Construction on 1919 Mile High Apartments Continues, Adapts to our Current Environment

The fourth-floor clubroom opens onto an amenity deck with an outdoor kitchen and grilling area, a lap pool and a hot tub.

BUILDING DIALOGUE

In the shadow of Empower Field at Mile High, where the urban core of downtown Denver meets the residential neighborhood of Jefferson Park, we’re building 1919 Mile High Apartments, a highly amenitized, 277-unit luxury building.

Dustin Slack
Vice President, Real Estate Development, Opus

Denver’s population is growing, especially downtown and in the surrounding neighborhoods, and the Jefferson Park neighborhood northwest of downtown is undergoing a transformation. It’s emerging with young families, walkability, grocers, great access to the downtown core and excellent multimodal transportation options.

1919 Mile High Apartments will offer studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units and top-of-the-market amenities, including two clubrooms; a two-level fitness center with outdoor access, a yoga studio, free weights and CrossFit options; a golf simulator and game room; and work-from-home stations. The 12th-floor clubroom will offer views of the mountains, downtown Denver and Mile High Stadium, and the fourth-floor clubroom will open to an outdoor deck with a kitchen and grilling area, a lap pool and a hot tub. The pool will be south facing to maximize sun exposure, allowing residents to really soak up some Vitamin D.

We began construction in March, just as the pandemic shut down most workplaces and many began working from home. At the time, we were anticipating a short-term event, not a prolonged lifestyle change. We know the pandemic is altering the nature of living. While we don’t yet know the full impact of the pandemic on living environments, we continue to very closely monitor and consider those impacts. We are closely tracking the quickly evolving technology platforms to allow a more touch free environment. We’re also focused on meeting requirements to achieve Fitwel certification as a healthy building.

We do know the pandemic hasn’t eliminated the desire and need for community and access to comfortable amenities. We’re approaching those in a safe, thoughtful manner. As COVID- 19’s impact to our daily lives extended from weeks to months, our design team began looking at the building’s amenities through a new filter: How do we balance our residents’ natural desire to want to gather with the current need to social distance?

“During the amenity space design phase, our goal was to find a theme for the building that addressed the safety and welfare of residents during COVID-19 but also a style that would be relevant once the pandemic is behind us,” said Laura Waller, CID, project interior designer for Opus. “Our primary focus has been to make the amenity spaces feel like an extension of each resident’s home with a larger variety of settings for them to use beyond their individual residence.

“Instead of focusing heavily on large communal spaces, we have incorporated individual work zones and offices in an effort to provide alternatives for residents who will be working from home,” Waller continued. “We also created smaller, more intimate gathering spaces like two-top tables in our clubrooms and lobbies so more people can use the rooms simultaneously while being able to maintain their distance.”

While the unit plans were locked in when construction started, we are now considering how working from home will change how residents use and furnish their living space. How important are home offices? Will residents want a desk in the bedroom or do they desire a two-bedroom unit that becomes a one-bedroom plus office? As we begin leasing late next year and begin meeting potential residents, these considerations will be top of mind, and it will be interesting to see the impact COVID-19 has on the way people live into the future.

Denver always has been a hotspot for outdoor activity. Outdoor amenities abound across Denver, and 1919 Mile High Apartments is well located to allow residents quick access to nearby outdoor amenities, enhancing and extending the building’s offerings. Residents will be able to hop on two wide, paved pathways to head north or into downtown, including the Platte River Trail to walk, run or bike as the 28-mile winding trail follows the river through the urban landscape; or visit Sloan’s Lake Park with its boating, fishing, picnic spots and stunning views of the Rocky Mountains.

Construction has proceeded with very little impact from COVID-19.

“As far as our construction process, subcontractor availability and supply channels, 1919 has fared very well,” said Jaymes Kralicek, senior project manager at Opus, who is leading construction management for 1919. “The only delays we’ve experienced so far have been those controlled by governmental agencies as reviewers, inspectors and utility providers are also adjusting to working from home. The coordination of complex design issues and questions is slower when multiple city departments must approve in a virtual environment. We understand the pandemic has been truly hard on city staffers who are the backbone of this process.

“With that understanding, we’ve maintained open lines of communication both as a team and with the city,” Kralicek continued. “We’ve also focused on our internal processes to be proactive with any city-related needs. This is one of the areas where our unique design-build model shines.”

Our fully integrated model with developers, designers and project managers working under one roof so to speak has been essential to keep this building on schedule while evolving to be successful in our current environment and plan for a post-pandemic environment. Our team’s cross-functional, ongoing coordination allowed us to start construction while the project’s design was still underway. We are completing the designs for components as we need them rather than baking the entire cake. This works especially well now when we are unsure of resident’s desires that are still two years in the future.

Published in the December 2020 issue of Building Dialogue.

Edited by Building Dialogue