999 17th Street Update #10

Shea Properties is about ready to open the first phase of their large mixed-use development on Curtis between 17th and 18th streets in Downtown Denver. The 28-story, 359-unit apartment tower at 1776 Curtis (now known as The Quincy) has been under construction since December 2015 and is almost finished, so we will cover that milestone in a big update post soon.

But for this post, we are focusing on the second phase of the project, the nine-story, 93,000-square foot office building at 999 17th Street, which we are happy to report is officially under construction!

Now that work on the apartment tower (and seven-level parking podium with ground-floor retail) has wrapped up, the project’s second phase could begin since the office building’s site at 17th and Curtis was used for construction staging for the first phase. Workers with general contractor GE Johnson are busy excavating at the corner site as we can see in images below from this afternoon:

999 17th Street under construction at 17th and Curtis

The office building’s distinctive design by Davis Partnership Architects will add significant visual appeal to this stretch of 17th Street. The structure’s 17th Street facade will feature a folded glass curtain wall with five diagonal folds creating six angled planes that will reflect the sky and the Denver skyline in amazing ways. Check it out:

999 17th Street rendering, courtesy of Davis Partnership Architects

The ground floor of 999 17th Street will feature 6,300 square feet of commercial retail space facing Curtis Street, with the office lobby entry facing 17th Street.

What a beautiful addition to Downtown Denver! 999 17th should be finished by the spring of 2019

By | 2017-12-15T14:06:35+00:00 December 8, 2017|Categories: Central Downtown, Infill, Office, Residential|Tags: , |43 Comments


  1. Fred December 9, 2017 at 12:30 am

    Excited for this in my neck of the woods. And do you guys know what’s being done at 15th and Stout right now?

    • Ken Schroeppel December 9, 2017 at 7:28 am

      Yes, a post on that will be coming soon. We’re waiting for the official rendering but if we don’t get it soon, we’re going to do a post on it anyway. It’s a hotel.

      • Fred December 9, 2017 at 9:11 am


  2. GC December 9, 2017 at 11:10 am

    If it could only have been 50 stories taller! Great design but truly a waste of what is going to be very precious real estate fronting 17th street in the coming years.

    • James December 12, 2017 at 12:46 am

      GC – I’ll have to agree with you. When we talk about ‘planning’. In one direction of the wind it comes in handy and then with the other direction of the wind, let’s get rid of the parking lots as soon as we can with whatever we can? Planning is all over the map when you think of planning as the custodian of the long term life of the downtown area. Planning should also be taking into account the scope of the possibility of the future and Denver is by far the regional center and by that it could include the bulk of the mountain western United States. Where are we going to be in 50 years when there isn’t any parking lots left downtown and the parking lots have all been taken up by a shortsighted amount of square footage. Well there’s always Aurora…Denver has for most of it’s existence and more recently become a magnet for attention and in my opinion it seems the admins are stepping on toes at every chance to keep change confined to a standard crafted out of a fear of what’s been labeled extremes. Boys lets keep the growth rate at or under 3%, that’s the focus. And the excuse is we can’t handle a growth rate higher and that’s because of poor planning to begin with. I will use this example: Why would this city even consider a BRT lane subtracting from current access then using a general purpose lane on Colfax Ave. to exclude? In my opinion that’s forcing alternatives not inviting them. Is monorail still what makes every urban cowboy laugh? Too visionary I suppose, albeit a whooper-snapper in right of way sensibility.

      • Ken Schroeppel December 12, 2017 at 9:24 am

        You seem to have a misunderstanding about how development works. There is nothing the city is doing that is stopping this 9-story office building from being a 30-story building. That’s the developer’s choice. We could have a dozen 90-story buildings right now if the development community felt there was the demand and ROI to develop buildings of that scale in Denver. The current zoning would allow it. There is no one saying “let’s keep growth at X% rate”. Cities don’t have that kind of control over the free market.

        • Ryan December 12, 2017 at 10:26 am

          Zoning regulations often enforce height restrictions. Could they not also enforce minimums, and root out developers who would underutilize premium real estate? I realize there’s a fine balance to maintain if you don’t want to scare off development, but a nine-story building on this property is a travesty. Even twice that would still be a disappointment in this construction boom. And it’s not just a bummer for architecture and urban development critics here, but the businesses who would love to be located in this part of downtown.

          • Ken Schroeppel December 12, 2017 at 5:57 pm

            A zoning minimum like you propose would be interesting. I’m not sure where that’s been done to the scale I think you’re contemplating. Downtown Denver zoning does have a minimum development requirement of 2 stories (which is why the newly-built 7-11 at 18th & Tremont is a 2-story building) but how high would you go with that minimum? Is it better to let a site sit there undeveloped for decades because there’s not enough demand to put a 50-story tower on it, whereas it could be developed with a 10- or 20-story building sooner that still brings a lot of activity to the site, improves the pedestrian realm, etc.?

        • GC December 12, 2017 at 2:26 pm

          Ken, So let me understand this correctly. It is ok for you and others to be boosters for the Union Station Redevelopment and to have pushed development to the highest height limits politically possible, but not try and encourage someone from doing the same on 17th Street, which has been the “Wall Street Of the Rockies” for many decades?
          What we have instead is a building that would not even be appreciated as one of the new buildings going up behind Union Station (I could just see all the postings here about why the building is so puny), and we are supposed to be excited about it?
          No, you can’t legislate what a property owner can do with a given piece of real estate, within basic guidelines, but we can sure as hell voice our overall disapproval and general disdain for this rather pathetic attempt at an office building on 17th street. I guess I should not be surprised at this building considering the mediocre apartment building the developer just completed next to it.
          There is a commercial development “community” in Denver, and a little bit of peer pressure might have made this thing so much better.
          Nuff said.

          • Ken Schroeppel December 12, 2017 at 7:55 pm

            I certainly agree with the sentiment that this office building should be taller. The original pre-recession plan had it at a 24-story building or thereabouts. At least this project’s architecture gives us something different with the angled glass facade on 17th. While not tall, this building makes a design effort that we don’t get in some of the taller buildings.

          • Matthew December 14, 2017 at 3:35 pm

            So much anger from skyscraper fanboys. Maybe we put pressure to require minimum height: then we can wait decades as the parking lots continue moldering away along “Wall Street Jr.”

            Everyone seems to forget that this is Denver. It’s not New York.

          • Ryan December 18, 2017 at 3:04 pm

            It’s also Denver—not Oklahoma City or Nashville.

            The real estate market currently dictates the construction of 30-plus-story-tall buildings in parking lots and other underutilized space all over town. Why is this particular lot an exception, exactly?

            More than anything, I lament the lost business opportunity for whomever owns this land. They could sell to a much more ambitious developer right now for greater profit than they will ever achieve from this minuscule design. This isn’t about developing skyscrapers for novelty or satiating selfish architectural compulsions. It’s about fostering a greater real estate market that can support nascent businesses and the entrepreneurship that will drive our economy for the next 30 years.

        • James December 12, 2017 at 11:53 pm

          You could be right Ken excuse my candor and maybe I don’t understand, just witty stabs in the dark. But how could anyone of us really know all the motions and deals taking place within commercial real estate, how many maybe don’t make it to paper or why for sure. Take the ambitions of Mayor Speer or McNichols taking a lead in putting Denver on the international map. My primary point is that I don’t believe it has to do with the market as much as commercial real estate speculation. I don’t think that crowd is as ready to take a chance with anything other than limited amount of square footage is it only because they are generally scared of the risk? Is it risk that builds great cities? I believe in build it and they will come. I’ve seen a lot of change in Denver since the sixties and maybe I’m too ambitious for more extravagant change that seems to take place in other cities that were similar to Denver’s size at one point yet have 50% more office space and more aggressive public transit. Or that when you see in the downtown Denver Partnership listing 3 million in office space built in five years commercial brokers could have put half of that in one building or at least an iconic mixed use building. I am saying it appears that groups such as CHUN etc. that are twisting arms of influence to downsize David Tryba’s plans in reference to the Dikeou properties north of the capital? Who are these committees? Do they really reflect a complete vocal consensus of the city’s communities or are they the squeaky wheel?

          • Jordan December 20, 2017 at 11:37 am

            I certainly agree that a taller tower would have been a better use of the land from an urban design perspective. But that is not how these decisions are made. No one is restricting growth here, as Ken points out. Look at 1144 15th Street. That is a tall office tower that was 100% speculative when it began construction. It is tall and fairly iconic. Clearly for this site, the developer didnt think the numbers worked to build a bigger building. “Build it and they will come” is a nice sentiment, but I bet you would not feel that way with a few million dollars of your own money and way more in issued debt from a bank to repay! If the market forces say you can get a return on 100 stories, you build 100 stories. Otherwise, you build what you feel you can lease. Undoubtedly, some developers are more risk averse than others and some will take more of a risk, but there are most definitely limits to that.

            There are two primary reasons you build an office building: 1) it is speculative in the sense that you think there is unfulfilled demand out there and you need to secure leases with one or several tenants over time to recoup the cost or 2) you are building an office for a specific tenant. In the first scenario, you have to be damn sure you can fill the space (which this developer felt damn sure he could fill 9 stories). In the second scenario, you are largely building for the needs of the tenant and the square footages are mostly set. Neither of these scenarios really allow you to build a 50 story building when you would otherwise build 9. In both cases, the cost of the land and the cost of construction has to be weighed against the potential rents you will receive. Sometimes building have to go bigger to reduce the overall cost per square foot for construction and land, etc. Clearly, this balance was found somewhere around the height they are building to.

            This is all to say that development is a business and some approach it differently than others, but at the end of the day, no one is going to intentionally lose money just to build the type of building that others would like to see!

            Lastly, groups like CHUN are open to the residents of their neighborhoods (and really others too). You can attend those meetings and contribute.

  3. Alan December 9, 2017 at 11:40 am

    It’s to bad they didn’t build a 47 story office tower there especially 17th St wall street of the West
    like to see tabor tower 2 be 47 stories it would look awesome from I-25

  4. Ed M December 9, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    I think it looks terrific. Every building on the Wall Street of the West doesn’t need to be 47 stories. Wishing that every building site in downtown Denver have a 40 story building on it is wishing that many of the vacant lots in the core area remain vacant for the forseeable future. There can only be demand for so many square feet. I vote for eliminating more parking lots.

    • GC December 9, 2017 at 5:59 pm

      I’m not wishing “every building site in downtown Denver have a 40 story building on it”- Just one of a handful of remaining sites fronting 17th street. I agree that other vacant lots need to be filled in with whatever can be justified. 17th street is our premier financial district and should have the tallest buildings possible. It is a matter of pride.

      • Ryan Keeney December 9, 2017 at 8:15 pm

        Well Denver’s new tallest has been proposed for 17th street. https://denverinfill.com/blog/2017/09/new-project-650-17th-street.html

      • Matthew December 10, 2017 at 10:10 am

        650 seventeenth is a big tall building driven by “pride.” As a result, it is my money is that it will never break ground. 999 Curtis is being built as a matter of “demand,” meaning it has funding and a construction schedule. There is no demand for a 50-story building in Denver right now. Fill in all of the parking lots, and there may be some pressure to build high…

        • James December 11, 2017 at 11:08 pm

          I don’t necessarily agree. If you look at annual office space absorption within the central Denver area there is enough demand but only if the focus is made for one particular building. Look at how much space has been built in LODO over the last ten years. There’s enough space there to have built two or three 70 story buildings downtown only if commercial realtors focused their sales this way. Mid-rise massing is the supposed fashion of the era right now as is medium lower density quaint downtowns like Portland strewn with lots of goofy alpha male sports brew pubs, that’s cool if it’s your thing. but it’s pretty minimalist for making the list of leading cosmopolitan cities.

          • Matthew December 14, 2017 at 9:14 pm

            Seems like a tacit acknowledgement of finite demand for office space. Totally missing the point by dismissing two decades of low rise development in LoDo and now RiNo as wasted potential to build upwards in two or three buildings. This development transformed swaths of Denver from places to get stabbed in warehouse alleys to attractive, dense urban neighborhoods. Bottom line: 20 new five-story buildings downtown would make a more liveable and vibrant city than a 100-story behemoth and 19 parking lots. I don’t think a giant skyscraper does as much for the city as increased density with lots of quality retail. Like what appears to be happening near Union Station or RiNo.

            Think of London or Paris…great cities where the best places don’t require gigantic urban canyons. Both have outlying financial highrise districts that everyone probably abandons every night. Think Cleveland…er…um…they have that one REAL tall building there! Not perfect examples, but maybe we should just celebrate one less parking lot on 17th.

          • James December 17, 2017 at 10:36 pm

            You both have good points but again I got to concur about this particular commercial space is in the center of downtown on 17th street which is a stretch different than being either facing the Mall or being in the outlying central neighborhoods where yes low mass density works to feel all neighborhood like. Think of say Lincoln and 19th ave. One massive parking lot probably a great candidate for a really tall structure when you look at all the location and accessibility etc Then some developer comes along and wants to build a 5 story high end apartment campus style layout. That would just be very odd considering future potential. This is what’s strange about Denver, I think it would happen and then there would be all this clamor about how great the low density is for a neighborhood?

      • James December 11, 2017 at 11:22 pm

        Yep, I’ll have to agree with and well because when you look at the nature of density within any downtown planners always like to think of the downtown skyline like a pyramid of varying heights and the tallest has to be in the middle and so forth. Pretty primeval and now because somebody with the biggest basket in planning said that was ‘ideal’. It’s too bad that being ideal becomes the mysterious focus of planning rooms rather than the visionary effect that happens when the playing field is leveled and fair game by unlimited possibility then it’s up to who’s got style and the craft of building a showcase skyscraper. Of course Denver is not New York or Chicago and it won’t have the chance of becoming close to those mega-cities because it will forever, or at least for another 30-100 years be bogged down in planning red tape where the vision of the city is contained within a few people’s imagination. In all my studies of cities and their skylines I think the best of cities have been created by ambition and by accident and not by overtoned ideals.

    • James December 11, 2017 at 11:25 pm

      It would even look more terrific on around Colfax and Speer complimenting the convention center.

  5. landon December 10, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    wonderful all glass facade, i love the angled glass panels. one thing denver really should consider is a cut and cover automated train underground between the two transit centers on either end of the 16th street mall. the cost would be fairly high but it would really make the pedestrian experience downtown a lot better without the buses

    • Dave December 11, 2017 at 10:02 am

      DIA type train is a great idea! That train system runs at 99% on time. Now your talk about an amazing mall / pedestrian experience.

    • Richard December 12, 2017 at 10:16 am

      I think that has to be part of the future transit discussion in Denver. The costs would be mind-boggling however and would require major changes at the two stations just recently rebuilt: Union Station and Civic Center Station.

  6. James December 10, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    It would be great to see better architecture for Denver buildings like One Canada Square in London ,Franklin Center Chicago, Aura at college Park Toronto Ontario,Seattle Municipal Tower,Seattle Comcast Center Philadelphia,PA, Three Logan Square Philadelphia,PA and the JP Morgan Chase Tower in Dallas
    Maybe someday

    • James December 12, 2017 at 12:17 am

      James to other James – Yep, may be too visionary in most cases depends on the individuals involved in marketing office space and the other team over in the planning process. Like I said in another comment looking at the nature of density within any downtown, generally planners always like to think of the downtown skyline like a pyramid of varying heights and the tallest has to be in the middle and so forth. Pretty primeval and now because somebody with the best credentials in planning said that it is ‘ideal’. It’s too bad that being ideal becomes the miserable focus of planning rooms rather than the visionary effect that happens when the playing field is leveled and fair game by whatever unlimited possibility. Then it’s up to who can close leases in commercial real estate and the investor’s eye for style and the craft of building a showcase skyscraper. Guys like that have been bullied out of Denver. Don’t ask me why. Probably because they’re not cut from the local ‘imaginary ideal’ cloth. Like I said again, Denver is not New York or Chicago and it won’t have the chance of becoming close to those mega-cities because it will forever, or at least for another 30-100 years be bogged down in planning red tape where the vision of the city is contained within a few people’s so popularly called enviro/green yet subtle imagination. In my opinion I think it’s safe to say the best of cities have been created by ambition and by accident and not by overtoned ideals incubated by fear of failure. When a city attracts the interest and attention within a global network of developers and their finance it should’nt react with an adjuvant scope of redefined facts in the interest of mostly satisfying the classroom, but assimilate the offer and share the benefit rather than wait around being selective for the perfect fit for each square foot.

      • Freddie December 12, 2017 at 2:16 pm

        James, this spate of stream-of-consciousness rambling is misplaced, hyperbolic and not based in reality. Look at the location of this project. It would be at the center of this figurative pyramid you keep mentioning, so by your own logic, zoning/planning would have had nothing to do with preventing a grander vision for this site. Also, city planners have done nothing to prevent the sort of striking architecture Other James mentioned, and they certainly aren’t “bullying” investors out of town. That’s all in your imagination.

        • James December 12, 2017 at 11:59 pm

          I suppose you could call it spate. I like to think of this as an open forum. I’m not responsible for you having to read my sentences more than twice to fit within your imagination or reality. I really don’t believe the process of downtown development is as simple as you might make it out to be, and that’s my opinion, take it or leave it.

        • Freddie December 13, 2017 at 12:33 am

          I just re-read this comment I left earlier, and I have to say, I’m not very proud of it. I’ve grown weary of all the mean-spirited back-and-forth you find in the comments after seemingly every article or blog post on the internet these days, so I try not to engage in it myself, but then here I am starting off a comment with superfluous ridicule of someone’s writing style. I apologize.

          • James December 19, 2017 at 1:01 am

            No problem Freddie. I appreciate and accept your apology even if I don’t think it’s necessary as blogs go. Thank you. I’m used to blogs being full of self proclaimed experts ready to kick my artsy butt. Yet also to say I’ve found blogs over the years to swing in spectrum either sensible and respectable as much callous and biting. I’m just too much looking for something extreme, some excitement. That’s being unrealistic in this forum isn’t it. I’ve found blogs are where people come to dual rather than agree. I can be pretty agreeable after leaving my fantasy behind for whats become practical institution. I have to say for the most part the amount of stimulating change that has gone on in Denver especially since the dreary 90’s has been exciting.I should just leave these subjects to the civic realm of financers, planners and development insurance companies and spend these minutes on my art instead. Stick to lobby art or public art projects. This arena is meant more for ______________ somebody else fill in the blank. I tend to be too grandiose in my vision and imagination. Ha ha this is really funny, I used to like hearing Mayor Pena say “imagine a great city” because I had for many years before that and thought wow is he serious? Denver if you compare it to scales of city lists from the past was by comparison a greater city then within the lists than it is today, just my own research and my opinion. So I think that’s why my ambition precedes me. I could be one of those people who are just too opinionated and unfortunately dominate blogs.

  7. Tim December 11, 2017 at 10:57 am

    It would be great if Denver was not so liberal with blocking out sidewalk access for pedestrians! There should at least be a few feet of walkway around this construction space (and dozens of others around town).

    • James December 11, 2017 at 10:56 pm

      Tim, I agree. but then I think the use of the word liberal is misnomer. Liberal, root word liberate, which in my opinion means all involved are liberated…maybe “exclusive” would be the word. Although at the end of the day I believe it’s the insurance companies that define the space in a lot of the aspects of the modern world.

    • Jeffrey December 12, 2017 at 7:55 am

      Agreed. The city could also be more careful in planning how things like bike racks, fire hydrants, signs, odd sculptures, etc. are placed on sidewalks so that pedestrians can have simpler straight-line paths to get to where ever we are going.

  8. James December 13, 2017 at 12:13 am

    One last ditch effort at a comment here in the land of liberty and freely expressed….I’m NOT all whiny and critical of every mid-rise wasting potential in the ‘limited’ area of downtown Denver, I am glad to see just about anything filling in a parking lot God forbid that what was once there should not have been torn down in the first place! Denver had so much victorian style architecture that qualified for historical landmarks. All too late. Denver’s downtown was full of street walls at one time sixty years ago now but in the spirit of what a great cultural city it once was let’s try to keep that cultural aim by not only making ‘settle for’ deals but grand deals. Thanks for even listening.

  9. Jc December 18, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Love it! Hope the actual street will look like the rendering someday. Right now, 17th street is a crumbling mess of asphalt patches and potholes.

  10. Jc December 18, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Also, I think 9 stories is exactly appropriate considering the smaller height of the historic buildings across the street and next door. It is complementary and respectable.

    • GC December 19, 2017 at 9:02 am

      With all due respect, I just don’t get your reasoning on this. You mean that we need to develop buildings in the core city center based upon what is next door or across the street?
      If that is your philosophy then I guess you must dislike 1401 Lawrence as it towers over Larimer Square?
      No major metro city would develop their main downtown based upon your reasoning. Looks like London should tear down all their new skyscrapers based upon your philosophy.
      I think we are at the point in Denver where the need to fill in parking lots at any cost has finally been accomplished, leaving a handful of developable lots in each key zone in downtown Denver.
      The time has come to start demanding taller buildings with better design. You can’t legislate this but we can sure be a cheering squad for this type of movement. Now is the time!
      Hopefully market forces will start to prevail and we will see taller buildings going up, regardless of what is “next door or across the street”.

  11. James December 20, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    I work downtown near lincoln and 16th st.
    We’ve been hearing about the start of govt office building going up on the corner of Colfax and Lincoln we here its going to be 18 stories
    Does anyone know about it I hope it’s true

    • Ken Schroeppel December 20, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      Sounds right. Construction of a new state office building on the NE corner of Colfax and Lincoln was the top priority recommendation from the State’s 2014 Capitol Complex Master Plan.

  12. AC January 20, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    A new tower crane went up at this site yesterday (Jan 19, 2018)

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