$250 million mixed-use development project slated for Denver’s Cole neighborhood

Denver residents might soon shop, sleep and work on a site in the Cole neighborhood where rock drilling equipment for the mining industry was manufactured.
3 min. read
Denver Rock Drill. (Courtesy of Saunders Development)

A rendering of the Denver Rock Drill project being developed in Denver's Cole neighborhood. (Courtesy of Saunders Development)

Denver residents might soon shop, sleep and work on a site in the Cole neighborhood where rock drilling equipment for the mining industry was once manufactured.

Saunders Development announced the $250 million Denver Rock Drill project Monday. The Colorado-based company expects to break ground for the project near East 39th Avenue and Franklin Street in early 2018, according to a news release from the company.

Saunders is working with the Weiss family, who own the site, to turn the former home of the Denver Rock Drill Manufacturing Co. to a spot for offices, retail stores, 180 residential units and a 175-room hotel. The project would feature a mix of old and new buildings.

In the 1920s, the site on 39th Avenue, between Franklin and High streets, housed a community of 600 Rock Drill employees. In 1927, Rock Drill merged with the Gardner Governor Co. to create Gardner Denver. The company stopped operating in Cole in the '8os but still exists today out of Milwaukee.

“There is a trend in some of the up-and-coming neighborhoods to build new but try to make it look historic,” said Trae Rigby, vice president of development for Saunders, in a statement. “Denver Rock Drill actually is historic, having fostered a Western spirit of openness and entrepreneurial innovation for more than 100 years.”

The current site of Denver Rock Drill. (Courtesy of Saunders Development)

In 1992, Byron Weiss acquired the former Rock Drill site for his warehouse supply company Porta Power Inc. In the late '90s, he added the 30-unit Lofts at Denver Rock Drill Works to the area.

In 2016, Weiss, along with his sons Andy and Brett Weiss, decided to seek a partner to embark on a major redevelopment of the 700,000-square-foot site. Weiss plans to relocate Porta Power and its roughly 15 employees to a site he owns in Commerce City, he said.

“I knew this property had enormous potential, both from a local perspective and from a cultural perspective, with its deep Denver history,” Byron Weiss said in a statement. “I knew early on there was going to be light rail coming into the area ... and I knew the neighborhood would eventually undergo major changes, although I don’t think I anticipated the pace of change would be so fast."

Denver Rock Drill is currently looking for the next lineup of companies that will one day call the site home.

A rendering of the future Denver Rock Drill site. (Courtesy of Saunders Development)

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at [email protected] or twitter.com/adriandgarcia.

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