The historic Sports Castle building, along with a parking lot and another property directly to the north, were sold by family owners Gart Properties last Wednesday and are headed for serious development… eventually.
The Sports Castle and parking lot were bought by Hyder Construction Inc., while the other warehouse was scooped up by Cypress Real Estate Advisors.
Despite sitting (mostly) empty since 2016, the former Chrysler showroom and sports retailer is an iconic landmark along Broadway in the just-barely-Capitol Hill part of the Golden Triangle district, which was recently rezoned to get a lot taller and a lot denser. In 2017, its eye-catching style even made it a contender as Denver’s next Meow Wolf venue.
The original stained-glass windows and masonry facade have been the focal points of preservation.
“Our goal is to take this special building and restore it to make the Sports Castle a gem in this wonderful neighborhood,” Tom McLagan, the executive chairman at Hyder, wrote in a statement. McLagan said he hopes to get the property placed on the National Register of Historic Places after renovation.
McLagan plans to create ground-floor retail and upper-story office spaces to the Sports Castle. There might also be a top-floor event space and rooftop deck, according to city records.
Redevelopment of the inside of the building likely won’t happen until 2023, but McLagan has hired a California-based firm to bring exhibits, performances and concerts to the venue in the meantime. The space has already been leased for certain events (including one cryptocurrency convention) and sometimes hosts the pop-up Spirit Halloween venues.
But the new plans are only part of the changes coming to the South Broadway block. Just north of the Sports Castle, Cypress Real Estate Advisors bought the other Gart-owned property for $11.5 million dollars.
That project is anticipated to provide 15 above-grade levels of a mixed-use development and around 284 apartment units.
According to the Denver Business Journal, certificates of landmark demolition eligibility were granted in March 2021, effectively clearing the way for demolition within the next five years.
A long History
The Sports Castle building’s original purpose was as a Chrysler showroom. Erected in in 1926, it was dubbed the Cullen-Thompson Motor Company Building.
After Jerry Gart bought the property in 1971, the building was transformed into a ski and sports retailer.
Besides boasting an indoor ski ramp and rooftop tennis courts, the Gart Sports store brought chaos to the block every Labor Day with its “Sniagrab” ski sale, sometimes called the largest ski sale in the world. The sale, which was “bargains” backwards, was a tradition Jerry Gart started in 1954 at another storefront in LoDo and brought over to Sports Castle when Gart Sports opened.
“They would convert the parking lot, which is adjacent to the Sports Castle into this huge discount ski sale and there was all kinds of skis and boots and poles and gloves and hats and goggles, you know, just everything,” our health reporter John Daley recalled.
Fun fact: Daley used to cruise around the building in a golf cart, professionally. He worked at Gart Sports in high school, shuttling customers up and down the four-story complex, and was once yelled at by then-company-president Jerry Gart for falling asleep in his cart.