The megaprojects are back.
Visionary transportation and public-safety initiatives, usually led by public-private partnerships and multiple joint ventures—projects like the terminal replacement at the Salt Lake airport and Utah’s new state prison, which have invigorated the construction scene in Utah for the past few years—have reemerged in Colorado as well.
A $230-million hospital project in south Denver led our ranking of 2017 regional project starts. It wouldn’t even have cracked the top five this year.
The current list, which ranks project starts from calendar year 2018, is dominated by two massive projects underway at Denver International Airport, a $1.5-billion gate expansion on three different concourses and a $650-million renovation of the airport’s iconic, tented terminal. The latter is an ambitious P3 enterprise that will transform how DIA travelers navigate airport security and utilize airport amenities.
Those projects, along with the airport’s meteoric growth and other innovative programs, have earned DIA a nod from ENR editors as the Owner of the Year for Colorado, Wyoming and the Dakotas (see related story, p. 15).
Highway and bridge work in Utah and Colorado also top the current rankings. The Colorado Dept. of Transportation has launched one of its most complex projects in more than a decade, the $1.2-billion overhaul and expansion of Interstate 70 through east Denver, known as Central 70. Undertaken by CDOT as a P3 enterprise led by Kiewit-Meridiam Partners, the project will reconstruct a 10-mile stretch of I-70, add an express lane in each direction, remove a 55-year-old viaduct, lower the interstate between Brighton and Colorado boulevards and place a four-acre park over a portion of the lowered interstate. The controversial project, which overcame delays and lawsuits from environmentalists and neighborhood activists seeking an alternative route for the freeway, finally started work in August.
CDOT’s aggressive work schedule also includes the $350-million I-25 South Gap project, which widens 18 miles of I-25 from two to three lanes between Monument and Castle Rock. It widens shoulders, rebuilds bridges, creates new wildlife crossings, resurfaces the roadway and adds technology upgrades. The $300-million I-25 North Express Lanes project is constructing toll lanes to help alleviate freeway congestion near Fort Collins in Weld and Larimer counties.
The Utah Dept. of Transportation continues to expand multiple sections of I-15 near Salt Lake City to help manage the area’s explosive growth. That includes $300 million in improvements to the I-15 Technology Corridor and $136 million for widening I-15 in Salt Lake County by adding a new southbound lane from 2100 South to 12300 South and redesigning the southbound ramps at the I-15/I-215 south interchange to improve traffic flow.
UDOT also is investing heavily in new technology, including better transit-monitoring systems and road testing of autonomous vehicles, to help improve the lives of Utah commuters. For its solid management of ongoing projects and innovative technology, ENR editors have named the agency as the Intermountain Owner of the Year (see related story, p. 19).
Healthy Market Sectors
The other top spots in this year’s ranking of new projects represent a healthy mix of public and private work across a broad spectrum of markets, including health care, higher education, multifamily, recreation, entertainment and office towers and mixed-use buildings.
High-profile urban projects include the $250-million McGregor Square, an 860,000-sq-ft, mixed-use development for the Colorado Rockies baseball team just west of Coors Field in Denver. It consists of three towers (office, hospitality and residential), a two-story parking garage, retail space and an outdoor plaza.
The mixed-use 18th & Market tower in lower downtown Denver is a 524,000-sq-ft, 11-story urban-infill development that includes 282 luxury residential units, 9,375 sq ft of ground-floor retail and 304 parking stalls. Swinerton is constructing in Denver the $180-million, 1.1-million-sq-ft, core-and-shell office building called Block 162, which includes 12 floors of parking and 20 floors of Class A office space.
In Utah, Jacobsen is building the second phase of SoJo Station, a mixed-use, transit-oriented development in South Jordan. The project includes core-and-shell work for a Class A, six-story office building and a parking structure. Hensel Phelps is working on two large data centers for a confidential client in Cheyenne, Wyo.
New entertainment and cultural venues include Meow Wolf Denver; a new science, art and education center at the Denver Botanic Gardens; the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center in Taylorsville, Utah; and the Mission Ballroom in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood.