Stanley is expected to open late summer 2016
After the April Front Porch was printed, Stanley extended their opening date to late summer 2016. (The April Front Porch announced a July 27 opening).
At the groundbreaking for Stanley Marketplace in October 2014, Mark Shaker, while introducing the project, said, “This is not a traditional development project. This is a movement. It’s about bringing like-minded businesses together who believe in more than the bottom line, about creating a sense of community, about tearing down fences and building bridges and about doing something very special.” This philosophy underlies the “Stanifesto,” the agreement Stanley makes with tenants, who are all independent local businesses—no chains or franchises.
The huge marketplace project at 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora has 140,000 square feet and encompasses 23 acres. The original developers, Flightline Ventures, realized that with a growing budget and 50 tenants coming in, they needed a partner with complementary skills. “We’ve brought it this far. We need to ensure success by having someone that fills our deficits.”
Flightline recently announced a 50-50 partnership with Westfield, a big, seemingly traditional investment/development/property management company. The Front Porch asked Flightline and Westfield how their partnership would impact the vision for Stanley Marketplace.
The Stanifesto is alive and well, says Mark Shaker, partner at Flightline. Both Shaker and Richard Wham, partner at Westfield say there is no change in the vision. “We have complementary skill sets,” says Wham. With their combined skills and resources the partners will carry out the original vision and make the project “the best it can be.” Shaker believes Westfield, among other strengths, brings the best possible property management and support for their tenants.
But it was the search for financing that really got Flightline tuned in to the need for a partner. The cost had doubled. The banks were reluctant to fund a non-traditional project that had no comparables. It’s not located on a major street that brings traffic. And the banks said the surrounding area is still five years away from changing to residential from the current industrial uses.
“And, who are we? A rag tag group of people putting on a pretty big project. There’s an execution risk. With that scale, for a bank to put their resources behind it, they wanted some comfort that we’d get to the finish line.”
By partnering with a group that had resources and expertise on even larger projects, “That’s how lenders got comfortable,” says Shaker.
Flightline sold three acres on the south side of the Stanley property to Westfield for development of about 150 apartments. Having Westfield able to come in and quickly start development addressed the need to have residential nearby, and soon, rather than just having industrial on two sides of the property, says Shaker.
Construction of the apartments will start by year’s end, says Wham—and they expect occupancy by the end of 2017. The apartments will be “on the efficient side, from a space perspective, but high design at an attainable price point.” It will be a three- or four-story building that won’t need a lot of amenities since tenants can walk over to Stanley Marketplace for coffee, fitness, meals, even a beer garden. Westfield has contracted with Boss Architecture, which designed the beer garden and event center at Stanley, to maintain consistency.
Although he expects the apartments will be popular with those in their 20s and 30s, Wham hopes it will attract “a broad array of ages who seek a creative and collaborative lifestyle.” He says he’ll be interested to see who comes—and adds that with all the land at Stanley there is the potential for future residential development.
Wham and Shaker both say they expect it will be attractive to those who work at the medical center, where they could ride a bike to work.
Despite Westfield’s appearance as a big traditional development company, Wham says in the past 18 months they’ve been acquiring property on Brighton Blvd. in RiNo and are looking at adaptive reuse strategies for 17 acres that have a number of brick façade warehouses.
The company is interested in the new retail approach Stanley has developed, says Wham, adding that millennials are spending more money on food and going out not just for the food but for the overall experience. Stanley’s work developing the concept for their marketplace, combined with being fully leased, made them an attractive partner for Westfield as they move toward developing a “new retail” type project.
With no swing vote in a 50-50 agreement, how will decisions be made in the Flightline/Westfield partnership? “We have an extensive list of major decisions that require both of us to pull in the same direction, so it truly is an equal partnership,” says Shaker. “There are some things on both sides where we have to be in complete agreement to move forward or else we’re kind of stuck. With what we’ve created, there are certain things that for us are non-negotiable, and we need to make sure that we’re on the same page. There haven’t been any issues thus far.”
Shaker says Westfield is in full agreement with their philosophy on selection of businesses and have completely deferred to Flightline in the selection of businesses since they’ve been partners.
“I’ve made commitments to all the businesses there. We have a merchants association that all the businesses are members of and contribute to, and we will do a wide array of community events and activities, and we continue to build that culture. I’ve made promises to all these businesses and I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be there continuing to build our project. I don’t do anything else. I just do Stanley and that will continue for years to come,” says Shaker.