The West Lot near Coors Field is one of the most exciting and highly anticipated developments in Denver. The mega-development is now fully under construction now that the groundbreaking has occurred with a goal of making the neighborhood relevant year-round, not just on game days.
The developer, Stantec, has planned a “Rockefeller Center-type” square that will bring condos, restaurants, a hotel, and the Rockies Baseball Hall of Fame to Lower Downtown, or LoDo. Lower Downtown is the oldest neighborhood in Denver and the historic district has been undergoing major revitalization in the last decade that has already made it home to some of the best-known shops and restaurants in Denver.
LoDo experienced its first rebirth with the opening of Coors Field in the 1990s. This new development hopes to move the neighborhood beyond baseball by mimicking Rockefeller Center in New York, complete with a Hall of Fame, ice skating in the winter, a 184-room hotel, and large LED screen in the courtyard.
The lot under development is located west and south of Coors Field and has largely been ignored as downtown has grown up in the last 22 years.
According to the developer, the buildings like the condos and hotel will serve as a backdrop for the plaza and entertainment activities. The buildings will enclose the plaza in a U-shaped design with multiple pedestrian entrances. Hotel guests and condo owners will have prime views of the activity below with balconies and rooftop spaces.
The public plaza will also serve as a gateway to the Rockies franchise, combining the Rockies Hall of Fame with multi-family residential housing, urban retail stores, office spaces, and restaurants. It will serve as a pre- and post-game meeting place with the ability to host neighborhood festivals, concerts, and public activities.
While nearby restaurants and bars have been largely onboard with the development, some have expressed concerns. Critics say the development is just another attraction to a downtown that’s already too congested. The area has already seen other major improvements in the last few years like the European-style pedestrian section of Dairy Block and Union Station.
The cost of revitalizing Denver’s urban areas also comes at a high cost aside from traffic. In 2016, $155 million in property taxes went to special districts like West Lot, Dairy Block, and Union Station.
Still, city leaders and residents can recognize the benefits of improving the city’s downtown area. In the 1980s, Denver experienced a massive construction boom thanks to the oil boom as property values soared but they crashed before the decade was over. By the late 1980s, LoDo was blighted and overlooked by the construction boom. Despite its huge collection of historic urban buildings, about 20% of the buildings in LoDo were demolished by 1988 to make way for parking lots.
Once the neighborhood was designated as historic, dozens of historic buildings were renovated to create restaurants, bars, offices, galleries, shops, and housing. Long abandoned warehouses became lofts and, in the 1990’s, Coors Field was built for the Colorado Rockies and the Pepsi Center arena opened. LoDo has now gone from 89 housing units in the 1980s to more than 3,700 today.