Much fanfare was made today of the fact that Sage Hospitality Resources LLC, a prominent hotel management and development firm, will be moving into the top three floors of the long-decrepit Fontius Building on the 16th Street Mall. Mayor John Hickenlooper was reportedly on hand at the building today for the announcement, which also championed recent public and private investments in the historic structure’s revitalization. It all may seem a bit extreme for a seemingly simple real estate arrangement, but then again, the fact that the Fontius Building is starting to attract tenants, not to mention extremely high-caliber tenants, is cause for celebration.
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The building and the block around it – named Block 162 -- sat deteriorating and nearly empty for decades, an emblem of the city’s downtown development woes smack dab in the middle of the urban core. That changed last summer when Evan Makovsky, a longtime Denver developer, announced he had managed to buy up much of the hopelessly fragmented ownerships of the block and planned to redevelop it all. While much of the site is now earmarked for major new construction, the Fontius building, at the corner of 16th and Welton, is being historically restored – meaning gone are the ramshackle “Fontius” signs attached to the structure’s façade, the last remnant of a long-shuttered shoe store. (The press release today about Sage Hospitality referred to the building as the “Steel Building,” in reference to structure’s first client, apparently in an attempt to exorcise the now-infamous Fontius moniker.)
To find out more about the original Fontius store and all the other unusual Block 162 tenants that preceded Sage—from fur dealers to Indian weavers to grand theaters – check out our story on the block and its unassuming savior, “Evan Almighty.” – Joel Warner