Jul. 7--CHEYENNE -- Two years from now, the west end of downtown Cheyenne will have an entirely different look.
On Thursday, the NexCore Group, the development team picked to make over the Dinneen Motors property, unveiled preliminary plans for a complex of buildings that will house restaurant, retail and living space and possibly a hotel on 1.8 blocks of downtown property owned by the Dinneen family.
Late last year, John Dinneen announced the car dealership his family has owned and run for nearly a century on West Lincolnway would close, freeing up the property for redevelopment.
The NexCore Group, based in Denver, is the company that the Dinneen family, working with staff from the Downtown Development Authority and Cheyenne city officials, chose for the rare job of remaking such a large parcel.
"We target areas in the early stages of revitalization," NexCore Group senior vice president Tim Schlichting said.
The company has worked on a series of projects along the Colorado Front Range, in places like Denver, Boulder and Golden.
For the Dinneen property, the team, which includes OZ Architecture and The Neenan Company, a contracting firm, have developed a lifestyle center plan that keeps the historic Lincoln-Mercury dealership intact.
"If you are into urban redevelopment and a building of this character doesn't get your juices flowing, there's something wrong with you," Schlichting said.
Schlichting said the project will be developed in phases, with the first phase kicking off in the spring.
It will consist of renovating the historic building to house a restaurant and possibly some retail space on the ground floor and lofts on the upper floor.
"You can't reproduce the authenticity of the exposed brick and the structural elements of the original building," he said.
The first phase also calls for a new building to go up in the lot just north of the historic building. That building is likely to be four stories. The first floor will be retail space, while the second and third will be office space. Lofts will occupy the top floor.
Work is now under way to finalize those plans.
The first phase alone is expected to cost about $16 million and take about a year to complete. Schlichting said his company has equity investors, and it will secure a construction loan.
How the second and possible third phases will be developed will depend on how much demand develops, Schlichting said. If, for instance, a strong need for top-notch office space develops, more space would be dedicated for that.
"We won't know that until we actively market it," he said.
But some demand for that kind of space already exists. Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Christian Cherek said she's been contacted by companies in the Denver area that are considering expanding along the Front Range, and they are considering Cheyenne.
The project also calls for public improvements, including changes to 17th Street to make it a public space similar to the Depot Plaza, Schlichting said. That could include installing an iconic piece of art as a focal point.
"It's going to be really neat," Dinneen said.
<<Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (KRT) -- 07/10/06>>