Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (left) with Brookfield CEO Mitch Rudin, Troy Guard, David Sternberg of Brookfield and Tami Door of the Downtown Denver Partnership Inc. at the new Guard & Grace restaurant in the lobby of 1801 California.
The transformation of 1801 California, one of downtown Denver’s tallest towers, is almost complete.
Owner Brookfield Office Properties Inc. marked the occasion Wednesday with a midday reception featuring sneak peeks at Denver chef Troy Guard’s new downtown steakhouse Grace & Guard, speeches from CEO and President Mitch Rudin, art from Pat Steir and praise from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
“Brookfield looks at Denver as one of the great cities of the United States,” Rudin said. “We look at this as an extraordinary city, with a 24-hour live work play downtown, a fabulous work environment and a great building. It’s an opportunity for us to tell companies about a great location for corporate headquarters or other significant users. We’re just thrilled at this opportunity.”
Brookfield (NYSE: BPO), a subsidiary of Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc., paid $215 million for 1801 in December 2011.
It took over the master lease from CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), which bought Qwest Communications International, in April 2012. Brookfield also owns Republic Plaza, the city’s tallest skyscraper.
With the renovations all but complete, the building has experienced good leasing velocity in recent months, bringing the 1.3 million-square-foot building’s occupancy — which at one time was well below half-full — to about 60 percent.
“Thank you, Brookfield, for selecting Denver to make a sizable investment,” said Hancock, in front of the recently unveiled “Red River” painting by Pat Steir on the white Italian marble walls. “In the last 18 months, you’ve pumped about $50 million into our local economy and we can’t thank you enough.”
While meeting with Guard, Hancock talked about how the new steak house’s patio area facing 18th and California will “activate the corner.”
He also talked about how the city is partnering with Brookfield with its Arts Brookfield program. Brookfield describes it as bringing “exciting, world-class cultural experiences to hundreds of thousands of people for free each year in both indoor and outdoor public spaces” at 1801 and Republic Plaza.
The partnership includes Hancock, and with city and business leaders, touting 1801 as a prime opportunity when talking to companies looking to re-locate or expand downtown.
Brookfield’s David Sternberg, senior vice president of Brookfield’s Midwest and mountain regions, said when Brookfield first met with city officials to tell them of their plans to buy 1801 and renovate the 30-year-old building, Hancock went above and beyond to work with them.
“He gathered all the department heads in one room, said the buck stopped with him, and if there were any problems to call him,” Sternberg said. “That right there is why this city is flourishing, so thank you, Mayor Hancock.”
Rudin said after the event that when Brookfield was looking for cities to invest in, Denver rose to the top of the list.
“We weren’t necessarily looking for the best real estate play, but for cities that had a 24-hour environment, adequate housing, young people moving here, good public-private partnerships and empty nesters moving downtown,” Rudin said. “Denver had it all. In fact, in terms of vacancy rates downtown, Denver is ahead of Los Angeles.”
Denver Business Journal
Dennis Huspeni covers real estate and retail for the Denver Business Journal and writes for the “Real Deals” blog. Phone: 303-803-9232.