Denver West Highlands Redevelopment Case Study

RE | Solutions, LLC/Adaapta

In the summer of 2019, Adaapta’s brownfields development arm, RE | Solutions (RES), acquired a 7,881 square foot building on roughly 0.4 acres in the West Highland neighborhood of Denver. At the time of purchase, the building housed a small co-working space, but the building had been originally developed in the 1920s as a grocery store with living space for the owner.  From 1952 until 1998, dry-cleaning operations took place in the western portion of the building. As was the case for many dry cleaners prior to the passage of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in 1976, operations often resulted in leaks or spills of dry-cleaning solvent into floor drains that were either not connected to the sewer system, or had older clay sewer pipes that leaked the solvent through cracks. These practices led to the presence of residual perchloroethylene (PCE), a dry-cleaning solvent, in soil and groundwater at the site. Additionally, the building had significant amounts of asbestos-containing building materials which had to be remediated prior to demolition. 

To address contamination and make the site suitable for reuse, RES enrolled the property in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) Voluntary Clean-Up Program (VCUP). RES partnered with Advanced Environmental Technologies, LLC to implement a remedial technology called E-Redox®, which used low-voltage electrical currents to reduce the dry-cleaning solvents in groundwater into harmless “daughter” products. As a result of its enrollment in the VCUP, the project has benefitted from a low interest rate loan funded through the Colorado Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund, administered by the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, designed specifically for the clean-up of environmentally contaminated commercial sites. After asbestos abatement and demolition of the existing building, RES began excavating the site for the proposed building’s underground parking garage and found a significant amount of residual solvent in the soil located underneath an addition that had been added to the building after it ceased operation as a dry cleaner.  

While groundwater remediation was underway, RES contracted with Design Studio Architects for the design of the proposed building, a three-story, 42-unit market-rate apartment building built on a podium over a lower-level parking garage. This building design was influenced partially by site conditions, which included an over 8’ change in elevation from the northern property line to the southern property line. The podium design was also influenced by the site’s brownfield status, with the level of parking acting as a vapor barrier between the soil and residential units. Work to remove the existing site improvements started in October 2021 and vertical construction began in October 2022. A No Action Determination from CDPHE is anticipated in 2023 and the building is expected to be completed in early 2024. 


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