Neighbors eye landmark status for condo complex off Speer as Hines looks to redevelop

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The condo complex at the corner of 1st Avenue and Emerson Street dates to 1925. (BizDen file)

A landmark fight may be brewing off Speer Boulevard.

Three Denver residents have expressed interest in seeking landmark status for the Carmen Court Condos complex at the corner of 1st Avenue and Emerson Street, pitting them against the owners of the six units and development firm Hines, which acknowledged this week it wants to build a senior living complex on the site.

The owners of the condos applied in March for a certificate of demolition eligibility for the property. That certificate would make it easier to demolish the 95-year-old structure within five years. The condos’ addresses are 900, 908 and 916 E. 1st Ave., and 76, 84 and 90 N. Emerson St.

City staff determined the structure had the potential for historic designation, citing multiple reasons, including its “unique hybridization of the Pueblo Revival and Spanish Revival architectural styles.” That kicked off a several-week window during which Denver residents could express interest in potentially leading a push to designate the property a landmark.

On April 8, three residents — Sarah McCarthy, Desiree Maikranz and D. Eric Maikranz — did so. Two of them live on the same block as the building; the third lives about four blocks south.

The move means the residents now must meet with Hines and/or the owners of the condos. Only after that meeting would they be able to submit a formal application to landmark the property, which ultimately needs the Denver City Council’s approval.

This process is somewhat different from what was followed after recent so-called hostile landmark applications for Tom’s Diner on Colfax Avenue and a funeral home in Berkeley, due to changes council passed last year.

McCarthy, who submitted the notice to the city on behalf of the three residents, did not respond to a request for comment from BusinessDen.

Chris Crawford actual

Chris Crawford

Hines Managing Director Chris Crawford said Monday that the firm is under contract to buy the Carmen Court property, as well as a couple of smaller adjacent parcels.

Crawford said Hines wants to build a “boutique licensed senior living facility” on the site. The firm, whose most recent local project is the 40-story office tower at 1144 15th St., has completed senior living projects in New York and is currently constructing some in Texas.

Crawford said the firm was scouting for locations in the broader Washington Park area, because of the demographics and proximity to downtown and Cherry Creek, when it learned that the site at 1st and Emerson might be up for grabs.

“The condo owners were out looking to monetize their position … as one collective group,” he said.

Hines has not spoken with the residents considering a landmark application, Crawford said. When that occurs, the company plans to emphasize it won’t be seeking a rezoning or height variance for the project. The site is zoned for up to five stories.

Crawford said the company also plans to emphasize its track record, particularly in Denver. He said the company’s project would be “really high-end” and “bring the love for architecture into this product type.”

“We’re really focused on the quality,” he said. “That’s the key takeaway.”

Elsewhere in Denver, Hines and two partners held a groundbreaking ceremony in February for its planned T3 office building in RiNo, although the companies have since delayed the start of construction. The company also plans to build a 10-story apartment complex along Brighton Boulevard by the Mission Ballroom concert venue.

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