Historic Denver Pushing Petition to Save Tavern Uptown Building

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Historic Denver has weighed in on plans for a new, mixed-use, eight-story project that would be built on the 1.5 acre site of the current Tavern Uptown, at 538 East 17th Avenue, complete with a brand-new Tavern occupying the same ground-floor corner of the block — but with a rooftop deck reached by a high-speed elevator. That’s if plans don’t get slowed by a protest.

Historic Denver notes that the project — a joint venture of Tavern Hospitality Group, Nashville’s Southern Land Co. and GTIS Partners, a New York City-based real-estate investment firm that would have THG handling 14,000 square feet of retail and a parking lot, and Southern Land overseeing 315 apartment units — would involve the demolition of a "fantastic building" as two other historic buildings on the block. Originally a grocery store, the Tavern building was constructed in 1900 to serve the neighborhood now known as Uptown, Historic Denver reports: “Right on the 17th Avenue Street Car line, patrons could stop by after work to purchase their groceries before heading home. The land was owned by William G. Russell, a real estate developer and society man...

“Historic Denver recently learned that the City granted a demolition permit in April 2015 after concluding it did not potentially meet criteria in two of three designation categories. Therefore, it was not posted for public review. However, Historic Denver believes this 115-year-old building has merit and is clearly valued by the community. We have contacted the developer to begin a conversation about a creative win-win solution, because we know mixing the old and the new makes Denver great.” And Frank Schultz, CEO of Tavern Hospitality Group, is more than willing to have those conversations — but points out that "I sold the land to Southern Land, and they did their due diligence."  Southern Land, the entity that had applied for that demolition permit, is amenable to talking with the city and Historic Denver, too, Schultz says.

Tavern Hospitality Group has had similar conversations before. When it bought an old storefront on South Pearl Street, neighbors wanted to make sure that THG preserved the building (among other things). THG worked with both the neighborhood and Historic Denver on its plans, but ultimately there wasn’t enough building to save. An entirely new structure at 1475 South Pearl housing a brand-spanking-new Tavern Platt Park is slated to be completed in September.

Under the terms of the Southern Land deal, Schultz and THG will oversee the retail portion of the project that's being built on the East 17th Avenue site — and that includes another brand-spanking new Tavern that will be built on the same corner where it is today. "I wouldn't mind walking in the same door," says Schultz, "but it isn't up to me."

The current Tavern Uptown will be open until early in 2016 (hopefully through the next Super Bowl, says Schultz), when construction on the project will begin — depending on what happens with the move to preserve the building:  There’s now a link to a Save the Tavern petition on historicdenver.org.

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