Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is banking on its new property in Denver’s theater district to buck the downward trend that many hotels around the country have fought during the recession.
Scheduled to open in October, the $350-million, 45-story Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences Denver, developed by 1111 Tower LLC, will add 240 hotel rooms to the city’s inventory, along with 102 for-sale residences. Residents are expected to take occupancy at the end of August.
The Toronto-based hotel operator will run the hotel and manage the residences. The hotel will be the chain’s first in Denver and the only five-star accommodations currently in the city.
“We’ve been through the worst of times for building this project and been able to avoid some of the pitfalls that other projects have faced,” says Chris Norton, 1111 Tower project director.
Construction of the combination hotel and residences began in September 2007, at the onset of the recession when many construction projects along the Front Range came to a halt. Developers had hoped to break ground on the project in 2005, but it took longer than expected to work out the financing and contract details.
The poor economic climate paid off. The project’s bottom line benefited from lower materials costs and the fact that the major trades and subcontractors had few, if any, other projects competing for their time.
“This job became that much more important to all of the trades because they didn’t have other jobs to run off to,” Norton says. “Years ago, everyone would have had to schedule this job around others, but this project was everyone’s top priority, and the work reflects that.”
The project put 38 subcontractors to work—most of them local. At the project’s peak, more than 550 workers were onsite.
Despite several design changes, Confluence Builders of Denver, the project management firm, kept the project on budget by working closely with the design team to resolve potential issues before construction began.
“We didn’t have to value-engineer as dramatically as we might have had to in the past,” says Tim Walsh, owner of Confluence Builders and its project director. “We were able to maintain the original design concept and finishes without sacrificing the budget.”
Materials and fixtures came from around the world.
“Tracking all the bits and pieces was certainly a good lesson in world geography,” says Dan Macintosh, project manager with general contractor Swinerton Inc. of Denver. “Coordinating the orders and deliveries definitely presented some unique challenges.”
In several cases, shipments were held up at customs, lost in transit or delayed by weather. Some materials had to be reordered because their condition did not meet the project’s standards.
Even with the repeated holdups, Swinerton managed to stay on schedule by working with subcontractors to resequence the project as issues arose. Swinerton relied on building information modeling to avoid conflicts and coordinate the mechanical design with major trades.
The general contractor also held regular meetings with residents and business owners near the downtown site at 14th and Arapahoe streets.
“A good working relationship with the adjacent owners was instrumental in keeping the fast-paced schedule,” Macintosh says. “Unfortunately, there is no quiet way to construct a building of this nature, but we tried to lessen the nuisance as much as possible.”
To minimize road closures and traffic disruptions, a central pumping system was put in place for the frequent concrete deliveries. More than 83,000 tons of concrete were used for the project.
International Design Team
Coordinating the design required some extra effort. Carney Burke Logan Architects (formerly Carney Architects), of Jackson, Wyo., led the project design, collaborating with Dallas-based HKS Inc. Consulting on the mechanical and electrical engineering design was Toronto-based Rybka, Smith and Ginsler Ltd., now part of the Ontario-based MMM Group.
“In today’s economy, it’s difficult to do projects of this nature and realize the level of quality necessary to meet the high standards of the hotel operator and the financial considerations of the developer,” says John Carney, principal, Carney Burke Logan Architects.
“At a time when other projects were falling apart, our team came together. There was a constant effort among everyone to tweak the design to make it work for all parties,” he says.
One of the key concessions came early on. The preliminary concept called for a 65-story building that integrated the adjacent Hotel Teatro. However, due to financing and contractual complications, the project was scaled back to a stand-alone, 45-story tower.
The hotel and condo project is the fourth tallest building in the city and the tallest cast-in-place building in the state.