Business students from the University of Colorado and the University of Denver recently competed in the 16th Annual Rocky Mountain Real Estate Challenge to create the best development plan for 15 acres in Stapleton owned by RK Mechanical, Inc.
RK purchased the land in 1999, before Stapleton development began—land that is now conveniently located just east of the Central Park Train Station. The growing company, which provides mechanical, electrical and plumbing contracting; steel fabrication and erection; and water treatment solutions, among other services, now has 2,000 employees. With a need for more space than their current 90,000-square-foot building offers, they leased a 280,000-square-foot facility in Aurora. RK COO Jon Kinning says the company is moving gradually and has no specific timeline for when they will sell their Stapleton property or partner with a developer for its future use.
An architect RK has been working with to discuss future use of the Stapleton land—who is on the board of the Rocky Mountain Real Estate Challenge—suggested the future development of RK land would be a good subject for that annual student competition. RK agreed.
The students’ ideas for the highest and best use of their land were exciting, says Kinning, but he emphasizes that this was a student project—not an actual plan for development. At this time RK has not made a decision exactly when the land will be sold or how it will be developed.
In this year’s competition, the students’ development projects were judged based on how well they addressed the following objectives set out by RK for their 15 acres in Stapleton, after the business moves to another site:
- Maximize value for RK which may include selling the land or using the land as equity in the development
- Maximize profit for the developer
- Integrate into the surrounding neighborhood of predominately single
- Have a sustainability component
- The primary sponsors of the competition were NAIOP, a commercial real estate development association for developers, owners and investors and Land Title. Judging of the student projects by development professionals was based on:
- The financing and ownership strategy that generates the best risk-adjusted return
- The creation of a vibrant, inclusive and environmentally sustainable development
- Consideration of market conditions, pricing, and returns to an investor.
The final competition came down to the two plans shown here, with an all-day judging session on May 3—and a presentation of the students’ plans at an event attended by hundreds of real estate development professionals, where the winner was announced.