Charlie Woolley, who specializes in rehabbing historic buildings, has earned a reputation as one of Denver's most creative and thoughtful developers. For his latest effort, he poured $20 million into the three former Karmen Western Wear buildings on Wazee Street between 15th and 16th streets -- which he's dubbed the Hardware Block -- and turned them into lofts, offices and stores. But the project was no ordinary one. With the help of architect Josh Comfort, Woolley has transformed the former eyesores into showplaces. For instance, the tawdry fake stone that long covered one of the buildings has been removed, revealing red brick, and a long-lost cornice was restored to another of the structures. That's a nice development in a wonderful part of town.
Charlie Woolley, who specializes in rehabbing historic buildings, has earned a reputation as one of Denver's most creative and thoughtful developers. For his latest effort, he poured $20 million into the three former Karmen Western Wear buildings on Wazee Street between 15th and 16th streets -- which he's dubbed the Hardware Block -- and turned them into lofts, offices and stores. But the project was no ordinary one. With the help of architect Josh Comfort, Woolley has transformed the former eyesores into showplaces. For instance, the tawdry fake stone that long covered one of the buildings has been removed, revealing red brick, and a long-lost cornice was restored to another of the structures. That's a nice development in a wonderful part of town.


The Reyes Building is just a shell of its former self, a circa 1889 storefront that housed the once-bustling Paso del Norte, an early Mexican cafe that catered to all the folks who frequented the markets, resale shops and little businesses in the 2100 block of Larimer Street. But after a fire hit the building over a decade ago, it sat boarded up, a blight on the ever-brightening Ballpark Neighborhood. And then along came Karle Seydel, former head of the Ballpark Neighborhood group, who'd watched all the development going on -- and up -- in his back yard and decided to get in on the game, too. But he did it right. Working in conjunction with the building's owners, Marcellino and Elisa Reyes, Seydel stripped the structure down to its initial components and is building two lofts and commercial space into an essentially new building that will fit right in with the character of Larimer Street's old roots. What's new is old again.
The Reyes Building is just a shell of its former self, a circa 1889 storefront that housed the once-bustling Paso del Norte, an early Mexican cafe that catered to all the folks who frequented the markets, resale shops and little businesses in the 2100 block of Larimer Street. But after a fire hit the building over a decade ago, it sat boarded up, a blight on the ever-brightening Ballpark Neighborhood. And then along came Karle Seydel, former head of the Ballpark Neighborhood group, who'd watched all the development going on -- and up -- in his back yard and decided to get in on the game, too. But he did it right. Working in conjunction with the building's owners, Marcellino and Elisa Reyes, Seydel stripped the structure down to its initial components and is building two lofts and commercial space into an essentially new building that will fit right in with the character of Larimer Street's old roots. What's new is old again.


The concrete building that is now the Colorado Business Bank was originally constructed in 1907 for Charles Boettcher's Ideal Cement Company. Twenty years later, it was completely redone by the premier Denver architects of the time, Fisher and Fisher, who converted the ordinary building into a remarkable structure encrusted with terra-cotta decorations and lined with luxurious surface treatments, including metal and plaster bas-reliefs, engraved metals, and terrazzo in elaborate multicolored patterns. Although the building was fairly well maintained, time eventually took its toll on the paint and plaster -- and even the terrazzo. That's why Evan Makovsky, who bought the building a couple of years ago for the bank, asked Sprung Construction to give it a thorough going-over last summer. The interior and exterior were restored beautifully, and the heavenly ceiling was expertly touched up by the International Fine Art Conservation Studio. Makovsky took a personal interest in the project, and it shows.
The concrete building that is now the Colorado Business Bank was originally constructed in 1907 for Charles Boettcher's Ideal Cement Company. Twenty years later, it was completely redone by the premier Denver architects of the time, Fisher and Fisher, who converted the ordinary building into a remarkable structure encrusted with terra-cotta decorations and lined with luxurious surface treatments, including metal and plaster bas-reliefs, engraved metals, and terrazzo in elaborate multicolored patterns. Although the building was fairly well maintained, time eventually took its toll on the paint and plaster -- and even the terrazzo. That's why Evan Makovsky, who bought the building a couple of years ago for the bank, asked Sprung Construction to give it a thorough going-over last summer. The interior and exterior were restored beautifully, and the heavenly ceiling was expertly touched up by the International Fine Art Conservation Studio. Makovsky took a personal interest in the project, and it shows.

Best Building on the Endangered-Species List

Ocean Journey

Downtown Aquarium
Ocean Journey was just hours from going extinct when it was pulled back from the brink on April 1. Let's hope that Ocean Journey, the aquarium, survives bankruptcy, because Ocean Journey, the building, is a very fine structure that was conceived to the nth degree when it was built in 1999. Not only does it sport state-of-the-art technical features that support the wide array of aquatic life inside, but it also contains artwork specifically made for the place. Odyssea, a once-only collaboration between Anderson Mason Dale and RNL Design, two of the city's most respected architectural firms, designed the Platte Valley building. The principal designer was Ron Mason. His concept, a brick core partly surrounded by undulating steel and glass walls that form a grand porchlike atrium overlooking the Platte River, created a monumental presence that goes way beyond the structure's actual size. We fell for this building hook, line and sinker.

Best Building on the Endangered-Species List

Ocean Journey

Ocean Journey was just hours from going extinct when it was pulled back from the brink on April 1. Let's hope that Ocean Journey, the aquarium, survives bankruptcy, because Ocean Journey, the building, is a very fine structure that was conceived to the nth degree when it was built in 1999. Not only does it sport state-of-the-art technical features that support the wide array of aquatic life inside, but it also contains artwork specifically made for the place. Odyssea, a once-only collaboration between Anderson Mason Dale and RNL Design, two of the city's most respected architectural firms, designed the Platte Valley building. The principal designer was Ron Mason. His concept, a brick core partly surrounded by undulating steel and glass walls that form a grand porchlike atrium overlooking the Platte River, created a monumental presence that goes way beyond the structure's actual size. We fell for this building hook, line and sinker.


Mary Chandler's goal was to research 400 buildings in and around Denver, put her comments into book form and get the whole thing published before the American Institute of Architects met in Denver last summer. The task was made more complicated by an ever-changing cast of characters who served on a succession of advisory committees from the Denver Foundation for Architecture, the group that sponsored the book. Then there was the on-again-off-again funding, which came through just weeks before the AIA meetings. But the result, Guide to Denver Architecture, published by Westcliffe Publishers, was worth the wait and the effort. The result is an indispensable handbook that's at least as valuable to our skyline as some of the buildings constructed in the past year.
Mary Chandler's goal was to research 400 buildings in and around Denver, put her comments into book form and get the whole thing published before the American Institute of Architects met in Denver last summer. The task was made more complicated by an ever-changing cast of characters who served on a succession of advisory committees from the Denver Foundation for Architecture, the group that sponsored the book. Then there was the on-again-off-again funding, which came through just weeks before the AIA meetings. But the result, Guide to Denver Architecture, published by Westcliffe Publishers, was worth the wait and the effort. The result is an indispensable handbook that's at least as valuable to our skyline as some of the buildings constructed in the past year.

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