Proposed 38-story condo project would replace Shelby's Bar & Grill, surface parking lot

Our CO: Canadian developer just submitted plans

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DENVER -- A condo shortage has plagued downtown Denver but a Canadian developer is looking to build two new towers with more than 400 units.

Plans submitted to the city show the project would replace a surface parking lot and Shelby's Bar & Grill, which is located at 18th Street and Glenarm Place. The developer, Amacon, envisions two towers with space for retail and 530 parking spaces. The south tower would be 32 stories and the north tower would be 38 stories.

The site development plan was submitted to the City of Denver this week and it would still need to be approved. There's no word on how much the condos would cost to buy.

"We have a lot of young people that are renting by choice; they’re starting up in our downtown, they want to be part of it but eventually people either start to have kids, they get married, they want to own and so putting a condo opportunity in the heart of our downtown gives them that opportunity, gives them that choice," said Randy Thelen, Vice President of Economic Development for the Downtown Denver Partnership.

The site has been home to Shelby's Bar & Grill, a single story building that is dwarfed by the high rises that surrounds it. Owner Howard Nelson has watched the development surrounding him and knew it was only a matter of time.

"So we knew eventually it was going to end but though you know it, when it’s happening it’s still a shock," said Nelson.

When Nelson started running the bar in 1991, he said 18th Street was so quiet they didn't open for business on Sundays.

"We were in no man’s land here. We used to call this NoDo because no one knew that we were here," said Nelson.

The building has a lot of history and it wasn't always a bar.

According to Nelson, it was a mortuary in 1906 and it's been reportedly haunted. In the decades since Nelson has owned the place, he says he's witnessed people get job offers, get married and because of the bar six kids are now named Shelby.

Nelson says he plans to close the doors for good sometime after the Super Bowl. He says the new development is good for Denver but they won't be part of it. He plans to retire, travel and spend time with his grandkids.

“Now there’s more and more people and it’s good for everybody, it’s just good," said Nelson.

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