World Trade Center Denver president Karen Gerwitz likes to say the group’s new River North campus won’t be “your grandfather’s World Trade Center.”
What it will be is now coming into focus.
Construction is still more than a year away, but the development team this week will start meeting with prospective tenants and stakeholders to share its globally minded vision and increasingly concrete plans for the project.
“This is going to be the most diverse ecosystem in Denver but with one singular focus and that focus is global connectivity,” Gerwitz said. “It’s going to be very global, very diverse but uniquely Denver, too.”
The day-night campus could also house 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurants with a global focus, on-site parking and a public plaza that could host international movie nights, festivals and other events.
Construction could begin in the fourth quarter of 2017, with the first 1.5 acres of the campus, at 38th and Walnuts streets near the new train station, opening in the fourth quarter of 2019. Several more acres are available for future expansion. Cushman & Wakefield and Newmark Grubb Knight Frank are handling the leasing.
“We want our best and most talented global-minded businesses and entrepreneurs,” said developer Sean Campbell, whose past work includes Industry at 3001 Brighton Blvd. “The idea is from top to bottom, you’ll get a global flair from small and emerging born-global companies to multi-nationals and really strong Colorado-based companies that are doing or growing their global footprint.”
WTC Denver moved out of its longtime downtown Denver home in 2015 in part because of limited space to host events and to bring in other trade-focused groups. Earlier this year, the group announced it had chosen the red-hot River North Art District for its new campus, joining forces with Campbell and Andrew Feinstein, a co-managing partner of the EXDO Event Center and an owner of some of the land proposed for the campus development.
Campbell said he will begin meeting in earnest with interested capital partners in the coming weeks and months to put the financing together.
The new campus will allow WTC Denver to expand from about 100 events a year to daily programming in conjunction with its partners in residence, Gerwitz said.
“If you have a global mindset and you’re in Denver, this is the place you’ll want to be,” she said. “It’s very much a global community, a hub, a magnet for global business and global business engagement. It will be a welcome center for international visitors where they can get off the plane, jump on the train and stop here, one stop before Union Station, and check in with our concierge desk, get some assistance and connections to the local business community, attend their conference here and stay on site at our business-friendly hotel.”
Campbell said they spent a lot of time thinking not only about what kind of offices people will want in 2019 but also in 2030 and 2040. OZ Architecture is leading the design process for the campus.
“If we do our jobs well, this will be essentially turned back over to our global business community as a resource, as a beacon, as a platform for everybody to succeed,” Campbell said.
Even as technology advances, having that physical space where “collisions in the hallway” can happen remains important in the world of global business, Gerwitz said.
“People think I can connect on the internet and find partners, but to be honest, global business is so different than doing business domestically. It’s all about building relationships and it’s all about knowing those connections,” Gerwitz said. “You might bump into someone who says, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve done business in Indonesia. I’ve got a distributor there already. Why don’t you contact them?’ That’s typically how international business works.”
“Denver’s new World Trade Center campus in RiNo could cost $175 million to $200 million — for just the first phase” Denver Post, 19 Sept. 2016, https://www.denverpost.com/2016/09/19/world-trade-center-denver-new-rino-campus/