New Project: 18th and Glenarm Condos

A major new condominium development is proposed for the corner of 18th and Glenarm in Upper Downtown.

On Tuesday, while most of us were preoccupied with the U.S. midterm elections, Canadian developer Amacon submitted site development plans with the city planning office for a two-tower, 477-unit residential project along Glenarm Place between 18th and Broadway. The south tower, rising 38 stories, would face 18th Street while the north tower, at 32 stories, would face Broadway. Below is a Google Earth aerial photo with an outline of the site:

Site of proposed Amacon development, base aerial courtesy of Google Earth

The trapazoid-shaped site measures 30,385 square feet or about 0.70 acres in size. The only structure on the property is a small one-story building constructed in 1906—the home of Shelby’s Bar & Grill—which covers only about seven percent of the site; the remaining ninety-three percent is surface parking.

Here are a couple of birds-eye views of the project location, first looking southwest down Glenarm, and then from across Broadway looking northwest:

Birds-eye view looking northwest. The site is the parking lot in the foreground.

The site development plans filed with the city provide the following details:

An eight-story podium would cover the whole site, with residential lobbies and retail spaces on the ground floor and a total of 530 automobile parking spaces located on floors 2-8 and on two underground levels. Approximately 275 for-sale condos ranging from studios to three-bedroom units would be located on floors 9-38 of the south tower, and about 202 condos ranging from one-bedroom to three-bedroom units would be located on Floors 9-32 of the north tower. A swimming pool and other residential amenities for both towers would also be found on floor 9.

These details are preliminary and subject to change as the project goes through the development review process. For example, BusinessDen reports that Amacon has already tweaked the unit count from 477 to 463 since the plans were filed, and more changes are possible as Davis Partnership Architects refines the design in the coming months. Amacon is aiming to break ground in May 2019 and complete the project by October 2022.

Long-time DenverInfill readers may recall our Worst Downtown Parking Lot Contest in 2007, and that this block (Block 176) was one of the five candidates chosen by readers. Using the Denver Public Library’s amazing digitized historic photographs collection, we investigated what each candidate site looked like before they became parking lots, so check out what we learned about the history of this 18th and Glenarm site here.

The best historic photo I could find of what once stood on this site is below (courtesy Denver Public Library), which shows the northeast side of 18th Street between Welton and Glenarm in the 1920s. The three-story building on the right was the Empire Hotel at 18th and Glenarm, and the little one-story building to its left is the building where Shelby’s is today. I’m not sure when the Empire Hotel was razed—probably the 1960s or the 1970s—but let’s just say it’s been an ugly parking lot for a long time. This is where the proposed 38-story south tower will rise.

Historic photo from the 1920s of 18th and Glenarm, courtesy Denver Public Library Western History Collection

This area is the worst parking crater in downtown (excluding the sea of asphalt around the Pepsi Center), so this proposed development is wonderful news. And unlike some recent speculative proposals at 19th and Arapahoe and 17th and California, this project is being proposed by a major developer with an excellent track record of completing dozens of similar high-rise projects in Vancouver and other Canadian cities.

Hopefully, our next update will include some preliminary renderings. Stay tuned!

By |2018-11-11T14:50:20+00:00November 9, 2018|Categories: Infill, Renderings, Residential, Upper Downtown|Tags: |41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. Ryan November 9, 2018 at 6:58 am - Reply

    Pretty fascinating that a major project in this area of town doesn’t include an office space component. I wonder what that says about our commercial real estate market in the near future in relation to the residential market. Appears the city should be able to support thousands more homes over the next handful of years and developers know it.

    Good riddance to this silly waste of land.

    • Paul November 9, 2018 at 8:46 am - Reply

      I think that Amacon really doesn’t do mixed-use projects with office components- they’re pretty much a multi-family developer with retail components. So it might be more a company doing what it knows well versus trying something entirely new for their first project in a new market.

    • Jason November 9, 2018 at 9:53 am - Reply

      I totally see what you’re saying and I think Paul is right. Amacon likely has no interest in incorporating office space into this project. It’s not in their wheelhouse. Plus, with the recent opening of the 1144 Fifteenth tower, the under-construction Block 162 office tower, and the most-likely-to-happen Two Tabor office tower (knock on wood!), Denver is actively addressing the large-scale office space demands. This just isn’t one of those projects. But overall, It’s a great place to locate 400+ residential units in my opinion. Hoping there are more downtown for-purchase high-rise residential projects on the horizon. I agree that it appears Denver has the demand for them.

  2. Dan November 9, 2018 at 7:41 am - Reply

    Excited to see renderings on this one. Amacon does high quality development in Canada so I anticipate the same on this one.

  3. Robert Dyer November 9, 2018 at 7:56 am - Reply

    Is the Shelby’s building being razed? That lot was scheduled for major development during the 80s boom, but the developers couldn’t complete negotiation with the owners of the Shelby’s building. Is this developer working around it or have the owners conceded to progress?

    • Ken Schroeppel November 9, 2018 at 8:16 am - Reply

      Amacon owns the Shelby’s building, so when they are ready to start construction, Shelby’s will close and the building removed.

  4. […] More Info on the Development Replacing Surface Parking Lot on 18th and Glenarm, AKA the “Worst Parking Crater in Downtown” (DenverInfill) […]

  5. Jordan November 9, 2018 at 8:30 am - Reply

    I love that these condos are potentially coming to this location, but I truly wish the Shelby’s building could be incorporated somehow. It’s one of the oldest buildings in that area and while fairly mundane architecturally, it has been a meeting place in Denver for over 100 years! As the city has changed, Shelby’s has stayed the same.

    • Jeffrey November 10, 2018 at 6:27 am - Reply

      I agree.

  6. sgsfghfg November 9, 2018 at 8:35 am - Reply

    38 and 32 stories? Hell yes. We need more tall projects!

  7. John R November 9, 2018 at 8:46 am - Reply

    :rage quits Denver over Houston-levels of parking:

    I’m ready to say we’ve lost downtown. We’ll never see the investment needed in bus and bike infrastructure on downtown streets that we need because we’ve done nothing to disincentivize parking infrastructure.

    • Bobby Mucho November 9, 2018 at 9:44 am - Reply

      100% agreed. How can anyone justify 500+ parking spaces on this site (not to mention nearly equal numbers on all surrounding developments)? I know the light rail isn’t that proficient, but it’s clear there’s far too much emphasis being put on car storage vs walkability, transit lanes, and bike infrastructure.

      I know it’s a far cry, but I really can’t imagine what we’re going to do with all of this podium style garage space once people begin to formally lose favor in personal ownership of cars—whether it be mass transit, bike, car share, or even self-driving. The first 8 stories of all buildings constructed after 2000 are going to be useless without some serious reconfiguration.

      • Paul November 9, 2018 at 10:31 am - Reply

        Maybe it’s because the light rail isn’t proficient (it’s a commuter rail network), the local bus system is inadequate, and the bike system is a patchwork? Anti-car zealots in Denver do a fine job of emphasizing the city’s car dependency, but a shitty job of pointing out the path forward.

        Remember, we just raised sales taxes by .62% (Denver has gone from one of the lowest rates to one of the highest now) to pay for mental health, parks, college scholarships, and vegetables for goddamn poor kids. Oh, and we elected a convicted felon (later tossed out) to the RTD Board for Denver! Pretty much all the wiggle room that was in Denver’s competitive sales tax rate is now gone.

        We just blew our chance to fix Denver’s transit system because it’s not a priority for the general populace and the social justice warriors. Maybe a property tax increase in 2020, but I’m doubtful because advocates will probably push afforadable housing and rent control instead and Denver’s populace will vote for it.

        • Ken Schroeppel November 9, 2018 at 11:17 am - Reply

          I disagree. Denver voters approved the 0.62% Measure 110 quite handily (58%/42%) even though it failed at the state level. They did so while also voting for the other 0.62% in the parks/mental health/scholarships/food taxes. That tells me there’s definitely an appetite among Denver voters for a sizable tax hike for transportation. We just need to work together to come up with proposal for, say, a 0.60% sales tax broke down as 0.1% for bikes, 0.1% for peds, and 0.4% for transit (something like that) to implement all of our new transportation plans. Or, a lower sales tax increase coupled with a property tax or some other revenue-producing fee.

          • Paul November 9, 2018 at 11:50 am

            I don’t disagree with you that the need is there, but is raising Denver’s total sale tax rate from the new 8.27% to 8.87% now a realistic option in competition for retail sales with the rest of the Denver Metro Area municipalities (assuming your .6% rate)? This is my concern. Not that Denver residents won’t vote for such an increase, but that it reduces Denver’s comeptiveness with other cities such as Lakewood, Aurora, Aradva, etc. This doesn’t matter if a metro district sales tax increase is proposed, but in my mind it’s an issue for a local tax.

            I do hope that transit advocates push hard in 2020 for a transit tax, I just believe that our cushion to do so has been greatly reduced.

          • Ken Schroeppel November 9, 2018 at 12:20 pm

            I see your point, which is why perhaps it may be best for Denver to do some combination of sales/property tax and/or fees to raise the needed revenue.

      • Ken Schroeppel November 9, 2018 at 11:12 am - Reply

        I agree. I’m thinking all of these empty parking podiums might make great places for urban gardens. The low floor-ceiling heights aren’t a problem, the floors are already set up with drains, and all you need to add are the planting beds and grow lights and you’re good to go. Image the amount of fresh produce we can grow in downtown on all of these soon-to-be-empty parking garage levels!

        • Freddie November 10, 2018 at 3:48 pm - Reply

          Wow, that is a really interesting idea. I like it! I would have never thought of that.

        • Bill H November 11, 2018 at 9:44 am - Reply

          In Singapore, many parking garages now hold vendors that moved off the street.

      • Jerod November 9, 2018 at 11:30 am - Reply

        Everybody is constantly bringing up parking without realizing that until there is a train from Denver up I-70 to Summit County/Vail/Glenwood Springs that it doesn’t matter how much light rail Denver adds. People in the metro area will still require a car. I moved here from New York and hate having a car. I live near downtown and almost never drive but I pay for a car and a parking space because its the only way to enjoy the mountains and use my ski pass.

        • Alex November 11, 2018 at 7:06 am - Reply

          This is, I think, a very profound point. Colorado’s brand revolves in large part around visiting the high country during the summer and winter. This requires a car, and many people in the city who otherwise would be perfectly fine to skip having one probably end up keeping one around so that they can get out and enjoy nature.

        • Ken Schroeppel November 11, 2018 at 8:35 am - Reply

          But Jerod, you can rent a car for trips to the mountains. Owning a car just for those occasional weekend visits to the mountains isn’t very cost-effective. It costs the average American $8,500 a year to own a car. That includes car payment, gasoline, parking, insurance, maintenance, registration, etc. You can rent a car with a ski-rack and kid seats for the weekend for about $150. If you do the math, you could rent a car every weekend of the year for the same cost as owning a vehicle.

          • Dan November 11, 2018 at 9:56 am

            Ken, I would argue that the average consumer doesn’t go into the nitty gritty details and math on renting vs. owning a car. As one such car owner, I typically only drive for weekend excursions and food shopping; everything else in my life is accomplished via walking unless I decide to explore other areas throughout Denver metro with sparse bus or light rail access. The idea of owning my vehicle is far more appealing on the surface than renting one every so often, returning it, and then renting again despite the financing.

            Granted, this is all personal preference and opinion. In my eyes, just because 500 new parking spaces are built downtown doesn’t necessarily mean all 500 of those potential vehicles will be on the road at the same time adding the (understandably) feared extra road clutter. Might I suggest that maybe the solution isn’t necessarily limiting the addition of new parking but continuing to provide and improve public transportation – 1) options, and 2) access – to such an extent that even car owners such as myself will find no reason or excuse to drive for the vast majority of scenarios throughout the week, though if we wanted to we still can.

            As I am not an authority on public transportation, I will not pretend to know how to accomplish this – I’ll leave that to the city planners. 🙂

            On a more personal note Ken, I’ve been enjoying this blog and the discussion it cultivates for several years now. Thank you for all the hard work!

      • Jon November 9, 2018 at 12:38 pm - Reply

        The good news is eventually, there will be so many people trying to drive downtown (in this case up to 500 more) that traffic will get to a point where people will straight up demand better transit.

    • Johnnie C November 9, 2018 at 11:37 am - Reply

      Sometimes I wonder if it would encourage more development if the city incentivized more parking lots for these towers. When I decide to park downtown either for work or just going downtown for entertainment, I always prefer a garage. I feel like not adding enough will just increase the supply and demand dilema for parking and make it easier for lot owners to just sit on their parking lot for decades. 500 parking spaces will just be used by the residents and all those people who parked in the previous lot will just end up parking on adjacent lots. Until we actually get a handle on better train, bus, and bike infrastructure, I think we ought to have developers add more levels of parking to the point of strangulating the lot owners out of their business.

      • Ken Schroeppel November 9, 2018 at 12:25 pm - Reply

        If we make it easier for people to drive and park, we will never be able to have the transit infrastructure and ridership we need to allow people to not drive so much. It’s the “chicken and the egg” problem which we have talked about a lot on DenverUrbanism (see John Riecke’s posts). There has never been a great city built around the automobile. If we want Denver, particularly downtown, to become an amazing urban place, we just have to start saying “no” to facilitating people’s desires to drive everywhere.

    • Freddie November 10, 2018 at 3:43 pm - Reply

      I’m not ready for the City to start disincentivizing parking just yet. I want to see developers eke as much as possible out of the current cycle – adding as much density to the downtown area as possible.

      Remember, the inclusion of 500 parking spaces was purely a business decision. In this market, an expensive condo that doesn’t include at least one parking space can be a hard sell. The inclusion of parking gives this development a greater chance of being financially successful and therefor a greater chance of getting off the ground. Perhaps in a future cycle, if/when Denver has a more robust transit system, disincentivizing parking would make more sense. Perhaps. Or perhaps the problem will eventually take care of itself as demand for parking wanes as the idea of owning a personal automobile becomes more antiquated for the reasons Bobby Mucho mentioned.

      Admittedly, I’m on the unpopular side of the chicken/egg debate around here when it comes to transit. Ken and his disciples (I kid!) have yet to convince me that interfering in the real estate market in a way that would ultimately make getting around by car more difficult, thereby diminishing the area’s transportation system, overall, in an effort to make transit more appealing by comparison, is a good idea. Leave the market alone and don’t do anything to make it less enticing for developers. And don’t do anything that might ultimately make it more difficult for us to get around within the confines of our current transportation system.

      Every city will always be designed to a great extent around the automobile (whether we’re talking about the automobile of today or some autonomous, eco-friendly version of the future), because every city will always be designed around the street-grid. That’s part of the reason why there is only one city in the entire country where more people commute via public transit than via car. (And we all instantly know to which city I refer as it’s one of the densest cities on the planet.) The fact that the entirety of every modern metropolis is connected by a vast, intricate web of paved streets, to the extent that every nook and cranny is accessible via the automobile, makes the automobile inherently practical. Nothing is going to change that. IMO density alone is what can make that street grid more walkable and transit more viable. As long as the City is planned for density (and I’m a bit of an extremest in that I believe it shouldn’t be limited), and is devoting an appropriate amount of it’s grid to transit, biking, etc., and as long as the City isn’t doing anything stupid that makes it difficult NOT to own a car (like extreme, suburban-style segregated uses in its zoning, etc.), it can organically become an urban paradise without actively disincentivizing automobile use. Incentivize walking, biking and transit. Don’t disincentivize the most practical form of transportation the world has ever known and the one the vast majority of us will forever continue to use. JMHO.

      I’ve always wondered if computer models could help us resolve this debate. If I had the ability, I’d come up with such a thing in a heartbeat (and with great enthusiasm as I’m endlessly fascinated by this topic).

      • Mike November 11, 2018 at 1:55 am - Reply

        I just want to respond to a few of your comments.

        1. We’re already overbuilding parking. The Colorado Real Estate Journal published an article that mentioned the DTC specifically as an area with a large percentage of unused spaces, yet we continue to build more (and the DTC is far more car dependent than downtown).
        2. Parking minimums are an intervention into the real estate market. Bulldozing half of downtown and several urban neighborhoods for an interstate system was also potentially an intervention, depending on your definition. Some cities have removed parking minimums, Denver has not.
        3. Cities are now no longer designed around a street grid. Look at south Denver. Street grids are much better for people walking than people driving; do you really want to stop for the traffic light at each block? That’s why we invented highways, which cut the street grid to let cars move faster.
        4. Bicyclists were the first to call for paved streets. And, while still a single-occupancy vehicle, do far less damage to the road underneath them and if need be you can pick it up to go up some stairs. Bikes, in that sense, are more practical.
        5. We do disincentive every everything but driving. Back to the street grid, we’ve already designed our streets to benefit the automobile. Until some cars started killing lots of kids and garnering bad publicity for car companies, everyone used the street. Even after pedestrians were forced onto sidewalks, we’ve continued to chip away. Look at old pictures of Broadway in Denver. Same ROW but a very different hierarchy. Cars are convenient because we changed everything to make it that way. Have you ever been downtown and the road just ends? Because that’s what happens for people walking and biking. That doesn’t even mention that most of Denver, including this very block, was bulldozed for skyscrapers, highways, and parking. And it’s taken over half a century for the scars to heal like this project.
        6. Cars aren’t practical in cities. Structured spaces cost around $30,000 to build (or about 6x what I paid for my car) with that cost falling on private companies who pass it on to you. Cars sit empty 90% of the time, but require thousands of acres of space. One Belleview Station in the DTC has more square feet dedicated to parking than to office space. But also, while RTD’s system is expensive to build and operate, we spend way more just owning cars, about $10,000/year on average. If 1/6 of Denverites own a car, that’s over $1.2 billion annually, not including the cost to buy cars, maintain streets, build parking, etc. Cars have a lousy ROI.

        You’re right, most Denverites drive (though downtown a plurality take transit to work) and it would not be possible to eliminate parking overnight. But a lot of the things that make parking and driving more difficult are actually just taking back some of the things we’d previously given away to make cars easier.

        • Freddie November 11, 2018 at 3:36 pm - Reply

          Mike, I appreciate your comments.

          1) I’m an urbanist (although apparently not a very good one due to this single dissenting opinion) that has managed to get by without owning a car for most of his adult life in the cities of Denver, SF, LA and San Diego. It’s a mandate for me that a neighborhood must be walkable before I will even consider living in it.

          2) As I have said multiple times in the comments section of this page, I do not support parking minimums. And as far as I know, parking minimums aren’t applicable in the case of this particular development proposal.

          3) Cities ARE, and always will be, designed around the street grid. Cars have subsequently been a practical form of transportation since their invention. That will never change.

          4) We should be incentivizing transit/biking as much as possible and far more than we currently are.

          5) I agree with most of you urbanist hippies (again, I kid!) 90% of the time. I just can’t get behind parking maximums – or any other arbitrary form of actively disincentivizing the use of automobiles. For all but one ridiculously dense metropolis in this country, the automobile will forever remain the most practical form of transportation for most people. Interfering with the markets in a way that would sabotage its use for the sake of making alternative forms of transportation more appealing by comparison is a mistake. Densification alone can make transit/biking/walking more practical and cars less necessary, IMO. Actively incentivizing alternative forms of transportation would be a further step in the right direction. In the mean time, the markets will continue to dictate that people need a place to put their cars.

  8. Matthew November 9, 2018 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Didn’t hear anything about Paradise or Gellar…maybe this will actually happen?

  9. James November 9, 2018 at 10:00 am - Reply

    WOW
    Surprise another residential development in the downtown denver business district
    You would think that area would be ideal for office towers
    So all the surface parking lots will be turned into mid rise apartments and condos
    All future commercial office buildings be built at the Denver Tech Center great news for that area.

  10. James November 9, 2018 at 10:25 am - Reply

    I have always hoped to see some very tall buildings go up in this area of downtown. I know the area around sherman and grant between 20th and 16th has some proposed tall buildings. Does anyone know the height restriction on the land between Lincoln and Broadway across from this development?

    • Johnnie C November 9, 2018 at 11:42 am - Reply

      I can only imagine that as lot availability decreases, towers will get taller and taller. I’m with you though and always hoped that this region would be the place for 80+ story towers.

    • Ryan November 10, 2018 at 6:57 am - Reply

      Yeah, still entirely too many empty lots in this area of town. It’s startling to look at an overhead map, even after how far we’ve come in recent years. It’s going to take another decade to get to that point. Land owners are still too willing to sit on parcels until they can get top dollar.

      That said, 38 stories is nothing to sneeze at. In this elevated part of town, it will have an impact on the skyline. Might even be a Top 6 or 7th tallest building depending on the commercial space.

  11. Dennis November 9, 2018 at 11:46 am - Reply

    here is a link regarding the historic buildings along 18th with a few more pics.

    http://denverhistorytours.blogspot.com/2008/06/adams-hotel.html

  12. GC November 10, 2018 at 8:01 am - Reply

    No one buying a million dollar condo would do so without at least one parking space for their car. Get real folks. The developer and investors would not want to take the chance at this point.

    • Matthew November 10, 2018 at 9:13 am - Reply

      Amen.

  13. Philip Van Hoevenberg November 10, 2018 at 11:49 am - Reply

    I would imagine it’s possible for Shelby’s to relocate nearby (as mentioned in another post) or install the old bar in a new retail space in Amacon’s development once it’s completed. Whether or not Shelby’s owners actually have a desire to do so is another matter.

    This area of empty lots has stunning potential not only for the Creation of Place but also for transformational impacts on the neighborhoods it touches. Like others, I hope this condo project is a catalyst for further development of all stripes that takes full advantage of the unique site and situational characteristics of this section of downtown: its unusual convergence of grid patterns, its “bookend” placement with the downtown core’s physical layout (and subsequent amenity pattern), and it’s relation to surrounding neighborhoods. Fingers crossed.

  14. Jason November 13, 2018 at 7:51 am - Reply

    When on the City/County of Denver’s development page checking this project out (with what little info in on there currently) I also noticed a permit was very recently submitted for the nearby El Jebel site. The project is listed on the site as a tad over 100 feet at 5 stories which makes me think what is detailed is only for the historic building and not a new tower next door. I was excited and then immediately disappointment to not see a long overdue high-rise proposed on that site with the new permit. Any update on the 1770 Sherman site? Would be cool to see the above project and El Jebel go up in this part of downtown.

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