Hotel planned for triangular lot by City Hall has aspen tree-inspired design

12.28D 14th and Court Main rendering

A rendering of the planned 13-story, 145,000-square-foot building dubbed “Populus” at 270 14th St. (Images courtesy of Urban Villages/Studio Gang)

More details and flashy renderings have been released for a project planned for a small triangular block just north of Denver City Hall.

Denver-based Urban Villages said that it plans to build a 13-story, 145,000-square-foot building dubbed “Populus” at 270 14th St., the triangular block formed by 14th Street, Court Place and Colfax Avenue. The site is across the street from Denver City Hall, at the edge of Civic Center Park.

Plans call for 250 smaller-than-typical hotel rooms, averaging 170 square feet, and 40 micro apartment units, averaging between 350 and 400 square feet, according to Urban Villages Chief Development Officer Jon Buerge.

Few hotel brands offer such small rooms. One that does is Yotel, a U.K.-based brand that in addition to hotels dubbed Yotels also applies its branding to apartment or condominium complexes, under the name Yotelpad.

The company’s website states that a Yotel and Yotelpad project is in the works in Denver. Buerge said Urban Villages has talked to the company about the 14th and Colfax project, but no deal has been formally reached.

12.28D 14th and Court Secondary

The irregularly spaced windows are in the shape of what are called “aspen eyes.”

What’s attention-grabbing about the project, even more so than the tiny rooms, are the renderings.

Urban Villages and Jeff Hermanson, who recently sold Larimer Square, purchased the lot from the city in August 2017 for $2.5 million. The one-story building on the lot used to be a day-care facility.

Buerge noting that Civic Center Park is lined with prominent buildings, most of them government buildings. There’s City Hall and the Capitol building, obviously, but also Denver Public Library’s eclectic boxiness, the Denver Art Museum and the state Supreme Court building.

Buerge said Urban Villages wanted to rise to the occasion as a private developer, and conducted an international search for an architecture firm. It settled on Chicago-based Studio Gang. Populus is the firm’s first building in the state.

Jeanne Gang traveled to the state and looked for inspiration in different natural elements. The aspen tree won out.

Populus’ exterior features irregularly spaced windows in the shape of what are sometimes called “aspen eyes,” the dark markings on tree trunks where previous branches have fallen off, leaving an eye-like pattern.

“It created a lot of variation on the interior,” Buerge said. “So a lot of these different units will have a different experience.”

12.28D 14th and Court third

The triangular lot the hotel would sit on is 10,620 square feet — about a quarter of an acre.

The company hopes to break ground sometime in 2021. The coronavirus pandemic has been brutal on the hospitality industry, and multiple hotel projects that were expected to break ground this year in and around downtown Denver did not.

Buerge said Populus hasn’t fully secured its needed financing, “but we are confident we’re going to get there.”

The 270 14th St. lot is 10,620 square feet. That’s a quarter of an acre or, as Buerge puts it, “tight.” One result of that is that Urban Villages is not incorporating parking into the building.

Plans for Populus also call for a public rooftop bar, and multiple food and beverage options on the ground floor.

“Our city’s got a lot of hotel keys, but not a lot of vibrant, unique lifestyle hotels,” he said.

12.28D 14th and Court Main rendering

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