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Archive of posts filed under the Economic Growth category.

The SkyHouse Denver Site: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Ryan just posted the exciting news that the the 25-story SkyHouse Denver project is moving forward, as the surface parking lot where the tower will rise is currently being eradicated.

Long-time DenverInfill readers may remember our Worst Parking Lot contest of 2007. One of the five nominated lots from that contest was the surface lot at East 18th Avenue and Broadway—the one presently being dismantled for SkyHouse. While ultimately not the contest winner (that infamous honor went to the lot on Block 039 in LoDo, which is still as repugnant today as it was in 2007), we’re still very glad to see the parking lot at 18th and Broadway go away.

As part of the contest, we featured a “Before They Were Parking Lots” series of posts, which took a look at the buildings that once stood on each site. For the parking lot at 18th and Broadway, the former occupants were the Cosmopolitan Hotel and the Hotel Metropole.

With the Hotel Metropole already having been demolished, the Cosmopolitan Hotel bit the dust on May 20, 1984. A DenverInfill reader uploaded this video to YouTube of the Cosmopolitan Hotel implosion:

Thirty-one years later, a new building will finally rise at this site. That took longer than what I’m sure most people would have hoped for, but that’s the way it goes when there are so many sites available, only so much demand to go around, and that the completion of any high-rise development is a small miracle in an of itself. Who knows, maybe SkyHouse will be the catalyst for the redevelopment of the rest of the parking lots in this part of Downtown in the near future.


In any case, the repair of Downtown Denver’s urban fabric continues, and documenting and celebrating that process is what DenverInfill is all about. City-building is a fascinating enterprise that I, along with many of you, find exhilarating—so much so that sometimes we meet up just to talk about it!

New Downtown Denver Development Map

Over the past five years or so, despite the recent recession, Downtown Denver has seen strong construction activity and investment that only seems to be accelerating in 2013. Whether it’s the big Union Station transit project and its neighboring private-sector developments, the Better Denver Bond improvements, the state’s Ralph Carr Judicial Center and History Colorado Center buildings, or dozens of other public and private projects, Downtown has been growing and getting better every day. Look in just about any direction, and a tower crane or two will be in your view.

As you know, tracking and promoting all that investment in Downtown is at the heart of our mission here at DenverInfill and DenverUrbanism. It is also an important part of the mission of the Downtown Denver Partnership, which works tirelessly publicly and behind the scenes to improve the Downtown environment and promote public and private development in our urban core. Naturally then, I was excited to accept the Partnership’s offer to help them with their new Downtown Development Map. The map turned out great and it does an awesome job of graphically reflecting the tremendous investment that’s taken place in Downtown Denver during these past few years. Even our own DenverInfill man-about-town-with-camera, Ryan Dravitz, has one of his photos on the map. Nice job, Ryan!

Save the map as a PDF and share it with your friends or send them a link to the map’s page on the Partnership’s website. And of course, don’t forget to remind your friends to put DenverInfill, DenverUrbanism, and the Partnership’s new weekly online newsletter, Confluence Denver, on their reading list!

US Patent Office Belongs in Downtown Denver

You probably have heard the news already that the federal government has just selected Denver, along with two other cities (Dallas and San Jose) to join Detroit as the four cities to receive a branch location of the U. S. Patent Office. The positive impacts of this for the Denver region are profound. Now, the speculation is on as to where in the Denver metro area that office should go. According to a Denver Post article from today (click here to view as a PDF), the options include Stapleton, Downtown Denver, Colorado Science & Technology Park at Fitzsimons in Aurora, Centennial, Greenwood Village, the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood, and Lone Tree.

The U.S. Patent Office belongs in Downtown Denver.

Downtown is the obvious choice. Landing this new U.S. Patent office was a big win for the region, and Downtown Denver is almost in the exact geographic center of the region. The other proposed locations form a ring around Downtown. Being centrally located in Downtown would make it easy for people from anywhere—Boulder, the Denver Tech Center area, Lakewood and Golden, Broomfield, or Aurora—to get to the new Patent office.

The feds say that a location next to a transit stop is very important. While the other potential locations are found near existing or future RTD transit lines, the Downtown Denver option would put the U.S. Patent Office at the hub of all of RTD’s transit lines. Why place the office at a location that is accessible from only one transit line? That doesn’t make it very convenient for people from throughout the region to access the office by transit. Only a Downtown Denver location gives people from throughout the region the convenience of accessing the office by transit.

Those U.S. Patent Office employees will have very limited options for walking anywhere from their office at the other locations, but in Downtown Denver, hundreds of restaurants, shops, sports, cultural, and recreational options would be available within a short walk of the office.

Finally, locating this new Patent office in Downtown is by far the most sustainable option. A Downtown office would be proximate to the greatest number of people who could access the office by a mode of transportation other than the automobile. If the feds and regional officials are serious about sustainability (and just yesterday, Mayor Hancock announced his appointment of the city’s first Chief Sustainability Officer), then they will select Downtown Denver.

Mayor Hancock: I call on you to demonstrate your leadership and commitment to sustainability and to Downtown Denver by lobbying hard to bring the U.S. Patent Office to Downtown Denver.

DenverInfill readers, what I’d like you to do is contact Mayor Hancock by email ( or by telephone (720-865-9000) and tell him “The new U.S. Patent Office belongs in Downtown Denver!”

Downtown Denver: The Boom is Back (at least it seems that way)!

How many projects does it take before you can say your downtown’s experiencing a building boom? Five? Ten? Pick a number, but Downtown Denver is getting pretty darn close to that point. By my count, there are over twenty projects under construction or proposed in the Downtown Denver area. That’s pretty remarkable considering the severity of the Great Recession of 2008.

This time around, there aren’t too many high-rise towers being proposed (yet). Instead, it’s mostly mid-rise buildings, which is terrific news if you believe (and you should!) that great cities are comprised of a tight-knit fabric of pedestrian-friendly buildings that frame public spaces used for mobility, access, and social interaction. Nothing kills the cohesiveness of an urban environment more than a surface parking lot. Surface parking lots interrupt the continuity of the intensive human-oriented downtown environment and they suck the sense of character out of a place. They are a blight on the cityscape. Surface parking lots are, simply, the antithesis of what urban means. We have too many surface parking lots in and around Downtown Denver, but the good news is that over the past 20 years we have eliminated dozens of parking black-holes in the city center and, lucky for us, this current development boom happens to feature building forms that consume good-sized swaths of asphalt. At this stage in the progression of our city’s urban core, we’ll benefit substantially more from ten 5-story buildings than we would from one 50-story building.

Therefore, this is the first in a series of posts highlighting many of the new Downtown-area infill projects that I’ve been overdue in covering. Since January, my new job with the College of Architecture and Planning at UCD, where I teach full-time in the Master of Urban & Regional Planning program, has kept me exceptionally busy. But, with the Spring semester drawing to a close, now’s the time to catch up on what is really an amazing number of new development projects in central Denver.

So, let’s proceed… on with the infill!

ULI – Recharging Colorado on December 9

Mark your calendars! The biggest event of the year for Urban Land Institute-Colorado is this Thursday, December 9. Here’s what’s in store:

The overall theme is “Recharging Colorado”. This Explorer Series event (open to both ULI members and non-members) will take place at the new 1800 Larimer building, Denver’s first LEED-Platinum office tower. The first panel discussion will focus on “The Art of the Deal”… what it took to build 1800 Larimer. Hear from the project team (developer Westfield, architect RNL, contractor Mortenson, and anchor tenant Xcel Energy) about the vision and story behind Denver’s greenest building.

After the first panel, check out the fantastic views from the tower’s 20th floor while exploring the 1800 Larimer Exhibit Hall, where about 20 contractors and vendors who contributed to the city’s most energy-efficient building will feature displays and demonstrations of the technologies that went into the project.

Then, the second panel will focus on “The New Energy Economy and Job Creation” and will begin with a welcome from Governor-Elect John Hickenlooper, followed by an in-depth discussion about the future of Colorado’s green economy by top leaders from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Rocky Mountain Institute, Vestas, and the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation.

After the second panel, head back to the 1800 Larimer Exhibit Hall to enjoy the city lights and a cocktail, and to take a tour of some of the finished tenant spaces at 1800 Larimer. Finally, the event wraps up with ULI-Colorado’s legendary holiday party featuring plenty of food, drink, and music!

For all the details and to register, please visit this page at ULI-Colorado. See you on December 9!

DIA Excavation!

The almighty DIA construction gods were smiling at me – here’s a quick look at what is going on at the hotel/FasTracks station site.


I’ll ask around and see what I can find out as to exactly what is going on. Stay tuned!

UPDATE – Preliminary word is that excavation at DIA is part of what is known as the Safety Area Widening Project. The project will  excavate dirt from the south side of the main terminal and deposit it along taxiways on the south and west side of the airport. However, they may be excavating more than originally planned to make room for the station and hotel project. So not for the hotel and station just yet, but this project is making way for it…

Eagle Project Update

Work’s gotten in the way of posting as of late, but there’s some big news from RTD regarding the East Corridor and the rest of the Eagle Project.

Yesterday, RTD issued the offical Notice to Proceed to their selected Eagle Project concessionaire –  Denver Transit Partners (DTP) – for Phase 1 of the Eagle Project which includes the East Corridor, Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility (located near 48th and Fox), new commuter rail train cars, as well as final design work on both the Gold Line and Northwest Rail Electrified Segment (NWES). The Notice to Proceed came following the agreement of a $1.649 billion construction deal. Phase 2 includes the Gold Line to Wheat Ridge and Arvada as well as the NWES to South Westminster at 71st and Lowell. Phase 2’s NTP is expected as some point next year as RTD works to secure Federal funds through a Full Funding Grant Agreement.

Even better news, especially in these tough economic times, the Eagle Project is expected to provide an estimated 5,400 jobs at the peak of construction (2012 & 2013) – this would include direct and indirect employment numbers.

RTD and DTP signed a 34-year contract in which RTD will make annual payments to DTP for their investment in addition to operating and maintaining the corridor(s). For more info on DTP, check out their website at DTP is lead by the Fluor Corporation of Irving, Texas, and Macquerie Group of Sydney, Australia. Other team members include Balfour Beatty Rail, ACI, and Ames Construction. More information on the Eagle Project can be found at

Groundbreaking on the East Corridor is planned for Thursday, August 26 at DIA.

Denver Leads State In Population Gain Yet Again

You may have caught this about a week ago when it was announced, but just in case… the US Census Bureau released its last annual July population estimates before the 2010 Census and, once again, Denver led the state in population gain.

From 2006 to 2007, Denver squeaked past Douglas County by a little over 100 people to have the highest numeric population gain in the state for that year, with an increase of about 12,500. Then, from 2007 to 2008, Denver topped second-ranked Arapahoe County by almost 5,000, gaining over 15,500 people that year. The numbers just released for estimated county populations as of July 1, 2009 has Denver gaining over 17,000 for the year, with Adams County in second place at over 11,000.  The City and County of Denver’s population has now surpassed the 600,000 mark for the first time ever.


Source: US Census Bureau – Counties gaining 1,000 people or more sorted in descending order by numeric change

Of course, the point isn’t really the county vs. county aspect of this. At some point in the future, El Paso County (and other counties as well) will pass up Denver County in population given that Denver covers only 155 square miles (a third of which is DIA) and must rely on infill development for growth, while El Paso County, for example, covers 2,130 square miles and is only about 10% urbanized at present.  The point is that Denver is growing in a significant way after several decades of decline during the era of peak suburbanization. This tells us we are on the right track. People are voting with their feet (or perhaps, their house keys). Denver does have some undeveloped areas left (e.g. Stapleton, Green Valley Ranch, DIA/Gateway), but clearly the city’s long-term source of population growth is going to occur through infill development and the densification of its Areas of Change (former industrial areas, the greater Downtown area, transit-proximate areas, etc.). This is a good thing. Densification and urban infill is sustainable development at its most simple.

It’s Official: Union Station, Gold Line, East Corridor, Get Funding

Here’s Federal Transit Administration head honcho Peter Rogoff announcing that Denver’s FasTracks program will receive $300 million in loans for Denver Union Station and $1 billion in direct payments over several years for construction of the Gold and East commuter rail lines.


This is a great day for metro Denver!