In downtown Denver, Colorado, Larimer Square is a single historic block located between 14th and 15th on Larimer Street. It’s home to over 20 independently owned and unique boutiques, and has one of the region’s most significant collections of exclusive, chef-owned restaurants.
For over a century, Larimer Square has been Denver, Colorado‘s “main street”. It has evolved into a top Denver destination for locals and tourists alike, offering a mix of sophisticated retail, dining, office space and entertainment.
All too often, cities allow such cultural and economic assets to go into decline. They don’t seem to realize that cities are living systems, and as such, require constant regeneration in order to simply maintain their health. Actually increasing that health and boosting its resilience (AKA: revitalization) requires a strategic regeneration process.
One local redeveloper, a true Restoration Economy leader, refuses to lose a treasure like Larimer Square by taking it for granted. This already-vital place is about to be revitalized, to ensure that its vitality lasts for at least another century.
Larimer Square’s steward for 25 years, Jeff Hermanson, in partnership with Denver-based Urban Villages, Inc., has outlined a strategy to invest in the block for decades to come, while preserving its unique status as Denver’s oldest historic district. Hermanson owns the real estate on Denver’s most historic and beloved block (Larimer Square), and was a principal partner in the award-winning restoration of Denver Union Station.
In 2015, Hermanson was inducted into the Denver & Colorado Travel Industry Hall of Fame for his long history of supporting historic preservation and re-energizing Denver’s retail, restaurant and entertainment scene. Jeff’s philanthropic and social responsibility efforts are principally focused on the good food movement, hunger awareness and land conservation. He serves on the Board of Directors for We Don’t Waste and has been a board member and served as the President of the Crested Butte Land Trust.
Larimer Square has experienced a variety of changes from its beginning in 1861, including its transformation from a dilapidated street in the mid-1900’s, to Denver’s first historic district through the preservation efforts of Dana Crawford in 1971, to an exciting entertainment destination with new buildings erected on the block as recently as 2003. The investment plans announced today will continue this stewardship by shoring-up deteriorating infrastructure and ushering in the next phase for this unique, historic area.
“Larimer Square is a world-renowned destination due to its careful management, thoughtful investment and unwavering public support,” said Hermanson, “Our intention is to invest heavily in the block so that it continues to stand the test of time. We want to preserve all that is special and historic while ensuring this iconic block remains vibrant for generations to come.”
In order to maintain the historic integrity and character of the block, the two new proposed buildings will be located on the alleys and underutilized courtyards behind Larimer Square.
Hermanson and Urban Villages have been, and continue to be committed to, working with a large cross-section of city leaders, historic preservationists and community members. The plans call for two new buildings – one of which will be dedicated to much-needed affordable housing, built in the most desirable part of downtown Denver.
“Larimer Square is a unique and storied destination, and our intention is to stay true to its legacy,” said Jon Buerge, chief development officer at Urban Villages. “We anticipate this project will standalone amid the transformation Denver is experiencing through the thoughtful integration of historic properties and modern amenities. What we are planning will ensure that downtown thrives, and that Larimer Square remains a shining star in our growing city.”
The development plan also includes an array of rooftop urban gardens and small farms that will grow produce for the restaurants that operate in and around Larimer Square. The block’s historic brick alleys will be revitalized and refurbished to become a fully activated pedestrian corridor where an eclectic blend of retail and public spaces can thrive. The alley corridor will offer incubator spaces for burgeoning ideas and businesses that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to grow in downtown Denver.
Urban Villages and Hermanson are committed to working closely with a variety of constituents including the residents of the area to ensure the future plans for Larimer Square preserve the soul of the block. Additionally, the team is committed to helping Denver city leaders and residents tackle Denver’s housing crunch. Many of the people who make Larimer Square such a premier destination, including restaurant workers, boutique employees and small business staff cannot live near the block or within the city limits due to rising housing costs.
The development team projects the revitalization of the block to take several years, commencing in 2019 upon all necessary approvals from city leaders.