Start the “I’ll be back” jokes now.
There’s so much redevelopment going on around Riverfront Park and LoDo, so it’s not surprising that people who are real estate savvy are getting in on this. It’s not even that surprising that a dude from California or New York or anywhere else is getting in on this real estate. What IS surprising is that that dude was Arnold Schwarzenegger!
The first thought that goes through my head is, doesn’t he have other things to do then buy and sell real estate in Denver? But I guess he doesn’t. Or he does, which is why he doesn’t own it anymore.
In the 1990’s he owned the block between 18th and 19th, Wazee and Blake. This building is still called the Windsor Dairy Block building, but is also referred to as the “Z Block”. He had plans to put in a Planet Hollywood and a movie theater at the time. Whether it was the Denver Pavillions opening in 1998 with the Hard Rock Café and United Artists Movie Theater, or Planet Hollywood going bankrupt in 1999, Arnold’s plans didn’t come to fruition. In 1999, Schwarzenegger scrapped his plans and the building was purchased by Grand American, who still owns the building today.
Now, McWhinney has partnered with the brokerage team at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank and property owner Grand American. McWhinney is a Colorado real estate investment and development company whose previous projects include Centerra in Loveland and North Park in Broomfield. They co-developed the Union Station project as well. It looks like this company knows a thing or two about redevelopment. This block is integral to the Union Station redevelopment. If the blocks around a really cool development aren’t really cool themselves, then the appeal of that development isn’t as great. People will flock to an area that has variety and a high cool factor. Examples of this include RiNo, LoHi, and the Highlands Square.
A question that still remains about the redevelopment is whether they’re going to raze the block or renovate. In my opinion, renovating would be the way to go. It’s a beautiful old building, but then again, I’m a huge fan of exposed brick. Razing the block would probably be more cost effective, but then it may not match the aesthetics of the area.
The preliminary development plans have come out, and they’re very exciting. This development will be mixed-use, so one part is said to be a six-story office building designed by Shears Adkins Rockmore. Another part is said to be an eight-story 170-room hotel designed by JG Johnson Architects and run by Sage Hospitality (who also runs the Oxford Hotel and the Crawford Hotel). Many renderings can be found on www.denverinfill.com and around the web. We’ll all have to watch out for when this project gets going. I’ll be sure to visit it when it gets done, and if it’s super cool…I’ll be back.