Denver’s condo freeze thaws with 461 new units coming to the old Shelby’s Bar & Grill site

It’s the largest condo project in Denver in over a decade.

525 18th Street. Dec. 15, 2021.

525 18th Street. Dec. 15, 2021.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
kyle harris

Canadian developer Amacon is ready to build two massive towers in the Central Business District on the edge of Uptown.

The land is purchased. Permits are complete. The site is fenced off. Next step: construction.

Unlike most new Denver projects, the Amacon Towers will offer market-rate condos to buy — not rent.

The buildings, designed by Davis Partnership Architects, will take over a long vacant parking lot and the former site of Shelby’s Bar & Grill, at 18th Street and Glenarm Place.

One tower will rise 400 feet — the max, dictated by zoning — and include 38 stories; the other will rise around 350 feet and include 32 stories. The towers will boast ground-floor retail and both below- and above-ground parking. The building will also include a swimming pool deck and other amenities for residents.

The residences will be a mix of studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom units and a handful of penthouses — 461 properties in total.

At 400 feet, the building will be taller than most downtown, but not in the top ten highest. To compare: Republic Plaza, Denver’s tallest building, rises 56 stories and 714 feet.

This will be the largest condo project in Denver in over a decade and signals that the longstanding freeze on new condo construction might finally be thawing.

In recent years, “I think the condo market in Denver has largely been a void, at least the high density condo projects” said Mark Sheldon, a lifelong Denverite and Amacon’s area manager. He blames construction defect laws that “made it very, very easy for HOAs to file class action lawsuits and you had general contractors who were no longer able to even build things from an insurance perspective.”

That hesitancy on the part of contractors has led to what he described as a “decade-long gap of any dense condo development.” Instead, he said, developers have focused on building eight-to-twelve-story “big-box apartments” for rent.

Alongside the Coloradan and McGregor Square, the Amacon Towers will be one of the few recent developments to include dense condos and the largest since 2009, when the Spire brought 493 units to 891 14th St., as Denver Business Journal reported.

Davis Partnership Architects rendering of the Amacon Towers.

Davis Partnership Architects rendering of the Amacon Towers.

Davis Partnership Architects

Though Sheldon’s not ready to speculate just how much the units will cost, his hope is that they are more attainable for middle-class homebuyers than those at other newer buildings. His wants the project to help more Denverites have the chance to get in on the dream of home ownership — something that some in the middle class say has become out of reach.

Don’t expect the new towers to meet the city’s criteria for affordable housing.

Instead of building a mixed-income project, Amacon contributed, per city policy, to Denver’s affordable housing program and also plans to look for opportunities to collaborate on future affordable developments.

The Amacon Towers will bring West Coast design to downtown Denver.

The towers are similar to other projects Amacon has built over fifty years in Vancouver, where it has specialized in developing skyscrapers with condos around public transit stops.

The Denver project will be the company’s first new building developed under its own name in the United States and will likely be one of several the developer hopes to build in the city, which Sheldon still sees as a market full of possibility.

“We’re happy to bring some of this kind of West Coast architecture to our otherwise brown, blasé, high-rise community here that we have,” he said. “There’s been some great, great additions to the skyline recently. And so we’re hoping that we can add to that.”

 

 

 

 

 

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