A Sun Valley development along the South Platte River will have a huge parking garage (but maybe not forever?)

The next piece of Steam on the Platte will have an 8-story building for either homes or offices — and 4 stories of parking.
3 min. read
The parking lot at Steam On The Platte, Sun Valley, Jan. 14, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Developer Susan Powers is readying a warehouse and a parking lot in Sun Valley for their next lives as a 4-story parking garage wrapped by either office space or apartment homes.

The proposed structures are the latest piece of Steam on the Platte, a riverside development meant to reinvent the area around 2060 W. Colfax Ave. with a nod to its industrial past. On Monday, the Denver City Council OK'd new building parameters on the site, next to Raices Brewing Company, that allow eight stories and a mix of things like offices, restaurants, retail space and homes.

"We really haven't made a decision about which direction we're going in because we need to have a little bit more time settling in with tenants before we see whether we are doing another office building, which is very possible," said Powers, who owns Urban Ventures.

A rendering of the completed Steam on the Platte complex. (Courtesy, Urban Ventures)

Two things she's pretty sure of: the new building will rise 8 stories and a 4-story parking garage will be built (for the entire Steam on the Platte district) to hold about 235 cars. Steam on the Platte currently leases a Broncos-owned parking lot that will be filled in as the stadium district neighborhood goes from renderings to reality. Powers says she'll need to replace those parking stalls and add more.

Steam on the Platte is about a 10-minute walk from the Auraria West RTD station and along the Platte River Trail.

"I would love to be one of those people that agrees that we don't need or should have less parking at all these buildings, but the reality is, everybody's still driving their car in Denver," Powers told Denverite. "We can pretend like that's not happening, but it's happening."

Powers is interested in building a convertible parking garage --  a parking structure built to become something more useful, like homes, if and when privately owned vehicles become less popular than public transit, bikes, self-driving cars or whatever other tech might change the status quo in the future.

University of Colorado Denver researcher Wes Marshall studies urban transportation, including the role that parking can play in traffic generation. But he also understands how it gets built despite Denver's stated goals of encouraging more sustainable transportation modes.

"It is a legitimate stance to take, especially because most lenders won't give you money unless you have what they consider enough parking," Marshall said. "But at the same time, it totally is a chicken and egg thing. The reason people are driving is because of all the parking we're putting out there."

Council members voted 11 to 0 to approve the new zoning, saying it aligned with previously approved plans for the area. Council members Candi CdeBaca and Stacie Gilmore were absent.

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