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McNichols Building (not the arena) gets makeover

Posted at 11:02 PM, Sep 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-29 01:02:11-04

The McNichols Building is getting a $6 million dollar renovation. If you're wondering when the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche started playing in McNichols again, you're not alone.

The McNichols Building is not McNichols Sports Arena. It's an arts and venue location in Civic Center Park, near the corner of Colfax Avenue and Bannock Street.

"Sir, I’m trying to find McNichols. Do you know where that is?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger outside of the McNichols Building at Civic Center Park.

"Um, McNichols, it's not called that anymore, it's the Pepsi Center," said Denver native Greg Taft.

The McNichols Sports Arena was torn down in 1999, to make way for new Mile High Stadium and additional parking.

The McNichols name belongs to the little known building on the north edge of Civic Center Park. It's named after Gov. Stephen McNichols, who served from 1956-64. The sports arena was named for his brother, four-term Denver Mayor William H. McNichols, Jr.

"Every once in a while, we do get people who do think that the McNichols Arena is still up and around, obviously that's been replaced by Pepsi Center," said Brian Kitts, spokesman for Denver Arts and Venues. "This is one of those interesting buildings that I think was vacant for such a long time that it became, kind of, a ghost building."

The ghost building is now closed for the next year. Since late 2012 it has hosted weddings, art exhibits, special events and public meetings. Now, it's getting a freight elevator to help with those events, relocated bathrooms, a new entryway off of Colfax Avenue and updated HVAC and electrical.

"Anybody who's rehabilitated an old house in Congress Park or Washington Park knows exactly what it takes to get something up to code," said Kitts.

The money is coming from a 2007 bond that voters approved to fix the Boettcher Concert Hall. In that election, voters approved $60 million in bonds for improvements, as long as the Colorado Symphony Orchestra raised $30 million of its own. It failed to raise the money. In 2012, Mayor Michael Hancock and a cultural committee, repurposed the money in other city-owned venues.

With all the changes on the inside, it still could take some effort to get people to notice the outside.

Taft, who thought we were referring to the old sports arena, did not realize we were standing in front of the current McNichols Building.

"Have you ever noticed this building before?" asked Zelinger.

"You know, if I did, I can't remember," said Taft.

Those we ran into who did know about McNichols all worked for the city across the street at the Wellington Webb Building.

"We're trying to find McNichols," said Zelinger.

"Right there," said a woman on a bike.

"If you didn't work in that building, would you know that's McNichols?" asked Zelinger.

"Probably not," she said.

"Yeah, it's this building right here," said a woman heading from the city building to yoga.

"If you didn't work for the city and I asked you where McNichols was, do you think you'd still know?" asked Zelinger.

"Probably not," she said.

"Do you know anything about that building?" asked Zelinger.

"Not really," she said.

"It's called the McNichols Building and it's used by Arts and Venues," said city employee Tricia Sherer.

"If you didn't work for the city, would you know what this building is?" asked Zelinger.

"Absolutely not," said Sherer.

"Why?" asked Zelinger.

"It's nondescript. There's no clear signage that says what it is," said Sherer.

Denver Arts and Venues hopes the renovation changes that perception.

"Part of the goal is going to give the building an identity," said Kitts.

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