- Spotlight was on the first phase of the former St. Anthony’s.
- Alamo Drafthouse is opening a theater in Sloans.
- Apartments, a boutique hotel, office and restaurants are other coming attractions.
The former St. Anthony’s Central Hospital site, now called Sloans, is getting a movie theater.
A coming attraction, of sorts, of a new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema was unveiled Wednesday night to hundreds of people who attended an open house of the developers in the first phase of the redevelopment of the former hospital site lodged between West Colfax Avenue and Sloan’s Lake in northwest Denver.
The spotlight for many was the new first-run movie house that is expected to seat about 740 in eight theaters.
“How cool is that? Very cool,” said Stuart Miner, president of EnviroFinance Group, the parent of the land development company that is preparing the 19-acre property for new developments, known as vertical construction, in developer’s parlance.
“We really wanted something that would be a spark plug for the property and would really engage the neighborhood, so we really reached out to people in the art and entertainment world,” Miner said. “We really got an enthusiastic replay from the Alamo Draft people.”
The Austin-based chain, known for its quirky and themed-based trailers, has been scouting a second location since before it opened its first theater last March in Aspen Grove in Littleton.
“That theater has done very well, beyond our projections,” said Tom DeFrancia, a partner in the theater chain and the creative director for the company.
He gives the former St. Anthony’s site a thumbs up for a number of reasons.
“First, we love its proximity to downtown,” DeFrancia said. “West Colfax is this great throughway, connecting downtown from the West.”
The location also is an area that is not served by a state-of-the-art movie theater.
“The closest movie theater is Pavilions downtown and then Belmar in Lakewood,” DeFrancia said.
“We will serve the people who live around Sloan’s Lake as well as West Highland, Edgewater, Wheat Ridge, parts of Lakewood and other surrounding neighborhoods.”
He described the chain “as kind of a bohemian” concept that mixes first-run and Indie films with its own twist.
For example, when the remake of RoboCop is released in April, the Littleton theater will offer limited edition posters its art division created for that movie.
The theater, anticipated to open in 2015, is in a portion of the property at West Colfax and West Conejos Place being developed by Littleton Capital Partners and Weston Capital. The new building is designed by Oz Architecture. The site also includes an existing 50,000-square-foot office building and other new retail.
“I live in Littleton and the Littleton Alamo Drafthouse is my movie theater; I see movies there every chance I can get,” said Jonathan Bush, principal of Littleton Capital Partners.
“It’s a place where you can get wine and beer and dinner with your movie, if you want,” he said. “And they have these really fun themed trailers. For example, I’m not explaining this well, but if they were showing Titanic, they might have Popeye trailers.”
Bush predicted that the theater will not only be a hit for the site, but also will help the surrounding area.
“This will be a huge catalyst for West Colfax,” Bush said.
Economist Leo Chavez moved to the area from Capitol Hill, because he knew St. Anthony’s would be redeveloped.
“I’m really happy to be getting a first-run movie theater,” Chavez said. “I really looked at this redevelopment through an economist’s perspective and I knew it would be good for property values in the area. I’m very pleased with the way it is progressing.”
The 31,000-square-foot theater, of course, is only one part of the mixed-use redevelopment, which is expected to have 800 to 1,200 residential units and 150,000 square feet to 250,000 square feet of retail, office and hospitality uses when completed. The site is currently zoned for a maximum of five-story buildings, although a General Development Plan would allow a developer to seek rezoning for a building as tall as 20 stories along West 17th Avenue, across from Sloan’s Lake, Denver’s largest lake. The site covers seven city blocks.
“This is a really exciting project,” Johnson said.
One of them is a 370-unit apartment community developed by Trammell Crow Residential that will include a four and five-story building.
“A really nice, key component of this is that we will wrap one of the buildings around the existing parking garage,” Johnson said.
The building across from it will have two interior courtyards.
The buildings will have all the luxurious finishes and amenities found in modern apartment buildings, he said. The apartments will also include about 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail.
Matt Schildt, a managing director for Trammell Crow Residential, is thrilled to be part of the first phase of Sloans.
“We are big believers in this neighborhood,” Schildt said. “The proximity to the Sloan’s Lake park is very compelling and it will be a fantastic amenity for our residents and their pets (50% of our residents are pet owners and the majority dog owners). The neighborhood’s proximity to downtown, light rail, U.S. 6, and the foothills are also all positive attributes. Additionally, the complementary uses within the master development – additional retail, hotel, etc., and the quality of the other vertical developers will further enhance an already highly desirable location.
He and Johnson said the new apartment buildings will be very green.
“We will be pursuing a National Green Building Standard Certification for our two buildings,” Schildt said. ” Additionally, we are re-using the existing parking structure which we will share a portion of with the Littleton Capital Partners project to the south on Block 7. The re-use of existing structures the most sustainable building practice going.”
“The existing Kuhlman building is a 1950s-era building that was originally used as a nunnery for the Catholic nuns on the site,” Johnson said. “There used to be a tunnel from the Kuhlman building to the hospital,” which has since been razed by EFG.
That building will be redeveloped into a 52-room boutique hotel, he said.
The site also could include 5,000 square feet of new restaurants and a new 75-unit apartment building.
“I think these developments will really energize this whole area,” Johnson said.
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