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Archive of posts filed under the Adaptive Reuse category.

Adaptive Reuse: Avanti Food and Beverage

Adaptive reuse—that’s planner-speak for the repurposing of an old building—is an important part of helping cities revitalize and grow in a sustainable way. Some adaptive reuse projects are no-brainers, where the historic and architectural quality of the existing building is so great that to demolish the building instead of reusing it doesn’t make any sense. Good examples would include the Colorado National Bank (now the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel) and The Source.

Then there’s the adaptive reuse project called Avanti Food and Beverage at 32nd and Pecos in Lower Highland. The existing building looks like this today:

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Okay, maybe not an architectural masterpiece, but that’s alright! Even if the structure itself isn’t all that glamorous, the reuse of an old building—in addition to being an environmentally friendly option—helps preserve some of the neighborhood’s physical scale and offers a reminder of fast-changing Lower Highland’s economic roots. This structure, built in 1935, was occupied by Avanti Printing and Graphics for many years. Here’s a view of the inside:

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After its physical transformation is complete, this will be the home of Avanti Food and Beverage, a “collective eatery.” The concept behind this project is really cool. Most people are now familiar with coworking spaces, where small start-up companies share office space and resources and collaborate with each other. Avanti Food and Beverage will be very similar, except it’s for restaurants instead.

The building will house eight different restaurants, each operating out of a modified 8′ x 20′ shipping container. This allows restaurant entrepreneurs, particularly up-and-coming chefs, the opportunity to launch a new restaurant or test a new food concept for a fraction of the cost of building out a traditional restaurant space, all while fostering creativity in a cooperative “restaurant incubator” environment. Customers will have a great selection of affordably priced and innovative food, plenty of indoor and outdoor seating areas to share, and two bars offering adult beverages.

Here are a couple of images, courtesy of the Avanti development team. Here’s an example of the shipping container-turned-kitchen:

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and here is the ground-level interior floor plan showing five of the eight shipping container/restaurants, shared seating areas, and one of the bar areas:

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Three more restaurant spaces, the other bar, and additional seating will be built out on the roof, providing awesome views of the Downtown Denver skyline. Here’s a rendering of the rooftop deck, followed by a photo I took from the roof (the power lines will be buried):

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The building will be given a thorough makeover and new windows will bring a lot of natural light to the interior. The grounds will be landscaped along with additional patio seating overlooking Highland Gateway Park:

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Renovation work will be getting underway soon and the project is planned to open Spring 2015.   

The Avanti Food and Beverage project is fantastic in so many ways. It renovates an old building in disrepair; it infuses energy and activity next to a small public park; it adds an innovative concept to Denver’s booming culinary scene; and it brings another great dining option to Denver’s hottest restaurant neighborhood.


Colorado National Bank Hotel Conversion Final Update: Part 2

In Part 1 of our coverage, Ryan gave us a comprehensive overview of the grand opening of the new Marriott Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel that has been carefully crafted out of the historic Colorado National Bank building at 17th and Champa in Downtown Denver. In this post, we’ll add a few more photos of the project and some additional observations.

This project is a HUGE win for Downtown Denver. Take a classically historic building and transform it into a new hotel, with the modifications approved by the Denver Landmark Commission:

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This building was vacant for about a decade. Thanks to Stonebridge Companies and the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, this historic building was transformed into the beautiful building it is today. Here’s a photo of Councilman Brooks and others from the development team cutting the ceremonial ribbon on June 5, 2014:

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A few more images of the building at grand opening:

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If you haven’t yet checked out the inside of this awesome historic structure, featuring a stunning three-story atrium of white marble colonnades and a series of historic murals by Colorado artist Allen Tupper True, I highly recommend you do. The lobby bar and the hotel’s restaurant, Range, are fantastic.

While infill development is a big part of Denver’s growth as a city, adaptive reuse projects like the Marriott Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center hotel are equally important to Denver’s urban evolution and preserving its heritage as a major city.


Adaptive Reuse: Colorado National Bank Hotel Conversion Final Update – Part 1

To kick of our first adaptive reuse final update, we are going to go inside the Colorado National Bank hotel conversion. Now known as the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel, the hotel is now open and DenverUrbanism was invited to attend the grand opening event! In part one of our series, we will be looking at the interior of the hotel along with some of the grand opening festivities! Thank you to BrieAnn Fast of B Public Relations for making this inside look possible!

First off, as per our final update tradition, here are all of the previous posts for this project:

Colorado National Bank Hotel Conversion Underway

Adaptive Reuse: Colorado National Bank Hotel Conversion

Adaptive Reuse: Colorado National Bank Hotel Conversion Update #2

Adaptive Reuse: Colorado National Bank Hotel Conversion Update #3

Adaptive Reuse: Colorado National Bank Hotel Conversion Update #4 

Now for the look inside! Once you enter the building, you are greeted with a very large great hall, which used to be the lobby for Colorado National Bank. Many of the historic elements of the building, including the artwork, are still intact; giving the great hall a very historic feel with some modern hints throughout.

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The mezzanine level is accessible with hotel rooms lining the entire length of the hallways.

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The hotel rooms have various floor plans, ranging from small studios to multi-room suites. Each room has a modern style finish with either hardwood or carpet flooring.

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Throughout the main floor and lower level, there is ample, not to mention comfortable, seating for all of the hotel guests. Since this is an old bank building, the vaults on both floors have been converted into conference rooms, my personal favorite feature of the whole project. Some of the vault rooms are very intimate while others are quite large and open.

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The hotel comes with a full fitness center on the lower level. Here’s a fun fact: anything to the right of the blue beams is under the sidewalk; the lower level extends just past the property line along Champa Street!

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Last but not least, the hotel features a full restaurant and bar on the lobby level.

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The outcome of this conversion is incredible and we couldn’t have asked for anything better! Coming up next, additional grand opening coverage and a final look at the exterior of the building!


Union Station Transit District: 133 Years in Progress

A beacon of preservation stands tall amid all of the construction and rumbling noise of Lower Downtown: Denver Union Station. On the eve of the grand opening of the Union Station Transit Center, let’s take a look back at the history of Denver’s venerable train station.

The first train arrived in Denver on June 24, 1870 with only one “station” for the Denver Pacific Railroad. This train’s arrival was no small feat and was certainly not assured. Thanks to visionaries and the deep pockets of early Denver promoters and businessmen such as John Evans, David Moffat, Walter Cheesman and William Byers, a spur railroad line had been quickly constructed to connect Denver to Cheyenne. The Union Pacific Railroad had bypassed Denver completely by agreeing to build the transcontinental railroad through southern Wyoming rather than through Colorado’s more treacherous mountainscape. So significant was the arrival of this first train in 1870 that the city named one of its streets in the far-away eastern edge of town after the first conductor who was aboard that train—Billy Ogden.

As more railroads came to Denver over the decade, each built its own depot separate from the other. However, Union Station was constructed following national trends of combining these disparate rail stations into one. Originally opened in 1881, the station served as the gateway to Denver for those coming to the city by train. There have been three incarnations of the station. The original structure was a stunning example of Second Empire design and was a monument to Victorian-era architecture. Unfortunately, much of this building burned down in 1894 when a fire sparked inside a restroom. The stone walls remained. This edifice was reused and rebuilt with a much lower roofline (removing much of the ornate design) and a stone clocktower. Today, we see the remnants of the original building through the east and west wings, but the large Beaux-Arts lobby section of the current building was completed in 1914 as an expansion of space to accommodate the huge influx of visitors and train-travelers to Denver. As the summer months approach, Denver will be celebrating the centennial of this section and the reborn grandeur of what remains as Union Station.

1881 Union Station with original clocktower and ornate roofline. Photo courtesy of History Colorado (F50.839)

1881 Union Station with original clocktower and ornate roofline. Photo courtesy of History Colorado (F50.839)

1894 Union Station after fire with new clocktower and simplified roofline. Photo courtesy of History Colorado (F50.883).

1894 Union Station after fire with new clocktower and simplified roofline. Photo courtesy of History Colorado (F50.883).

Union Station was a prominent transportation center through the 1950s but was eclipsed in use by the growing popularity of air travel and the move toward a more auto-dependent society. What is perhaps most miraculous is that Denver never demolished its old train station during the spate of urban renewal efforts that ruled over the city during the middle and late 20th century. During the Peña administration, voters of the city rejected efforts to turn Union Station into the city’s convention center complex. That scenario from 1985 was the last big threat to the survival of the station area as we know it today. It did reflect just how vexing the “problem” of Union Station had become. What should a city do with its underutilized and empty former train station? It turns out, for Denver at least, the answer resided in what the station had historically been used for—train travel.

Through a monumental planning effort, the City and County of Denver, RTD, and numerous public and private partners (as well as Denver voters who rejected the convention center idea in 1985 and Metro Denver voters who approved FasTracks in 2004), have achieved a truly magnificent milestone in the preservation and adaptive reuse of Union Station as both a hotel and public transit space. Large numbers of people will once again walk through the station’s grand atrium in order to access transportation, including trains! For a big part of the 20th century, Denver was demolishing historic buildings and creating an infrastructure that catered to the automobile by building more roads and parking lots to appease consumer demand. All of that is changing and new choices are being promoted with the continued preservation efforts in the Lower Downtown Denver Historic District and the soon-to-be-reopened Union Station.

(Thanks to Michael Vincent, star-intern and CSU student at the History Colorado Center for his assistance in researching and writing this blog entry).


Adaptive Reuse: Broadway Plaza Motel

Over on 11th Avenue and Broadway, there is an adaptive reuse project I would have never expected nor seen coming. The Broadway Plaza Motel , built in 1958 when motor hotels were on the rise, has steadily declined in quality and reputation until a developer, Jon Cook, decided that something had to be done.

The Broadway Plaza Motel has been converted into 27 office suites with four ground floor retail spaces ranging from 525 to 1,402 square feet. The brick has been restored and the ‘Broadway Plaza MOTEL’ insignia will stay on the side facing Broadway. Toward the alley, the building has been painted a vibrant green.

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Here are two additional views of the building. The facade had been opened up, painted black, and street level improvements are underway. There has been some chatter about restoring the neon sign and re-branding it for the new office building. It is, however, going to stay as close to the original as possible.

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Here are two pictures, thanks to Vintage Chrome Postcards and 1950s Unlimited, of the Broadway Plaza Motel when it opened in the 1950s.

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As unexpected as this project may be, this is a solid improvement for the Golden Triangle Neighborhood, not to mention a much more aesthetically pleasing building. It is currently leasing with rents starting at $1,000 per month.