Developers plan to erase giant pencil, stack six stories on historic building along Denver’s 16th Street Mall

Developers are looking to stack six stories on a more than 100-year-old building along the 16th Street Mall and create a nearby two-story hotel where a popcorn store and pot shop currently sit.

A project proposed for 910 16th St. (City and County of Denver)
A project proposed for 910 16th St. (City and County of Denver)
A project proposed for 910 16th St. (City and County of Denver)

Developers are looking to stack six stories on a more than 100-year-old building along the 16th Street Mall and create a nearby two-story hotel where a popcorn store and pot shop currently sit.

The project submitted to Denver’s Landmark Preservation Commission last month is being floated by Johnson Nathan Strohe. The Commission is expected to weigh in on the Denver architecture firm’s plan at 1 p.m. Tuesday during a public meeting in the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building, room 4.F.6.

A call to Johnson Nathan Strohe was not immediately returned Monday.

Denver’s Community Planning and Development staff is recommending the Landmark Preservation Commission allow the project to go forward. If the project is approved, Johnson Nathan Strohe will have to return to the commission with more details about its project slated for the Downtown Denver Historic Denver district.

Initial details show the architecture firm is proposing knocking down the so-called “popcorn building” at 1555 Champa St. The one-story building that houses City Pop and Native Roots was constructed in 1936 and would be replaced by a two-story hotel.

Directly northwest of the “popcorn building,” Johnson Nathan Strohe is proposing to add six stories on top of the Dr. Foster Addition Building at 1910 16th St. That would make the building, originally built in 1911, 12 stories and on par with the existing A.C. Forster Building that fronts 16th Street. The iconic pencil-painted coal stack, “Pencil Coal Stack,” is expected to be removed for the project, the plan shows.

University Building "Pencil Coal Stack" at 910 16th St. (Denver Community Planning and Development)
University Building “Pencil Coal Stack” at 910 16th St. (Denver Community Planning and Development)

The University Building, originally named after the prominent Colorado developer A.C. Foster, was designed by Fisher & Fisher Architects in 1910, the plan states. “It was one of the first buildings constructed in Denver after a city ordinance was passed allowing construction over nine stories in height.”

The addition to the A.C. Foster Building was commissioned by A.C. Foster’s brother, noted Denver surgeon, Dr. John Foster.

“The A.C. Foster Building was donated to the University of Denver in the 1920s, who used it as an income-producing asset and thus lead to its current reference as the university Building; the University sold the property in 1980. During the economic downturn in the 1980s, the property was returned to the bank, who allowed the building to fall into disrepair. It was last purchased in 1991 by the current owner,” the plan states.

Property records show the building is owned by the real estate companies Naiman Family LLC and 910 Associates Inc.

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Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at agarcia@denverite.com or @adriandgarcia on Twitter.

Adrian D. Garcia

Author: Adrian D. Garcia

Adrian D. Garcia is on business and trends for Denverite, serves as treasurer for the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and was recently elected to the board of the Denver Press Club. He can be reached at agarcia@denverite.com.