Twenty-five years after the Rockies’ debut at Coors Field, an 860,000-sq-ft mixed-use project is taking shape on one of the last undeveloped parcels on the edge of Denver’s historic Lower Downtown (LoDo).
Owned by the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club, McGregor Square features office, hospitality and residential towers, two stories of underground parking and 70,000 sq ft of retail and integrated outdoor spaces intended to provide the neighborhood’s missing link—a year-round gathering place. The development is named for Keli McGregor, former Rockies president, who died unexpectedly in 2010.
The $250-million project is being built by Hensel Phelps on several former parking lots adjacent to Coors Field. Designed by Stantec, work is targeted for completion in January 2021.
The development is punctuated by three red brick and glass buildings designed to relate to the context of the existing lower downtown neighborhood. The 13-story residential tower will house more than 100 residences, ranging from 450-sq-ft studios to 6,000-sq-ft penthouses.
A rooftop patio, hot tub and year-round heated pool will offer bird’s eye views of the Front Range. A skybridge connects the residential tower to a 174-room luxury hotel with a shared workout space for both buildings.
“We were thrilled to jump into this one; it was rather unique from the beginning,” says John Yonushewski, senior principal at Stantec and the lead architect. He says the design team first asked, “‘What is missing to make this neighborhood whole?’” Their answer: open space. Even as LoDo has evolved to become a hub of retail and commercial activity, the neighborhood lacks a space for events and areas where people can gather.
To address this, McGregor Square will contain several outdoor areas, including a 25,000-sq-ft promenade along Wynkoop Street—lined with restaurants, a food hall and retail outlets—that links directly to the ballpark. The centerpiece of the design is a 25,000-sq-ft public plaza tucked into open space between the towers. It will feature a giant multimedia screen and a grass berm for concerts, movies and festivals.
“The story here is the space between the buildings,” Yonushewski says.
Hensel Phelps was brought on board in January 2018 and spent the next nine months working on preconstruction, planning and trade partner procurement. The team broke ground in October 2018, with the hotel and residential towers topping out at the end of January. The last concrete slab for the office tower was placed at the end of March.
“The project is at a very exciting time right now; everything on site is changing daily,” says Allyson Gutierrez, the Rockies’ senior director of engineering and facilities. Exterior brick and glass installation are underway, interior elements are taking shape and sitework along the Wynkoop walkway is creating a buzz for passersby, she says.
Hensel Phelps approached work on McGregor Square as four individual projects, with three separate project teams working at the site. “Given that there are four distinctive portions to the project being constructed concurrently—garage and sitework, hotel, residential and office towers—it made sense to approach each portion as a separate project from a management standpoint,” says Hensel Phelps operations manager Kurt Seeman.
Teams overseeing each of the components have their own superintendents, project engineers and office and field engineers. The towers themselves are each equipped with tower cranes and people and materials hoists. Specialty trades also were divided into four segments, with three different contractors. Two drywall firms were hired—one for the hotel and residential tower, the other for the office tower. Glazing, ceramic tile and millwork contractors also are unique to each project.
“This [system] made sense from an economic standpoint as well as in terms of materials and labor,” Seeman says. “The most important thing was to diversify the companies on the project to keep ourselves out of a situation where we would have manpower issues, and it [enabled us] to pull resources from one tower to another tower if necessary.”
“Stantec, Hensel Phelps and the development team have been working together for almost three years in a very collaborative environment,” Gutierrez says. “We brought on Hensel Phelps to get the coordination going early, which has created a seamless design and construction process.”
The tight downtown jobsite is bordered by three streets and located on a major thoroughfare near a busy flyover ramp. The Rockies made a concerted effort to reach out to their neighbors early on, and the team has kept that communication going throughout the project with monthly newsletters, posted signage and updates on street closures and other impacts.
Hensel Phelps also has worked around the Rockies’ schedule to keep construction progressing without disrupting ball games or onsite work. “With any downtown project, laydown and deliveries are always challenging,” Seeman says. “Given that we essentially have four projects going on at one time, [that takes] it to another level.”
Then on March 24, just as spring began to make an appearance and everyone was gearing up for opening day of the baseball season, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issued a stay-at-home directive for the city in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gutierrez says the project is complying with all city and state notices and CDC guidelines, with personnel disinfecting surfaces every hour of the day and workers abiding by the 6-ft distancing rule.
“Even while working remotely, it is going smoothly. This speaks to the resilience of our team that everyone is able to still be collaborative,” Gutierrez says. “Everyone from the architects and engineers working from home, to the contractors on site, are working through it the best they can. It’s a little bump in the road, but it ultimately will bring our community together.”
When it’s complete next year, designers hope McGregor Square will bring people downtown to enjoy all the neighborhoods that have been created since Coors Field opened, Gutierrez says. “From River Front to RiNo, it’s amazing how all the city is coming together to enjoy these spaces, and we’re glad to be a part of that.”
Dick Monfort, Colorado Rockies owner/chairman and CEO, adds: “McGregor Square not only extends the legacy of Keli, our beloved friend and leader of the Rockies’ organization. It is also an ideal extension of Coors Field, providing an exciting place to congregate year-round, with something for everyone.”