Repurposed architecture is very compelling and one of the best uses of old architecture in Colorado. This article focuses on the renovation of downtown Denver’s Colorado National Bank Building
Name – Gregory M Houston
Various – Photographer/Illustrator
As a Denver architect I am very interested in seeing the city’s history morph. Over the past few months I have written a number of articles discussing past, current, and future projects in the Denver area. I gave my opinion on the 250 Columbine project in Cherry Creek, the revitalization of LoDo, and the history of 16th Street Mall. Last week I talked about the potential demolish of the Gates Rubber Plant on South Broadway at I-25. You can read it here.
This week is the penultimate article to the subject which will finish next week.
The stately old Colorado National Bank Building at 17th and Champa is being converted into a 230-room luxury hotel. Construction began in May this year and the project is about 30 percent complete. If all goes as planned the project should finish near the end of the year.
The four-story bank building opened in 1915 and was extended toward the southeast in the 1920’s. Finally, two stories were added to the building in the 1960s. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but has been vacant since 2007.
The project will add an additional two stories to the building while keeping most of its current features respecting the building’s history, a great piece of repurposed architecture. The three story atrium will be a main feature, the old teller windows will be the check-in desk. Colorado artist Allen Tupper True was commissioned to create sixteen large murals depicting the life of American Indians on the Plains, they will be refurbished.
Three of the bank’s massive vaults will be retained and used as private dining and meeting rooms. And last, but certainly not least, the massive bronze doors facing seventeenth will be preserved.
As a bank the wide building offered a great deal of security and grace, but would seem to be incompatible for use as a hotel. A “light well” will be added from floor four to floor eight, adding light to interior facing rooms. The redevelopment will also include a ground floor restaurant, retail space, and a lounge on the mezzanine which will overlook the historic three-story atrium.
“Our premise with this whole project is we think this has a lot of historic elements that people want to see,” Stonebridge’s vice president of real estate said. “We think we can compete with the Brown Palace on the kind of historic elements but create a really modern guest experience with brand-new amenities in all the guest rooms.”
Repurposed architecture can be very expensive. The renovation carries a very large price tag, somewhere around $50 million. But because Stonebridge received National Park Services approval for historic-preservation, up to $10 million will be paid by taxes generated by the project.
The repurposing of the Colorado National Bank building definitely has the approval of Historic Denver. “We’ve had conversations with Stonebridge since they first acquired the building, and we’re pleased with the attention they’re giving to all the details. They realize it’s a very special building, and they appreciate the history of it.”
Take that to the bank.