Denver’s Arapahoe Square neighborhood is being pulled in two directions.
A handful of development projects slated for this portion of Five Points northeast of downtown are geared toward helping homeless and low-income people. Many other projects aim to transform the parking lot-heavy area into a spot for new mid-rise apartments and businesses to support them.
The Downtown Denver Partnership is working with other groups in the city to draw development to the area. This will create more balance, officials said, and a better environment for everyone.
“We’ve always looked at that as the last core neighborhood that needs a lot attention and needs a lot of upgrading and reinvestment,” said John Desmond, the partnership’s executive vice president for the downtown environment.
Arapahoe Square was listed as “probably the most underutilized area of downtown” in the city’s 2007 Downtown Area Plan.
“In the 1970s and ’80s, much of Arapahoe Square was cleared to serve as a parking reservoir for the commercial core, specifically between Park Avenue, Welton Street and Broadway. It is still dominated by surface parking lots and some vacant parcels,” the plan states.
The city recommended redeveloping those parking lots and other “underutilized” properties, adding pedestrian improvements and restoring landscaped tree lawns.
In 2011, the push for redevelopment got a new boost with the development of an urban renewal authority in the area. The URA basically allows some projects in the area to get taxpayer support through tax increment financing.
More recently, the city pushed through a zoning change in the area. The change last summer allows developers to add mid- and high-rise buildings.
“I think we still have to market the area,” Desmond said. “Despite the development, the area doesn’t really have a compelling identity to it. There’s no singular building or street or sort of center that says this is emblematic of Arapahoe Square.”
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, on the boundary of the square, hopes to be one of those emblematic areas. The church is considering building a multi-story structure to house low-income or homeless people in the parking lots north of the church.
“We sort of envision if we can pull this off correctly, St. Andrews can sort of be a centerpiece or heart of that little area right there,” said Ally Dodge, a spokeswoman for the church. “At some point, we’ll probably be the lowest profile building structure in a two-block radius depending on how quickly everything gets developed. There’s sort of something intimate and interesting about that idea that we’re this tiny little church at the center of these large, tall buildings around us.”
According to the Downtown Denver Partnership, developers brought forward five projects totaling 344 residential units between 2012 to 2016. In the next two to five years, six projects are expected to bring about 1,110 units to the square.
Here are some of the projects you can expect to see:
St. Andrew’s tiny homes
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church is considering setting up eight tiny homes on the parking lots north of the church sometime this year, said Ally Dodge, a spokeswoman for the church. The long-term plan is to build a multi-story structure on the lots to house low-income or homeless individuals.
Alexan at Arapahoe Square
Trammell Crow Residential Co. is adding the 13-story, 355-unit Alexan at Arapahoe Square apartments at the south corner of Welton Street and Park Avenue.
Alexan at Arapahoe Square is expected to open in early 2018, said Matthew Schildt, managing director at Trammell Crow Residential. The average apartment is expected to be about 780 square feet and rent for $1,900 per month.
Alexan at 20th Street Station
Trammell Crow is also adding the 12-story, 354-unit Alexan at 20th Street Station apartments at the southeast corner of 20th and California streets.
Alexan at 20th Street Station is expected to open in early 2018 with similar average size units and prices as the Alexan at Arapahoe Square, Schildt said.
2200 California Street
An Arapahoe Square building that once primarily served as storage for Porsches and collectible cars is expected to get a brewery, an escape room and a restaurant later this year. Vanwest Partners shelled out $3 million for the nearly 102-year-old spot at 2200 California Street last May.
I Candi Carwash site
The I Candi Car Wash property at 838 Park Ave. was purchased last year by Oyster International for $1.6 million. Although no official plan has been submitted, a 130-unit structure with 24 parking spaces has been proposed at the site, according to the city.
2075 Broadway Lofts
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless was approved last spring to build the six-story, 101-unit 2075 Broadway Lofts near Broadway and 20th Street.
The project is targeted to meet the needs of Denver’s homeless population, according to an application for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless was not available for an interview about the project.
Rocky Mountain PBS
Rocky Mountain PBS is expected to build its new office near 21st and Arapahoe streets.
“We’re still in the programming phase of our project and expect to move into schematic design in May,” said Amanda Mountain, president and CEO at RMPBS. “We don’t have final numbers, but roughly our project will be a 60,000- to 70,000-square-foot Public Media Center that will house both professional production facilities and community TV and radio studios that citizen storytellers can utilize as they learn to share their own stories through the use of public media.”
Target opening date is early 2020 and projected costs are $30 million.
Denver-based iUnit is proposing a 60-unit, five-story building at 2250 Champa St, according to the city. The company did not return multiple inquiries about the project, but its website says the micro-unit apartments will be called Champa Flats.
Denver Housing Authority’s Platte Valley Homes
Denver Housing Authority is considering building four row house structures near 2058 Champa St, according to city documents. Altogether the structures are slated to include 19 homes with four separate carriage house units off the adjacent alley.
DHA said they would be able to talk about the project during the summer after details surrounding financing are sorted out.
“This project is in the pipeline and announcements of financing awards will be made second or third quarter,” said Stella Madrid, DHA spokeswoman.
The Downtown Denver Partnership and city planners envision multi-modal improvements along the entire length of 21st Street to create a destination for the Arapahoe Square and Ballpark neighborhoods. Improvements include a festival street on 21st between Blake and Lawrence streets. Revitalizing the street was recommended in the Northeast Downtown Neighborhoods Plan adopted in 2010. The partnership and the city are planning a two-month demonstration of some of the planned improvements starting in mid-June.
21st and Welton
In January, LMC started construction on the 18-story, 329-unit apartment project 21st & Welton. The transit-oriented development will expand Denver’s luxury high-rise rental market, according to a social media post by LMC’s builder The Weitz Co.
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