As one of Denver’s oldest original settlements, Lower Downtown (or LoDo) has a storied, ever-evolving legacy. A collection of stunning red-brick warehouses hints at its industrial past; it was also once a district full of brothels. In 2014, Union Station, which has served the city since the 19th century, unveiled a comprehensive modernization, sparking another reinvention. A wave of new restaurants, bars, shops, hotels, condos, and offices followed, making the neighborhood (for the first time in its most recent history) a desirable place to hang out. Now, spring 2021 brings the latest layer to LoDo’s ongoing metamorphosis: the opening of McGregor Square, a 659,000-square-foot, multi-use development adjacent to Coors Field.
What was once a parking lot southwest of the stadium that the Colorado Rockies call home is now a family-friendly entertainment hub aimed at elevating the neighborhood. “LoDo has great restaurants, bars, and nightlife,” says general manager Patrick Walsh. “But it doesn’t really have much for families. That’s what we thought was missing, and that’s the void we want to fill with McGregor Square.”
Made up of three buildings (two 13-story and an 11-story tower) orbiting around a central plaza, Walsh hopes McGregor Square will follow in the footsteps of Union Station and the Dairy Block, two development projects that successfully brought more foot traffic to LoDo. Tenants are being introduced in staggered phases that began in late March with the ribbon-cutting of The Rally, a 176-room boutique hotel (from $179 per night) in red-brick construction that mimics the neighborhood’s centuries-old warehouse architecture. Like the hotels inside Union Station and Dairy Block, Sage Hospitality is managing the hotel, which offers a family-focused baseball-themed experience. (It’s named after the rally cap, which in baseball lore is meant to be worn backwards or inside-out if fans want to inspire their team to pull off a win from a losing position.) Design features—like leather walls with X-shaped stitching inspired by the catcher’s mitt, and the wooden check-in desk carved to look like it houses baseball bats—should remind guests that the sandlot diamond isn’t too far away. But if that’s not the game you’re into, the lobby has been stocked with a variety of board games, too.
One of the hotel’s most enticing features, however, could be the bridgeway connecting it to the residential tower. Not only does it overlook Coors Field, but it’s also outfitted with a rooftop deck with a pool and hot tub. (In addition to a large fitness center with floor-to-ceiling windows that look all the way out to the Rockies.) Eventually, The Rockies Hall of Fame will be installed on the second floor of the hotel, where interactive exhibitions will bring the team to life.
There are ample food and retail spots scheduled to move into McGregor Square in the coming weeks. The Original, an offshoot of a Portland, Oregon, restaurant with the same name, opened on the ground floor of The Rally. There, chef Denis Zvekic has whipped up a menu that celebrates American diner food, such as deviled eggs topped with candied smoked salmon, mac and cheese spiked with green chili, and potent old fashioneds served in a capri-sun-style plastic bag. Other soon-to-open spots include a beer-obsessed outpost of Tom’s Watch Bar (which will have three Topgolf Swing suites); the second location of Carmine’s on Penn, a decades-old family-style restaurant; and Milepost Zero, a tightly curated food hall featuring stalls from both national and Colorado food purveyors.
Beloved local bookstore Tattered Cover is also due to open its flagship here, potentially before summer. Its inclusion is part of a strategic effort that ensures the square isn’t just a baseball destination. “A bookstore might not ring out to you, but it brings different experiences that can incorporate the whole family,” Walsh says. “If we had just loaded up three or four sports bars, then we would just attract sports fans.”
The heart of the development, however, is a 28,000-square-foot outdoor plaza with a grassy slope for picnics and a massive screen for hosting viewing parties. “Being outdoors in Denver, once we’re on the other side of the pandemic, is going to be a great opportunity to feel that sense of community again,” Walsh says. “It’s not just going to be people watching TV on the big screen.”
Ambitions for how this space will be used are lofty. Walsh, who wants McGregor Square to thrive year-round and not just during baseball season, says the plaza was inspired by the Kansas City Power & Light District, the $850 million entertainment district in downtown. To ensure the plaza functions as a dynamic public gathering space, the McGregor Square team is planning programming that ranges from installing batting cages to hosting movie nights and concerts, organizing fitness classes, or building out an ice skating rink come winter.
McGregor Square is named after late Colorado Rockies president Keli McGregor, who died in 2010, and who Walsh says once dreamt of such a project. “They found some back-of-the-napkin sketches of what he wanted to turn this into, with a hotel, condos, retail,” he says. “And that’s just about what we did.”
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