Denver’s World Trade Center will trade one commuter rail station for another.
The business organization, currently based downtown, had been planning a move to the RiNo section of Elyria Swansea — just across the street from the 38th and Blake RTD station — for the past four years. But construction delays at the 3800 Blake St. site and a better layout near the 41st and Fox RTD station prompted the nonprofit to fix its eyes on greener pastures.
There are no hard feelings between the would-be tenant and Formativ, the developer of the RiNo site, said Karen Gerwitz, president of World Trade Center Denver, which aims to connect local businesses with the global markets. But the office space remains unbuilt — the business group had expected to move in this year — and the new site at 4400 Fox St. in Globeville suits her vision for a lively, “international” campus, she said.
“We’re creating a legacy project for Denver and, you know, it’s time to start demonstrating Denver as a global city,” Gerwitz said. “And so we do that with a strong brand of the World Trade Center and a place-making opportunity around all things international.”
The new site of Denver’s trade center will take over the old Denver Post press in north Denver that has sat vacant for years. Tryba Architects has designed the 600,000 square-foot complex, which will reuse the 327,000 square-foot printing press building. It will anchor the 41-acre site owned by Fox Park, a local development group that plans to build homes, retail space, restaurants, a venue, a hotel, parks and plazas there in addition to the World Trade Center, which will hold offices and act as an incubator for businesses.
Aside from its highly visible location near the G-Line and smack in the middle of two highways, Gerwitz said she’s moving the organization to Globeville because the developer’s vision better aligns with hers. It will be more of a campus with more activity, she said.
“The Fox Park team has a very strong global viewpoint and experience and background,” Gerwitz said. “So they actually had very internationally themed renderings and uses of the site before they even met us. It’s actually just so much aligned. It’s amazing.”
José Carredano, who is originally from Mexico City but now lives in Denver, is heading the development. He said the area will become a “cultural center” influenced by his work around the world. He said he will “bring the angles of different cultures” to the site. There will be 14 acres of public space, including gardens maintained by Denver Botanic Gardens and a nursery that will grow trees for neighborhood residents.
The Globeville site is more shovel-ready than the RiNo site, and construction crews will likely break ground in the third or fourth quarter of this year. Gerwitz said she aims to move her organization to the space at the end of 2022.
The development could be funded with tax dollars.
Carredano is seeking tax increment financing, a tool that subsidizes the redevelopment of an area deemed “blighted” by the Denver City Council. Sales and property taxes raised by future development would be used to pay for the redevelopment, which will include public infrastructure, too — things like sidewalks, bikeways, roads and a stormwater system. Developers have applied to the Denver Urban Renewal Authority and are hoping for the city council’s approval later this year.
“It’s a vacant lot that has been a place that has seen a lot of blight, people breaking in, drug use,” Carredano said. “Nobody was taking care of it. Since we bought it we’ve been very thorough in getting rid of those things.”
Metro districts are also in place, Carredano said. The quasi-governmental taxing authorities pay for local infrastructure improvements and maintenance. They can give developers a lot of power and leave people with soaring tax bills, a Denver Post investigation found.
The 38th and Blake development is still moving forward in some form.
Formative is committed to the office project at 3800 Blake St., said Alison Nestel-Patt, director of marketing for the company, in an email. She would not elaborate on precisely what has caused delays but said the pandemic has something to do with it.
“At this time, we are focused on coming out of the pandemic and relaunching the project,” said Alison Nestel-Patt, director of marketing for Formativ, in an email. “We hope to have more to share in the coming months.”
Nestel-Patt said the company is “excited for the World Trade Center Denver organization and the announcement of their new home at Fox Park,” adding that the company understands that “delays due to the COVID pandemic created a timeline that does not align with the organization’s need for a more immediate home.”
Correction: This story was updated to reflect that the RTD stations mentioned are for commuter rail lines, not light rail. Those two things are not the same.