DENVER — The owner of Larimer Square and a developer have plans to update Denver’s first historic neighborhood.
Jeff Hermanson, who has owned Larimer Square for 25 years, and Urban Villages have released plans to add two new buildings to the street.
“We’re in a crossroads in time, where we have an opportunity to truly make a difference,” Hermanson said.
Hermanson plans to put a bar, hotel, condominiums and apartments — with 30 percent reserved for affordable housing — in the buildings.
In the alleys, the plan is to have microbusiness begin, with the goal of them growing and eventually being able to afford street side space.
Hermanson also wants gardens to grow food on the rooftops.
“It’s pretty exciting for me to think that we have conjured up a vision where we could grow food on the rooftops, to be served in these restaurants,” Hermanson said.
“And these servers would have the opportunity to live on the block. I mean, what a concept?”
But that concept is not necessarily a good one for everyone.
“We are concerned about the proposal,” said Historic Denver executive director Annie Levinsky, “Because it changes the protections that have been in place for Larimer Square for more than 50 years.”
Some of those protections include keeping the buildings’ height to 64 feet.
For the plans to become a reality, the Denver City Council would have to amend the rules to allow the two buildings.
“If Larimer Square, our city’s first historic district, can be undermined in that way, what’s in store for those other historic places?” Levinsky said.
That’s yet to be seen and might depend on what happens on one of Denver’s oldest developed streets.