VanWest Honored in 2018 Mayor Design Awards

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Steam on the Platte

Steam on the Platte, the Ramble Hotel and the Punch Bowl Social in Stapleton are among the 17 eclectic projects that are being honored as winners of the 2018 Mayor’s Design Awards.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock on Thursday night honored the projects for excellence in architecture, design and placemaking. About 200 people attended the award event at the Chambers Grant Salon of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver Performing Arts Complex.

Members of the selection committee who chose the winners include:

  • Architect Tim Boers, principal of Boulder Associates;
  • Brad Evans, who just unsuccessfully ran for the RTD board and is best known for his Denver Fugly site on Facebook;
  • Brianna Borin, senior vice president of People Resources at Snooze;
  • John Olson, director of Preservation Programs, Historic Denver Inc.;
  • And Peter Park, director and owner of Peter J. Park LLC, a city planning and design consulting practice and the former planning director for the City of Denver.

“The field of winners this year is the most diverse ever selected,” Hancock said.

Judges included Mayor Michael B. Hancock on Thursday night honored the projects for excellence in architecture, design and placemaking. About 200 people attended the event.

“The list is the perfect showcase of what we can do as a city when we design with the intent of lifting up our community,” Hancock added.

Since 2005, the awards have been presented to Denver homeowners, business owners, nonprofits, artists and others for their creative contributions to the public realm through innovative design. Winners can range from community placemaking projects to adaptive reuse of historic structures to single-family residences to major mixed-use downtown buildings.

Each brings something special to Denver’s unique visual fabric and speaks to a collective commitment to building healthy, sustainable communities.

Project honored include*:

Winner: Steam on the Platte

Category: Back to the Future

Owner: Urban Ventures LLC and Zuni Corridor LLC, Tim White & Dour Decker

Architect: tres birds workshop

Builder: White Construction Group

2200 California

Winner: 2200 California

Category: Back to the Future

Owner: 550 Spyder LLC

Architect: Arrow B Architecture – Shane Martin, Ally Frueauf

Builder: Spectrum General Contractors Inc. – John Lanphier

Punch Bowl Social – Stapleton

Winner: Punch Bowl Social – Stapleton

3120 N. Uinta St.

Category: Neighborhood Gem

Owner: Robert Thompson

Architect: OZ Architecture and Megan Freckelton, Frank Mataipule, Punch Bowl Social

Builder: R&M General Contractors LLC

Ramble Hotel

Winner: The Ramble Hotel

2450 Larimer St.

Category: Distinctive Denver

Owners: Gravitas Development Group

Architect: Johnson Nathan Strohe.

Interior Designer: Avenue Interior Designer

Builder: Sprung Construction

The art alley at the Dairy Block.

Winner: The Art Alley at Dairy Block

Address: 1800 Wazee St.

Category: Art All Around

Owners: McWhinney, Sage Hospitality and Grand American Inc.

Art Curation: NINE dot ARTS

Architect: Shears Adkins Rockmore

Builder: Saunders Construction

The Circa Building

Winner: The Circa Building

1615 Platte St.

Category: Sustainable Style

Owners: Unico Properties

Architect: Open Studio Architecture

Builder: Swinerton Builders

The Wheatley

Winner: The Wheatley

530 25th St.

Category: Density by Design

Owner: 2460 Welton St. LLC

Developer: Palisade Partners

Architect: Craine Architecture

Builder: Confluence Builders

Colorado Health Foundation Building.

Winner: Colorado Health Foundation Building

1780 Pennsylvania St.

Category: Building Well Living Well

Owner: Colorado Health Foundation

Architect: Davis Partnership Architects

Builder: Saunders Construction

Rainbow crosswalk

Winner: Rainbow Crosswalk

Broadway and Irvington Place

Category: Neighborhood Gem

Owner: Buffalo Exchange Colorado

River North Stormwater Outfall

Winner: River North Storm Water Outfall

Address: Arkins Court, between 31st and 35th streets

Category: Landscapes in Focus

Owner: City and county of Denver and Urban Drainage and Flood Control District

Architect: Stream Landscape Architecture

Engineer: Muller Engineering Co.

Builder: Concrete Express

Learning landscape garden

Winner: Reimagining Learning Landscapes: Garden Place Academy Research Station and Community Garden

Address: 4425 Lincoln St.

Category: Active Spaces

Owner: Denver Public Schools

Designers: Jesse Van Horne, Eric Crotty, Lois Brink

Builders: The Big SandBox, the Globeville Community, Parents of Garden Place Academy parents, Kiewit, Colorado Designscapes

Backyard on Blake

Winner: Backyard on Blake

3070 Blake St.

Category: Active Spaces

Owner: Mainspring

Designer: Ivy Street Design

Builder: Sprocket D

The Bosler House

Winner: The Bosler House

3209 W. Fairview Place

Category: This Is Home

Owners: Steven and Janise Davis

Architect: Jessica Reske, Restoration Architect, Form + Works Design Group

Builder: Steven Davis

Black and White House

Winner: Black and White House at Sloan’s Lake

4200 W. 23rd Ave.

Category: This Is Home

Owners: Erin Little and Marc Perusse

Architect: Davis Urban Architecture & Design

Builder: Brown Construction


Denver Botanic Gardens

Winner: Denver Botanic Gardens Ticket Centers

Address: 1007 York St.

Category: Distinctive Denver

Owner: Denver Botanic Gardens

Architect and builder: University of Colorado – Boulder Program in Environmental Design

Molly Brown House

Winner: Molly Brown House Museum Renovation

Address: 1340 Pennsylvania St.

Category: Distinctive Denver

Owner: Historic Denver Inc.

Architect: Anderson Mason Dale, Hoehn Architects

Builder: Spectrum General Contractors, Buildings Restoration Specialties, Watkins Stained Glass

Winner: Thomas Jefferson High School Bus Shetler

Address: East Hampden Avenue and South Ivanhoe Street

Category: Art All Around

Project coordinators: Council District 4, Thomas Jefferson Parent Teacher Organization

Artists: TJHS students and staff, community members.

*Photos of winning project courtesy of Denver Community Planning and Development.

If you scratch the surface of just about any deal, there is a story behind it. The Rebchook Real Estate Corner looks at the what and who that make the Colorado commercial real estate industry spin every Tuesday and Thursday online at The people behind the deals are passionate about what they do, whether they focus on offices, apartments, industrial, retail, land or lending. They also are passionate about their clients. Given the cyclical nature of commercial real estate, those who prosper in it have plenty of stories to tell. I hope to share them with you. 

This column includes news stories, in-depth looks at deals, profiles, Q&As and pieces on the latest trends. Contact John with story tips at or 303-945-6865.

Kitchen and bath showroom, staffing agency to fill converted Cap Hill building’s retail space

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Kitchen and bath showroom, staffing agency to fill converted Cap Hill building’s retail space

Denver-based VanWest Partners converted the seven-story building at 920 Grant St. (Courtesy of VanWest Partners)

Two tenants have leased the retail space in a seven-story building in Capitol Hill that was recently converted into a self-storage facility.

Christopher’s Kitchen and Bath is moving into a 2,804-square-foot unit at 920 Grant St., and staffing agency Express Employment has leased the remaining 1,583 square feet, according to Forrest Bassett, director of commercial brokerage for building owner VanWest Partners.

Both retail units are on the ground floor. The rest of the building, including two below-grade levels, is devoted to self-storage.

The building previously housed office space used by Denver Public Schools. Denver-based VanWest Partners purchased the property in March 2017 for $4.17 million, according to records, and began the conversion to storage.

VanWest didn’t originally plan any retail space as part of the redevelopment, but added it later to “help activate the area,” Bassett said.

Christopher’s Kitchen and Bath will open a second showroom, in addition to Englewood location, in newly-renovated Cap Hill building. (Courtesy of Christopher’s Kitchen and Bath)

Christopher’s Kitchen and Bath began as a family-owned plumbing contractor before shifting into retail, opening its first showroom in 1981. The company operates in 5,000 square feet at 2857 W. Hampden Ave. in Englewood, and will keep operating there.

General Manager Austin Ardrey said the new Denver location, expected to open in January, will lean heavier on home remodel and design rather than “a la carte retail,” but will mirror the Englewood location by keeping a staff of full-time designers onsite.

“The idea is that the new space is going to really focus on design and relationships with designers,” Ardrey said. “We’re not going to have walls of faucets. It’s going to have a more working display focus — a little higher-end.”

Ardrey hopes the new, centralized location will attract clients who may not want to drive to Englewood.

“As it stands, our clients are all over, but Denver clients don’t really like to leave Denver,” he said. “This is a higher-visibility area; closer to downtown, but still accessible.”

Original Article

Considering investing in self storage? Here’s what to think about before jumping in

By | real-estate-investing-101

Self storage is much more than rows of boxes with orange garage doors. As an asset class, storage has delivered stable cash flow and has been demonstrably resistant to economic downturns. During the beginning of the recession in 2008, self storage out-performed residential, industrial, and retail, and is the only strategy of the four that delivered positive annual returns. 10 years later, in the midst of a booming real estate market, investors are challenged to find arbitrage in any asset class as yields are compressed and new equity continues to enter the marketplace. With cap rates on residential and retail at historic lows, many investors are considering self storage as an opportunity to get better returns on their money, but also limit downside as the chance of a market correction continues to increase. But, like any investment strategy, self storage comes with risk – as you consider investing in storage, what should you be looking for?

Supply Ratios

Regardless of a submarket’s household income and wage growth, a given trade area can only support so much self storage. When initially making a purchase decision, the supply of self storage square feet per capita should be one of the first data points you consider. Nationally, there is approximately 7 square feet of storage per person – and while national data is important, the supply ratios in a 1, 3, and 5 mile trade radius from the subject property are much more meaningful. In general, a submarket with 5 square feet per capita is considered under-supplied, 6-9 square feet per capita is well balanced, and anything over 10 square feet per capita would be considerably oversupplied. It is critical to understand the relationship between population density and overall square footage of self storage available in a given target market as part of your valuation process.

Risk of New Development

After getting a handle on the existing supply in a given target market, understanding the risk and likelihood of new supply being built will help you evaluate whether the risk is worth the reward. If your target market has a relatively low population but also low supply, your supply ratios may look very favorable. However, maybe you weren’t aware that Public Storage is about to break ground on a 100,000 SF bomber a few blocks away from the facility you just purchased. Depending on the size of the market, this could double your supply ratio, or even worse, which will drive your rates down and drive vacancy up. Research can avoid major problems like this, and at a minimum help you make a more informed investment decision. Perhaps there are a few new projects in the pipeline, but they are miles away from your facility, and the zoning surrounding your location prohibits any new self storage development. Ask other operators in the marketplace if they have heard of any new facilities getting built, and visit the local building department to determine if any recent submittals have been made for projects that will directly compete with your facility.

Property Tax Increases

Like most commercial real estate, the value of a self storage facility is calculated using a multiple on the net income stream – gross revenue less expenses – that the property produces. On the expense side, annual property taxes can be a large percentage of the overall annual expense load on a typical self storage project. Oftentimes existing self storage facilities were built by the original owners and have not traded hands for decades, and the property taxes might be artificially low. In many cases, we have passed on properties that may look like an excellent investment on paper, but are likely to experience a doubling or even tripling of property taxes within a few years. Forecasting the likely increase in property taxes that a facility will see as result of a post-sale reassessment will help you to better analyze whether the increase in expenses will still yield an acceptable income stream.

Opportunity Still Remains

While there are challenges in self storage investment, the stability of storage as an asset class make it an attractive investment strategy with meaningful upside and minimal downside. Analyzing existing supply, understanding the risk of new supply, and accurately forecasting potential property tax increases will help you make an informed decision as you consider whether investing in self storage makes sense for your long term wealth building plan.