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Urban village to fill void

Redevelopment of former hospital site in the works


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It’s been seven years since the University of Colorado Hospital moved to the Anschutz Medical Campus, leaving its location at East Ninth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard as a prime spot for redevelopment.

Time and again, developers have tried to buy the property and launch a project, but market conditions and neighborhood opposition have thwarted those efforts.

Now, however, an all-star team led by Continuum Partners has the 41-acre site under contract for $30 million in a deal that’s expected to close by the end of the year.

Since the University of Colorado Board of Regents selected the team in February, it’s completed its due diligence and has been refining plans for the property.

“We didn’t uncover anything that scared us away,” Frank Cannon, Continuum’s development director, said at a neighborhood meeting in July.

The team, which includes Zeppelin Development and developer John Huggins, also has met with the neighborhood organizations that surround the property to address concerns of residents in the area. They discovered the issues common to all the neighborhoods are traffic, parking and the scale and mix of retail. The groups also were adamant about not including a big-box user, such as the Walmart that was previously proposed for the site.

“We found that creating a sense of place is more important than any particular thing we put on the site,” Cannon said. “It’s less about size than whether it fits in the neighborhood.”

To address traffic concerns, a lane will be added to Colorado Boulevard between Eighth and Ninth avenues. New signals will be installed at 11th and Colorado and Ash and Eighth, which will replace a pedestrian crossing signal a half block away.

When it’s completed, the project will include 1,100 apartments and townhomes, parks and plazas and 150,000 square feet of commercial space. It also will include nearly 1,000 new parking spaces, as well as the existing 1,200-space parking structure that will remain on site.

“It’s the urban village the neighborhood envisioned,” said Denver City Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman, who represents the district the site is located in. “We’re really happy with Continuum, and their outreach has been amazing.”

In addition to the parking garage at 11th and Colorado, two other structures will remain: the historic nurses’ dormitory on Ninth; and the five-story bridge across Ninth, which is proposed for conversion to a hotel.

Initially, Continuum had planned to redevelop the former bio-research building at Ninth and Colorado, but during due diligence discovered that it would be cost-prohibitive. Instead, the building will be demolished and replaced with a new building that includes ground-level retail with parking above.

“They have sympathy for adaptive reuse,” Susman said. “It’s a very exciting concept.”

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Margaret Jackson

Margaret Jackson is an award-winning journalist who spent nearly 25 years in the newspaper industry, including seven years as a business reporter for The Denver Post covering residential and commercial real estate. She can be reached at myjackson7@gmail.com.

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