by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
Park Place Olde Town (PPOT) construction is moving along at a rapid clip with the first apartments on the south end of the block expected to be rented out at the end of the year — even while the rest of the building is under construction. According to Arvada’s urban renewal authority, another temporary construction crane is expected to be set up to complete the top deck of the one-story parking structure that will be located under the four-stories of apartments being built on top of it. The project’s 153 apartments will look out over McIlvoy Park and Olde Town to the west, and over the Wadsworth Bypass and the Stocke-Walter neighborhood to the east.
But what’s of most interest is the height of the first elevator shaft constructed – the plain, tall, boring, square concrete tower that now sits at the south end of the site. It’s important because the top of the shaft defines how high Park Place will be when it is completed, and it gives a pretty good idea of what the profile of the finished building will be when viewed from the rest of Olde Town. More elevators shafts of the same height are to be poured for the north part of the building.
Many Arvada residents have complained that the overall five-story height of the structure will loom over Olde Town Arvada and it will destroy – yes, literally destroy — Arvada’s historical and architectural heritage as well as its small-town appeal. They’ve also complained that PPOT will create a wall separating Old Town from the growing traffic on the Wadsworth Bypass to the east. I can understand most of these concerns, but with 60,000 cars a day moving up and down the Bypass, I really can’t understand why shielding Olde Town from the roar of traffic on Wadsworth wouldn’t be a good thing.
DID SOMEONE EXAGGERATE?
It’s time for a few personal opinions here: Looking back on some of the widely circulated information put out by a local neighborhood group, Save Arvada Now (SAN), about how the new building will tower over the City when it is finished, it appears that a lot of people were mislead by a few. Many people were genuinely frightened and angered by a video circulated by SAN showing artist’s renditions of what PPOT’s impact on Olde Town’s skyline would be. At the same time, SAN was posting its “Olde Town is being destroyed” video, the group was also asking for donations for legal action to help stop the project.
In my own opinion, the video was a gross deception, and there is no one in Arvada – whether they are for against this kind of development – who should not feel insulted by it. The truth about what is actually being built is a lot more reassuring to those who value the quality of life Olde Town brings to Arvada. Those who produced the video and promoted it should be ashamed of their deception.
For Arvada, five stories IS tall — there’s no doubt about that. But the construction of the first elevator shaft leaves little doubt about how high the building will actually appear to those visiting or living in the area. Here are a several photographic comparisons of what SAN has told citizens the visual impact of Park Place will be, and what we now know is actually being constructed. You can take a few moments to walk around Olde Town and see for yourself where the top of the elevator shaft is. Or, look at the photos here and judge for yourself how bad the coming “destruction” of Olde Town will actually be.
I have no matching “truth” photo for this one. Park Place will not be visible at all from this intersection.
CHAMBER POTS, DOGS, WIFI AND SHADOWS
Park Place Olde Town often derisively called “pee pot” by the project’s detractors. Despite that unfortunate imagery, the 300 or so new semi-affluent residents living within easy walking distance should add quite a bit of vitality to Olde Town and the businesses that operate there. If, like me, you are saddened by Olde Town businesses closing down because they cannot attract enough customers to keep up their rents, you should find Park Place to be a welcome development.
And the people we elected to govern the City seem to think PPOT is a good fit for Olde Town as well. The construction of Park Place and its permit to build additional sidewalks on the adjacent parts of McIlvoy Park to handle the new foot traffic were unanimously approved by the Arvada City Council.
That’s not to say that our City government always supports Arvada’s historical heritage. The City of Arvada no longer allows chamber pots to be emptied onto its streets in morning.
And for those who can afford the rent, Park Place should be a nice place to live, both for young millennials and for more elderly residents who will have elevator access to all the floors. In addition to the nice view over the park and its easy walkability, the developer says that dogs and other pets will be allowed. Park Place will also have a patio café with internet access.
On the flip side, the café, and it’s wifi access, will not be available to the public, and the building will cast a winter-time shadow over the park in the early morning hours. I guess the rest of us can just look up at the residents from the park in envy while they are enjoying their coffee. “Hey mister! I’ll walk your dog for you if you will slip me your wifi access code.”
Okay, I’m kidding. The well off should be able to live in nice places without guilt. But my biggest gripe is real. And that is that PPOT will have no owner-occupied units. I don’t blame the developer. Because of Colorado’s existing construction-defect laws (and like the new Solana development starting south of Grandview later in the year) Park Place is going to be all rentals. The annual tenant turnover rate could run 60% or more. And, unlike Solana, the way the PPOT apartments are being constructed, they will not be easily convertible to owner-occupied condominiums later on. That’s not good. The Colorado Legislature is supposed to be working on the problem again this year, but anything they come up with will be too late for this project.
Park Place will not be Arvada’s tallest building. That honor goes to the ageing six-story Arvada House senior apartment complex overlooking the adjacent Lutheran church and Kmart on 58th Avenue. Actually, the Arvada House is a little taller than six stories because of its utility and elevator shaft housings. My own mother-in-law lived there in her declining years, and I have happy memories of that simple, but friendly and useful, apartment block.
The opinions expressed in this article are my own and not necessarily those of the members of the Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community. Opposing views are welcome on our RalstonCommunity.org website.
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
The Save Arvada Now video from which some of these stills were taken can still be found at this YouTube link. The narrator is not identified. If you are interested, have a look at it before it gets pulled.
The Denver Post has an article on the City’s final approval to build the new apartments at this link.
and the CLRC has a previous article about the start of construction on the site that can be found at this link
The Save Arvada Now website at www.SaveArvadaNow.info has several articles on the development. But check first before you donate. The organization may no longer be using its donations to stop the 153 new apartments from being built. SAN also has a Facebook site with page after page of anti-PPOT postings. It also has lots of photos of the ongoing construction that are actually kind of neat.
The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.
The CLRC’s main website is at http://www.RalstonCommunity.org or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”. Here’s the CLRC’s contact information if you want to call or write:
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004
January 20, 2015