Two commercial buildings, two Fortune 500 company headquarters.
That’s the scorecard so far for Belleview Station, a 51-acre, mixed-use project coming out of the ground around the Belleview Station light rail stop in south Denver. With its walkable, urban design, collection of hip restaurants and Denver mailing address, veterans of the south metro real estate market are projecting that Western Union and Newmont Mining won’t be the last big fish the project reels in as it grows.
Western Union is settling into seven and a half floors of the One Belleview Station building, 7001 E. Belleview, after leaving a nearby Douglas County business park earlier this year. But Newmont was the toast of the master-planned neighborhood Thursday as company officials, development partners, real estate brokers and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock gathered to celebrate work getting underway on the 15-story office tower that it is set to move into in 2020.
Like Western Union, Newmont isn’t traveling far. Corporate HQ today is in the Palazzo Verdi building in Greenwood Village, 2.5 miles south of Belleview Station. But the forthcoming building, named 6900 Layton, offers things its 10-year-old Greenwood Village counterpart doesn’t.
“It gave us a chance to move to a new building and remodel without having to do that in place,” Newmont executive vice president Bill MacGowan said at Thursday’s event. “Really cool amenities and a great site. (Being in) the city of Denver was really important to us as well.”
Newmont, the country’s top gold producer, will move 400 to 500 employees into four floors of 6900 Layton, MacGowan said, with an option to take on a fifth. About 60 percent of building has yet to be claimed but interested companies are lining up, according to the leasing team with Cushman & Wakefield. Cushman & Wakefield previously brought Western Union to One Belleview Station.
“We are seeing strong interest in the remaining top five floors of 6900 Layton as a result of the incredible amenity package, prominent building signage available and the urban-suburban community at Belleview Station,” Cushman & Wakefield managing director Ryan Stout said in a release.
The building — for now a large hole in the ground at the southeast corner of Layton Avenue and South Newport Street — is being developed by Prime West Cos. Prime West developed, sold and keeps an office in One Belleview Station. The 380,000-square-foot Layton building, being backed financially by Switzerland-based Partners Group and built by the Weitz Co., will have plenty of attractive features inside: column-free floor plates, a fitness facility with yoga room, bike storage and a west-facing outdoor terrace.
But it might be what’s outside that counts most for the workers who report there.
Gradually developing since 2012 under the guidance of family-owned property owner Front Range Land and Development, Belleview Station is home to nearly 700 apartments and 80,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space today, with a half-dozen more development sites in waiting. The office buildings and future office sites are grouped on the east side to provide walking-distance access to light rail. Leasing agents brought in trendy businesses like Troy Guard taco joint Los Chingones, conveyor-belt sushi stop Sushi-Rama and Denver-born Corvus Coffee Roasters.
“The vision for this community has come to fruition thanks to the careful curation of retailers, multi-family and office partners by Front Range Land and Development and we look forward to being a part of the continuing growth at Belleview Station,” Prime West president and CEO Jim Neenan said in a news release.
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That style of development — urbanization of the suburbs, as many real estate conferences refer to it these days — is a selling point for employees, said Ryan Link, a senior vice president with real estate services firm CBRE. With Colorado’s unemployment rate below 3 percent, it can provide an edge when it comes to hiring.
“Companies and clients of ours are using their real estate to recruit and retain employees,” Link said. “I believe a lot of the excitement around (Belleview Station) is it is creating a very mini downtown.”
Greenwood Village last year considered amending the city comprehensive plan to clear the way for more dense mixed-use development on a 44-acre site around its Orchard Station light rail stop, but city voters rejected that proposal largely because they didn’t want urbanization.
There are other factors that make Belleview Station a draw, said Frederic de Loizaga, Link’s partner in the southeast metro market for CBRE. CBRE is not involved with the leasing at 6900 Layton.
The project is new, providing higher-quality options than much of the existing office space in the Denver Tech Center/South Metro area, de Loizaga said. South metro rents remain $10 to $15 cheaper per square foot on average than in buildings downtown. Then there is that Denver mailing address — something Western Union, a company that advertises on the Denver Nuggets’ jerseys, has made it clear it values.
Will more big-name businesses move out of office parks and into Belleview Station and other denser, urban-style developments like it in the future?
“The quick answer is yes,” de Loizaga said, “you’ll see more of it.”
Updated Oct. 12, 2018, at 2:53 p.m. This story has been updated to include more information from the developer and leasing team for 6900 Layton.