Market Station: Creating a Community, Not Just a Place
Next spring and summer promises to be an exciting one for downtown Denver. After what will have been over a year of hibernation, our residents, business travelers and visitors will have a whole new city to delight them. For most of 2020, COVID-19 cut off the lifelines of our center city. Conventions were canceled, business travelers were grounded, and most offices were under stay-at-home protocols. While people rediscovered their back yards and turned spare bedrooms into makeshift offices, those involved in construction kept making the trek downtown every day to complete several large new projects, which were well underway when the pandemic took hold. Some large surprises will greet people when restrictions are finally lifted.
Market Station is one of the most significant changes that awaits people’s return. It will open to the public in January and will transform the heart of LoDo. Continuum Partners purchased the property from the city of Denver in late 2015 as the final parcel in the Union Station Master Developer Agreement, which was awarded to Continuum and East West in 2006. Bounded by 16th, 17th, Market and Blake streets, the property is nearly a full city block, affording us a unique opportunity to connect 17th Street and the Ballpark Neighborhood to 16th Street.
One of our principal goals with Market Station is to boost the sidewalk vitality of this part of LoDo and 16th Street in much the same way that our Union Station Neighborhood development has transformed the Wynkoop corridor. The 370,000-square-foot project combines 82,000 sf of retail, 95,000 sf of office and 225 residences, as well as a level of below-grade parking that features an innovative mechanical parking program. Given the sheer size of the property – 2 acres – and its prime location, Market Station provided us the opportunity to create a retail program of a size and scope not seen elsewhere in LoDo. The project is perfectly situated to launch a carefully curated retail destination in downtown right at the crossroads of the 16th Street Mall and the one way pairing of Market and Blake streets. These corners mark the convergence of the highest foot traffic and vehicular counts downtown.
These busy streets made for some challenging construction complexities. It required a high level of coordination between the material deliveries, demo and excavation and expanded infrastructures needed to serve a project of this scope in the midst of this busy crossroads. Adding to the complexity was the fact that we were building a vertical mixed-use development in the middle of a historic district. Close coordination between our contractor, Kiewit, BOKA Powell, our architect of record, and our lead design architect, El Dorado, was needed through the very end of the project. Market Station will become its own destination within downtown Denver much the way Larimer Street and Union Station are now.
The property had been home to the RTD downtown bus terminal until 2014 when the new facility at Union Station opened. The bus station had 12 underground bus bays that we were able to repurpose into the new underground parking garage for the project. We used an innovative mechanical stacking system to take full advantage of the height, which provides the ability to park two cars in each individual space for a total capacity of 320 cars. Careful thought also was given to bike parking through both grade-level racks and secure below-grade storage. Many of the residential apartments are equipped with state-of-the-art gear storage systems to further cater to bike commuters and recreational cyclists.
The retail component of Market Station is the heart of the project. There are distinct retail zones – traditional areas that front each of the streets as well as an interior Paseo and Arcade. The streetside retail has a more formal aesthetic that blends with the surrounding LoDo historic district design. The Paseo and Arcade key off of the historic warehouse and train logistics that defined this neighborhood for its first 100 years.
The city has been encouraging developers to activate alleys throughout downtown to add additional indoor/outdoor spaces throughout the central business district. The Market Station paseo is called Basecamp and features design details that celebrate the outdoor recreation culture of Colorado. Like Minded Productions curated art works from local and national artists that speak to the personal values that connect people to the experiences of our extraordinary recreational resources here in the Rocky Mountains.
Market Station also includes 225 apartment residences in two different buildings. The Flats include 175 Scandinavian-inspired efficiency apartments and the Fourteen 45 building includes 50 luxury residences.
The Flats are where form meets function. The building includes studios, one- and two-bedrooms totaling 175 units. They range in size from 400 to 1,000 sf and are elegantly appointed and efficiently designed to help address the ever-increasing affordability challenges of downtown. The goal was to offer first class, attainable living without sacrificing location, convenience or amenities. These thoughtfully designed residences feature European cabinetry and appliances; spacious balconies; walk-in shower and tile-lined bathrooms; and a built-in gear wall and storage.
The 50 residences at Fourteen 45 are the epitome of downtown luxury with sweeping views and premium features and finishes. The one- and two-bedroom floor plans range in size from 900 to 1,400 sf and include spacious terraces; oak floors; Italian cabinetry; Bosch appliances; quartz countertops; chef’s kitchens; vast kitchen storage; five-piece bathrooms with dual vanities; tile-lined showers and tubs; and walk-in closets.
Residential amenities at Market Station include a fitness center and two clubhouses; a rooftop terrace with sweeping views as well as a pool, lounge and grills; indoor bike maintenance and parking; additional closets and lockers for secure storage; 24-hour valet indoor parking with car wash and detailing services on site; curated, communitywide art program featuring works by local and international artists; and two outdoor dog runs plus an indoor dog washing station.
Finally, the office space at Market Station is designed to help our tenants attract and retain the dynamic and creative workforces defining Denver’s energetic economy. The interiors are a blend of raw and refined materials including concrete floors and open ceilings. The exteriors are defined by a colorful mix of bricks using an extraordinary mix of patterns and textures to create a new landmark for Lower Downtown that is both modern and in rhythm with the neighboring historical buildings. The distinctive masonry transitions to multitonal metal siding and weathered steel that create an edgier aesthetic as you poke into the interior of the project in its Paseo and Market Street Arcade.
Over the last 20 years, Denver has seen some extraordinary developments – some of them ours. Market Station will truly reshape the way people experience and spend time in downtown Denver, much in the same way Larimer Street and Union Station do. We look forward to welcoming Denverites back downtown.
Published in the December 2020 issue of Building Dialogue.