There’s a new office tower under construction in downtown Denver.
Chicago-based Riverside Investment & Development Co. held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday afternoon to mark the start of work on 1900 Lawrence, which the company hopes to complete in the second quarter of 2024.
The 30-story building is going up along 19th Street between Lawrence and Arapahoe streets. It will have about 700,000 square feet of office space and about 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, along with about 630 parking spaces across two underground and six above-ground levels.
The structure will be 400 feet tall, according to Riverside, which will rank it around No. 20 among the city’s tallest buildings. A two-tower downtown condominium project that Canadian developer Amacon broke ground on last week is also slated to be right around 400 feet.
Riverside, which is developing 1900 Lawrence in partnership with Convexity Properties and Canyon Partners Real Estate, submitted its initial plans for the project to the city in January 2020. The company purchased the 1.26-acre development site in December 2021 for $27.2 million from Paradise Land Co.’s Buzz Geller.
The property was previously a parking lot. On the other side of Arapahoe Street is Denver’s former Greyhound block, where two 400-foot towers have been proposed. On the other side of Lawrence Street is Sakura Square, another full city block that is expected to be redeveloped in the coming years.
Riverside, led by CEO John O’Donnell, hasn’t previously developed in Denver. But the firm has ample experience going vertical in Chicago, where its projects include the 54-story 150 North Riverside office tower and the 815-foot-tall, 55-story Bank of America tower, also known as 110 North Wacker.
“We figured out three years ago, maybe five years later, that it’s a magnet for young people,” O’Donnell said of Denver.
1900 Lawrence is also the first Denver project for Chicago-based Goettsch Partners, which designed the building.
The project breaks ground without any signed leases, although that is standard fare for Denver. JLL broker Jamie Roupp is marketing the office space. Hensel Phelps is the general contractor.
1900 Lawrence is the first office tower to break ground in downtown Denver since the 30-story Block 162 at 675 15th St., which began construction in 2018 and was completed last year.
Occupancy in many downtown buildings continues to lag below where it was prior to the coronavirus pandemic, which has prompted some companies to embrace work-from-home policies. But developers continue to believe that new top-quality office space will attract tenants.
Indeed, four law firms have leased space in Block 162, although plenty of space remains available. And the 200,000 square feet of office space within McGregor Square, which was completed last spring, is fully leased, according to a Thursday announcement from the project’s development team.
The influx of new office space is generally expected to pass on any leasing problems, if demand continues to lag, to the city’s oldest buildings, potentially prompting their owners to undertake renovations or consider alternative uses. BusinessDen broke the news in December that the owners of the 14-story Petroleum Building at 110 16th St. were considering converting the building for residential use. That’s still on the table, according to a report this week by CPR News, which said the building is half empty.
In a nod to the pandemic, among the features of 1900 Lawrence that Riverside touts are the project’s planned “hospital-grade ventilation systems” and touchless elevators.