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Castle Rock thriving with new development

Riverwalk, which will break ground in January, will bring residential, office and retail/restaurant space to downtown Castle Rock.

Most people know Castle Rock isn’t the sleepy bedroom community it used to be, but many people attending a recent commercial real estate event were amazed to hear Economic Development Council President and CEO Frank Gray detail the level of development going on in the town.

Besides the 1 million-square-foot Promenade at Castle Rock underway along Interstate 25, the area around Castle Rock Adventist Hospital is teeming with construction activity, and Miller’s Landing, a more-than-$200 million mixed-use-development, is being proposed for 65 acres stretching from I-25 to the town’s Philip S. Miller Park.

In downtown Castle Rock alone, an estimated $100 million is being invested in three projects.

“Any one of those projects, we think, is a big deal for all of Castle Rock – and not just the downtown,” said Kevin Tilson, director of the Castle Rock Downtown Alliance, a partnership of the Downtown Development Authority and Downtown Merchants Association.

Castle Rock has skillfully invested in the right infrastructure and tools to ensure the community is successful for the long haul.”

“We’re excited about all the projects and progress Castle Rock is making as a stand-alone community in providing residents the opportunity to work and shop locally,” said Gray. “Castle Rock has skillfully invested in the right infrastructure and tools to ensure the community is successful for the long haul.”

The recently approved, $60 million Riverwalk is the first large-scale mixed-use project to be developed in downtown Castle Rock. It will include the first new residential units in a decade, helping create an amenity-rich environment for the young professionals primary employers are seeking.

“Bringing a residential component to downtown is certainly going to change the dynamic, the feel, the energy of downtown. It’s going to create new vibrancy in the downtown area,” said Matt Call of NavPoint Real Estate Group.

Developed by Confluence Cos., Riverwalk will consist of 228 apartments, 20,000 square feet of office and 10,000 sf of retail/restaurant space. Along with two neighboring mixed-use developments – Mercantile Commons and The Corner – and a $5 million enhancement of Festival Park, “I think you’re seeing a redefining of the heart of Castle Rock,” said Tony DeSimone, a principal with Confluence Cos.

Mercantile Commons, being developed by Monarch Development, is a four-story, 29,920-sf building with retail, restaurant, office and luxury residential space. The Corner, a Niebur Development project at 221 Wilcox St., will have 10,100 sf of ground-floor retail and restaurant space, 27,420 sf of Class A office/co-working space and 12 luxury residential units on the top floor.

Festival Park’s redesign will provide outdoor space where people can work and play.

Among other new projects in Castle Rock are:

  • The Move at Castle Rock, located at 202 Sixth St., a new 50,000-sf, solar-powered office building with flexible space, all but 18,630 sf of which is leased.
  • The Mirage Center, a new 18,000-sf office building with 6,000 sf remaining.
  • Limelight Healthcare Center, a 22,000-sf medical office building that is under construction next to the hospital.

In addition, Colorado State University, Arapahoe Community College and Douglas County School District are under contract on land near the hospital for a 54,000-sf collaborative campus with programs focused around health care, information technology, and business and entrepreneurship.

Miller’s Landing, located at I-25 and Plum Creek Parkway, is planned to include approximately 165,000 sf of hotel, 480,000 sf of office, 174,000 sf of retail, 24,000 sf of entertainment and 34,000 sf of food and beverage uses.

The development by P3 Advisors LLC would tie entertainment, and food and beverage uses to downtown via a trail connection under I-25 and provide opportunity for campus-type office users.

“That will really move the needle to create larger office user opportunities along the I-25 corridor,” said Call, who is marketing many of the new commercial developments in Castle Rock.

P3 Advisors Managing Director Scott Springer said the opportunity to assemble 65 acres at a major interchange on I-25 in Castle Rock – anywhere between Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, for that matter – was too good to pass up.

The project grew out of another one that P3 Advisors LLC is planning in a public-private venture with the town: SnowSports 365. SnowSports 365 is a $25 million year-round, synthetic-surface skiing and snow sports center that would be part of Philip S. Miller Park. It would attract upward of 200,000 people a year.

Springer said his company has become familiar with Castle Rock, and, “We believe in the market here.”

“I think the synergies with the existing, under construction and planned developments really add to the viability of our project and how it integrates with all the other developments,” he said.

Were it not for the town’s investment in the Plum Creek interchange and the new Philip S. Miller Park, which drew 1.5 million cars the first year is opened, “We wouldn’t be sitting here today,” said Springer, who said the EDC and town staff have been great partners.

They really, truly have a vision of where they want to go, and they’ve been active in attracting the right people to do it.”

“We do work in almost every municipality in the state, and I would say that of all the municipalities we work in, Castle Rock is the most progressive in attracting high-quality developers and developments,” said DeSimone of Confluence Cos. “They really, truly have a vision of where they want to go, and they’ve been active in attracting the right people to do it.”

“Town council has been careful to respect personal property rights, understand competitive market demand and balance the needs of the community,” said Gray of the Castle Rock EDC. “I believe that it is because of the thoughtful strategic planning and forward-thinking leadership that Castle Rock has become a place where businesses and residents want to be a part of a special, vibrant community.”

Much of the job growth in Castle Rock, said Tilson, has come from executives and entrepreneurs who live in Castle Rock and decided to start companies in town vs. commuting to the Denver Tech Center, for example.

Employers range from growing tech startups like Smarterchaos.com, a digital marketing company, and Robots & Pencils, which creates apps, to large employers like the hospital and mywedding.com, which has around 100 employees and continues to expand.

“I think the town is at a critical mass where it will start to attract some larger businesses once there is some land available for primary employers,” said Tracy Wilkes of CastleKeep Developments, the development manager for the future, 153-acre Castle Meadows. That already is beginning to happen, he said, adding, “With each step forward, it gets better.”

While residential development has led to demand for commercial growth, Wilkes believes there is increasing interest in land and development in Castle Rock due to build-out of Highlands Ranch and other Denver suburbs. “There’s only one place to go, and that’s straight down the highway,” he said. Plus, “Castle Rock is a pretty place, and it’s got a very good reputation for schools and sort of a small-town feel to it.”

Castle Meadows, located south of the proposed Miller’s Landing, is planned for a mix of residential uses, hotels, office buildings and other development. “We’re the next location for growth,” said Wilkes, adding the town has more than 3,000 acres south of Castle Meadows where future growth could occur. “Ours is a bulls-eye location. It’s right on the highway, it’s right on the ring road around Castle Rock, so access to it and from it is excellent,” he said.

While that development is still a way off, many others are underway or imminent.

Confluence Cos. will start construction of the first phase of Riverwalk in January.

DeSimone, a town resident, said he and his wife love downtown Castle Rock, but as a developer he always felt it needed more vibrancy. Residential, while “a little bit pioneering in that location,” is a critical component, he said, adding the EDC and Downtown Development Authority have attracted “the right developers” for a thriving downtown where people want to live, work and dine.

“We’re really optimistic on where Castle Rock is going,” he said.

Featured in CREJ’s Nov. 2-15, 2016, issue

Jill Jamieson-Nichols has been an Editor with the Colorado Real Estate Journal for more than 15 years, providing coverage of office, industrial, hospitality and mixed-use development news in the Denver metro area, plus all property types in Northern Colorado, Boulder County and along the Highway 36 corridor. Prior to joining CREJ, Jill was Editor of…