A major developer in Five Points is planning to take on perhaps its most significant project in the area yet with the restoration of the Rossonian Hotel.
Palisade Partners purchased the 105-year-old hotel at the tip of Welton and Washington streets earlier this month for $6 million. The Denver-based developer is buying other properties in the area and could ultimately end up redeveloping the bulk of the 2600 block of Welton Street with the Rossonian as its anchor project, said Tim Welland, development manager at Palisade Partners.
There are four parcels southwest of the Rossonian. This week, Palisade dropped $850,000 for 2608 Welton St. The firm is also under contract to buy another property on the block and negotiating with the final property owner, Welland said Tuesday.
“Anything we do, we want to make sure to honor the neighborhood and the Rossonian’s really rich history,” Welland said. “It’s something we want to make sure the neighborhood is involved in because it really should feel like it’s something for them.”
Palisade Partners purchased the Rossonian from the founder of Civil Technology Inc., Carl Bourgeois. Bourgeois did not return an inquiry from Denverite, but Welland said that Bourgeois is expected to remain involved in the restoration project.
The Rossonian sat empty after the city of Denver purchased the foreclosed property for $1.9 million in 1998 and Denver Housing Authority, which had been leasing space there, moved out.
In 1995, the Rossonian was added to the National Register of Historic Places due to its iconic architecture and social role in the lives of African-Americans in Denver at a time when the city was racially segregated.
“The Rossonian Hotel was one of the most important jazz clubs between St. Louis and Los Angeles from the late 1930s to the early 1960s. Jazz greats such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, George Shearing and Dinah Washington stayed at the Rossonian Hotel and entertained at the Rossonian Lounge between major engagements in Denver or en route to other cities,” according to the filing with the National Register of Historic Places.
Developers have periodically floated the idea of renovating the building, which has become a priority of neighborhood and city leaders in recent years. Mayor Michael Hancock went as far as to list “support redevelopment of the Rossonian Hotel” as one of his economic goals for 2017.
“Our office has been in discussions with the property’s new owner, but at this time we do not have specifics on the redevelopment plans,” said Derek Woodbury, spokesman for the Denver Office of Economic Development.
“We have a strong history of working collaboratively together with Palisade Partners to produce mixed-income housing units for the Welton corridor, including both the Wheatley and the Lydian. We look forward to the possibility of continuing our work together, to usher in a new chapter for the Rossonian,” Woodbury said in an email.
Palisade Partners completed the five-story, 82-unit Wheatley apartment building at 530 25th St. late last year. The Lydian is under construction at 2560 Welton St. and expected to bring eight stories and 129 units later this year.
About $600,000 the city previously loaned Bourgeois to redevelop the property was paid back as part of the sale, according to the Office of Economic Development.
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