New life for former Olinger Woods Chapel on Washington Avenue

Denver developer eyes restaurant, upstairs apartments

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/18/21

For over 100 years, the corner of Washington Avenue and 11th Street was an important hub for some of Golden's most important cultural events — funerals. But starting in 2017, the corner went quiet …

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New life for former Olinger Woods Chapel on Washington Avenue

Denver developer eyes restaurant, upstairs apartments

Posted

For over 100 years, the corner of Washington Avenue and 11th Street was an important hub for some of Golden's most important cultural events — funerals. But starting in 2017, the corner went quiet as the funeral business closed. Last summer, the corner became a construction site.

Now, the historic property's owners say its next chapter is coming into focus — and it is one they say will make it an active hub once again, with a little bit of the building's old charm.

Denver developer Urban Frontier, LLC closed on the building at 1100 Washington Avenue in December 2018. Dignity Memorial, the owner of the Olinger Woods Chapel that had operated in the space since 1915, had announced it would be selling the building after closing the chapel in 2017. The building consists of what was originally two separate storefronts that were combined into one.

Garrett Baum, a managing partner at Urban Frontier, said the building's interior has been gutted and work is underway to restore the front of the building to how it looked in the 1800s. That work became more complex, Baum said, after the new owners determined the original brick façade had been removed from the building and would need to be restored.

“It's already been designed and planned with the goal to make it look as much as what it looked like in the 1800s,” he said. “With new codes and efficiencies, you get it as close as you can but it's going to be pretty darn close.”

As for the eventual use of the building, Urban Frontier is finalizing a lease with a restaurateur who will bring “a couple of restaurant concepts” to the space's first floor.

“It's close to being signed but it's not been signed, but it's going to be fantastic,” he said. “Hopefully we will be able to announce that in the next 30 to 45 days.”

Baum said the current plan calls for outdoor patio seating both on Washington Avenue and 11th Street and that he would “hope to see occupancy sometime this summer” if the deal goes through. He also said he expects that construction plans for the restaurant will be submitted in the next 30 days.

The second floor will consist of three or four small three-bedroom units as it has for most of the building's history.

“I would suspect those will be rented by students,” Baum said. “That's sort of who they are designed for.”

Urban Frontiers will handle the rental of those units and Baum said the firm, which owns other historic buildings in LoDo in Denver and Boulder and has been using income from land sales to invest in historic buildings, plans to hold onto the property long-term.

“I sort of look at it as generational real estate where we own it and rent it,” he said. “We aren't merchant builders.”

Steve Glueck, the community and economic development director for the city of Golden, said the project will provide “ a welcome sense of vitality to the northern end of downtown.”

“Both the Historic Preservation Board and the Downtown Development Authority reviewed the plans, and support the restoration and addition of retail and/or restaurant street level uses to Washington Avenue,” Glueck said. “The restoration of the brick façade and re-creation of the old storefront along Washington Avenue will preserve one of our important downtown buildings and provide enjoyment to the community.”

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