Tryba addresses Sherman Street

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A 70-story building will not be developed within a block of the State Capitol, as some have feared, according to architect David Tryba.

Tryba time.

I recently wrote about a proposed rezoning of at least three parking lots along a swath of Sherman Street at the edge of the central business district proposed by well-known architect David Tryba on behalf of Denver’s Dikeou family.

Wednesday night, Tryba, one of Denver’s most high-profile architects in Denver, unveiled what he has described as “significant reductions in density” for the rezoning proposal at  the Zoning, Transportation and Licensing committee of Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods.

CHUN, for decades, has been an active and powerful registered neighborhood organization.

This image gives you some idea what a new, tall building and more trees would look like. Source: Tryba Architects.

While neither CHUN nor any other group has yet taken a position on the rezoning request, Tryba said most of the responses so far has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I don’t want to name names, but we have been getting a lot of support,” Tryba said.

Not that everyone is on board.

At least one member of the zoning and transportation committee already is skeptical about it and has raised questions about the far-reaching plan to increase downtown zoning along Sherman and other nearby streets.

One of the questions at the top of the list for Brad Cameron, the co-chairman of CHUN’s zoning and transportation committee, is that the rezoning conceivably could mean the tallest building in Denver would be a block from the state Capitol.

Under the proposed rezoning, known as the Sherman Street North Redevelopment Vision, a “70-story building could be built there, a block from the Capitol,” Cameron said. The current tallest building in downtown, and Colorado, for that matter, is the 56-story Republic Plaza.

“I’m not sure that is the appropriate place for a 70-story building,” he said.

A list of questions to be presented to Tryba tonight included an even stronger observation: “Erecting a 70+ story building just one block away from the state Capitol could detract from the overall beauty and majesty of this all-important government structure.”

Tryba: 70-story building not happening


Tryba, however, late Tuesday afternoon told me that a 70-story building is not in the cards.

“The problem is if you have unlimited height, people think you are going to build 1,000 feet, 2,000 feet or 850 feet into the sky. But I do not think there is any physical way that under any circumstances you would see more than 700 to 750 feet on the site” at East 16th Avenue and Sherman Street, Tryba said. Indeed, the ultimate height of the building could end up being about 50 feet lower than the nearby Wells Fargo Center, he said Tuesday morning.

At 750 feet, if the building were 100 percent residential, it would have about 60 stories, which would be equivalent to about a 52-story office tower, he said. Office tower floors are taller from the floor to ceiling than residential buildings, so they typically have fewer stories than a condo or apartment tower of the same height, he explained.

Indeed, he said that even if the rezoning permitted unlimited height, they would be willing to accept a reasonable height limit.

“In would have to be high enough to allow us to have the flexibility to design a creative, elegant building,” Tryba said.

One of the big changes is that Tryba will no longer be seeking a 24:1 floor area ratio for some of the parcels. Instead, he will be seeking a maximum FAR of 20:1. And the 20:1 FAR only would be possible if more than 50 percent of a building was residential, which Tryba said is unlikely. A mixed-use building is much more likely to have a FAR of 17:1, according to Tryba.

David Tryba

Cameron has met with Tryba to try to get more details of the proposal and has already attended several meetings where Tryba made presentations.

“I think it is fair to say there is definitely some skepticism” about the plan, Cameron told me last week.

At the time, Cameron also  was concerned about the potential density on the three sites. Initially, Tryba estimated the sites’ rezoning could potentially add another 1.4 million square feet to the three sites, but he later realized it wouldn’t be nearly that much.

In part because of his conversation with Cameron and another neighborhood activist, Caroline Schomp, Tryba is reducing the density even more.

“It isn’t just progress; the progress will result in a significant reduction in density,” Tryba said.

When I updated Cameron regarding the latest from Tyrba, he said: “The devil is in the details. The devil is always in the details. I’ll be really interested in hearing what David has to say.”


Shown are the three Dikeou sites seeking rezoning. Source: Tryba Architects

Pany Dikeou told me last month that if the rezoning is approved by City Council, his family would consider any combination of developing buildings themselves to forming joint ventures with other developers or possibly selling the land outright.

Tryba is scheduled to be questioned about the rezoning by Schomp of Capitol Hill. Schomp, like Cameron, is a member of the East Central Area Plan committee. Although they both came up with the questions and some observations, Schomp deferred questions about their questions, if you will, to Cameron.

The East Central Area Plan is a “vision” for neighborhoods that include North Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill, City Park West, Cheesman Park, City Park and Congress Park.

City planners are gathering input from residents, business owners and community stakeholders for the East Central plan.

The East Central plan includes the three Dikeou sites that would be rezoned.

“I think it would be fair to say that David Tryba’s rezoning proposal could be seen as putting the cart before the horse” as the sites could end up being rezoned under the larger plan, Cameron said.

“There doesn’t seem to be any compelling reason, like a project-in-the-pipeline on the Dikeou sites, that would argue for jumping ahead of the East Central planning process,” according to Cameron.

This preliminary rezoning for the Sherman Street Redevelopment plan called for a 24:1 floor area ratio on some sites. Now, the maximum would be 20:1 FAR, but only if more than 50 percent was residential. More likely would be a maximum of 17:1. Source: Tryba Architects

However, Tryba noted that the East Central plan may be several years away from being adopted and Dikeou wants to have the rezoning in place long before that to take advantage of market opportunities.

Tryba said he knows that it is impossible to have 100 percent approval for any project, “but that is what we are aspiring for. This proposal is evolving. We want to work with neighbors and the city. Don’t get me wrong. We are asking for increased density, although not as much as even a week ago. We aren’t drawing lines in the sand.”

He expects that it will be six to nine months before the rezoning request goes before Denver City Council.

If you want to hear what Tryba has to say, be sure to attend the CHUN meeting tonight.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will be held in the 19th-floor party room at 1201 Williams St. Parking is available south of the high-rise building.

If you scratch the surface of just about any deal, there is a story behind it. The Rebchook Real Estate Corner looks at the what and who that make the Colorado commercial real estate industry spin every Tuesday and Thursday online at The people behind the deals are passionate about what they do, whether they focus on offices, apartments, industrial, retail, land or lending. They also are passionate about their clients. Given the cyclical nature of commercial real estate, those who prosper in it have plenty of stories to tell. I hope to share them with you. 

This column includes news stories, in-depth looks at deals, profiles, Q&As and pieces on the latest trends. Contact John with story tips at or 303-945-6865.

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