Meet our 53rd Annual Downtown Denver Award Winners

With every local initiative taken, collaboration formed and milestone anniversary reached, Downtown Denver becomes a more vibrant and diverse environment. Since 1962, the Downtown Denver Annual Awards program has allowed the Downtown Denver Partnership to recognize the accomplishments that have transformed our center city each year.

“It is so important to pause and reflect every year on the big ideas, accomplishments and successes that have changed the landscape of our city and inspire all of us,” said Tami Door, Downtown Denver Partnership President & CEO. “These six award winners are setting an incredible example of what it means to contribute to making this city stronger, we are proud to honor their significant achievements.”

More than 900 of Denver’s business and civic leaders were in attendance on Thursday, May 29 for the 53rd Annual Downtown Denver Awards Dinner presented by Polsinelli as the stories of six award winners, representing projects, programs and milestone anniversaries were shown through short videos, sponsored by Comcast.

1801 California

As Colorado’s second tallest building and largest in office space, 1801 California towers over Downtown Denver with an undeniable presence. However, as the building’s occupancy was decreasing, it was clear that a dramatic facelift was needed in order to meet the needs of today’s workforce. In 2011, Brookfield Office Properties made a strategic investment in Downtown Denver’s commercial core by purchasing 1801 California for $215 million, with robust renovation plans on the horizon.

Following the purchase of the building, Brookfield Office Properties invested more than $50 million dollars in the common areas in addition to a significant investment to provide tenant improvement allowances.  The Brookfield team began rapidly transforming 1801 California, finding ways to incorporate impressive upgrades and adapt the existing structure to achieve LEED Gold certification, while actively seeking out new tenants.  The efficient floor plates and investment in renovations made the building attractive to law firms, the energy industry and others wanting to locate in the prominent building. Although a large undertaking, the building boasted a leasing rate of 60% even before construction was completed, with a third of the tenants representing companies that were new to Denver or the state of Colorado.

Paul Washington, Executive Director of Denver’s Office of Economic Development, has been one of the people keeping an eye on the progress at 1801 California. “We’re thrilled that Brookfield has made such a significant investment. Brookfield is a very sophisticated investor and so it just speaks to the confidence that they have in the city’s vibrancy and growth, and we’re very happy that they’ve made that decision.”

The renovations have and will continue to re-energize the commercial core with attractive amenities, such as the first-class restaurant Guard and Grace, ink! Coffee, a delicatessen, and common conference spaces and fitness facilities. In addition, 1801 California is ideally situated in a transit oriented development area, adding value to the building’s location. Stops and stations for light rail lines, bus routes, B-Cycle and the new Free MetroRide flank the skyscraper, making tenants’ commute to work easy and convenient.  The end result is that 1801 California is a state-of-the-art space that is attracting both tenants and attention, returning the building to its iconic stature.

Cadence Union Station

As the Denver Union Station neighborhood comes to life, Cadence stands tall as the first residential building completed in the area. Cadence breathes life into the developing neighborhood and embraces its close proximity to the re-emerging transportation hub of the Rocky Mountain region. The vision for this up and coming neighborhood was clear for the principals of Zocalo Community Development. The firm’s early-adoption and very public plan to move development forward in 2010 sent a message of confidence to the market about this promising neighborhood.

The groundbreaking for Cadence occurred in May 2012 and construction was completed just over a year and a half later. Zocalo’s dual commitment to the community and environment is evident in delivering this LEED Gold project, which attained 85% recycling of construction waste while setting a community-oriented tone for future development now underway in the Denver Union Station neighborhood. Its 8,400 square feet of ground-floor retail space will ensure the activation of 17th Street, helping to create street-level vibrancy, and knitting together the public realm.

Cadence’s selling points boast the entire Downtown living experience, while offering residents a plethora of resident-friendly amenities, including a rooftop pool and fitness center, parking garage with a recharging station, a jazz lounge and bicycle maintenance area called the Velo Room. The residential tower will ultimately be home to 350 new residents within its 219 units, who in total have an estimated buying power of $6.5 million in expenditures per year based on resident’s average household income and local spending trends.

“Zocalo has a history of being the first to develop in urban neighborhoods prior to their re-emergence,” said David Zucker, Principal of Zocalo Community Development. “My partners Chris Achenbach and Susan Maxwell and I take seriously the meaning of the name Zocalo, the Aztec term for gathering place. Our focus is not just on building a great vertical community, but on creating a great horizontal community.”

Denver Car Share Permit Program

Today it serves as a convenient and economically efficient way of getting around the city, but without an effective permit program in place, car sharing in Denver may not have gotten off the ground. The Denver Car Share Permit Program is a multi-modal approach that solves the final mile issue for members, with flexible transportation options for residents, employees and visitors when walking or biking may not be feasible. Car sharing has picked up speed around the nation during the last few years, but Denver’s uniquely structured permit program is what is attracting more operating companies to the area and has other metropolitan cities envious.

In 2011, Denver Public Works initiated a pilot program with a local car share operator, eGo CarShare, in order to demonstrate the viability of on-street car sharing and test it as one of the strategies outlined in the City’s Strategic Parking Plan. During this time, there were three operators with 50 vehicles available to members. By 2012, Public Works began establishing a new framework of regulations to create a permit program in order to enable multiple car share companies to operate within the public right-of-way. This process entailed essential collaborative efforts, both internally and externally, in establishing an innovative procedure, including interviews with peer cities and car share operators.

Within the program’s first year, six companies had come to Denver providing over 400 vehicles in the program’s car share fleet, an estimated economic impact of $5.4 million. In addition, Public Works found nearly 30 new on-street parking spaces to be carved out and dedicated to car share vehicles, which provide the needed visibility and accessibility for members.

The Denver Car Share Permit Program’s policies create a revenue-neutral permit program and an even playing field for all operators, regardless of business or operational models. Overall, the unparalleled program has strengthened the center city’s attractiveness by providing additional mobility options and leveraging existing investments in transit and a walkable urban environment.

IMA Financial Group Building

Where a surface parking lot once stood in Lower Downtown, now stands an advanced, five-story office building with activating ground-floor retail and an inviting façade. Because of the vision of Rob Cohen and Ed Haselden, The IMA Financial Group broke ground on its $32 million headquarters building in April 2012, serving as the first private building to begin construction as a part of the Denver Union Station redevelopment. The IMA Financial Group Building created 2,100 jobs throughout the construction period and represents a crucial private investment that allowed Denver Union Station to qualify for federal funding, an instrumental factor in the $480 million public transportation project.

From the outside, the 108,000 square foot building was consciously designed to complement the traditions of both the north side of LoDo and Union Station, while incorporating modern elements for a timeless design. In addition, the outside staircase used to connect rail passengers to Wynkoop Plaza got a design upgrade when IMA offered to incorporate in it the building’s design.

More than 200 employees occupy the building currently, but with almost double its previous office space, the company expects to grow to as many as 400 employees in coming years. Large window walls, a fitness room, bike storage, a high-tech training lab and an exclusive employee coffee shop are just a few of the amenities that will enable IMA Financial to attract and retain the best employees in the region. Building engineers were tasked with incorporating a system that provides highly energy efficient delivery of heating, ventilating, and air conditioning, using 50% less energy. As a part of IMA’s commitment to the Downtown Denver community, IMA allocated part of its space to house the “Community Room”, a conference room that is available for nonprofit organizations to use free of charge.

“We have always felt that locating our office Downtown was critical for our clients and associates, but being a part of this project has magnified our commitment to Downtown and all that it has to offer,” said Rob Cohen, CEO and Chairman of The IMA Financial Group.

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Denver 125th Anniversary

In 1888, Frederick R. Ross arrived in Denver to found a company bearing his name, a name that would eventually become synonymous with real estate in the region.

As the city’s first commercial real estate firm, the Frederick Ross Company’s role in envisioning, advising, planning and investing in Downtown Denver has been profound, whether in business ventures or civic involvement. The company has been integral to some of Denver’s defining moments. As President of the Denver Board of Water Commissioners, Frederick Ross spearheaded the Moffat Tunnel Water Division Project, which allowed Denver to grow into a metropolitan city.

Ross’ successors embodied the same dedication to Downtown Denver. In the 1950’s, Cyrus Hackstaff was one of the founders of the Downtown Denver Improvement Association, known today as Downtown Denver Incorporated. Following the 1980’s oil bust, Jack Box championed the formation of The Greater Denver Corporation to spur economic growth, which culminated in the Colorado Convention Center and Denver International Airport.

The firm provided research and expertise for the overall economic strategy of the 1986 Downtown Area Plan. They also had a direct hand in the development of some of Downtown’s most treasured assets: Denver Union Station, the 16th Street Mall, Central Platte Valley, LoDo Historic District, Golden Triangle Neighborhood, Coors Field, and many more. The company or its principals have been instrumental in many Downtown Denver projects, including Halcyon House, 1515 Wynkoop, 1732 Wazee, 1800 Larimer, 16M, 1401 Lawrence, and Z Block.

Although Newmark Grubb Knight Frank recently acquired the Frederick Ross Company, the company’s commitment to and involvement with Downtown remains intact. “Our company has evolved over the past 125 years, much like Downtown Denver, and while we each have redefined our boundaries, we share the same core values,” said Kevin McCabe, Executive Vice President for Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. “Frederick Ross Company’s legacy of stewardship, innovative risk-taking and community investment lives on and is synonymous with our new chosen culture as Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.”

Trinity United Methodist Church 125th Anniversary

As the first church in Downtown Denver, Trinity United Methodist Church has been welcoming people from all walks of life for 125 years. On December 23, 1888, Trinity held its first service in the Sanctuary at 18th and Broadway. Since then, the Church has grown and evolved with Downtown Denver.

Over a century ago, the Trinity United Methodist Church was erected from the vision of Colorado’s first licensed architect, Robert Roeschlaub, and is one of the finest examples of “Modern Gothic” architecture in the United States. The building’s distinctive spire was an incredible architectural achievement as the nation’s tallest stone structure in 1888. Today, original stained glass windows are still intact, as well as the historic Roosevelt Organ, a remarkable instrument selected, installed, and entirely financed by Trinity’s Music Director, Isaac Blake. The organ was considered to be one of the finest organs of the world at the time, featuring 82 ranks and 4,202 pipes ranging in size from less than one inch to 32 feet.

With a focus on community and families, Trinity United Methodist Church has remained committed to staying relevant, drawing about 3,500 visitors from the entire Denver metro area to Downtown every week. Trinity offers 19 music and arts programs, hosts a variety of support groups, and provides services and programs for families and children. In 1984, the Second Century Foundation was established by members of the church as a permanent endowment to raise funds for Denver-based outreach organizations, including the St. Francis Center, Metro CareRing, and Urban Peak.

As their motto “We’re Here for Good” states, Trinity United Methodist Church is committed to serving the local community and Downtown Denver for years to come.