Changes in Denver

January 18, 2013

November – December 2012
Construction of the newest apartment complex near Denver Union Station was begun recently by Wood Partners and East West Partners.  To total 281 units when it is completed in 18 to 24 months, the Alta City House is to be the 4th development in the Denver metro area by Wood Partners in recent years.  Costing $62 million, the 5-story project is to be financed by USAA Real Estate Co.

A 288-unit apartment complex has been announced for the corner of 17th and Wewatta by Holland Partner Group.  To be completed in 2014, the 1650 Wewatta property is to offer 260 parking spaces occupying two underground levels and floors 2 through 4.  Apartments are set to occupy floors 5 through 21, and additional features, such as fitness club, yoga studio, pool and lounge area, are to be placed on the 14th floor, while an outdoor courtyard space is set for the 5th floor.  To be one-third of an L-shaped parcel located between Wewatta and the historic Unions Station from 16th to 17th streets, the A block site is to later be completed by separate office and hotel projects.

The University of Colorado has announced it will start construction in January of a 146,000 SF office, student services and classroom building on the Auraria Campus at Speer Boulevard/Larimer Street.

A new apartment building has opened in the Capitol Hill neighborhood by Forum Real Estate Group.  Totaling 57 units at East 6th Avenue and Logan Street, The Logan complex offers studio to 2-bedroom apartments with a maximum rent rate of $1,990/month.  While only offering 49 parking spaces, at least one level of underground parking is included in the 5-story property, which also offers amenities such as keyless entry, resident lounge, outdoor courtyard with grills and fire pit, dog wash, elevator access, bike maintenance and kitchen room, energy star appliances, low-e windows, and recycling chutes on all floors.

The 415-unit Metro Apartments complex at 2121 Delgany Street in Denver was the recent focus of an exchange between buyer Multi-Employer Property Trust and seller CBRE Global Investors.  Sold via Pamela Koster and David Martin with Moran and Co., the property was exchanged for $90.75 million, or $218,675/unit.

An unknown price was paid by RedPeak Properties for the Burnsley Hotel at 1000 Grant Street in Denver.  Purchased from Joy Burns, the RedPeak plans to invest more than $5 million to convert the 17-story 80-room hotel into a luxury apartment complex.  The conversion is to begin early next year.  The building was originally built as apartments.

A retail building in Denver was recently exchanged for $2.25 million, or $107/SF.  Located next to the Colorado History Center and the Denver Art Museum at 1147 Broadway, an undisclosed buyer purchased the property from Windish Commercial Investments LLC.  Agency for Windish was provided via Tim Finholm and Sam Leger of Unique Properties LLC-TCN Worldwide.

The former Wells Fargo Theatre at the Colorado Convention Center is now renamed Bellco Theatre due to a change in sponsorship.

A price of $44/SF, or $3.38 million, was paid by WalBlake LLC for the 1.77-acre property at 3601-3655 and 3707 Walnut in the River North area of Denver.  Sold on behalf of Gregory Land Co. via Sam Leger and Tim Finholm of Unique properties LLC-TCN Worldwide, the property is across from the planned 38th Street and Blake Street light-rail station.  The new owner intends to hold the property, which currently houses two industrial buildings, for future development.

The City and County of Denver is currently completing the approval process for a new apartment complex in the Ballpark district near Lower Downtown Denver by Legacy Partners.  Known as Legacy 22nd, the 6-story, 212-unit property is anticipated to break ground by early 2013 along the half block of Lawrence between 21st and 22nd streets.

A plan to restore a 19th-century horse barn at the intersection of33rd and Arapahoe streets in the Five Points neighborhood is anticipated to be a catalyst for development.  Having served the Denver City Railway Co. in its heyday, the renovation will allow it to aid nearby urban farms by linking them to the 30 international-development nonprofits based there, thereby becoming a community center for the burgeoning food-security movement.  TheDenver Urban Gardens is also to contribute to the development by providing a large commercial kitchen for healthy-cooking demonstrations and nutrition classes; a seasonal farmers market; and a demonstration garden on the empty lot across the street that will provide horticultural training.  Owned by the Denver Housing Authority since 1992, the site is also anticipated to benefit from the planned opening of the 23-mile East Corridor commuter line, which is expected to open in 2013 and will have the first stop out of Union Station placed five blocks away from it.

Cherry Creek North has become a focal point for new development.  Proposed for eight projects in the next two years and another seven in the planning stages for construction over the next five years, the new proposals are raising concern among some residents in the area that the additions will make the neighborhood too dense.  Among those proposed, the Cherry Creek North Neighborhood Association is currently opposed to the 245 Columbine development by the Sullivan Group and another for the northeast corner of First Avenue and Steele Street by Zocalo Community Development.  Other major projects planned for the area include a 12-story luxury apartment complex on the SEC of First Avenue and Steele Street by BMC Investments and a 8-story office and retail building at 100 St. Paul Street by The Pauls Corp.

MGL Partners has announced a new apartment complex for the Capitol Hill neighborhood.  To total 156 units at the SWC of East 11th Avenue and Gaylord Street, construction of the currently unnamed project is to take 20 months, with demolition on the site to begin in January.  To provide 234 spaces in a 2-level, below-grade parking garage, the 7-story property is to offer market-rate rents.

A recent donation allowed the Denver Film Society to secure its future at Denver Film Center/Colfax, which is located at East Colfax Avenue and Columbine Street.  Made by John and Anna Maglione Sie, the organization used the $2.5 million gift to purchase the location, which it intends to rename the Anna Sie and John J. Sie Film Center.

The Prospect Park neighborhood near downtown Denver is to gain a new apartment complex courtesy of Edwards Companies.  To be known as The Residences at Prospect Park, the 5-story complex north of West 29th Street is to offer 296 units.  Anticipated for completion in 2014, the development is also to benefit from the renovation of a building to the south that will offer 20,000 SF of retail.

Carmel Partners recently sold its 420-unit Aero Flats apartment complex in Stapleton.  Located at 8008 East Montview Boulevard in Denver, Carmel sold the property to Advenir for $49.1 million, or $116,905/unit, via Doug Andrews and Jeff Hawks of ARA.  The new owner has renamed the property Advenir@Stapleton.

Grocery giant Kroger has now entered the discussions as a possible anchor for the redevelopment of the former University of Colorado Medical Center site at East 9th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard.  Though a deal has yet to be reached, the 75,000 to 80,000 SF proposed size for the store is favored to the 119,000 SF store that was proposed by Walmart for the site, and is considered a better fit for the area.  Marcus Pachner with Fuqua Development has said that the new plan for the development consists of a walkable outdoor shopping area that would become a central meeting place for the surrounding neighborhoods with senior housing, 325 residential units, a hotel and local neighborhood services.  Businesses expressing interest in the redevelopment as possible tenants include Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Mcalisters Deli, HomeGoods, Larkburger Gourmet Burgers, the owners of Tavern Uptown, Krisers organic pet food, and neighborhood coffee stores and restaurants.  Denver City Council Member Mary Beth Susman comments on this development, Trader Joe’s proposed nearby at 8th/Colorado Boulevard (including a site plan and renderings) and the Buckley Annex at Lowry redevelopment at:

The Kent Place development at South University Boulevard and East Hampden Avenue celebrated the opening of its first stores.  Located at South University Boulevard and East Hampden Avenue, the new development welcomed San Francisco pizza restaurant chain Patxis; pet supply and grooming store Krisers; Wine Pro; and the first Fresh Fare by King Soopers upscale grocery store in the State.  To be a redevelopment of the former Denver Seminary site, the development is later to be completed with a 300-unit apartment complex that will border the grocery store on the north and west.

ReyLenn Properties is to build an upscale apartment complexadjacent to prominent condo complex Kentucky Ridge in Glendale.  To total nearly 400 units when it is completed in two years, the project is to offer units ranging from studio to 3-bedroom with unit sizes ranging from 572 to 1,335 SF.  Major amenities slated for the project include a resort-style pool, clubhouse with indoor/outdoor kitchen, cyber lounge, and a professional fitness center.  The 5-acre site was purchased from DPC Development for an undisclosed amount.

The 2.7-acre site of the former Spanish Gate apartmentcomplex in Glendale is to be given new life as a parking lot by DPC Development.  To be exchanged to Glendale in lieu of a 5-acre surface parking lot the company sold to ReyLenn Properties LLC, the redevelopment will serve to satisfy demand for events at Infinity Park and the currently-under-construction Riverwalk development; however, DPC will be allowed use of the lot by day.  A 15-year option was also granted to DPC for the construction of an additional level on the lot to fit roughly 350 spaces.

Agents Dave Potarf, Dan Woodward, and Jordan Robbins of CB Richard Ellis aided the transaction of the 272-unit Denver-Park at Canyon Ridge apartment community in Aurora.  Exchanged between seller Asset Plus Cos. of Houston and buyer Jackson Square Properties for $23.82 million, or $87,574/unit, the property is located 9757 East Colorado Avenue.

The redevelopment of the historic Union Station in downtown into a mixed-use, transit-oriented hub officially began December 3rd following approval of a lease to the developer by RTD.  Planned to open in mid-2014, the redevelopment is to be done by the team of Sage Hospitality, Larimer Associates, REGen LLC and Urban Neighborhoods.  The redevelopment calls for the placing of retail and restaurant outlets into 22,000 SF on the ground floor that will be complemented by a 12,000 SF public common area called the Great Hall, 40,000 SF of outdoor plaza space, and to be capped by a 110-room independent hotel that will be managed by Sage Hospitality.  In addition, the station will be prepared for the return of Amtrak operations in early 2014.  The newly renovated building will reopen to the public in the summer of 2014. Union Station Alliance is the real estate development group overseeing the renovation and Milender White Construction Co. is the design builder. For additional information about the Union Station Alliance team, please visit

On January 1, RTD’s new Smart Card debuts for EcoPass and CollegePass customers. These individuals will be the first to tap on to bus and light rail using the new smart card media, with much more to come. This exciting card brings benefits including unlimited rides on regular bus and light rail all day, every day with just one tap every time you ride. Smart card eliminates adhesive decals and brings improved customer service with a dedicated customer service center. Later in 2013 RTD will convert all of fares and passes to smart card technology with the introduction of the MyRide card for the general public. MyRide will transform your riding experience by providing a convenient and easy method of paying your fare.

RTD is proud to announce that the Board of Directors recently received the Carla Madison Award for outstanding leadership in the public sector. The award, named after the late Denver City Councilwoman, honors her great work and support of developing livable communities with safe and effective transportation.

The RTD Social Media team was recognized at the 2012 edition ofWestword’s Denver Web Awards, the annual celebration of Denver’s greatest digital minds. At the end of September, Westword put out a call for their readers, to nominate favorite online projects and voices.  Categories include news, arts, food and music. RTD won for the category titled The Best Public Service on Social Media. The Social Media team was recognized for the information provided to the community, responses to complaints and even compliments too.

This past year has been an exciting one for the RTD’s I-225 light rail project and 2013 promises to be even more eventful as design and construction pick up speed.  The I-225 Rail Line will be a 10.5 mile light rail line with 8 stations serving the City of Aurora, Anschutz/Fitzsimons Medical Campus and Denver International Airport with a transfer to the East Rail Line. Crews will begin construction on the full line in spring 2013 and by mid-2016 the line will open. RTD completed the Environmental Evaluation on the I-225 project in 2009. In response to RTD’s “Call for Innovation” to the industry, RTD received an unsolicited proposal in March 2012 from Kiewit Infrastructure Co. After review under the RTD Unsolicited Proposal Policy, staff found that there was merit to move into a competitive bidding process, so RTD issued a Request for Proposals (RFP). Two teams, including Kiewit, bid on the project with Kiewit winning the award. RTD finalized a contract with Kiewit, that includes design partner AECOM, and the team received a notice to proceed in late August.  Kiewit led the design-build construction team on the T-REX project – a joint highway/light rail project of RTD and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) along I-25 now called the Southeast Light Rail Line. Kiewit is also currently constructing the transit improvements at Denver Union Station.

The first 1.5 mile segment of the I-225 Rail Line from Nine Mile to Iliff is already underway. In the spring of 2012, RTD and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) partnered on a joint construction project to build the I-225 Rail Line trackway from the Nine Mile Station to Iliff Avenue and widen the I-225 Highway from Parker Road to Mississippi Avenue. As part of the light rail and highway project SEMA Construction, Inc. had to reconstruct the Yale Bridge over I-225 to provide room for the rail line and additional highway lanes. The new bridge was reopened to the public in October two months ahead of schedule. Kiewit will pick up construction of the Iliff Station and the rail line where SEMA finishes. The CDOT widening project is expected to be completed in 2014 and the rest of the I-225 light rail project will be completed in 2016.

Since E-470 converted to cashless electronic toll paying the toll plazas have been vacant.  Now the E-470 Highway Authority is considering converting the toll plazas into highway oriented retail sites for occupancy by gas stations, restaurant and convenience stores.  The authority will issue a request for proposals in the first quarter of 2013.

The RTD Board of Directors approved moving forward with aFasTracks Internal Savings Account to help fund FasTracks projects that are not fully funded. The savings account is comprised of eight items that are expected to generate nearly $300 million by 2017. The funds would be used to build the North Metro Line to at least 72nd and complete RTD’s commitment on the US 36 Bus Rapid Transit project, a partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The final phase before the West Rail Line of FasTracks opens along West 6th Avenue will be underway soon. Integrated testing to ensure all RTD systems are properly working together will start in early January. As part of the testing, there will be moving trains so people are asked to exercise caution when driving, biking or walking along the corridor. Over the weekend of Dec. 8-9, RTD and its contractors performed a successful light rail safety test to ensure that the West Rail Line system is interfacing with the rest of the system.

Denver City Council Member Peggy Lehman reports that with the passing of ballot measure 2A by Denver residents, Denver Public Library plans to increase their 2013 hours by 40% upon final approval of the 2013 budget.  With the additional funds, all branch libraries will be open a minimum of 48 hours per week, with two evening hours and new weekend hours at several locations.  The Central Library will be open 56 hours per week with Saturday morning hours restored.  The public can expect to see the new hours phased-in beginning January 2013, as required staffing levels are achieved.

University Hills Senior Residences broke ground in November at 2775 South Brook Drive and will offer 101 apartments in the 4 story structure.  Construction is scheduled for completion in December 2013.  Residents will enjoy a Cyber-Café, library and media room, game room and a cyber fitness room which features multi-media fitness options.

The Denver Real Estate Office and Denver Public Schools (DPS) are currently negotiating a proposed land swap that includes 11.5 acres of land located near East Girard and South Havana Street.  2.5 acres are in the City’s real estate portfolio and the difference of 9 acres is located in the Hentzell Park Designated Natural Area which is part of Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR).  The 11.5 acres will be traded for a 40,000 sq. ft. office at 1330 Fox Street This is intended to be the future site of the City’s Domestic Violence Center which has been a high priority for Mayor Hancock.  In turn, Denver Public Schools will turn the 11.5 acre parcel into a new Southeast school, funded through the school bond which was passed in the November election.

The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) announced the launch of a new public awareness campaign to reduce Single Occupant Vehicle (SOV) travel and unveils a new brand name to represent these efforts, officially retiring the familiar RideArrangers brand. The new brand, Way to Go, helps reduce traffic congestion, improves air quality, and saves people money.  Way to Go also describes a better means of commuting: for some, carpooling or taking transit is the “way to go,” for others, biking to work is the “way to go.”

In 2011, DRCOG Executive Director Jennifer Schaufele led an effort, later adopted by the Board of Directors, to create an alliance with six Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) to cooperatively promote responsible commute options region-wide. A new brand name was needed to represent these efforts – Way to Go seemed like the perfect fit. DRCOG has spearheaded local efforts to help commuters find carpool partners since the 1970s gas crisis, using the name RideArrangers since 1987.

“In the beginning, we identified matches by putting pins on a giant map,” noted Schaufele. “Of course we now use online software, and our ridematching service has expanded well beyond just carpool matching for work commutes to include school carpools for busy parents as well as vanpools for larger groups.”

Along with the new brand, the partnership reveals its upcoming campaign to raise awareness of the issue – too many people driving alone – and get people thinking about how they commute. The campaign is titled “Stop Being an SOV,” a suggestive play on words that should grab people’s attention. “With the goal of reducing SOV travel, the campaign is a fun way to introduce the new brand and highlight our number one goal,” said Schaufele. Over the years, DRCOG’s efforts have evolved to include promotion of a host of services, all focused on reducing SOV travel.

DRCOG is well known for organizing Bike to Work Day, the second-largest event of its kind in the nation, and also promotes transit ridership, telework and flex work schedules.  “The creation of the partnership presented the perfect opportunity to find a new name that better represents the breadth of our services and to talk about them in a fun and engaging way that spurs people to try them,” she added.  The six partner organizations working alongside DRCOG under this umbrella brand are 36 Commuting Solutions, Boulder Transportation Connections, Denver South TMA, Downtown Denver Partnership, Stapleton TMA, and Transportation Solutions.

The Transit Alliance is now accepting applications for the Spring 2013 Citizens’ Academy. Applications are due by February 15th.  More at:

Monte Whaley in the Denver Post reports that congestion on theInterstate 70 mountain corridor could be untangled with an elevated electrically powered megarail system. Or problems could be solved by magnetic levitation (maglev) vehicles. But Paul Williamson is convinced his SkyTran fleet of two-passenger, automated electric vehicles is the answer.

SkyTran would travel on a network of slim, elevated guideways that can make the 150-mile trip from DIA to the Eagle County Airport with relative ease.  “It will run 24/7, and two people can get in, on what is basically a first-class seat, say they want to get from the airport to Vail,” Williamson said Thursday, “and off they go.” “And I can do this for one-tenth the cost of traditional light rail,” he said.

Williamson and seven other vendors with big ideas for high-speed transit options for the I-70 mountain corridor displayed their concepts Thursday at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.  They were part of a technology forum put on by the Colorado Department of Transportation, which is studying the possibility of high-speed transit from C-470 in Jefferson County to the Eagle County Airport.  “Anyone who lives in the corridor or has sat in their car for hours after a long day of skiing or hiking can tell you that traffic through the mountains is a huge problem,” said CDOT transit and rail director Mark Imhoff.

Talk of using an Advanced Guideway System through Colorado’s mountains has drawn a lot of attention nationally and internationally, CDOT said.  In all, 18 companies from around the world submitted proposals in September. Eight of the 11 companies that met six preliminary criteria – travel time, ability to manage the grade from Denver to the mountains, safety, capability of handling weather and wind, light freight ability and being operational by 2017.

One alignment and the most viable of the technologies will be used to develop a cost estimate. Past estimates have put the cost of a high-speed system from DIA to Eagle County at almost $15 billion. CDOT hopes to get private-sector help to fund the system and make a final decision by next fall. The companies on hand and the technologies they offered were:

  • American Maglev Transit. AMT’s transit technology is based on optimized magnetic levitation and linear-induction propulsion that is entirely electric and nonpolluting.
  • Flight Rail. This is a high-speed, lightweight atmospheric transportation system that uses vacuum/air pressure to move passenger vehicles along an elevated guideway.
  • General Atomics/Colorado Maglev Group. The system would be placed entirely within the existing I-70 right of way on an elevated structure supported by high columns.
  • MegaRail. A multipurpose elevated electrified system .
  • Public Personal Rapid Transit Consortium. Pod-cars on a fixed guideway using an air-lifting mechanism integrated with magnetic-induction propulsion.
  • SkyTran. Two-passenger automated electric vehicles.
  • Swift Tram. Fully automated fixed-guideway transportation system featuring coaches in two sizes suspended from the guideway with a hinge.
  • Talgo. This system uses propulsion energy that comes from the commercial electric grid and that is applied to the rail using frame-hung traction motors and conventional adhesion.

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