DENVER– Redevelopment looks to be on the menu at Bonnie Brae Tavern.
An early-stage development proposal that was submitted to the city in late December calls for a three-story building to replace the existing Tavern building at 740 S. University Blvd., as well as the gift shop next door.
The plans bear the name of Joe Jundt, who said he hopes to develop the project with two local partners. He went under contract to purchase the properties about two months ago, and said he’s likely about six months from closing on them.
Jundt said he envisions one of the units as a higher-end restaurant, noting Bonnie Brae is surrounded by some of Denver’s priciest neighborhoods.
The plans show 43 condos on the top two floors, ranging from 650 to 1,940 square feet, and four 400-square-foot units on the first floor. But Jundt said those figures are subject to change.
“This is our family hangout. It’s where we go when we want to watch a football game,” said Emily Menkins, who lives in the Bonnie Brae neighborhood. “You walk in and you know a lot of the people inside. It’s part of the character of Denver. When you grew up, you always knew your neighbors.”
The history is personal for Chris Dire and his family. Dire’s great-grandfather founded the tavern.
“He was going to just have a mechanic shop and prohibition ended, and he decided instead of doing that, he was going to sell beer,” Dire said.
“It’s pretty rough,” Dire said. “My family has had this for like 85 years and I’ve been here and I just sort of by default and out of laziness, this was the plan for the rest of my life. I’ve tried to embrace the change and now the change is really coming on me, and that hurts more than I thought it would.”
The change hurts for the people who believe the place is part of Denver’s identity, but there is hope for them.
The developer tells FOX31 the door is open for the Bonnie Brae Tavern to open a space in the new development on the bottom floor.
“The answer is not to take away the history of our city, the answer is not to take away the character of our neighborhood,” Menkins said. “When you take away places like this, that goes away.”
Regardless of what happens, Dire is grateful for the countless people in the community who have supported this business for nearly a century.
“Can’t tell them how much I appreciate them,” Dire said. “They’ve taken care of my family for 85 years.”
Read more at BusinessDen.com.