A firehouse-turned-beer garden is the centerpiece of redevelopment plans for what Joe Vostrejs calls “the original town square of Edgewater.”
Denver-based City Street Investors, which Vostrejs co-founded, is in the later stages of finalizing its site development plan for the northeast corner of 25th Avenue and Gray Street in the small municipality west of Sloan’s Lake.
In addition to the onetime firehouse, the site is home to two connected buildings. One housed the city’s parks and recreation department and police operations. The second used to be a library.
Edgewater residents voted in 2012 to disband the city’s fire department in favor of joining the neighboring Wheat Ridge Fire Protection District. And the city moved the offices and library to the new Edgewater Civic Center at 1800 Harlan St. in 2018, leaving the buildings vacant.
City Street develops and owns retail and restaurant real estate, in addition to owning, operating and investing in restaurants. The company purchased the former firehouse and city buildings in November 2019 for $550,000, public records show.
It was something of a natural move for the firm. City Street already owned the buildings at two of the intersection’s three other corners. It turned the former City Hall building across Gray Street into a location of the firm’s Pizzeria Forte concept.
“It’s where you had the police and fire, and City Hall used to be there, if you go back far enough,” Vostrejs said of the intersection.
The plan for the northeast corner, which still needs to receive final approval from the city, is to build an addition on to the firehouse, bringing it from about 3,600 to 4,000 square feet. It would become Edgewater Beer Garden, a sibling of City Street’s Lowry Beer Garden and Green Valley Ranch Beer Garden in those respective neighborhoods.
Vostrejs said surveys of Edgewater residents after the acquisition found they were most interested in something that could become a neighboring gathering space, and that would incorporate outdoor space.
To add to the outdoor space at the site, City Street plans to demolish the two-story building right on the corner that used to house the police and parks and recreation. That will leave just the approximately 1,500-square-foot building that once housed the library, which will be renovated.
“We may put our ice cream concept there,” Vostrejs said.
Right now, Vostrejs said, the Pizzeria Forte across the street produces all the Brix ice cream sold at multiple City Street restaurants, including Rocket Ice Cream at Lowry’s Hangar 2 and Milk Box Ice Creamery in Denver Union Station. The thinking is that production could be moved to the former library building, and a retail component could be added as well, so that customers could walk up and order a cone.
That would leave about half the building to be leased out, Vostrejs said.
The majority of businesses in Edgewater are along Sheridan Boulevard, the city’s eastern border, where there’s a Target, King Soopers and other chains. While 25th and Gray is firmly removed from that bustle, that means that Edgewater residents can “feel like it belongs to them.”
“When you think of places that define neighborhoods, they’re rarely on the main thoroughfare,” Vostrejs said.
Vostrejs said he hopes that work on the project can begin early next year.
“I’d love to get it open sometime in the summer,” he said of the beer garden.
Other recent changes in Edgewater include Edgewater Public Market, the food-hall-centered project developed by Denver-based LCP Development, which opened in late 2019 at 5505 W. 20th Ave. Among the latest tenants to open there is vegan burger joint Meta Burger. A Shake Shack is also on the way.
Edgewater is far from City Street’s only focus at the moment. The firm is also involved in the redevelopment of Capitol Hill United Neighbors’ Tears-McFarlane House on Cheesman Park and the Broomfield Town Square mixed-use project, which looks to establish something of a downtown in that bedroom community.
Additionally, at the end of 2019, City Street purchased the Evans School, the long-dormant former elementary school in the Golden Triangle.
That project, which will likely involve applying for federal historic tax credits, remains in the planning stages. Right now, the firm is trying to decide on the best option for the building’s upper floors.
“For sure, there will be food and beverage and some retail on the first floor,” Vostrejs said. “The upper floors we’re exploring hotel and office uses.”