By Kevin Collison
A Denver developer is proposing to ‘upcycle’ shipping containers and build a commercial marketplace at 400 Delaware, partly healing the streetscape wound created by a bombing in what was then the River Quay in 1977.
Craig Slawson of Epoch Developments, who owns multiple properties in the River Market, wants to stack about 16 shipping containers in the gap behind the River Market West streetcar stop and offer it as affordable rental space for commercial ventures.
“It would replace the landscaping there and activate more of the street,” Slawson said.
“Given the fact we’re full on merchant spaces and have been for years, we want to meet the continued demand.”
Slawson’s Market Commons proposal, which he intends to introduce to City Hall this fall, is the latest example of how local developers are repurposing the large shipping containers used in international commerce to create new downtown projects.
A developer is currently using containers to build an apartment project at 30th and Summit and Bar K used containers to create its cafe and dog park at the riverfront. Containers also are expected to be used in the Bar + Rec entertainment venue at Berkley Riverfront Park.
The new project Slawson is pursuing also would help mend an old architectural wound in the River Market. In early 1977, dynamite was used to level two 19th Century buildings at the site in what was believed to be an organized crime bombing.
Slawson said his proposal would only partly use the site of the destroyed buildings. The two levels of containers would replace a landscaped area and adjoining strip of sidewalk. It would leave the existing parking lot intact.
“Given we have some restrictions on the parking lot, we’re putting in what we can,” he said.
The plan is to create affordable rental space to allow continued retail and commercial investment along Delaware. In recent years, several new businesses have opened including Betty Rae’s Ice Cream, Kate boutique and Tribe.
Potential uses include grab-and-go food, a casual restaurant and a bar. Slawson said he plans to market the space as all inclusive rentals that would wrap utilities, wi-fi and other services into the cost.
“It would be very affordable for start-up businesses,” he said.
The architect of the project is GastingerWalker&. If successful in obtaining city approvals, Slawson said he expects the development to be open by the middle of next year.
The developer is uncertain if the container project will be a temporary solution to creating more commercial space or long-term.
“Ideally, I could see blending it in with a future structure behind it,” he said.
Liam Dai contributed to this report
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