Creating “liveable, walkable” part of Denver is developer’s vision for RiNo project – The Denver Post

A real estate firm with a big footprint in Denver’s River North Art District is mapping out its plans for most of a block it is acquiring along Larimer Street.
EDENS has submitted a conceptual plan for the site to the city and is working through a rezoning process to use an alley. The company’s vision is a mix of retail, housing, open and public spaces that will connect the area between 26th and 27th avenues to other blocks in the neighborhood.
Tom Kiler, managing director of the West region for EDENS, said the company’s idea is to capitalize on Larimer Street’s evolution into a transportation corridor, which includes bus lines, planned bike lanes and pedestrian walkways.
“It might be one of the first examples in Denver of creating a real walkable, liveable city,” Kiler said.
To make that happen, EDENS proposes well-known and local retail businesses on the ground floor to generate activity and and build housing above the businesses. On the other side of the block, along Lawrence Street, the company envisions more “neighborhood-serving” businesses, such as a small grocery, a pharmacy, a pet store and hardware store.
EDENS wants to replace an existing parking lot with underground parking, freeing up space for courtyards, walkways and public areas.
“It allows us the ability to create more open space,” Kiler said. “Bringing more nature and more open space to the neighborhood is a big focus of ours and it’s something that’s really appealing to the neighborhood and the community.”
EDENS is working with business owners, neighborhood groups and nonprofits to create more green spaces in RiNo and the larger Five Points area. The project is being spearheaded by Jevon Taylor, CEO of False Ego, an apparel company with a store on Walnut Street.
The real estate firm owns the majority of the block across the street to the west of the VOA buildings. The businesses in the area include Denver Central Market, a food hall and marketplace, and a Patagonia store on Walnut Street.
Before EDENS begins work on the mixed-use project on Larimer Street, Volunteers of America Colorado will relocate its kitchen and warehouse from the area. The nonprofit organization owns most of the block, and EDENS is acquiring the property.
VOA will maintain its headquarters on Larimer Street, where it has had a presence for more than 125 years. The nonprofit will relocate its kitchen and food warehouse to a 54,000-square-foot building in Commerce City.
“VOA is the priority,” Kiler said. “They make 3,000 to 5,000 meals a day and that needs to keep happening.”
The nonprofit will keep its administrative, marketing and other offices on the second and third floors in its RiNo building. EDENS will help renovate the headquarters. A mix of retail shops and a heritage museum devoted to the history of the VOA are planned for the first floor.
The plan is to move the VOA kitchen to Commerce City by the end of the year and start renovating the organization’s headquarters in 2023. Work on the mixed-use project is expected to be complete by 2025.
EDENS is buying the Commerce City facility and will eventually transfer it to VOA. Kiler and VOA have declined to disclose the deal’s financial details.
The company’s proposal for roughly 380 residential units includes a range of affordable housing. EDENS is looking at providing 5,000 square feet for a business incubator for women, people of color and veterans.
The buildings will range from three to seven stories. Approximately 60% of the project will be housing with about 20% as ground-floor retail.
Kiler said the company had a town hall meeting in July 2021 to discuss the development. He said he has talked to neighborhood groups and area businesses. Another community meeting is scheduled 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16.
“We’ve worked really hard to get out in front of everybody and talk to people and take feedback and comments as we’ve gone through the process,” Kiler said.
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