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$250 million development on tap for Cole neighborhood


Saunders Construction has teamed up with the owners of the former Denver Rock Drill building to develop a $250 million, 700,000-square-foot building with offices, retail, residences and a hotel near the 38th and Blake transit station in the historic Cole neighborhood.

The project will include 150,000 square feet of adaptive reuse of historic buildings, as well as 550,000 square feet of new construction that will have 150,000 square feet of office space, 65,000 square feet of retail, 180 residences and a 175-key hotel by Sage Hospitality. Built as machine shops, the preserved historic buildings will provide large, flexible floor plates, as well as 25-foot ceilings allowing significant flexibility for office use and mezzanines.

“I knew early on there was going to be light rail coming into the area, which at the time was a Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) program, and I knew the neighborhood would eventually undergo major changes, although I don’t think I anticipated the pace of change would be so fast,” says Byron Weiss, who with his sons Andy and Brett own the property. “I knew this property had enormous potential, both from a local perspective and from a cultural perspective with its deep Denver history.”

Located on 39th Avenue between Franklin and High streets, the property’s history dates to 1910, when it was the home of Denver Rock Drill Manufacturing Company, whose line of pneumatic rock drills were used around the world. By the 1920s, the facilities occupied more than a city block and housed a community of 600 employees.

Weiss, a Denver native and longtime resident of the Cole neighborhood, acquired the property in 1992 in one of the last big sales made during the savings and loan crisis of the 1990s. The site is now home to his company, Porta Power, a material handling and warehouse supply company. 

Just one stop from Denver Union Station and 30 minutes from Denver International Airport, the project will serve as a bridge between the River North Arts District and Col Neighborhood Historic District. Designed by Tryba Architects, the project will feature a unique character of lanes, courtyards and rail spurs intended to create opportunities for exploration and discovery. The retail environment will reflect a culture of craft, production and innovation, blending the best that Denver and Colorado has to offer with national and international brands.

“There is no other place in Denver with such untouched industrial history and the ability to completely customize and repurpose three full city blocks,” says Dorit Fischer, broker for Shames Makovsky, who is handling retail leasing for Denver Rock Drill. “We think there are numerous food and beverage operators and cutting-edge companies that will want to be part of this unique site.”

The project is pre-leasing office and retail space in Phase 1, which includes the redevelopment of the existing structures, as well as the hotel. Cushman & Wakefield is handling the office leasing.

Read more articles by Margaret Jackson.

Margaret is a veteran Denver real estate reporter and can be contacted here.
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