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Archive of posts filed under the Government & Civic category.

Downtown Denver Non-Residential Projects: June 2015 Update

Earlier this month we took a look at the dozens of multi-family residential projects developed in Downtown Denver since 2010. Today, we are focusing on Downtown’s non-residential development projects—that is, office, hotel, civic, and institutional uses—during the same time period. We did something similar in September 2014, but that was for office projects only.

1144 15th Street (left) and 1401 Lawrence (right) office developments. Image courtesy of DenverInfill reader Elizabeth W.

1144 Fifteenth Street (left) and 1401 Lawrence (right) office developments. Image courtesy of DenverInfill reader Elizabeth W.

As with our recent residential analysis, projects included are those within a 1.5-mile radius of the historic D&F Tower at 16th and Arapahoe, which works well as a geographic center for the Downtown area. Click on the image below to view in full size our June 2015 Downtown Denver Non-Residential Projects map and table. Use this link to view/download a high-resolution PDF version (6 MB) formatted for printing at 11″ x 17″.

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Please note: The gross square footage figures listed are approximate. All projects are new construction with the exception of the Crawford Hotel at Denver Union Station and the Marriott Renaissance Hotel at the Colorado National Bank building. These two adaptive reuse projects were included to provide a more complete look at the Downtown hotel development market.

Office: Since 2010, approximately 3.2 million square feet of office space has been completed or is currently under construction in Downtown Denver. That represents roughly a 10% increase in the total Central Business District office inventory. The number of publicly announced Downtown office projects that have not yet broken ground is now down to just a handful. This is probably a good thing, as it makes sense to see how quickly the nearly 2 million square feet of space currently under development is absorbed. Fortunately, there are a lot of positive factors driving demand for office space in Downtown these days, such as the increasing number of firms who recognize their employees want great access to transit and an engaging, walkable work environment.

Hotel: 1,430 new hotel rooms have been added since 2010 with another 983 currently under construction. All of these, with the exception of the Fairfield Inn Lower Highland, are in the core Downtown area within easy walking distance of the Colorado Convention Center and/or RTD’s free MallRide or MetroRide. If and when the two hotels in the Proposed category are completed, they will put the number of hotel rooms in the Downtown core over 10,000 for the first time. Meanwhile, tourism numbers for Denver are setting records, business is booming at the Colorado Convention Center, and Downtown hotel occupancy rates are very strong.

Civic/Other: The public and institutional sectors have been busy investing in Downtown Denver, with over 3 million square feet of space added through numerous civic buildings, museums, and educational and health facilities.

The Proposed section for all three use categories is limited to those projects we’ve covered already on DenverInfill. Of course, there are more developments “in the pipeline” than these, but projects that haven’t been made public can be hard to quantify, so we’re not attempting to do so as part of this assessment.

In summary, Downtown Denver is firing on all cylinders. A strong office market fueled by companies moving Downtown for its desirable transit/walkable environment? Check. A strong hotel market driven by booming convention center business and Downtown urban tourism? Check. A steady stream of public and institutional projects reflecting our community’s desire to keep Downtown the civic heart of the city and region? Check. An off-the-charts Downtown multi-family residential market reflecting strong demand for an urban lifestyle? Check. Like all booms, this one will someday come to an end. Hopefully it will be a “soft landing” as they say. For now, however, the sheer magnitude of new infill development in Downtown Denver since 2010 (my rough estimate: $5 billion) is staggering; a sign that we must be doing something right.


West Colfax: Mile High Vista Final Update

This Past weekend, the City of Denver celebrated the opening of the new Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Library in the West Colfax Neighborhood. This library is one of three components of the Mile High Vista Project that I first introduced in 2013. Here’s a photo of the project as it stands today.

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I realize that I’ve been a bit behind on posting about this project (the first component a 7-story workforce housing project south of the library opened last fall -more about that later) but last fall I took a job as City Planner for the City of Evans and have moved to Northern Colorado. Anyway, I made it down for the grand opening celebration last Saturday and thought it would only be fitting to give everyone an update.

The new 25,000 SF library is a very modern, colorful and highly textured addition to a very busy Colfax intersection. While the form of the building is basically a rectangular box the colors and textures really make it stand out within the neighborhood. Neon signage incorporated into the Facade ties back to the historic Colfax “car culture” of the ’50s and ’60s and the colorful horizontal lines speak to the “speed of travel,” not just of cars but also of information. Here are two closer views of that colorful facade.

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With two entrances, one at the corner of Colfax and Irving and the other on the east side facing the parking lot, it is open to both walk-up and drive-up traffic; perfect for a neighborhood that is transitioning from a car-only neighborhood to one that’s more walkable and transit-able.

Inside the library is very open, modern and glassy. There’s a lot of natural light (especially from the north side facing Colfax) and bright modern colors are used throughout the building. Reading rooms open to views of downtown, the mountains, and the Cheltenham Elementary School grounds diagonally across Colfax from the Library. If you’d rather escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, there is a interior courtyard on the second floor where library users can sit outside during the warmer summer months. Here’s a shot of a lower level reading area along Colfax and the main stairway to the second floor.

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One other cool feature; the Building is designed to meet LEED Silver standards and the building is designed to educate the public on the sustainable features of the building. This mural in the main lobby, begins the conversation.

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Now a little update on the Workforce housing project.

The “Avondale Apartments” which opened last Fall contains 70+ units of affordable housing plus amenities, and some rentable office space on the lower two levels.  The building is quite modern and almost minimalist in its color and material palate. It serves as in interesting counterpoint to the more richly decorated library. (Side note: I took these pictures last October, so I apologize for them looking warm and sunny while we still have snow on the ground.)

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This building met LEED Gold standards (an amazing feat for an affordable housing project) and includes a rooftop solar array (sadly invisible from the street). While the 7-story building dwarfs the 2-story library, it blends in just fine with the four 8-story apartment towers built in the ’60s that currently exist to across the street to the south. This photo shows the new building in relation to the older towers.

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The last component of this project, which has yet to be realized, is a retail pad just east of the Library along Colfax to be developed by the Urban Land Conservancy. The following picture shows the site from inside the library. Development of this parcel will help create even more of a street wall along Colfax and bring some needed retail and potential office space to the West Colfax corridor. Unfortunately, it might also block a portion of this great view of Downtown and Mile High Stadium from the second floor of the Library.

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New Arapahoe Square Project: Lawrence Street Community Center

The Denver Rescue Mission recently broke ground on their new Lawrence Street Community Center, located next door to their shelter facility at Park Avenue and Lawrence in the Arapahoe Square district.

The new Community Center will provide a safe place for the homeless to gather and receive needed services during the daytime before the Denver Rescue Mission’s shelter opens for the evening. The one-story facility will feature a kitchen, a 216-seat dining area, showers and restrooms, and an enclosed courtyard. For more details about the project and the services that will be offered at the Lawrence Street Community Center, the Denver Rescue Mission’s website has a nice bullet-point summary.

I’ve outlined the project location on this Google Earth image from October 2014:

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This rendering, courtesy of Eidos Architects, shows the one-story facility and courtyard. The two-story building on the left is the existing Denver Rescue Mission and the two-story building on the right is an unrelated property across the alley on Arapahoe Street.

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Ryan and I were at the site around the end of January when the project officially broke ground:

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The Lawrence Street Community Center is expected to open Fall 2015.


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!

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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.

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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!

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

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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!

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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.


Denver Union Station: Transit Center Grand Opening Part 5

For the final part of our Denver Union Station Transit Center grand opening coverage, we are going to head back under the very impressive commuter rail train canopy. This was the first completed piece of the transit center when it opened to Amtrak back in February, however our coverage would not be complete if we didn’t photograph it at grand opening!

There are a total of eight tracks, with six of them under the canopy. Tracks 4 and 5 will be used for Amtrak and private excursion trains. These tracks are also more shallow in the ground than the other tracks. As previously mentioned, Tracks 4 and 5 also provide access to the underground bus terminal.

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The other tracks, which will be used for the commuter rail trains, are deeper; much like your typical subway track.

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Here are a couple more pictures from under the canopy. The pedestrian bridge is still closed, but we suspect it will be open by the time the historic station opens on July 12th.

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That’s a wrap on our grand opening coverage! You are now up to speed on the grand opening festivities, underground bus facility, Wynkoop Plaza, and now the new commuter rail train station. As a great bonus, we even got some awesome aerial shots from Shawn Murry of CloudBase Aerial Imaging. The next time we cover the Union Station redevelopment will be when the historic station opens on July 12th. We’ll see you then!


Denver Union Station: Transit Center Grand Opening Part 3

Today, for the third part of our grand opening coverage, we are going to head to the front of the station to take a look at the progress being made at Wynkoop Plaza. On DenverInfill, the last time we covered Wynkoop Plaza was back in September, when the granite pavers were not even in place yet. A lot has changed in eight months!

The passageway between the commuter rail train hall and Wynkoop Plaza is now open. On the South Wing building, there are two patio spaces along this passageway along with a patio space on the plaza itself. The patio with the red umbrellas belongs to the Thirsty Lion and the other patio, that is currently empty, is for a future tenant who should be occupying the space within the next few months.

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The fountain portion of the plaza is not yet complete but has made some great progress. Granite pavers are now in place and the entire fountain system has been capped. This portion of the plaza will be complete when the historic station opens on July 12th.

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The north side of Wynkoop Plaza is in a similar situation. The portion in front of the North Wing building is complete and work is wrapping up in front of the historic station.

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Later this week, we will be looking at the two wing buildings exclusively so you will be able to see, in more detail, how the buildings interact with the plaza. We still have more grand opening coverage coming your way; up next: a unique perspective of the grand opening ceremonies!


Denver Union Station: Transit Center Grand Opening Part 2

For the second part of our grand opening coverage, we are heading underground to the new bus terminal! The 980-foot-long concourse is incredible and is leaps and bounds ahead of Market Street Station, which spans 366 feet. Bus service in the new 22-bay facility will begin on May 11; however, the grand opening ceremony allowed the public to see it all for the first time! In case you missed it, make sure you check out part 1 of our grand opening coverage!

First let’s start off with the two pavilions; Chestnut Pavilion and Wewatta Pavilion are essentially identical minus an announcement screen at the Chestnut Pavilion. There are ascending and descending escalators on the sides with a central staircase. Elevators are accessed at the entrance of each pavilion; which are behind us in each photo.

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Down we go! The look and feel of the bus concourse is incredible. Here in Denver, we are used to dark, brutalist-style bus stations; this terminal sheds a whole new light on Denver’s bus transit.

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The signage is clear, and easy to read. There is a ticket/information counter in the center of the concourse and a self-serve map station towards the Platform 4 staircase. Even though it was a cloudy day, the skylights still provided a pretty good amount of natural light throughout the station.

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Speaking of Platform 4, there are many ways to enter this terminal besides the pavilions and at Union Station. Right in the middle of the commuter rail train hall, at Platform 4 and Platform 2, there are staircases and elevators to access Amtrak or future commuter rail trains.

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One very noticeable thing about the new terminal is that there is a lot of open space and an ample supply of seating. What matters the most out of all this is that it’s very comfortable.

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On the outside of the concourse, the bus turnaround loop is very friendly to riders. There are arrows and bulb outs on each bay assisting boarders.

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Service to this station starts on May 11, terminating all service at Market Street Station. If you are a frequent bus rider, make sure you head over to RTD’s website and plan accordingly! Coming up next, we will be looking at Wynkoop Plaza at the front of the historic station!


Denver Union Station: Transit Center Grand Opening Part 1

Today was great day for Downtown Denver; after more than four years since the groundbreaking, the Denver Union Station Transit Center has finally opened! As Ken outlined in the Grand Opening Preview post, DenverInfill and DenverUrbanism have around 200 posts on this project, and has led 50 walking tours since its groundbreaking. Needless to say, it brought us great joy to attend and photograph this great ceremony. For part one of our grand opening coverage, we are going to be looking at the festivities around the 17th Street Promenade.

The skies may have been cloudy, but that did not stop people coming down to Union Station to celebrate! Thousands of people from all around Denver came down to hear words from Colorado senators, the U.S Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, RTD, DUSPA, Kiewit, and Governor Hickenlooper. Following their speeches, the ribbon was cut and the Denver Union Station Transit Center was officially open!

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Along Wewatta Street, there was a free Metro Ride bus for everyone to tour!

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Here are some interior shots of the bus. It looks and feels like an updated version of the articulated bus fleet RTD currently uses.

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Thanks to David Zucker of Zocalo Community Development, we were able to get up to the top floor of Cadence to check out the festivities from above! This was a great treat to an already great day!

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If you weren’t able to check out Union Station today, fear not, it is now open and you can visit it anytime! Bus service will begin on May 11th where all service to Market Street Station will terminate and be moved to the new bus facility at Union Station. Coming up, we will be looking at the underground bus facility, Wynkoop and IMA Plaza, and under the new Commuter Rail Train Hall. Stay tuned!