"This is a keystone project for us because it's so visible," says Bryan Conway, project manager on 250 Columbine with general contractor PCL Construction Services Inc. When Canadian-based PCL, whose American headquarters is now in suburban Denver, opened its first U.S. office in 1975, it was in Cherry Creek.

Other projects under construction include a 53,000-sq-ft Restoration Hardware flagship store in the mall facing 1st Avenue. It will replace the mall's existing Restoration Hardware and create a stronger link between the mall and Cherry Creek North.

The Pauls Corp.—headed by legendary Denver developer Bill Pauls, former president of the Denver Tech Center office park—and its partners are building the 150,000-sq-ft, $60-million 100 Saint Paul office building, which includes retail space.

"There's a lack of Class A office space in Cherry Creek North, and we have a great location where 1st Avenue curves," says Matt Glenn, project manager for GE Johnson Construction, speaking about 100 Saint Paul. "We have great sight lines."

Just south of the Cherry Creek mall, Denver apartment developer Smith/Jones Partners LLC is building the 297-unit, eight-story Monroe Street Apartments with Swinerton Builders Inc.

Most projects under way are scheduled for completion in 2015.

Tight Sites

Zoning wasn't the only challenge faced by current construction projects. Because Cherry Creek North is already a dense area, most new projects are being built on tight sites, limiting contractors' ability to store materials nearby and requiring stringent scheduling of materials delivery.

"We're on a tight site and going up 12 stories on a heavily trafficked corner at 1st and Steele streets," says C.J. Harvey, project manager at Colorado's Haselden Construction LLC, which is building the Steele Creek apartments.

"At one point, we had 60 or 70 delivery trucks coming and going with no onsite staging or storage. We're having to do a lot of coordination," he says.

Finding enough skilled labor for these projects has been tough, particularly since many tradesmen left the construction business during the recent recession because they couldn't get work. Both PCL, with its 250 Columbine, and Haselden were at peak manpower in early December, with roughly 250 construction workers on the job.

The 100 Saint Paul office building is going up relatively smoothly, but its below-grade, three-story parking structure was another story. "The parking garage took us longer to build than the office building," says GE Johnson's Glenn. "There were contaminants from old gas stations that leaked petroleum, which we had to remove, and we had to dewater the site, which is below the water table." GE Johnson excavated 80,000 cu yd of dirt and placed 14,000 cu yd of concrete.

Contractors also have reached out to district businesses, residents and schools to lessen construction disruption as much as possible. PCL has a special neighborhood liaison that communicates with those groups about street closures and other issues.

"We're part of the community for our 18 months of construction," PCL's Conway says. "The Cherry Cricket restaurant next door to our project even has a 250 Columbine lunch special, and our guys make good use of it."