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field report

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My Thoughts

cherry creek architecture

Was the choice to convert the low-rise Cherry Creek architecture into a mid- to high-rise neighborhood in keeping with the original intent? No. Does it work? only time will tell


Gregory M Houston – Author

Various – Photographer/Illustrator

Cherry Creek Architecture

August 28, 2013 was the date. It was the day when the skyline of a historic Denver neighborhood was changed forever. As a Denver architect and Colorado native, I was very interested but also concerned.

cherry creek architecture

Western Development Group altered Cherry Creek architecture with their eight-story, mixed-use building. Located in Cherry Creek North, the building in question, dubbed 250 Columbine is a $100 million dollar project which includes 70 luxury condominiums, 80,000 square feet of high-end office space, 30,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and two levels of underground parking.

Cherry Creek North is a business improvement district (BID) which encompasses a 16 block area, bounded on the South by first avenue, the North by third avenue, the East by Steele Street and the West by University. The BID is a governmental special district that provides essential services and support to its over 400 constituents. It is the second largest BID in the state of Colorado.

Cherry Creek, as it is referred to by the locals, and Cherry Creek architecture has a very rich history. Edwin P. Harman purchased the 320 acre area that would become the town site. Known as the town of Harman, it was home to about 500 residents in 1882 and by 1894 it was annexed into Denver. What is so unique about Cherry Creek is its DNA as a small mixed-use neighborhood, and only a five minute drive from Downtown.

For almost a century, Cherry Creek has maintained its small business and resident feel with mainly single family residences and two to three story office buildings. In 1990, the Cherry Creek Shopping Center opened. Situated along First Avenue, in the heart of Cherry Creek North, it redefined the area as one of the premiere shopping destinations in Colorado.

Since then, Cherry Creek North has been redeveloped into a high density neighborhood. While single family homes are still a mainstay, almost half of the residential neighborhood is now contemporary multi-family developments. But even with the increased density, the area continued to be mostly two to three stories at most, maintaining the small community feel it has always had.

cherry creek architecture
cherry creek architecture

Which brings us full circle. The 250 Columbine project is the first project of its type in the area. It will transform the neighborhood which has been characterized by low-rise structures with a taller, swankier development. It is designed by OZ Architecture and will be built by Denver-based PCL Construction. In terms of jobs created and local income, the project will be a boom.

I question the decision to make the move from a low-rise to a mid-rise neighborhood. Part of me is very intrigued by the idea of an even higher density area, particularly with the current citywide trend to own smaller units closer to work. The national economy has almost forced this living situation on us.

However, I also relate to the history of the area and wonder if this move will destroy the history and unique character of a historical Denver neighborhood. Only time will tell.