A Dozen Abuzz: 12 Anticipated Openings in Denver

Denver is on fire. Here are 12 of the most anticipated openings of projects currently in the works across the city. See you there soon.
From LoDo to Cherry Creek to industrial patches off South Broadway, it's hard to mistake the energy coursing through the city right now. Fueled by an entrepreneurial streak that's a mile high, an oil and gas boom in the hinterlands and a one-of-a-kind lifestyle, Denver is hitting its potential -- and then some.

With all of the cranes on the horizon and hardhat sites below, it's easy to lose track of the projects in progress. Here's a primer of 12 of the buildings, parks, breweries and more that are begetting butterflies in our bellies.

The ART, a hotel (1201 Broadway): March 2015

"This is such a marvelous project," says GM David Bodette. "It's 165 rooms that are much needed at the tip of the Golden Triangle."

The ART promises to be more than a lodging. Bodette sees it as a neighborhood catalyst. 
"It's much more than just a building," he says. "It's the people, the vibrancy, the events. I'm blessed to be steps away from two world-class venues in the Denver Art Museum and History Colorado Center."

Bodette touts the layout -- the hotel's lobby and restaurant will be on the fourth floor, above three floors of offices and possibly ground-floor retail. While he can't divulge the chef yet, the restaurant will focus on "New American cuisine and a craft cocktail and craft beer bar."

"It's the tip of the glass point sticking out over Broadway," says Bodette of the restaurant's enviable perch. Likewise, he touts stunning city and mountain views from the rooms and suites on the fifth through ninth floors.

Then there's the art inside, which includes works from as-yet-unnamed artists "who are at the forefront of their movements," says Bodette, and the possibility of displaying works on loan from the Denver Art Museum. "The art is also integrated into the rooms. It's definitely going to add to the experience."

Declaration Brewing (2030 S. Cherokee St.): November/December 2014

"It's been one hell of a week," says Chief Instigating Officer Mike Blandford. "When you get to the end of a project, everybody is in a tizzy."

Blandford says the new brewery will hit the ground running when it opens, with a tap room, beer garden, kegging and canning lines and a full slate of events. The beer garden will get an outdoor stage for live music in early 2015.

Declaration took over the building in summer 2013, but were slowed down by an unforeseen "floodproofing” project. A year and a half later, they're ready to start pouring some pints and throwing some parties. "It's going to be an awesome spot," says Blandford. "We've got some insane ideas."

Located near the Evans light-rail stop in the Overland neighborhood, the brewery has enlisted a crew of Declaration Diplomats, primarily snowboarders of note, and plans plenty of tie-ins with the snowsports world and ski-town distribution. "We're going to be big enough to have a rail jam in the beer garden," says Blandford. He already has a big bash lined up for the 2015 SIA Snow Show.

Bottling will follow canning in the next couple of years, Blandford adds, but canning three to six beers from day one fits with the founders' engineering backgrounds. To wit, the Chief Hoperating Officer, Greg Schlichting, has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, and the onsite lab is equipped to handle 150 strains of yeast. Says Blandford: "We're trained to run these high-end scientific laboratories -- and that's what a brewery pretty much is."

Denizen (405 S. Cherokee St.): Summer 2015

If you've taken light rail recently, you know that the 275-unit apartment building on the former site of the Alameda Station Park-and-Ride is growing like a weed.

"They're really cooking with the construction," says Dan Cohen, development manager for D4 Urban, the company behind the project. "I've been extremely pleased with the progress."

The project features two five-story buildings fronted by a pocket park that separates the apartments from the light rail -- a literal stone's throw away. The south building will see its first move-ins in July, and the entire project will wrap up by October.

The location is particularly enviable: Besides the easy access to light rail, the project is a half-mile from the heart of Baker. Expect plenty of perks -- an onsite dog park, public art, community garden, fitness center, outdoor decks and more -- as well as a new RTD Transit Plaza.

Johnson-Habitat Park (South Platte River at Virginia Avenue): April 2015

"It's going to be the premiere environmental education center in the Denver parks system," says Mike Bouchard, the park's project manager at Denver Parks and Recreation. "It's the crown jewel of the South Platte River Vision program."

Headquarters for The Greenway Foundation's South Platte River Environmental Education (SPREE), the eight-acre Johnson-Habitat Park, located at West Virginia Avenue and South Inca Street, will feature a campground, a riverside amphitheatre and fire pit, and several innovative play structures: an interactive wikiup where kids can build their own wooden forts, a traditional playground, and a tree fort.

"It's also got a seven-foot cottonwood stump made of concrete called Fox Hollow," says Bouchard. "It'll be really fun for kids to crawl into and play."

Galvanize LoDo (1644 Platte St.): Spring 2015

Denver's second Galvanize location is set to open in the Central Platte Valley in early 2015, featuring 40 office suites, a gSchool classroom and desk and seat memberships for solo entrepreneurs.

The new build was slated to be Galvanize no. 1 before Jim Deters, Chris Onan and company came across a repurposable building in the Golden Triangle that opened in late 2012. But good things come to those who wait -- the location is ideal, with easy access to the Platte River Trail, Union Station, I-25 and a sudsy perk across the street in Denver Beer Co.

"It's more of the same for us -- a hub for tech and entrepreneurial activity," says Onan, Galvanize co-founder and managing director, noting that the original Denver Galvanize is at capacity.

"The views are sick," he adds. "You can see the Platte and great views of downtown."

Hunger Relief Center at Metro CareRing (1100 E. 18th Ave.): Early 2015

With 100,000 food-insecure individuals in Denver County, Metro CareRing has outgrown its existing facility and will jump  from 4,500 square feet to 16,000 at its new Hunger Relief Center. Not only is it bigger, but it's better, with a greenhouse and rooftop garden that will help teach families how to garden, a health clinic and a market focused on healthy foods, as well as classrooms, offices and storage space.

The Hunger Relief Center at Metro CareRing will help end hunger through strategic partnerships, a fresh-foods shopping market, nutrition education, teaching gardens, and wrap-around services for self-sufficiency," says Susie Sigman, the organization's development and communications director.

Leopold Bros. Distillery (5285 Joliet St.): November 2014

Makers of award-winning gin, whiskey, liqueurs and absinthe, Leopold Bros. has built a world-class distillery in northeast Denver, and the company's adoring fans have been chomping at the bit to get inside. The date is finally nigh.

The floor malting room and kiln will allow the distillery to malt all of its Colorado-grown barley in-house -- an industry rarity -- plus a hyper-efficient water re-filtering system that uses about a liter of water per liter of spirit made, light years thriftier than the six-to-20 liter-norm. Outside, a garden will supply open fermenters with wild yeast, and the barrelhouse will hold 2,000 barrels.

"It's 15 years of hard work and education going into this building," says Todd Leopold, head distiller and co-founder with his brother, Scott. "It's really a dream come true."

Nocturne (1330 27th St.): December 2014

Melding Art Deco and urban grit, this crowdfunded jazz and supper club is set to open in a century-old factory in RiNo before the end of the year.

"This is the first jazz venue of its kind in Denver for a while, combining the art of food and beverage with live music," says Nicole Mattson, who is partnering with her sommelier husband, Scott. "I've got the business side of things and my husband has the wine side."

The kitchen will be helmed by Dustin Beckner, currently of Root Down, and the music will focus on jazz, but occasionally mix in some blues and funk. "We've got a great local talent pool here," says Nicole. "We're also trying to sprinkle in some national acts as they come through town."

Nicole says Nocturne won't be for jazz diehards and jazz diehards alone. "It's not going to be exclusive," she says. "Sometimes jazz venues can be a little intimidating."

The project is being financed largely by community funding via its website. "To date, we've raised about 70 percent of what we're looking for," Nicole says. She says she's hoping for one last push to help Nocturne light up by New Year's Eve.

Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales Library (Colfax Avenue at Irving Street): January 2015

Named for the late Denver poet/activist/boxer, this new Denver Public Library location  is a fitting tribute to one of the city's most notable literary and political figures. Designed by Studiotrope and built by White Construction Group, the contemporary 27,000-square-foot library will serve as an anchor on the West Colfax corridor.

Librarian Shirley Amore says the library fills a void in the neighborhood, traditionally something of a book desert. "We've been very active in engaging the community throughout the construction and development process -- from imagining the library down to the most thoughtful details that will make this a true community hub," she adds.

The two-story building is designed to integrate learning and community interaction in all areas of the building. The main floor will feature a children's area and Community Learning Plaza space for new immigrants. The second story houses technology and computer stations, an adult reading alcove, teen spaces and a 20-person meeting room for community groups. A large, welcoming outdoor reading room is in the center of the building.

From Gonzales' epic poem, I Am Joaquin, which is remembered as having a catalytic effect on the Chicano art movement:

Clamoring voices
Mariachi strains
Fiery tequila explosions
The smell of chile verde and
Soft brown eyes of expectation for a
Better life.
And in all the fertile farmlands,
the barren plains,
the mountain villages,
smoke-smeared cities,
we start to MOVE.

Triangle Building (1550 Wewatta St.): Spring 2015

Anderson Mason Dale Architects had a structural forerunner across downtown -- the Brown Palace Hotel -- for its three-sided design, only the Triangle Building, opening 121 years later, has an all-glass facade that screams 21st century.

Out front, the public Old Wewatta Plaza will act as a conduit between Cherry Creek, the 16th Street Mall and Union Station, and will feature green space, restaurants and a bike station.

Saunders Construction is the general contractor on the project at 16th and Wewatta streets. With 200,000 square feet of office space on nine stories on top of 10,000 square feet of ground-level retail and two underground stories for parking, the project is at once distinctive and green -- it's targeting a LEED gold certification.

The supplier is currently assembling the insulated glass panels in Texas, and installation will start in November and last seven weeks, says John Graham of Anderson Mason Dale.

Graham explains that the triangular design came out of the requirement for Old Wewatta Plaza to remain public space. "We took the 80-foot-long orthogonal chunk out, which left us with a triangle," he says. "There's not an alley -- every side is very public."

What's the hardest thing about designing a triangular building? "The difficulty is getting the parking to work," laughs Graham.

250 Columbine (3rd Avenue and Columbine Street): Spring/Summer 2015

Following LoDo's lead, Cherry Creek is in the middle of a major boom. At the forefront of the slate of projects, the slick mixed-use 250 Columbine is at the top of the long list of developments in progress.

The OZ Architecture-designed, PCL Construction-built edifice includes 80,000 square feet of office space, 30,000 square feet of retail and 71 condominium units. The building topped out in mid-September and the offices are expected to open in the first quarter by the end of the first quarter in 2015, with the first residents moving in by summer.

"While we still have a lot of important work to do, we’re very pleased with our progress to-date, and the favorable feedback we’ve received from the community," says David Steel, partner with Western Development Group, the firm behind the project.

Westin DIA Hotel and Transit Center (Denver International Airport): 2015; Commuter Rail: 2016

The $500 million project fuses three of Denver's most ambitious transportation projects ever by connecting Denver International Airport with Union Station vis FasTracks. The project includes a 519-room hotel with a roomy 26,000 square feet of meeting space, an 82,000-square-foot public plaza and transit center.

"It will make DIA one of the elite group of U.S. airports who have easy access to train service and a premier hotel, keeping us competitive in the growing global aviation marketplace, DIA Manager of Aviation Kim Days says. "We are building a quality project that complements and reflects the quality of the original terminal, and one that perpetuates the pride our community has for this amazing airport."

But the most anticipated development of all is still more than a year away, when FasTracks commuter rail patches DIA into the city's expanding transit system.
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Read more articles by Eric Peterson.

Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here.
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