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Lyft Locates Driver Hub in Steam on the Platte

Rideshare company Lyft has opened a driver Hub at Steam on the Platte in Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood.

Lyft chose Steam on the Platte for its driver support center because of its convenient access to highways and thoroughfares, as well as the development’s location in the heart of Denver.

When development firm Urban Ventures was discussing the types of tenants it wanted to locate in Steam on the Platte, words like entrepreneurial, energetic and pioneering came to mind, says Susan Powers, president of the firm.

“We love the values of Lyft,” Powers says. “We love the way you treat your drivers and customers.”

Steam on the Platte is within walking distance of the Auraria campus and the Broncos' stadium. It also is at the intersection of the Lakewood Gulch and Platte River bike paths and a short walk to two light-rail stations at Decatur-Federal and West Auraria.

Urban Ventures and White Construction Group formed a partnership to acquire the property in 2014 from the estate of the late Englewood-based real estate agent Arvin Weiss. At the time of the acquisition, there were two illegal marijuana grows operating and the Evil Souls motorcycle gang had taken over one of the buildings as its clubhouse.

Urban Ventures and White have since created a mixed-use project that has attracted several other tenants in addition to Lyft. NIMBL, a technology consulting company, moved into the space in September. Two Denver architecture firms also have moved into Steam: Olson Lavoie and Davis Wince.

Urban Ventures and White Construction have started working on the next phase of the project: converting a 6,000-square-foot former gas station with a bowstring roof into a restaurant. The other buildings on the 3.2-acre site have been demolished to make way for more office space and residential buildings.

Delta Dental leases space at Catalyst HTI

Delta Dental of Colorado is the latest healthcare company to announce it will locate at the Catalyst Health-Tech Innovation (HTI) development in Denver’s River North district.

Delta Dental will lease 2,000 square feet on the second floor of the building. The nonprofit dental insurer plans to use the space as a center for collaboration and innovation, working alongside startups and larger companies within Catalyst HTI and inviting in entrepreneurs to develop and test new concepts.

“The oral healthcare industry is seeing the development of exciting new, innovative technologies that have the potential to significantly, if not dramatically, improve patient outcomes and care,” says Helen Drexler, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Colorado. “As the state’s leading dental benefits provider, it is imperative that we’re at the forefront of these efforts and on the leading edge of developing the future or oral healthcare.”

Catalyst HTI is an “industry integrator” bringing together a full spectrum of stakeholders in healthcare. Startups will have access to potential clients and investors in established companies. The project is being jointly developed by Koelbel and Company and health-tech entrepreneur Mike Biselli and the landowners.

Delta Dental joins a growing number of health-tech startups and healthcare organizations, including Hitachi, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Kaiser Permanente, American Diabetes Association, Prime Health and Medical Group Management.

“Delta Dental broadens the conversations within Catalyst HTI in important ways and expands the community’s opportunities,” Biselli says. “Delta Dental is a perfect fit for this ecosystem, both as a leading voice on the importantce of oral health and as a health and wellness company with an intense focus on innovation.”
 

Interactive artwork unveiled at Levitt Pavilion

The latest addition to the city of Denver’s public art collection was dedicated July 20 as part of the grand opening celebration for the newly built Levitt Pavilion Denver at Ruby Hill Park.

“Sky Song” by Colorado artists Nick Geurts and Ryan Elmendorf is a two-part interactive sculpture that blends light and sound through interaction with the viewer and even the sky above. 

Comprised of mirror-polished stainless steel, “Sky Song” invites viewers to create music by pressing any combination of 33 buttons on an eight-foot-tall sculpture on the plaza. The kiosk is linked to its companion piece 30 feet away on the building’s facade. During concerts at Levitt Pavilion, the interactive function transitions from sound to light. With 25 lights and bells, “Sky Song” is an engaging public artwork.

The Levitt Pavilion is programmed, managed and supported by Friends of Levitt Paviolion Denver, a local nonprofit dedicated to building community through music. 

Upcoming concerts include:
  • July 23: The Stone Foxes
  • Aug. 3: The Suffers
  • Aug. 4: John Fulbright
  • Aug. 5: The Reminders co-headline with Fed Rez
  • Aug. 6: Rocky Dawuni with the Bunny Gang
  • Aug. 9: Hippo Campus with Slow Caves and Corsicana
  • Aug. 10: The Dustbowl Revival with Charley Crockett
  • Aug. 13: The Band of Heathens with Blake Brown & The American Dust Choir
  • Aug. 17 The Haunted Windchimes and Edison
  • Aug. 18: My Body Sings Electric and Chemistry Club
  • Aug. 19: Smooth Hound Smith with Anthony Ruptak & The Midnight Friends
  • Aug. 24: Gaby Moreno
  • Aug. 25: Mariachi Sol de Mi Tierra with Fiesta Colorado Dance Company
  • Aug. 26: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
  • Aug. 27: New Breed Brass Band with Denver Municipal Band
  • Aug. 30: Ripe with Chris Daniels & the Kings with Freddi Gowdy
  • Aug. 31: Inspector with Izcalli
The public is invited to bring their picnic blankets and lawn chairs to the free concerts. There also will be a handful of ticketed shows featuring artists like UB40 and 311.

Denver is nation's seventh-greenest city

For the fourth consecutive year, Denver has ranked among the top 10 U.S. cities for the percentage of its office space qualified as green certified, according to a recent survey by energy consultants CBRE and Maastricht University.

With a modest year-over-year improvement, 13.3 percent of Denver office buildings are certified green, representing 41.9 percent of overall office square footage, according to the annual Green Building Adoption Index. That’s compared with 11.8 percent and 40.2 percent, respectively, last year.

Chicago claimed the top spot in 2017, while San Francisco slipped to second and Atlanta, Houston and Minneapolis rounded out the top five markets.

“Green” office buildings in the United States are defined as those that hold either an EPA Energy Star label, U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification or both.

“Denver companies are savvy, and they realize that operating out of an energy-efficient space can not only save money and benefit the environment but also be a point of differentiation when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent,” says Sam DePizzol, executive vice president with CBRE Advisory & Transaction Services in Denver. “With one of the tightest labor markets in the country, we are seeing more and more Colorado companies pay attention to the role their real estate places in creating a competitive advantage.”
 

BuildStrong Education launches, supporting a foundation for education in the Front Range

Oakwood Homes has built its Foundation for Educational Excellence into BuildStrong Education. The newly launched foundation renews its focus on creating high-quality schools and improving the relationship between communities and schools to build bonds that make neighborhoods safer and stronger.

The Foundation for Educational Excellence was launched by Oakwood Homes Founder Pat Hamill in 1997. The Denver-based residential developer, has helped fund and plan numerous schools in communities it’s developed. It has invested more than $4 million into educational programs in Green Valley Ranch, Montbello and the broader Front Range. The initiatives have included professional development, student recognition, new school development and the creation of collaborative public/private partnerships. 

“Pat Hamill’s dedication to building strong schools has created tremendous educational opportunities for our children in far Northeast Denver,” explains Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. “If we want great communities, the schools will lead the way, and Oakwood Homes’ BuildStrong Education is setting the stage for these schools to soar.”

The new organization has a focus on northeast Denver, where it says only 34 percent attend high performing schools, which it calls the lowest rate in the city’s school districts. That’s despite it housing two of Denver’s highest performing schools.

The organization also will support the recently launched Colorado Homebuilding Academy. That organization is aimed at training students and others to find gainful employment in construction industries. In Colorado there are currently more construction jobs than workers. 

Colorado Homebuilding Academy trains workers for an industry that badly needs them

One of the continuing stories across Colorado, and the Denver metro area in particular, is growth. The region is experiencing nearly unprecedented employment and population expansion, thanks to numerous sectors like, such as IT and cannabis. That has also led to a construction boom and the demand for more housing, which means it needs construction workers. That’s where the newly launched, Colorado Homebuilding Academy fits in. 

The Denver-based academy is aimed at training unemployed adults, military veterans and youth for careers in homebuilding and construction. It offers a "construction skills" boot camp that lasts for eight weeks. The academy already has partnerships with five high schools. “We have high school training programs that last for a semester with our partner schools and our superintendent training program has 5 courses that last for about 9 months,” explains Michael Smith, director of the Colorado Homebuilding Academy.

“The training programs are offered at no cost to the participant if they can genuinely commit to wanting to enter the construction industry and are ready to start a career after training,” Smith says. “The tuition is covered by a blend of supporters from industry contributions, local government workforce development offices, and community grant programs.”

The need for construction workers is greater than ever as vocational training programs have waned. “Our peers in commercial construction (Associated General Contractors) commissioned an economic impact report that stated over 30,000 people are needed for the Colorado construction industry over the next 5 years...and that count is not including those that are retiring over the same period,” explains Michael Smith, director of the Colorado Homebuilding Academy. 

“Over 80 percent of the builders polled by NAHB are experiencing labor shortages that are slowing down the home building process,” Smith adds. Nationwide that means the homebuilding industry could add roughly 200,000 employees to meet the latest homebuilding boom. 

The new academy was initiated by Oakwood Homes’ CEO Pat Hamill, who brought the industry together to support it. “Oakwood Homes is leading the industry by providing substantial financial support for the development, operations and student tuition assistance programs for the Colorado Homebuilding Academy,” Smith says. “Precision Building Systems, a manufacturer of trusses and wall panels for residential construction, has donated 25,000 square feet of their manufacturing plant to house the Academy offices and training center.”

“The homebuilding industry has been plagued by a shortage of high-quality workers,” Hamill says. “Preparing and training the workforce is the key to ensuring our industry remains healthy.”

 

Denver proposes dedicated fund for affordable housing

On July 13, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Councilwoman Robin Kniech introduced the details of the city's plan to create funding to support affordable housing.

Pending approval by Denver City Council, the funding will be generated by way of development fees and property taxes. Over the next 10 years, the new funding stream could generate $150 million, allowing for the construction of 6,000 new homes for low- to moderate-income families in the city and catalyze thousands of jobs in the process.

"There is no more important a priority in Denver right now than affordable housing," Mayor Hancock said. "In my state of the city speech yesterday, I spoke about the thousands of people who lack the simple advantages so many of us take for granted, like a place to call home. Home ownership gives families a foundation to build equity, build wealth and build a life. This is a fair, balanced and modest approach to address one of the most pressing problems facing Denver today."

The proposal from the mayor's office are expected to cost residential property owners $1 a month and commercial property owners $145 annually for every $1 million worth of commercial valuation. It also would establish a one-time development fee on new construction projects collected when a project receives its building permit. Residential construction fees for single-family homes will carry a 60 cent per square foot fee and multi-family homes will carry a $1.50 per square foot fee. Industrial projects will pay a 40 cents per square foot fee and retail, hotel and other commercial development will pay a $1.70 per square foot fee.

"By pairing a small portion of the property tax revenue that Denver voters approved almost four years ago with what would be one of the lowest one-time fees on new residential and commercial development in the nation, our broader community will be coming together with a sector of the economy generating some of the demand to create a bold solution for affordable housing in Denver," Kniech contended.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Industrial design confab coming to Denver

Metropolitan State University of Denver is hosting the Industrial Designers Society of America's (IDSA's) West District Design Conference (WDDC) on April 1-2. This year's event, with a focus on Empathy Driven Solutions, will kick off, fittingly enough, with the Design Swarm honoring those slain in the terrorist attacks in Paris. Keynotes at the conference will include Michael Paterson, senior industrial designer with GoPro and Mike Neustedter, executive director of Paradox Sports. The conference helps designers and students learn about the latest trends in industrial design.

The Design Swarm will be kicked off by Jeff Smith, IDSA, of Autodesk, and Amber Goelst, of Wacom, who will share how to sketch a visual language and showing the importance of capturing rapid ideas on a screen. It will specifically honor U.S. industrial design student Nohemi Gonzalez who was slain in the Paris attack. "We should use this time to invest in each other; break down any barriers that impede on our ability to succeed; and be a part of something bigger then ourselves so we can give back," says WDDC Chair Jason Belaire.

The conference will focus on design, empathy and giving back. In terms of design it will focus on the need for design under pressure while connecting with people that others haven't met. Empathy will focus on using empathy as a research tool for industrial design planning. Giving back will focus on how design inspiration can come from unexpected sources.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Denver to host Solar Decathlon in 2017

Denver and the Department of Energy officials have announced that the city will host the international Solar Decathlon competition in 2017. The event will award a total of $2 million to the teams that compete in its 10 challenges to make a livable, affordable, compact solar-powered home -- essentially what each team believes will be the home of tomorrow.

Denver becomes the third U.S. city to host the biennial event, which began in Washington, D.C., and has since taken place in Irvine, California. It brings roughly 60,000 visitors on average. "As one of the top 10 metro areas for solar installations and sunny days, Denver is a great choice to host the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon,"says DOE Under Secretary Franklin Orr.

The decathlon challenges 16 teams of college students from the U.S. and around the world to design and build energy efficient, solar-powered homes that they have to transport from their location to the event location at Denver's Pena Station development. In 2017 for the first time ever, teams will receive $100,000 to defray construction and transportation costs and the teams that do the best in the gauntlet of events will receive extra awards. The team that takes first place will receive $300,000, second place gets $225,000 and third place takes $150,000.

"Denver is proud to work with the U.S. Department of Energy to bring this fun and engaging academic competition to our city," says Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. "This opportunity not only highlights the Denver metro area's leadership in energy efficiency but allows us to spotlight our burgeoning solar energy industry."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


DAM seeks input from local creatives for 2016 programming

On Nov. 20, the the Denver Art Museum (DAM) will host Meet Here: An Evening of Idea Brewing and Creative Criss-Cross." The meeting is intended to bring together creatives from various disciplines to help develop ideas for DAM's programs in 2016. The event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. The museum is welcoming all sorts of people in the creative community from chefs to dancers, crafters, musicians and artists.

The brainstorming session will help the museum plan out its Untitled Final Fridays, a series of events that the museum offers on the final Friday of every month except November and December. "This program offers a unique museum experience with unconventional art encounters, new insight into the DAM collections, artmaking activities and more," DAM explained in a release. "At each Untitled event, the museum highlights a specific theme with exhibition-related activities and community collaborations."

In addition to the Untitled series, attendees will also be able to give input and insight into museum residencies and outdoor installations. This year, museum officials are particularly focused on dance and it wants to have outdoor dance programs in summer 2016.

While the Nov. 20 session is designed to help the museum create relevant events tailored to its community, it already has some broad themes planned for each date. ere's a list of the date and proposed themes for each event:

  • Jan. 29: Family Matters  
  • Feb. 26: Homegrown
  • March 25: Risky Business
  • April 29: Show Down
  • May 27: Rising Sun
  • June 24: Power House
  • July 29: In-Sync
  • Aug. 26: Center Stage
  • Sep. 30: Stop Motion
  • Oct. 28: Glory Days

RSVP here.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Larimer Square hosting "Investing in Main Street" panel

Denver's iconic skyline might be full of tall buildings like Wells Fargo's "Cash Register," but its most famous block is likely its oldest: Larimer Square.

This year, during Denver Startup Week, businesses in the picturesque block are coming together to discuss how the square was preserved 50 years ago -- becoming Denver's first historic district -- as skyscrapers threatened to scrape the historic face off of Denver's downtown in a panel called "Investing in Main Street."
 

On Sept. 30 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at SpringHill Suites Denver Downtown at MSU Denver, a restaurateur-heavy panel of speakers, moderated by CBS4 Morning Anchor Britt Moreno, will discuss how entrepreneurs have launched businesses on Main Streets throughout the U.S. and how Larimer Square is a model of success for such entrepreneurialism. The event, aside from being part of Denver Startup Week, also is the final panel of Larimer Square's five-part speaker series called "Stories from the Square."

The panelists will include:

  • Jeff Hermanson: CEO and President, Larimer Associates
  • Troy Guard: Chef/Owner, TAG Restaurant Group
  • Chad McWhinney: CEO & Co-Founder, McWhinney
  • Beth Gruitch: General Manager/Proprietor, Crafted Concepts
  • Jennifer Jasinski, Executive Chef/Owner, Crafted Concepts
  • Jackson Lamb, MSU, Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events

Beyond restaurateurs, who operate many of the businesses on Larimer Square's ground floor, developers will also discuss their role in investing in Main Street, USA. "Today, through the vision and commitment from civic-minded investors, locally-spawned retailers, chefs and restaurateurs, Main Street is emerging and is stronger than ever from a generational pattern of boom and bust," the organizers say.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


New Belgium 'sours' on Denver with upcoming pilot brewery

Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewing, Colorado's largest craft brewery, is launching a new, 10-barrel pilot brewery in RiNo's upcoming The Source Hotel. The pilot brewery will specialize in sour beers and barrel-aging beers. The hotel, which is set to open in early 2017, is being developed by Zeppelin Development.

"After 25 years in Fort Collins, we're really excited to get more deeply involved in Colorado's cultural and political capital," said Jenn Vervier, director of strategy and sustainability at New Belgium. "We've long considered creating a Denver location to bring the New Belgium experience to more of our Colorado fans and to the millions of travelers who visit Denver. . . . This small batch brewery will allow us to collaborate with The Woods' chef and mixologists to create innovative beers, drinks, and pairings you can't get anywhere else."

The new pilot system will be a 2,000-square-foot facility on The Source Hotel's ground floor. New Belgium will have 50 oak barrels onsite allowing the brewery to age beer at the hotel and expand its line of sour beers. The brewer also will sell beer brewed at the facility at Source Hotel establishments.

Currently New Belgium's cellar in Fort Collins -- the "foeder forest" -- has 64 French Oak big barrels known as foeders.

In addition to the sour brewing facility on the ground floor, New Belgium also will have The Woods, a rooftop lounge at the hotel. The Woods will feature New Belgium beers paired with small plates. It will also have sit-down dining and a beer garden. That's in addition to the rooftop pool and views of downtown and the mountains.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Spex unveils property inspection software

Galvanize-based Spex has launched a software-as-service tool that allows home inspectors to use a mobile app on their iOS devices and coordinate results via a web-based tool on their desktop.

The tools -- the field app, a dashboard system and a report generating system -- help reduce the amount of time home and property inspectors spend on paperwork

"Spex simplifies and streamlines the inspection process so everyone wins -- the policy holder, insurance carrier and contractor," explains Brett Goldberg, Spex's CEO. "Our enterprise platform is plug and play and can be easily scaled."

The mobile device app allows users to take photos, do field sketches, use aerial photos and add notations to video and audio. The tool coordinates the information with the dashboard in real time. The Spex Report is accessible via the dashboard and as an exportable document. It's is produced based on inspection notes.

The tools are gaining interest from both insurers and repair services. "We are always looking for efficient, innovative products to better serve policyholders," says Rod Warner, general manager at Family Mutual Insurance Company. "Spex presents the most comprehensive package of features we have found in the marketplace."

"With the Spex Enterprise platform, we're able to replace analog property inspection tools and improve the claim documentation process from the point of inspection and beyond," says Will Scarborough, project coordinator and lead estimator at Disaster Services. "In addition to accelerating inspections, estimate writing and the overall claims process, the platform allows our organization to enhance the customer experience, create transparency and resolve claims in a more efficient manner." 

Spex is currently offering a 30-day free trial of the tools. After the trial, it will cost $49 per month per user.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

State of Downtown Denver 2015 has plenty to praise

Last year, downtown Denver saw $1 billion in investments through completed projects. In 2015, that figure is expected to nearly double to $1.9 billion. That's just one key takeaway from the State of Downtown Denver 2015 event, hosted by the Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP) on March 24.

There was a host of data showing the recent successes of Denver and how the city is poised to keep growing -- for instance, residential population has grown 165 percent since 2010. "In order to ensure future success we need to understand what we did right to get us where we are today," explained DDP CEO Tami Door at the event.

"Last year, we welcomed 16 new companies in downtown. These companies, many of them having significant national and international brands, further endorse downtown Denver as a key business hubs," said Door, noting that many companies attributed their choices to Denver's premiere workforce, its mobility options for employees and the overall cool factor of the city center.

Door added that Denver is attracting significant amounts of Millennials, which is important to the city's future. "As we go forward two Baby Boomers will retire for each new employee entering the workforce," she explained. "This is not just a battle to get companies to move to our cities. this a battle to get the right type of workers here."

"We are quickly becoming recognized as a premier entrepreneurial hub," Door said. "Right now, we have 370 tech startups located in the core of downtown. These companies employ 3,000 individuals. That number is growing and is growing very fast."

Craftsy was one of those startups. Founder and CEO John Levisay explained that the company started in 2010 with four founders. "We're now over 260 employees and have 50 open jobs," he said. "It's been a great ride. When we were starting the company our primary investors told us we'd have to move the company to California, there wasn't enough talent here. We disagreed. We wanted to make this a Colorado company and we were committed to that and we still are."

In his comments Levisay attributed much of Denver's success in launching such companies to Denver's evolution into a commuter-friendly, city with ample access to travel options, among other things. For instance, 60 percent of Craftsy's employees take public transport, bike or walk to work, he said.

"Downtown Denver has done everything right in terms of urban planning, urban infill and residential for young employees," Levisay added. "Cost of commercial real estate and access to it is very reasonable. The engineering talent here is very strong."

Levisay also credited the success to Denver's unique "collective zeitgeist" that encompasses established companies in the region talking with startups. "Ten years from now, we'll be amazed as we get some startups that evolve into escape velocity and really achieve iconic stature."

Read the annual State of Downtown Denver report here.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Parametrix 3D-prints Denver skyline

Parametrix is a Denver startup making printed 3D products like pots and practical items like replacement lids for Nalgene bottles.

Josh and Haley Goldstein, husband and wife and architect and graphic designer, respectively, own the company. Josh makes the designs using algorithmic scripts and his wife designs the packaging and is doing the marketing.

Parametrix's 3D-printed lifestyle products are the first of their kind to make it into I Heart Denver. Parametrix also offers the design files for sale as well, allowing others to print their own items based on Josh's scripts with the appropriate software and a 3D printer.

"We were not the first ones to approach them with 3D-printed products," Josh says. "We managed to impress them . . . . Our products have resonated and we can't keep up with demand."

"The I Heart Denver store has really broadened our reach, and we're proud to partner with them to get our products out there," Josh says. While the company also offers digital files of the scripts, it hasn't taken off yet. "More people need to buy 3D printers first," he says.

Currently they have a modest line of products for sale, but there are more on the way. "We actually have over 30 products designed that we use in our Denver condo, but since it's just my wife and I working on this stuff, finding the time to photograph and market them has been tough," Goldstein says. "We will be releasing some products for the kitchen, as well as some new Denver-themed products. We also dedicate some time to updating existing designs -- adding buildings and refining the Denver Cityscape product, as well as redesigning and improving other products like the planter."

While the couple are building their company, they also still have day jobs. Haley works with a telecommunications firm and Josh an architecture firm. He's used their printer to produce some pieces for his firm, but most of the work he's enjoyed doing has been in industrial design. "I am trying to build enough interest in 3D printing to convince the firm to get a machine of their own that I can help run."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.
22 Architecture Articles | Page: | Show All
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