Downtown Denver Development Map Showcases $1.8 Billion in Current Projects

With 24 projects slated for completion downtown in 2014, the cumulative totals since 2008 are nearly 6,000 new residential units and 2.7 million square feet of new office space -- adding up to a cool $4.8 billion of investment. The annual map indicates that nearly half of the projects are in the Central Platte Valley.
The Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP) highlighted nearly $5 billion worth of development in the city center since 2008 with the new Downtown Denver Development Map.

Released on Apr. 17 at the DDP's Member Forum at the Embassy Suites Denver Downtown, the map offers a good look into the boom in development, spotlighting 78 different projects in the Central Platte Valley, Auraria, LoDo, Ballpark, Arapahoe Square, the CBD and the Golden Triangle.

Add it all up and you get $4.8 billion: $1.8 billion in 24 projects that are currently underway, plus $3 billion in projects completed since 2008. That's 5,688 new residential units, 2,297 new hotel rooms and 2,733,093 new square feet of office space.

Boom times

It's a sea change from 25 years ago.

"When I first got involved in Downtown Denver in 1988, the thing that struck me was that it was surrounded by vacant lots and kind of isolated," said Bill Mosher, Senior Managing Director of Trammell Crow, at the unveiling of the map. "We all think of LoHi as being part of downtown. LoHi was in no way part of downtown, because of freeways, railroads, and the river."

The 16th Street Mall completely defined downtown at the time, he added, and continued to do so until LoDo started to emerge in the mid-1990s.

"Urban connections," namely the trio of pedestrian bridges over I-25, the Platte River and the train tracks, helped spur investment in LoHi. The new Downtown Denver Circulator buses running to and from Union Station on 18th and 19th streets should do the same for the Central Business District and Arapahoe Square ("the last frontier” for downtown development), Mosher noted.

The current development boom, catalyzed by the Union Station project, has in some ways defied expectations. "We all thought it would grow from Lower Downtown west," said Mosher. "It actually grew from Commons Park east."

Jessica Chickering of Group 14 Engineering makes some opening remarks.Spotlight on three projects

Erik Hagevik, COO, Holland Development Colorado, discussed The Platform, a 21-story residential tower next to Union Station at 1650 Wewatta St. The project, designed by Shears Adkins Rockmore Architects, is slated for completion in 2016 and features 287 apartments atop five levels of parking, a pool  deck on the 15th level and a dog run on the 5th.

It's all about density around Union Station, Hagevik added. "The separation between our project and the canopy [on the train platform] is three or four feet," he noted.

Next up, Matt Frankiewicz, Senior Director of Indiana-based White Lodging, talked about the co-branded Hyatt House/Hyatt Place hotel designed by Atlanta-based PFVS Architecture at 14th and Glenarm streets.

"Outside of Peyton Manning playing for the Broncos, why did we select Denver?" he asked. The short answer: a vibrant, walkable downtown. "The convention center here on a national scale is very competitive," he added, citing the 650,000 annual room-nights that the facility generates. "That number is very compelling to us."

Also compelling: light rail to the airport. "The connection between DIA and downtown is going to be a game-changer for us in the hotel business," said Frankiewicz.

The final panelist, Chris Frampton, East West Partners' Managing Partner, spoke about the 225,000-square-foot Triangle Building, slated to open in mid-2015 at 1550 Wewatta St. with a snazzy plaza that will offer a connection to Union Station.

Expect sustainable design and incredible views, but also a new take on the office environment. "The office world is changing immediately," said Frampton. "It's not changing slowly -- it's here right now and totally real." He pointed to CB Richard Ellis going with a deskless, paperless office in Los Angeles. "It allows for interaction. It allows for inspirational work that wasn't before possible."

"Winston Churchill said, 'We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.' Companies are looking for that."

Read more articles by Eric Peterson.

Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here.
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