Words by Sean O’Keefe
Photos by Michelle Meunier Photography
In development, everyone is looking for an advantage. What can be offered that no one else has and/or how can what everyone else has be offered in a way that is new, different and more appealing. On the whole, Denver has what few other cites do – year-round fantastic weather; immediate access to one of North America’s premier outdoor playgrounds; an easygoing vibe; a healthy love of dogs; and, on the grand scale of American cites, at least the remnants of affordability.
“Denver is a wonderful multifamily development market,” says Walter Armer, vice president of Broe Real Estate Group, developers of the new 32-story Country Club Towers II and III. “Even though there is some saturation right now with all the new construction, Denver will always have long-term upside as a delightful place that people want to live.” As, the name suggests, the new Country Club Towers II and III extend an existing property, an apartment community that that has long been a part of the North Washington Park neighborhood fabric.
Located south of First Avenue off Downing Street, the original Country Club Gardens apartments were built in 1942, a large collection of single-, two- and three-story brick buildings perched on a slight hill above the Denver Country Club’s golf course. In the 1940s, developers broke Denver’s traditional street grid with Country Club Gardens, which instead spans four full blocks east to west, forming a superblock. In the mid-80s, Broe removed a few buildings on the southwest corner and carefully inserted Country Club Tower I. The 26-story high-rise still offers commanding views of the Front Range to the west and south, downtown growing to the north, while over looking the golf course and Cherry Creek to the east.
“The vision for Towers II and III has been in Broe’s frame of reference for more than 20 years,” continues Armer, “but developing more than a million square feet of legacy asset in synch with the market requires special timing.” In total the two new structures, which share a podium base, will account for 558 new studio, one- and two-bedroom units accompanied by 985 parking stalls configured across the seven-level garage. Recognizing that the day-to-day benefits of living in Denver are equally leveraged by its competition, Broe’s development perspective on Country Club Towers II and III has been to offer new, different and more appealing in abundance.
“We started with the premise that high-rise living is really about the view,” says Armer. The towers are designed with a sawtooth exterior configuration that puts floor-to-ceiling bay windows in every home, doubling the view plane of middle units. Broe also developed an all-in amenities package that begins with the fitness center and outdoor pool, patio, lounge area high-rise renters expect. These are enhanced by a theater room, full demonstration kitchen, a party room and bar, all decidedly interested in facilitating resident socialization. Thinking beyond the human needs, the new and improved Country Club Gardens also will be deliberate in cultivating a dog-friendly atmosphere.
“Fifty percent or more of our current residents have dogs,” says Armer. “The mix of urban and residential, commercial and community in this area really lend themselves to pets and we’re going to celebrate that lifestyle.” Celebrate indeed, Broe is redeveloping one of the site’s existing three-story residential buildings as a genuine doggie palace, with complete boarding and day spa, doggie-dedicated retail, and concierge services for residents.
Today Towers II and III are rising from the site, while Tower I and most of the remaining Gardens buildings remain occupied. Swinerton Builders is at the helm in a construction manager/general contractor delivery with Chicago-based architects SCB leading design.
“From a design and constructability perspective, precisely planning the layout of the building’s floor plates according to the sawtooth pattern was critical,” shares Swinerton Senior Project Manager Sam Hosfelt. “We worked with the designers during preconstruction to figure out the right dimensions and continued to make modifications within the first few floors of construction to ensure we built what Broe envisioned.” The sawtooth floor plates also meant that the man lifts used on the project had to be inserted within the building’s core rather than routed along the exterior since the lift wouldn’t be able to scale the towers’ jagged edges.
Logistically, there have been some minor neighborhood challenges. The perception of a 32-story high-rise being intrusive among three- and four-story apartment buildings and the neighborhood’s famous single-family bungalows had to be overcome. As developers know, enhancing the neighborhood is the simplest way to quell discontent. On Country Club Towers II and III, a big part of the community give will be in alleviating some of the area’s parking congestion. The new parking garage holds nearly a thousand vehicles and, combined with the parking in Tower I, it will account for the entire Country Club Gardens superblock’s parking needs. For construction, Swinerton has parked upward of 800 people working on the project each day off-site and shuttled workers in to reduce neighborhood traffic and parking space competition. They have also used the seven-floor garage as lay-down, staging and workshop space to great benefit during construction. Broe’s efforts to minimize the impact to local residents included working with the city of Denver to have a new traffic signal installed at the intersection of East Bayaud and Downing, which had long been difficult in many directions.
“There is a lot of multifamily being built, but Country Club Towers II and III are utterly unique,” says Armer. “It’s a million square feet of high-end apartments that is five minutes from everywhere and has panoramic views from every unit. It’s a high-density property integrated into a low-density neighborhood without being a disruption.”
“The development of Country Club Towers II and III in Denver is a step forward in Broe’s commitment to both the Denver market as well as to the overall growth of our multifamily portfolio,” says Walter Armer, vice president of development for Broe Real Estate Group. “While we see some potential for market turbulence in the near term due to oversupply, we believe that Denver is well positioned over the long term for strength in the multifamily space, especially for thoughtfully designed projects.”
Armer is responsible for all property development activities and also oversees asset management of the multifamily portfolio.
Headquartered in Denver, Broe Group currently has some $40 billion in assets configured in five lines of business across 28 states. The multibillion-dollar portfolio includes real estate, transportation, energy, and investment assets managed by a team of more than 1,000 Broe employees all committed to long-term value and sustainable growth.
Over more than four decades of success across Colorado, Broe has had leadership roles in the development of such notable landmarks as The Tabor Center, Denver Union Station, 1700 Broadway and a large land assemblage in West Vail today knows as Eagle Vail.