Lower Downtown District, Inc.

Sometimes the Original Way is the Best Way

Sep 13, 1999

The term "mixed-use neighborhoods" may be new, but the concept's not. by Barbara Gibson

Today, "mixed-use" is a term used to describe the makeup of the Lower Downtown District. Its origins and connections to Lodo more recently come from a change in zoning in 1982 that was meant to open "the door for the mixed-use environment envisioned for the area," as city planners said then.

Today, we have a variety of neighbors that include residents, office buildings, retail, industry and parking. These are often found in combination in a single building. Most would agree that this adds a texture and uniqueness to the neighborhood we try hard to hold onto through shifting
economic times.

New Urbanism. . .Old Concept

What many don't realize is that mixing uses in one building is not a new concept. In fact, the segregation of uses is a modern zoning and planning approach that is shifting with the increased following of New Urbanism. This "shifting" is promoting the return to the mixed-use neighborhoods common
before World War II.

Though zoning changes helped encourage mixed use in the neighborhood, it actually has been practiced in the area since the first settlers arrived. Necessity created work/live structures when businessmen could only afford one

1444 Market Street

My favorite example of a long-term mixed-use building can be found at 1444 Market Street. Built in the mid-1860s, it is one of the oldest structures remaining in Downtown Denver. Soon after it was built, Alois Koch purchased the building, took up residence with his family on the second floor, and
opened the Colorado Bakery on the first floor.

First Bread, Then Booze

The business expanded and the window boasted confections, wines, liquors, and cigars along with the bakery. Koch's business success grew and in 1890, he built next door at 1440 Market Street.

Koch leased it to Joseph P. Dunn for Dunn and Blass Leather, makers of shoes and boots. The Koch family continued to live at 1440 where granddaughter Virginia Liese was born.

The "Egg Building"

In later years, the building continued to house a variety of wholesale produce and poultry businesses. Many people still remember the building as the "egg building" as it was home to Kessler's Eggs until the later 1940s.

The building remained vacant until 1989 - with Kessler's Eggs still painted on the storefront windows. That year, Larry Nelson partnered with still-owner Virginia Liese to renovate the building, bringing back its original look.

Ice Cream and Graphic Design

It is now the home of Josh and John's Ice Cream with the offices of Elaine Shiramizu Graphic Design on the second floor. With Virginia Liese still an owner of the property, the ownership has remained in the same family for more
than 135 years.

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