Golden Triangle is redevelopment city. According to a June post from DenverInfill, there are five ongoing construction projects and eight proposals in the Civic Center neighborhood district, which runs along the Cherry Creek Greenway to Sherman Street and from Colfax to Sixth Avenue.
Well, one building will be remaining in the neighborhood.
On Monday, City Council approved a request to designate the Cadillac Lofts, located at 1090 Cherokee Street, as a landmark.
“It’s an important building to the neighborhood’s history,” said the Lofts’ part-owner Dennis Humphries. “It tells the story of what the neighborhood once was…There are very few buildings in the Golden Triangle that are of architectural significance, have an important history and have played a role in the development of the city a hundred years ago. That’s what this was all about, preserving the story.”
The Cadillac Lofts is a three-story condominium and Humphries’ longtime home. He and the other owners put in a designation request late last year and has since received support from community members and Historic Denver.
Applying for the designation is something Humphries said the neighbors have thought about for years as a way to continue to preserve the building, especially as Golden Triangle continues to redevelop. Humphries said the area was once a “parking reservoir” with hopes of becoming a livable neighborhood. He said with the art institutions and the new construction, those hopes are becoming more of reality.
“Within a one-block radius of my house right now, there are seven construction cranes that are building apartment buildings that are 18-, 20-stories tall,” Humphries said. “When I first came to the neighborhood, I think about 70% of the neighborhood was surface parking lots…. It’s great to see those parking lots become places that people can call home.”
In the early 1900s, the auto industry boomed in Denver and its home was the Golden Triangle.
Along Broadway and Lincoln between 14th Avenue and Speer Boulevard, was once known as Gasoline Alley or Automobile Row. Humphries said the street was lined with car dealerships and their service shops.
The Lofts were built in 1921 as a service station for Cadillac, specifically R.R. Hall’s Cadillac dealership that was located at 1376 Broadway. The building was designed by Fisher & Fisher, a once prominent architecture firm that mainly worked on residential space and office buildings, including South High School and the Voorhies Memorial in Civic Center Park. The Cadillac warehouse was a new deal for them and it included a massive elevator in the center, which would take the cars up to the second and third floors to be serviced.
Once the auto industry died down in the city, Humphries said, the building was used to house a wholesale florist company in the 1950s. Once the florist left, the building sat vacant until it was repurposed into condominiums in 1994 by Mickey Zeppelin. The building became the first in the Golden Triangle to be reused into residential housing.
“Restoring old buildings and giving them new lives is really a success for the city,” Humphries said. “We talk about sustainability and climate change and we always like to say ‘The greenest building is the one that’s already there.'”
With the landmark designation, the building will remain.
According to Kara Hahn, a principal planner with Community Planning and Development, any request to change the outside of the building would need to go through the Landmark Preservation to make sure the changes align with the historic character of the building.
Hahn said the building has been “reused well” and since the building’s inception very few changes have been made. She added that with condo building, CPD doesn’t usually see requests for exterior changes.
Prior to the vote, Humphries said he was hopeful Council would agree with designation. He said in creating a city, it’s important for new development to occur but it’s also important to preserve what can be preserved.
“The Golden Triangle has also had this kind of golden hope that it would become something special,” Humphries said. “I’ve seen a lot of hopes and not realizations. We’re seeing the realizations and honestly, I think it’s good… There were 50 people living in the Golden Triangle back then and now there’s over 5,000. We’ve learned a lot about how to make a better city and preserve the history that was once there. So, this building will sit in the middle of those tall structures and be a reminder to people that this was once an important part of the neighborhood.”