Construction Watch

Steam on the Platte, Future Tech and Creative Business Hub, Breaks Ground

By next summer, two abandoned buildings on the banks of the South Platte River will be converted into office space for tech companies, creative businesses and a restaurant.

A 65,000-square-foot warehouse — the largest brick-and-timber structure available for redevelopment in the city — will be transformed into the office space for tech companies and creative businesses, and a 6,000-square-foot former gas station with a bowstring roof will be converted into restaurant space. NIMBL, a technology consulting firm, has signed on as the anchor tenant for the warehouse building.

“We prefer to spend our time preserving our past,” says Susan Powers, president of Urban Ventures, the company redeveloping the space.

The other buildings on the 3.2-acre Steam on the Platte site, at 1401 Zuni Street, will be demolished to make way for more office space and residential buildings.

“Steam is going to be one of the crowning jewels of the Platte Valley redevelopment area,” Mayor Michael Hancock said at the groundbreaking. “It’s the gateway to Sun Valley.”

An avid cyclist, Powers discovered the site was for sale when a detour from the South Platte River Trail took her by it. Steam on the Platte is within walking distance of the Auraria campus and the Broncos’ stadium. It’s also at the intersection of the Lakewood Gulch and Platte River bike trails, and a short walk to two light-rail stations, at Decatur-Federal and West Auraria. Interstate 25 is easy to get to, and it’s just two miles from the Interstate 70 interchange.

The building’s bricks have been cleaned using a process called soda blasting, a much milder process than sandblasting, as have the 100-year-old wooden beams. The project recently received a building permit and broke ground on November 4.

“It’s the best starting point we’ve ever had,” says Mike Moore, founding principal of tres birds workshop, which is designing the building.

Originally settled by Russian Jewish immigrants in the 1880s, the site once had 25 homes and several businesses on it. It boasted the Johnson and Bremer Soap Factory and a rag-bailing facility operated by Rabbi Manny Feder, who was the uncle of Denver real-estate developer Evan Makovsky. Dorit Makovsky Fischer, Makovsky’s daughter, and Hayden Hirschfeld are handling leasing for the property.

Urban Ventures and White Construction Group formed a partnership to acquire the property in 2014 from the estate of the late Englewood-based real-estate agent Arvin Weiss, who in 2008 was sentenced to seven years in federal prison after being convicted of fraud and witness tampering in a scheme to cheat mortgage companies that funded federally insured home loans. After being diagnosed with cancer, Weiss was released from prison in 2013. When he died, Urban Ventures and White Construction bought the property from his estate. When they purchased the site, there were two illegal marijuana grows operating, and the Evil Souls motorcycle gang had taken over one of the buildings as its clubhouse.

Project: Steam on the Platte
Address: 1401 Zuni Street
Developer: Urban Ventures

This is the third in a series of stories about building projects around town. Read more about development in Denver on our Construction Watch page.
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