Denver, CO

Platte Street is turning from industrial to trendy

Margaret Jackson

A flurry of development over the past decade has transformed Platte Street from what was once an industrial area to a trendy neighborhood with shops and restaurants, and the evolution is continuing.

Since 2015, new buildings, including one under construction, totaling about 1 million square feet of office space geared toward entrepreneurial companies, have been completed on the street located between Denver's Lower Higland neigborhood and the Central Platte Valley.

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New restaurants and bars are gravitating toward Platte StreetMargaret Jackson

Completed buildings include the Circa Building, The Lab, The Boathouse, The Nichols Building, Riverview at 1700 Platte and Platte Fifteen. One Platte, a five-story 250,000-square-foot office building, is currently under construction.

That has drawn the attention of dozens of new retailers and restaurants to the area, and property owners are considering applying to the city for a common consumption license for the street. That would enable shoppers and diners to stroll Platte with cocktails, beer or wine.

“Platte Street has a gravitational pull,” said Austin Kane, vice president and regional director of Unico Properties, which developed the Circa Building and $1.7 million plaza at the base of Highland Bridge. “There are 4,335 people a day going to work on Platte Street.

Among the new restaurants being built out are Modis, a contemporary dining establishment in downtown Breckenridge that will move into the former Colt & Gray space, and Dave’s Hot Chicken, an eatery that specializes Nashville-style hot chicken tenders and sliders and will be located in the Circa Building. Blue Sparrow Coffee the Room for Milly cocktail bar both opened in the Circa Building just over a year ago. before establishments were shut down for the pandemic.

“We didn’t have a ton of fast casual on the street, so that checks a nice box,” Kane said. “We still have a few pieces we’re in the process of trying to fill in, but we’re talking to groups who will continue to add to the gravitational pull of Platte Street.”

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Modis will occupy the former Colt & Gray spaceMargaret Jackson

Platte Street also has evolved into a hub for outdoor and fitness retailers, a trend that started when Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) took over the Denver Tramway Powerhouse building in 2998 to redevelop into its flagship Denver store. The $32 million project was considered a catalyst for development in the Central Platte Valley.

Since then, Wilderness Exchange, RAB, Fjallraven and Royal Robbins all have gravitated to the area, and Kane said he’s in conversations with gear maker Cotopaxi and Soulcore Fitness, a favorite of Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga and Jennifer Aniston. Athleta also is opening a store in the neighborhood.

Existing tenants are doing a little sprucing up to keep up with all the changes. Proto’s Pizzaria Napoletana is adding a bar adjacent to its current location, and Babe’s Tea Room is spiffing up its storefront. Both restaurants are located in the historic buildings owned by Unico between 15th Street and the Highland bridge.

At the base of the bridge, artists Brett Matarazzo and Michael Dowling have opened the BRDG Project, a contemporary art space Unico donated to them for six months. Because Unico still doesn’t have a tenant lined up for the space, the firm is considering extending the BRDG Project’s lease for the space.

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The BRDG Project art gallery is bringing new life to an old storefrontMargaret Jackson

“Art and design have to be there for people to want to preserve the neighborhood,” Matarazzo said. “You can’t have a great neighborhood and not have art be a part of it.”

It’s not the first time Unico has donated space to Matarazzo. Last year, it allowed him to install a gallery in the giant windows of the Circa Building. It also did a 2 ½-month popup gallery in the same space Unico has donated for the current gallery. Matarazzo said about 500 people visited the space op opening weekend.

“It was a great way to show how these spaces could really be turned on,” he said. “It showcased the potential of the space.”

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I'm a Denver-based business writer with expertise in commercial and residential real estate as well as general business news.

Denver, CO
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