New Project: Aloft Denver City Center

A new hotel is planned for Downtown Denver: Aloft Denver City Center at 800 15th Street.

Aloft is a Starwood Hotel brand featuring a modern, sleek aesthetic that’s targeted to a younger, urban-oriented customer. The proposed Aloft Denver City Center project is being developed by Denver-based JBK Hotels LLC. In December 2012, JBK Hotels filed a development application with the city and the project is currently going through the city’s review process. Here’s a Google Earth aerial where I’ve outlined the project site (click to embiggen):

The project site is located at the corner of 15th and Stout, currently occupied by a former Burger King restaurant building that’s straight out of 1970s suburbia. Since Burger King vacated the property in the 1990s or early 2000s (not exactly sure when), the building has been a revolving door of cheap restaurants. Here’s a very recent photo of the property (surrounded by a chain-link fence—always a hopeful sign!) by our very own Ryan Dravitz:

What a forlorn site. I think it’s safe to say that all DenverInfill readers and urbanists everywhere will cheer the redevelopment of this property.

The parcel is small, only 12,500 square feet, so the new Aloft hotel is not going to be a large building, but it certainly will have a huge positive impact on this corner. The project will be six-stories high and about 70,000 square feet in size. A below-grade level will include hotel functions and a swimming pool/fitness area. The ground floor will include about 2,000 SF of retail and lobby uses and a porte-cochère with vehicle ingress off Stout Street and vehicle egress via the alley between Stout and Champa. The upper five floors will contain approximately 140 hotel rooms.

The following image was taken from the project’s development application to the city (architect is Olive Architecture of Raleigh, NC). Here’s a perspective of the 15th & Stout corner:

On the left is Stout Street (southeast) facade, where the porte-cochère entry is visible to the left of the lobby. On the right is the 15th Street (northeast) facade. For the first three floors on the southwestern side, the project shares a common wall with the La Boheme building.

A relatively smaller-scale project like this is a perfect complement to the many large newer towers nearby like Spire and the Hyatt Colorado Convention Center, resulting in a greatly improved pedestrian environment and further restoration of the urban fabric in this part of Downtown. Hopefully, the chain-link fence around the site means that construction will begin later this year.

By | 2016-12-18T05:31:16+00:00 March 17, 2013|Categories: Central Downtown, Infill, Lodging, Urban Design|Tags: |18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Tim March 18, 2013 at 7:53 am

    It was last an Burger King in 2002ish. My wife brought me some “Lord of the Rings:Fellowship of the Ring” glasses there.

    Since then it has been at various times a Japanese restaurant, and an Indian restaurant. None of them were there for a any length of time.

    Those two blocks in front of the convention center have really bloomed in the last couple of years.

  2. Rob March 18, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Um… I think they’re missing like… 10 floors. And no restaurant / cafe at street level?! Huge missed opportunities for this central of a location… blocks from transit and the convention center. Denver needs more pedestrian elements all over, but especially in the urban core.

    I think it’s a moderate fail if it gets built in its current incarnation.

  3. Rob March 18, 2013 at 8:55 am

    I wonder what the height limit is for this parcel…

  4. Russ March 18, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Glad to see the site is being redeveloped. However, the old ‘suburban’ style burger king is being replaced by a new ‘suburban’ style airport hotel. The design is nearly identical to the one out in Aurora just west of Pena Blvd (16470 E 40th Cir Aurora, CO).

    • Fritz March 18, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      All Alofts pretty much look the same (with the goofy corner swoop). Call it good branding or boring design, but from the render, this building has its form totally correct. Corner building with no setbacks, two active facades and a party wall? Buildings going in could learn something from this, as well as other hotels. The Hyatt and Four Seasons are prime offenders for huge, blank walls and obnoxious car-orientation.

  5. Fritz March 18, 2013 at 11:13 am

    I think this is definitely the correct scale! Assuming it comes right up to the lot line. I couldn’t care less for the towers downtown with their infinite dead plazas. If we filled up every parking lot with 4-8 story buildings, it would give downtown an incredible urban fabric.

    Also, hopefully we’ll get something interesting in that 2,000 sf of retail!

  6. Tony March 18, 2013 at 11:35 am

    That’s great, but we also need a sister project across the alley at 15th & Champa (where the Tarantula restaurant used to be). Are there any plans for taking down the building and the parking lot to the south?

  7. Rob March 18, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    @Fritz Building height has nothing to do with dead zones…and the plazas are dead because there are no public features to encourage lingering, e.g. restaurants, cafes, shops etc. Though this design doesn’t have a plaza, it also has no space for retail.. which will ultimately result in less pedestrian activity. Not to mention, hotels do little to encourage an urban atmosphere.

    I’d bet this structure falls way short of the allowed height limit set by the city… which, in an area planned for higher density, seems to be a huge waste of space. Granted infill doesn’t have to be a 50 story high rise either, to be successful.

    • Larry March 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      Rob, I’m curious as to why you say that Hotels don’t contribute to the urban fabric. Every time I stay in an urban hotel, I walk around the area. I feel pretty animated 🙂 While there may not be something to make people linger, there will be a fair amount of pedestrian activity. Hotels are one of the many amenities that any city will have that do contribute to an urban fabric. Although I will agree, that I wish I could see more interaction between the street and building’s ground floor. Too much solid wall and driveway. I suspect the lack of more retail has a lot to do with the small 12,000 sf lot, the need for hotel functions, and a parking entry.

      I also don’t disagree with the scale proposed. I haven’t seen any persuasive arguments that all buildings downtown have to be towers. There are too many successful cities with few or any towers (e.g. Barcelona, Paris). The taller the building the more space dedicated to elevator circulation. I did see a proposal for a tower on the adjacent site across the alley. However, I haven’t seem that move forward yet. In fact, the proposal may have died.

      Anyway, this site is small and there are many other adjacent sites that could be filled and help animate the sidewalk a little more. Having the small sites build with these types of projects and letting the bigger ones fill up with retail might create a nice balance. It’s okay to have a little bit of quiet on the street down there anyway.

  8. Dan March 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    The consensus here seems to be under-utilization, especially considering the location and the proposed height and I agree. This corner or across the alley was originally planned for a 20 story mixed use hotel/condo structure which seemed very appropriate. Would like to see that idea renewed. It’s hard to believe the downtown hotel market needs more rooms considering the redo of the old Colo Natl Bank building, the Union Station remodel to hotel, and the planned hotel at the corner of 16th and Wewatta. That’s probably 1000 new rooms. If I were in the hotel industry, I would avoid downtown Denver until the office vacancy rate was in single digits and there are new office towers under construction – in 1-2 million square foot range. One thing to keep in mind is that infill has been pretty successful in greater downtown Denver in the past 25 years. If the remaining lots don’t go very high rise (low rise instead), there is no other contiguous place for downtown to expand into unless you move down the Brighton Blvd corridor (River North). Anything to reduce Denver’s sprawl – some of the worst in the nation.

    • Ken Schroeppel March 18, 2013 at 7:41 pm

      Yes, under-utilization is all relative. Like the old saying goes, let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good (or something like that). If someone is willing to building a six-story hotel to replace a crappy vacant parcel, that is acceptable considering there are about 60 other parking lots still available in Downtown for development. Thanks for your comments, Dan.

  9. Derek Berardi March 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    This looks to be a pretty dead-on representation of what it will look like. Definitely looks to be the model they altered a tad for this. Unfortunately we’ll lose the sexy looking drive up accent, but it’s understandable that this is an urban development and doesn’t support that. I’d love to see them incorporate some sort of additional flair as they have put on the ground in other cities.

    http://rohitbhargava.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/secondlife_aloft.jpg

  10. Fred March 18, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    I hereby declare this to be YAB. Yet Another Box. In some ways I appreciate the style but I wonder if decades from now we’ll look back and wonder if the architects couldn’t possibly come up with another design style. There’s a nice energetic life to these buildings in the present… not sure how well they’ll age.

    • Ken Schroeppel March 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      But all buildings are essentially boxes! 🙂

  11. […] more information on this new venture, and to see a rendering of the new structure click here. For more info on Starwood Hotels Aloft properties, follow this link. And tell us, what are some of […]

  12. carlospolis March 26, 2013 at 11:18 am

    wow Denver, you can do better than that. This is
    pretty uninspiring and quite frankly fugly !

    • Ken Schroeppel March 26, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      Denver isn’t developing this project. An individual firm is, which has the right to do as they may within the zoning code.

  13. Michael April 2, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Im all for infill project… I live on Stout and have to pass this sad former burger king all the time.. But I remember a proposed hotel on this very site some time ago. Maybe it was another site, but I thought it was this one. Architecturally it was very pleasing to the eye. I believe the roof of the VERY tall hotel was lit up. I was excited to see this article and was hoping it was that very same project. Sadly it was NOT. I am really disappointed by this ugly, square box design.. its all over Denver now and it is so tired.. Yes indeed Ken, the developer has the right to build whatever and how ever it wants. I just wish the People of Denver would demand a bit more architecturally speaking. I recent visit to Chicago where new development abounds, there was not one ugly square box. I remember when people would joke about the square box department stores. Now people live in them.. sad to me…

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