By Jamie Leary
DENVER (CBS4) – One of Denver’s oldest buildings is slated for demolition to make way for condominiums. Once a mortuary, Shelby’s Bar and Grill is more than a century old.
The Nelson family bought the restaurant in 1991 and has seen the city grow all around it.
“Now we are the last single story building in downtown Denver,” said owner, Howard Nelson.
The property, situated along 18th Street and Glenarm Place, is surrounded by high rise buildings. Nelson knew the change was inevitable especially because he only owns the business, not the building.
“You got a stomach ache instantly, and then you just got to keep going. You got to forget it,” Nelson said. “You just got to let it slide. It was out of our hands. There was nothing we could do.”
Nelson isn’t angry about the development to come. He is understanding.
“It’s great I mean, the city has to grow. The cow town image has gone.”
The Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP) says the demand for condominiums is high. Right now, there are about 25,000 people live in the downtown area alone; a number projected to more than double by 2040.
Randy Thelen, Vice President of Economic Development with DDP, says many of those currently living downtown are renters who want to invest. The demand for condos is only expected to grow.
He believes the latest plans will make a great addition to the city skyline.
The developer, Amacon, released its site plan just last week. While it’s far away from approval by the city, it calls for two towers. One with 38 stories, the second with 32. There will be 477 units total ranging from studios to penthouses.
The plan also calls for more than 12,000 square feet of retail space.
Amacon’s Vice President of Development and Construction, Steve Featherson released the following statement:
“This project offers a tremendous opportunity to add to the vibrancy of downtown Denver with a new mixed-use community. Amacon has extensive experience in designing and building high rise condominium towers across Canada and we are excited to collaborate with Denver-based Davis Partnership Architects for this project. Our proposed development will bring a 38 storey tower and a 32 storey tower to the neighborhood—including approximately 498,000 square feet of residential space, with 463 condominium units with a mix of shapes and sizes. In addition to these new homes, approximately 12,000 square feet of new retail space will be perfectly suited for cafes and shops, helping to re-energize this part of the city. More than 300 jobs will be created during construction, all hired through local suppliers. With four decades of experience in building urban communities, Amacon is excited to be working in Denver, and we look forward to adding new homes, jobs, and services to this great city.”
There is no timeline for when Shelby’s will close. Nelson was told at one point it would be open at least through the end of football season. He’s hoping for another year.
“I’ll probably spend a little time just by myself in here before we lock the door, kind of like Sam Malone did on Cheers when it ended.”
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.