2013. For more information and renderings, click here!


Denver Union Station Reuse Options?

Over at DenverUrbanism, we’ve just uploaded a special feature taking a look at two proposals that have been recently announced for the reuse of the historic Denver Union Station building. As you know, construction is in full swing on the RTD transit elements at Union Station. Now it’s time to focus in on the renovation and reuse of the historic station.

Start with this introduction post on the topic, followed by this post about Union Station Neighborhood Company’s idea for a public market, and this post about a group led by Dana Crawford that want to bring a boutique hotel to Union Station. Read all about it (and comment on it) over at DenverUrbanism!


Colorado National Bank Hotel Conversion Underway

I recently had the opportunity to view the interior of the historic Colorado National Bank building that has sat vacant at the corner of 17th and Champa for about four years. As you may recall from a DenverInfill blog post from December 2009, the building will be renovated and expanded to become a new botique hotel. Here’s a bit more about the project:

The owner/developer is Stonebridge, a Denver-based hospitality development firm, which recently completed the Hilton Garden Inn at 14th and Welton, and the project architect is JG Johnson Architects, which specializes in hospitality design. The plan is to add two floors to the top of the building (set back from the existing roof line), renovate/restore the existing six-story structure, and add a new stairwell and entryway on the building’s southwest side that faces a small surface parking lot. That surface lot is also owned by Stonebridge, so it will be used for a new glass porte-cochère and a few spaces for short-term guest check-in parking. All other parking for the hotel will be provided as a valet service to leased spaces off site. The main pedestrian entrance faces 17th Street and features the bank’s grand metal doors.

Here are a couple of images, courtesy of JG Johnson Architects, showing the proposed addition:

2011-01-17_cnb1 2011-01-17_cnb2

As the first image shows, the shape of the addition is like a square donut, with the hole serving as a light well for rooms that will face the interior. For this reason, a hole will be cut into the center of the top three floors of the existing building so that light can penetrate down through all but the first three floors.

The facade design and materials of the addition have not been finalized, but as these concept images above show, the addition will clearly reflect a contemporary design and feature a contrasting dark color to the historic building’s white facade.

A few other facts about the building: It will have 230 rooms, banquet/meeting rooms in the basement (including one inside the bank’s vault), a ground-floor restaurant and retail space, and a lounge in the mezzanine overlooking the lobby. The hotel is planned to be branded a Marriott Renaissance, a Marriott brand not yet found in Denver but one that often features hotels in historic or converted buildings (thus, the name “renaissance”). Currently, some remediation and interior demolition work is taking place. In May or June, the curb lane of Champa next to the building will be closed down and a crane positioned there to begin actual construction of the addition and major renovation work. If all goes as planned, the hotel will open in Fall 2012.

One other note about this building: it is absolutely beautiful inside and, once finished, in my opinion, it will become one of Denver’s swankiest and hippest hotels. The lobby is spectacular, and features a three-story atrium with classical marble colonnades and 16 large murals by famed artist Allen Tupper True. The murals will be protected during the restoration and will remain as one of the building’s prominent features.

Here are a few photos of the lobby I took several months ago before interior work began. I was using my phone camera and no flash so the quality isn’t the greatest:

2011-01-17_cnb3 2011-01-17_cnb4

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of the Downtown Denver Historic District. The project team has already received all of their approvals from the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission and also has its financing in place. So, it’s full steam ahead for the transformation of this historic landmark on 17th Street into a new four-star hotel!