Countless students once filed through the doors of Denver’s Emily Griffith Opportunity School, one of the first vocational schools in the country. They studied everything from shoe repair to upholstery to dressmaking to bricklaying.
But times change, and so has the school. Now dubbed Emily Griffith Technical College, the educational institute has moved to 1860 Lincoln Street. And soon those filing through the old building’s doors will be seeking a tony hotel room instead of job training.
Developers recently broke ground on the site of the old Emily Griffith campus—2.4 acres between Glenarm Place and Welton—for what will become 250 hotels rooms and 48,000 square feet of retail space. The land was sold to Denver-based Stonebridge Companies in 2017, for $25 million, according to the Denver Post. The company plans a $97 million redevelopment with the help of a “multi-million tax reimbursement deal” with the Denver Urban Renewal Authority.
Developers are quick to note, however, that the hotel will retain a nod to its history.
“Officials say the project will preserve the recognizable brick exteriors of former school buildings,” reports the Post. While the classrooms and offices will be removed, the wide hallways “reminiscent of a public school building, not a hotel” will remain. Also, in an homage to the building’s former purpose, a fitness center will be made to look like a school gymnasium.
“For those that either taught at the school or were educated at the school, as they walk the halls they are going to see a lot of threads pulled through,” Chris Manley, Stonebridge’s chief operating officer, told the Post.
The developers also plan modern twists. The hotel will include what is called an “activated alley.” Similar to Lower Downtown’s Dairy Block, and in keeping with a cutting-edge trend, an alley that bisects the old campus will become a focal point, rather than an afterthought. The main entrance to the hotel will face the alley, as will some of the retail space.
Developers estimate the project will be completed in 2020 or early 2021.