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DENVER-Stockton, CA-based A.G. Spanos Cos., headed by Alex Spanos, has placed the closed Baby Doe’s Matchless Mine restaurant and the adjoining Chili Pepper restaurants in northwest Denver under contract. Spanos hopes to tear down both restaurants and build about 250 to 300 class-A multifamily units on the property, which is about two blocks from Invesco Field at Mile High, where the Denver Broncos play.

Spanos hired Bruce O’Donnell, principal of locally based Starboard Realty Group, to represent the company for his proposed project. O’Donnell notes it is too early to have cost estimates or drawings for the four-story development. However, local experts estimate the value of the development at about $45 million.

The site sits on a hill and has a dramatic view of Downtown. The Baby Doe’s restaurant, once extremely popular, was closed about a year ago by its California owner. Still, it is one of the most visible landmarks in the Jefferson Park neighborhood.

Neighbors vehemently oppose the plan. It’s not that they dislike Spanos’ plan specifically, but they are against any large apartment developments. They note that according to the last US Census report, more than 80% of the neighborhood are renters. They want to see more “for-sale” developments than rentals.

Barbara Baker, a member of the neighborhood group, tells GlobeSt.com she believes that there is no way the neighborhood would support a 100% rental development on the site. O’Donnell notes the city told him in no uncertain terms that the land must be rezoned before it can be redeveloped. He adds that while developing apartments is Spanos “core” business, it has built some for-sale properties in other parts of the US.

The Denver City Council recently adopted an 87-page neighborhood plan for Jefferson Park. A recommendation in the plan is that if the Baby Doe’s restaurant is redeveloped, the view plane should be retained. That could become a huge issue if Spanos insists on a development that is all or mostly rental units, Baker says.

Brad Evans, a Realtor with Keller-Williams who lives and sells homes in the neighborhood, says he would support townhomes on the site. Evans, who like Baker is a member of the Jefferson Park United Neighbors, says the group is not anti-development.

The restaurant opened in 1978 with great fanfare, but had fallen on hard times in recent years because of competition from nearby LoDo. Evans, however, says he thinks the site could also work for a high-quality restaurant.

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