A Year in Review: Project Retrospectives and a New Frontier Ahead

As seen at Mile High CRE

By Celeste Tanner, co-founder and chief development officer at Confluent Development

2021 was a year like no other. On the heels of a global pandemic, communities and businesses encountered unprecedented challenges, but also unique opportunities. Against the odds, Denver’s real estate community was one that not only survived, but thrived in many ways.

While Denver was already a beneficiary of population redistribution from both residents and businesses prior to COVID, this trend only accelerated during and post-pandemic with no signs of stopping. The city quickly became an emerging region to watch, as it steadily evolved into a top-tier market, one that attracted millennials, young professionals and families who decided to migrate out of large metro areas and highly populated cities in search of space, and a new way of life.

Developers have had their eyes on this trend well before the pandemic surge of new residents, and now, there is no better time to invest in Denver. There is a significantly increased level of activity and institutional focus in the market. Planting a flag across the full spectrum of asset classes in this region will ensure this incoming demand is met with the most relevant opportunities.

With a focus on our diverse offerings, Confluent Development has demonstrated a broad-base commitment to this city and surrounding communities. As we take a look back at this year, we’re reflecting on our milestones and looking forward to the vision for Denver in 2022.

Investing in Office

It was near impossible to predict what the future of work would look like beyond our home offices and Zoom meetings. However, two core tenets of our professional lives would remain the same and have arguably become more important than ever: collaboration and community.

Our partners at Vectra Bank shared this vision, and together we celebrated a new year and the groundbreaking of Vectra Bank’s new corporate center at I-25 and Belleview Station. The three-year multi-million-dollar project represented a significant real estate commitment and investment during an uncertain time. The Vectra Corporate Center’s architecturally distinctive design will offer expansive views, the latest in energy-efficiency, sustainability and green construction, collaborative spacing for employees, state-of-the-art technology and the utmost attention to health, wellness, safety, accessibility and security.

Interest in Industrial Remained Strong and Steady

As Denver continues to attract out-of-state businesses, the demand for industrial property is projected to continue to support this trajectory. The city has multiple undeveloped parcels of land and empty buildings that are well-positioned to become redevelopment or infill opportunities to allow for more concentrated product types that are accessible and surrounded by a strong employee base within the downtown core.

One of our industrial projects with Invesco Real Estate, Central Park Business Center, will accomplish just that. Located at the intersection of I-70 and Central Park Boulevard, the 243,950-square-foot infill industrial campus features Class-A buildings with highway frontage and easy access for customers and employees, a rare find in Denver. The site’s visibility has the potential to drive sales growth for future tenants, while its central location will optimize product distribution and attract a single large user or multiple mid-size tenants.

Introducing a Whole Health Standard in Senior Living

Across the senior living industry, many projects were delayed or stopped altogether during the pandemic. Before the pandemic, our team, alongside MorningStar Senior Living, drew up plans for a new concept for senior living: The Whole Health Standard. This comprehensive, holistic design incorporates the latest protections for residents’ physical health while advancing features essential to mental health. The concept was seamlessly deployed in new properties and retrofitted into existing ones.

The first project to be intentionally designed based on The Whole Health Standard is MorningStar at Observatory Park, located in Denver’s historic Observatory Park neighborhood. Planned for completion by summer 2022, MorningStar at Observatory Park will offer 81 licensed units for assisted living and memory care that will incorporate the latest in healthy building technologies while enhancing resident comfort and quality of life.

This one-of-a-kind design adheres to health and safety protocols, while maintaining a sense of home, hospitality, community, joy and wellness for its residents. While challenges aren’t always predictable, this standard helps ensure safety measures for existing, current and future health challenges to come. This groundbreaking milestone is a testament to the quality of the community, but also to our collective team’s strong, proven track record, commitment to collaboration and mutual trust.

Mixed-Use is Gaining Momentum

Denver’s population continues to increase with incoming new residents relocating from high-cost markets to Colorado to find more value for their money with larger homes, yards and outdoor activities. This lifestyle change has prompted a need for well-rounded areas that provide resources and entertainment options for both affordable and sophisticated lifestyles.

The Exchange at Boulevard One mixed-use redevelopment has shown meaningful momentum amid the pandemic, with leasing activity remaining strong as the project is now nearly fully leased to a healthy mix of retail, fitness, restaurant and health services tenants. Together with our project partners at Kelmore Development, we notably welcomed two anchor tenants, Target and Clark’s Market.

In October, we celebrated the grand opening of the small format Target store with our project partners. For the past 20 months, our team remained focused and diligent, working through a rapidly changing marketplace to make sure the anchor tenant met the completion targets and could open in time for the holiday season to support this vibrant neighborhood. In 2022 and beyond, we anticipate this customized project will seamlessly become an integral part of the fabric of Denver’s Lowry community, continuing to cater to the preferences and needs of its residents.

A Glimpse into 2022

As we wrap another year, we’ve tapped into a new asset class to ensure our offerings remain diverse for every user. In December 2021, Confluent began the expansion of our multifamily offerings. In Platt Park, Carraway on Penn introduces a 42-unit, boutique-style apartment community to help accommodate the incoming demand for housing in Denver among millennials and Gen Z looking for high-end, sophisticated apartment.

Having completed more than eight million square feet of development totaling $1 billion in Colorado alone, we’re proud to say our team has quickly become a premier developer in the state. Active across various asset classes, Confluent Development has emerged stronger than ever and we look forward to a promising 2022 ahead.

Celeste Tanner is the co-founder and chief development officer of Confluent Development. Bringing nearly 20 years of industry experience, she established a full-service real estate investment and development firm to bring a new vision of development within the industry to life. In her role, she steers the firm’s execution across all phases of real estate development, successfully delivering custom and complex projects that create significant value in their respective communities. Since the company’s inception in 2014, Celeste has overseen more than $1.5 billion in development projects across the organization’s diverse portfolio, consisting of more than 100 industrial, office, retail, mixed-use and senior housing development projects.