- Broe Real Estate Group breaks ground on 31-story apartment towers.
- Hancock, Nevitt praise West Wash Park project.
- Nevitt said Broe is taking the right path to deal with Denver’s growth.
Mayor Michael B. Hancock had just returned from the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco, before he attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Broe Real Estate Group’s twin 31-story apartment towers in West Wash Park.
As earlier reported by Denver Real Estate Watch, Broe on Monday officially broke ground on its $190 million Country Club Tower II development will have 552 luxury units near Speer Boulevard, East Bayaud Avenue and Downing Street. The project will create 1,000 construction jobs.
“I tell you, it is good to be back home in Denver,” Hancock said at the ceremony.
“It is good to know that I represent one of the greatest cities in the nation right now, after watching and hearing about all of the challenges across the country,” Hancock continued.
He said when he travels around the country, he is asked about Denver’s “active community engagement processes.”
Country Club Towers a 3-decade dream come true
He said the Broe Group, headed by Pat Broe, have been working on its current project for the past 30 years and worked closely with the Alamo Placita and Washington Park neighborhoods to preserve older buildings on the site of Country Club Tower II.
“I want to congratulate Pat and the entire Broe Group for the tremendous work that you have done in reaching out to the community, acknowledging really the significant historic value of this project or this land and working with the communities of Washington Park and Alamo Placita to really figure out how you could preserve the historic significance of this area, but also build a project that a developer and the community can be proud of,” Hancock said. He later took the controls of a large bulldozer and dumped a truckload of dirt, in lieu of the traditional staged shovel groundbreaking ceremony.
While not everyone shares Hancock’s enthusiasm for the project
some think it is too tall for the Speer corridor – Hancock said it is incredible that one developer would stick with a development for three decades.
“My kids aren’t even 30 years old, Pat, and so that says something,” Hancock said. “The tenacity to stick with it and to stay with the commitments and the values that the community negotiated some 30 years ago and then again just 12 years ago on the master plan,” which set the stage for the current development.
“Fantastic project,” Nevitt.
Chris Nevitt, the outgoing City Councilman who represents the District, also is thrilled by Country Club Tower II. It is being designed by Chicago-based Solomon Cordwell Buenz. Renters will have picture-card perfect views from the towers.
“This is a fantastic project, but it also means something bigger than just this project here,” Nevitt said.
He then alluded to a recent rezoning by the City Council in Crestmoor that was fiercely opposed by some neighbors.
Nevitt said, like it or not, people will be coming to Denver over the next two decades.
“Over the next 20 years, a million people are going to move to Denver. Denver’s population is 650,000 right now,” Nevitt said.
“We are talking about a million people moving to Denver over the next 20 years. We cannot stop them even if we wanted to. We have to figure out — our challenge is to figure out how do we accommodate these people. Where are they going to live and how are they going to live?”
Nevitt outlines 3 paths Denver can take
Nevitt said the city faces three choices.
“We can say well, we like Denver exactly the way it is,” Nevitt said.
“It is going to stay exactly the way it is and, you know, we are going to sort of cover it in amber and if those million people move here, well they are just going to have to move somewhere else and they will move out into the suburbs,” Nevitt said.
Even if they live in the suburbs, Denver will pay the price, he said.
“Denver is where the action is and so they are going to drive in to have fun, to work, and that will be miserable three quarter of a million additional people driving into Denver.”
The other extreme is to pack as many people into the city as possible, he said.
“The other alternative is to combat the problem of urban sprawl and say well, we just need to ‘densify’ our city as much as possible. We need to maximize density everywhere we possibly can, can’t be sentimental about it.
“And so that would involve taking all the single family homes down and replacing them with them row houses and taking the row houses down and replacing them with towers and we would have combated urban sprawl, but we would have sold our souls in the process,” Nevitt said.
There is another way, which is illustrated by Country Club Towers II, he said.
Broe is on the right path, Nevitt says
“The third path is the path that we are on and we need to have the courage of our convictions and stay on it and this project is emblematic of that third path,” Nevitt said.
“We need to protect our heritage. We need to be cognizant of neighborhood character, but at every opportunity we have we need to dramatically increase density.”
Initially, the plans called for tearing down all the Country Club Gardens apartment buildings, which were built in the 1940s and replace them with as many as five towers, he said.
He said that was the second path he was talking about, which was to build as much density as possible.
“So the whole thing was coming down and it was going to be replaced by multiple towers, a lot of units, fantastic density, but the loss of these historic properties. The backlash was no, we have to stop that, that these towers are destroying our heritage and so we need to keep the Broe Group from building these towers,” Nevitt said.
However, to stop Broe wasn’t the right answer either, he said.
“That was the first path where we preserve everything in amber and let the density go elsewhere.” Nevitt said.
“But after a lot of hard work, a lot of patience on the part of the Broe Group, a lot of hard work on the part of the community, a lot of hard work on the part of the city, we have arrived at a spot now that is emblematic of what I think is this third path,” he said.
It is extremely expensive to save the “beautiful old buildings” on the site, he said.
“There is a lot of development potential that has been left on the table by the Broe Group, but preserving some of these buildings is important. It is part of the character of this city,” Nevitt said.
At the same time, Broe is building “beautiful buildings that will be adjacent to bus lines, adjacent to the Cherry Creek Path. And so those 500 people instead of moving to Littleton and driving into Denver, they will be living right here in Denver, enjoying an urban lifestyle where they can take the bus to where they need to go, take a bicycle where they need to go, take a car share where they need to go.”
Also, Broe is building more parking than is required under the zoning, he said, “actually taking cars off the street. Parking will be improved, we are dramatically increasing density, and we are preserving our architectural heritage and the character of our neighborhood at the same time.
“So I am enormously happy to be here. This is a fantastic project.”
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