Byron Weiss Partners with Saunders Development to Transform Denver Rock Drill Into $250 Million Mixed Use Project
DENVER, CO Saunders Development announces that it has partnered with owner Byron Weiss to develop the Denver Rock Drill external link project, a 700,000-square-foot, $250 million project comprised of office, retail, residential and hotel in the historic Cole Neighborhood near the 38th and Blake Transit Station. Denver Rock Drill is currently pre-leasing office and retail space and plans to break ground on construction of Phase 1 in Q1 2018.
Located on 39th Avenue between Franklin and High Streets, the property's history goes back to 1910 when it was the home of Denver Rock Drill Manufacturing Company, whose line of pneumatic rock drills known as "Waugh" drills were used around the world. By the 1920's, the facilities occupied more than a city block and housed a community of 600 employees. Acquired by Denver, Colorado, native and longtime Cole Neighborhood resident Byron Weiss in 1992 as one of the last big sales made during the savings and loan crisis of the 1990s, the site is currently home to his company, Porta Power, a material handling and warehouse supply company. Seeing tremendous opportunity with changes happening in the nearby RiNo neighborhood and the expansion of RTD's Light Rail, Weiss, in partnership with his sons, Andy and Bretty Weiss, decided in 2016 to seek a partner to develop the property into a mixed use development, ultimately choosing Saunders Development.
"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," said Weiss. "I knew this property had enormous potential, both from a local perspective and from a cultural perspective, with its deep Denver history."
Denver Rock Drill will include 150,000 square feet of adaptive reuse of historic buildings as well as 550,000 square feet of new build, which will be comprised of 150,000 square feet of office space; 65,000 square feet of retail; 180 planned residential units; and a 175-key hotel by Sage Hospitality. Built as machine shops, the preserved historic buildings onsite will provide large, flexible floor plates as well as 28-foot ceilings, allowing significant flexibility for office use, infill mezzanines and more.
"There is a trend in some of the up and coming neighborhoods to build new but try to make it look historic," said Trae Rigby, Vice President of Development for Saunders Construction. "Denver Rock Drill actually is historic, having fostered a Western spirit of openness and entrepreneurial innovation for more than 100 years. This will be a singularly unique project in the Denver landscape."
Located just two blocks from the 38th and Blake Transit Station and one stop from Union Station, as well as only 30 minutes from Denver International Airport, Denver Rock Drill will serve as a bridge between the RiNo Arts District and Cole 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 have offer with first in class 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," said Dorit Fischer, Broker for Shames Makovsky who is handling the 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 under-roof of the existing structures as well as the hotel. Shames Makovsky is handling the retail leasing while Cushman & Wakefield is handling the office leasing.
"Denver Rock Drill is the finest example of adaptive re-use potential in the western United States," said Todd Wheeler, Vice Chairman of Cushman & Wakefield. "Contemporary office occupiers are looking for ways to create inspirational, compelling workplaces that offer transportation flexibility, work-style flexibility and amenity mixes. Denver Rock Drill is the very essence of adaptive re-use real estate value, providing a visually interesting platform in which to design efficient, collaborative workplaces coupled with a genuine history that is a silent but constant reminder to everyone working there about how far the human race has come and how incredible the future is going to be."