Another Dozen Abuzz: 12 More Anticipated Projects in Denver

The building boom continues. Here are 12 of the most anticipated projects that are currently in the works in Denver city limits.
Denver is galloping into 2016 at warp speed.

Last year's roundup of anticipated projects has been Confluence's most popular feature to date, so we made a sequel, and it's more Godfather than Jaws. It's also woefully incomplete: There are more interesting projects-in-progress in Denver right now than we could possibly cover in one story.

Here's a rundown of 12 notable buildings, parks and other assorted projects that we’re cheering across the finish line.

FasTracks Expansion (metro-wide): 2016

Thanks to the FasTracks transit expansion, the metro mileage covered by commuter and light rail is set to more than triple to more than 150 in 2016. "It's the first time we opened up so many trains in one year," says RTD spokesperson Tina Jaquez. "It's going to be a big year."

The biggest one: commuter rail from Union Station to Denver International Airport in 37 minutes flat. "We have an opening date for the University of Colorado A Line to DIA: April 22," says Jaquez.

Beyond that train, the year will see the launch of the Flatiron Flyer bus rapid transit (BRT) to Boulder in January, commuter rail to Westminster in the summer and Wheat Ridge in the fall and light rail expansion on I-225 from Nine Mile Station to I-70 in the winter.

"This is what voters voted for in 2004," says Jaquez. "We're really opening up commuting options for people."

Crazy Mountain Brewing Tap Room + BBQ and Beer Garden (471 Kalamath St.): Fall 2015 and Spring 2016

In Breckenridge Brewery's former production facility, new tenant Crazy Mountain Brewing has big plans for a soon-to-open barbecue joint at the brewery by Thanksgiving -- cross your fingers on the liquor license hearing.

"This Denver restaurant will be our fifth," says Sarah Franke of Group970 Restaurants in Beaver Creek. She says chef Jay McCarthy will bring Texas-style barbecue to the city and the space will feature beetlekill and reclaimed barn wood as well as an adjacent "speakeasy” selling cans, bottles and growlers. The restaurant will have a capacity of about 80 and the speakeasy 40.

"We're really trying to stay true to the core of their brand," says Franke.

In spring 2016, the area behind the brewery -- formerly Breck's keg storage area -- will transform into an outdoor beer garden. "There's a ton of space," says Franke, rattling off plans for yard games, live music and even some plants. "Right now, it's a lot of concrete. It will really be warmed up."

Wizard's Chest (451 Broadway): Fall 2015 

The beloved toy, game, magic and costume shop is relocating from Cherry Creek North to 451 Broadway in Baker. "We're shooting for Black Friday, but I don't want to promise anything," says Wizard's Chest owner Kevin Pohle.

The new store is twice the size of the Cherry Creek store, which will shutter on New Year's Eve. "We're not going to change, we're just going to expand into some breathing room," says Pohle.

The Baker store, located in a long-vacant storefront at 451 Broadway, "fits our current look already," he adds. "It's in a neighborhood that's obviously growing."

Pohle is planning to throw a big grand opening party for the new shop that in Feb. 2016. "We have some surprises in store," he says. Expect a familiar castle facade, turrets and more than a little bit of magic.

Colorado Cannabis Ranch (Gateway area): Spring 2016

Coming soon to the plains near Denver International Airport: a first-of-its-kind "weedery" in Colorado Cannabis Ranch. 

"It's like a brewery or a winery, but for marijuana," says Christian Hageseth of American Cannabis Partners, the site's developer. "We've got 50 acres we're buying right by DIA. It's about two miles south of the terminal."

Hageseth says 150,000 square feet of greenhouse space and a dispensary will open in spring 2016, followed by a temporary stage where the property will host about 20 concerts in 2016 and a permanent amphitheater as well as a restaurant with a rooftop bar that will open by 2017.

The grow operation will have tours to educate and "demystify" marijuana cultivation for visitors, says Hageseth. "It'll be a very sensory experience."

Belleview Station (Belleview Avenue and I-25): Fall 2015 to Summer 2016

With the new apartments at MileHouse 90 percent occupied, Front Range Land and Development VP Trey Warren is looking toward The Den, another apartment project with 325 units, and One Belleview Station, a 330,000-square-foot office building at Quebec Street and Belleview Avenue.

Expect both projects to be complete in summer 2016. "They should deliver at about the same time," says Warren.

In the meantime, a slew of restaurants and other businesses are opening in the retail space: Los Chingones opened last week, and Crushed Red, Orangetheory and Backcountry Deli are slated to come online by winter's end.

Beyond that, the development could include condos, hotels and more offices, retail and apartments, but nothing is set in stone. "Right now, we're just holding our breaths," says Warren.

SLOANS Denver (West Colfax Avenue): March 2016 and beyond

The site of the former St. Anthony's Hospital is set to remake West Colfax with SLOANS Denver, a mixed-use, multi-developer project that spans seven city blocks. The hospital succumbed to the wrecking ball in 2013, with a plan to build about 1,000 housing units and 100,000 square feet of retail on the 19-acre site.

Construction on Block 7 has accelerated. Centered on Colfax and Raleigh Street, the development's marquee tenant will be Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, slated to open in late 2016. Little Man Ice Cream is also coming to the block with a production facility and tasting room.

Littleton Capital Partners (LCP) is developing 6,000 square feet on the block of retail that's scheduled to go live in late 2015, and renovating a 50,000-square-foot office building on the site. "In the next 30 days, we'll have an update” on tenants, says LCP Principal Jonathan Bush.

At 16th Avenue and Raleigh, Trammell Crow is building Alexan Sloan's Lake, a 369-unit apartment complex that is likewise slated to hit the market in March 2016. "They will have some retail," says Dorit Fischer of NAI Shames Makovsky. "One of the tenants is Highland Tap and Burger."

Tivoli Park and Quad (mid-2016): Auraria Campus, 11th and Walnut streets): mid-2016

Funded by the Auraria Foundation and a $5 per student fee, this square-block park on the Auraria Higher Education Campus (AHEC) is remaking the old athletic fields in grand fashion with Tivoli Park and Quad.

"What it brings to the campus is a much needed student gathering and activity space," says AHEC CEO Barbara Weiske. "This is something we've never had before."

Designed by Denver's Wenk Associates, the park will include an amphitheater, a water feature and tiered patios along the east side of the historic Tivoli building. The $7 million project will be completed early summer 2016, but will not generally be available for use until early to mid-fall 2016 after the plantings have stabilized.

Adds Weiske: "When you talk community -- and the campus is a community -- you have to have amenities like this."

Shift Bannock (May 2016): 1001 Bannock St.

After opening the original Shift Workspaces in Alamo Placita in 2012, the coming year is a big one. Founder and CEO Grant Barnhill says Shift Bannock will open in the Golden Triangle in May 2016.

"It's turning out to be incredible," says Barnhill. The former Fistell's Electronics warehouse is one of Denver's oldest buildings, dating to the 1870s. "It's an old brick and timber warehouse, probably one of the last brick and timber warehouses in the Golden Triangle or LoDo."

Once complete, Shift Bannock will have 270 desks and about 10 offices ranging from 70 to 400 square feet.

The previous tenants left piles of gadgets that took six weeks to clear out. "When we demoed all of the old electronics gear, we saved the really cool stuff. We're going to be repurposing some of that," says Barnhill, citing a light fixture in the works from nine vintage TVs with new screens playing hand-picked content.

But that's not all: Shift Grant in Uptown's is scheduled to open in the old Cathedral High School by the end of 2016, featuring a repurposed gym, cafeteria and classrooms.

Levitt Pavilion Denver (Ruby Hill Park): Summer 2017

Ruby Hill Park, a former landfill on the western bank of the South Platte River, is emerging as a hub for activity year-round, with a terrain park for jibbers and snowboarders in the winter and a plan for a world-class mountain bike park for the warmer months.

But it's the vision of a new outdoor music venue that's generating the most excitement.

The design by Studiotrope in hand,"Our scheduled opening date in July 1, 2017," says Levitt Pavilion Denver Executive Director Chris Zacher.

The 3,500-capacity amphitheater will be located in a big bowl on the southern slope of Ruby Hill, with plans for as many as 50 free concerts a year, plus a few ticketed and permitted events. There's a parking plan in place, and the music will be muffled by the hill so the nearest residence won't be exposed to too many decibels. "The site is perfect for shielding the neighborhood," says Zacher.

The launch will be supported by five free concerts in summer and fall of 2016. "We're going to bring in acts and raise a little bit of money," says Zacher. The performers, a mix of local and national talent, will be announced early next year.

The Source Hotel (3350 Brighton Blvd.): Early 2016

At the hip multi-tenant market of the same name, RiNo will get its first boutique hotel  in early 2017.

"We're actually ahead of schedule," says developer Kyle Zeppelin of the 100-room project. One prime goal is to retain "the culture and the grittiness" of the neighborhood, he adds. "We don't want to turn it over to the corporate guys," he notes. "The hotel is really building off what's working at The Source."

Adds architect Stephen Dynia: "This is our fourth or fifth project with the Zeppelins. Each one tries to do something a little different." This time, that mindset is reflected in the room design. "They are slightly unconventional hotel rooms. Some of them have garage doors. The beds are all facing the window wall and the view. Psychologically, that's an interesting aspect."

The eight-story hotel also has an unconventional silhouette, Dynia adds. "We shifted the massing of the floors” to complement RiNo's lack of verticality.

And the top floor features a tasting room from a ground-floor New Belgium pilot brewery, The Woods, and a pool and yoga/exercise room. "It's going to be a pretty lively space," says Dynia. "It's not the conventional restaurant at the top."

The hotel will also double the retail space at The Source and bring new dining options as well as a tattoo parlor, a men's clothing store and a focus on "things being made," says Zeppelin.

Pivot Denver (17th and Wewatta streets): Spring 2017 and beyond

Opening  in LoDo in the spring of 2017, Pivot, the 579-unit apartment tower formerly known as 17W, will feature a buzzed-about store at ground level. "The retail is going to be anchored by Whole Foods," says Peter Petricca, senior development director with Holland Partner Group, the project's developer. Davis Partnership Architects has worked on the design.

Once the entire project crosses the finish line in 2018, there will be three apartment towers and a deck with a sublime view of Union Station.

"What's really going to set us apart is our amenity package," hypes Petricca, describing a three-quarter acre of outdoor space with a pool, firepits and a spacious deck, and 20,000 square feet of indoor common space with meeting rooms, a demo kitchen and other perks. "It's going to be second to none in the market."

Catalyst Health-Tech Innovation (35th Street and Brighton Boulevard)

Catalyst HTI President Mike Biselli made waves with the announcement of the purchase of a 1.5-acre property in RiNo this past summer.

Biselli says Phase 1 will open 190,000 square feet of space in February 2017, and subsequent phases will bring the total to 300,000. Koelbel and Co. is his partner on the project. Announced tenants include CirrusMD, BurstIQ and MINES and Associates.

The goal, as the name implies, is to catalyze Denver's status as a health-tech hub from good to great. "There's nothing like Catalyst in the entire nation," Biselli explains. "There could be north of 1,000 people working here."

But they won't be coworking at Catalyst. "People say, 'You're building a 300,000-square-foot coworking space.' No, I'm not," says Biselli. "This is a full-blown collaborative health ecosystem." His target tenants are "Fortune 20 companies all the way down to the one guy with an idea on the back of a napkin." Coworking is startup-centric, he adds, noting, "If we're going to change healthcare, it can't be on the back of startups alone."

Plans for subsequent phases will grow out of the experience of the initial tenants. "What does it look like to have a 15,000-square-foot tenant next to a two-person startup?" says Biselli. "That's a provocative idea."
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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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