By Katie Rapone, editor
Almost four years since renovations first began at Market Center, Urban Renaissance Group (URG), Stars REI and City Street Investors are celebrating their impressive transformation of the five-story office and retail buildings at 17th and Market streets. At a time when new construction of mixed-use buildings has reached a peak in downtown Denver, renovations of historic properties are few and far between, present more challenges and subsequently should be celebrated.
Built between 1872 and 1902, Market Center includes a 5-building 121,000-square-foot complex stitched together to offer a continuous floor plate. The office portion of Market Center can be best reached from the main entrance located on the North side of the building, where an attractive and practical new awning greets visitors and helps make the property easier to find. David Myers, regional manager of URG, a full-service real estate company in Denver with an office at Market Center, recently gave Mile High CRE a tour of the completed property.
“At URG we are passionate about placemaking, and developing Class A historic assets. Preserving and enhancing Market Center’s historic charm in the neighborhood was a primary focus,” says Myers.
From the moment you step inside the building you are struck by the atrium’s light and airy aesthetic. Original brick and timber features combined with modern lighting meld together the past and present. An attractive black and white tile guides the eye down the staircase into the open concept work area where a new 75-foot wall mural — an interpretation of the Seven Falls waterfall in Colorado Springs, called Attending Gravity by Mindy Bray — draws the eye up four floors through the staircase which is a brand-new addition. The buildings 30 tenants enjoy spacious suites, sky lights and new amenities such as a new conference room and bike room, as well as refreshed restrooms and showers.
The architect for the interior portion of the project was Powers Brown Architecture, a professional services firm practicing architecture, interior design, programming and urban design. The firm oversaw the design of the renovation through to completion. Award-winning Tryba Architects were also involved in the early stages of the renovation to complete the exterior work, including the new store fronts.
Though not without its complexities, as is often the case with any historic renovation, URG maintained strong leasing velocity throughout construction and tenants — made up of tech tenants, law firms and service groups — remained in the building during its transformation and now feel more attached to the buildings as a result. “As a brick and timber building, even before the renovation, the buildings already had a really great sense of personality and allure,” said Myers.
From an exterior perspective, the building’s façades were carefully restored to their historic past — including intricate brick work — and modernized with the addition of operable windows. Perhaps the most impactful alteration made to the property is the expansion of the sidewalks. The city approved the removal of the parking lanes which added eight to 10 feet of additional pedestrian walkway and accommodate new patios for four restaurants, including popular local establishment Oskar Blues. New irrigation, landscaping, historical rails, pavers, new stairs for pedestrian access from street level and lighting improvements will undoubtably reinvigorate the property reinforcing Market Center’s appeal as a centrally located retail destination.
In fact, Myers believes Market Center’s retail portion is very complementary to the new 370,000-square-foot Market Station development, currently under construction across the street. “Juxtaposing the old with the new creates an interesting and vibrant pedestrian experience; as viewed from either side of Market St. We are excited to see Market Station nearing completion and look forward to the additional activity and synergy the project will bring to the neighborhood.”
Most recently, Market Center was honored with an award from the Downtown Denver Partnership for its contribution to the preservation of downtown Denver’s historic charm and sense of place. According to DDP, Market street has become the center of attention once again after a makeover that has leveraged walkability and authenticity. The Downtown Denver Awards celebrates the projects, organizations, and entities that are changing our community for the better and helping us build a city where people want to live, work and play.
Learn more about Market Center’s award here:
Photos courtesy of URG