Amid COVID-19, Exchange at Boulevard One Celebrates Topping Out Milestone Virtually

Project partners Confluent Development and Kelmore Development held their first virtual topping out event amidst the landscape of new COVID-19 protocols, celebrating the construction milestone for the commercial mixed-use redevelopment project in the heart of Denver’s revitalized Lowry neighborhood: Exchange at Boulevard One. Even amid COVID-19, the project’s initial phase – comprising 135,000 square feet – is anticipated for an on-schedule completion in spring 2021.

Previously known as The Boulevard at Lowry, the 200,000-square-foot project is the only commercial development at Boulevard One, the 70-acre parcel that represents the newest neighborhood to be developed at Lowry. The mixed-use project broke ground in April 2019.

“In the COVID-19 era, crews are more challenged than ever to maintain momentum while operating under strict and constantly changing safety guidelines. Successfully delivering a project that is mid-construction during a pandemic is the ultimate test of our project team’s ingenuity, resilience and fortitude,” said Marshall Burton, president and CEO of Confluent Development. “I couldn’t be prouder of all parties involved for moving this project forward expeditiously and safely, to achieve this milestone.”

Keeping with tradition, the project’s final beam was painted white and included signatures of project team members. A painting of the Colorado state flag was featured as an additional touch and an American flag flew behind the beam as it was raised. The new event form included limited guests onsite and the majority of team members and project consultants tuning in via live Zoom feed. The fewer than 10 people that attended the event in-person went through a COVID-19 health screening prior to entering the jobsite and were required to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing measures throughout the entire ceremony.

Jim Ciesla, president and CEO of Brinkman Construction, shared his remarks on the strong collaboration required to face the new challenges brought on by the current pandemic, “Every project has its unique challenges. This one is no different, but add a pandemic into the middle of it, and we’re now facing more adversity than we could have imagined. What has been amazing, is seeing how everyone is showing up for the project and for each other. It has been a true collaboration to work together to overcome what we’re dealing with today.”

Denver-based Confluent Development and Kelmore Development serve as the project co-owners and co-developers. Brinkman Construction is the general contractor and Open Studio Architecture designed the project. The project represents a collaborative vision that includes support from the Denver Urban Renewal Authority and Lowry Redevelopment Authority.

“Building healthy communities is more important than ever following the impacts of the global pandemic. Our team has been committed to creating a destination where residents and employees feel safe and connected to their community, and Exchange at Boulevard One will do just that,” said Bob Koontz, principal of Kelmore Development. “With a refreshed name speaking to the core values of the project, Exchange at Boulevard One will deliver value, connectedness, convenience and accessibility for the area’s residents, families and professionals alike.”

Located at Lowry Boulevard and Quebec Street, the infill development will feature about 500 parking spaces, including a 231-stall underground parking garage, plus multimodal accessibility with a mobility hub for bicycle and scooter parking, pedestrian connectivity, electric car charging stations and nearby transit lines with connections to light rail. The commercial mixed-use redevelopment is situated on more than five acres. In reverence to Lowry’s sustainable development practices, the project plans to obtain LEED® certification.

construction workers

Using Employee Ownership to Attract and Retain Top Talent

From the President & CEO of Brinkman Construction, Jim Ciesla

Brinkman Construction rebranded last year and a large part of that process was identifying our company DNA. What makes us us. We interviewed our clients to see how we’re perceived externally, and the feedback was interesting, but not all that surprising. We heard over and over what we already knew - that our people are what differentiate us from our competitors in the construction industry.

We’re not unique in knowing that people are our greatest asset, but the qualities that make them our most valued resource are telling.  Our clients said that we bring a higher level of ownership to projects. That we are proactive and accountable, and we are customer-centric communicators. They said this ownership mentality leads to “tenacious problem-solving” and ultimately, earning their trust. Owners see that we take extreme pride in our work and connect the dots between a quality building and the success of their business.

So, how do we recruit and retain these high-caliber team members that set us apart? One factor I believe is responsible for our success is our employee ownership model. This innovative ownership structure, technically called an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), provides employees with a retirement plan that is invested in Brinkman Construction stock. Currently, there are 7,000 ESOPs nationwide and Brinkman Construction is one of only 115 in Colorado.

We adopted this structure in 2016 and beyond simply becoming 100% employee owned, we made tangible shifts toward creating an ownership culture in which all employees see the importance of their individual roles and the service they deliver to clients. Every employee owner believes in personal accountability and has a long-term vision for projects. They unfailingly do what’s right for our clients because they know successful projects translate to repeat business and positive referrals. When you’re an employee owner, there’s even more of an incentive to go above and beyond and stay at your company for the long-term. This allows us to employ highly experienced staff who consistently provide an exceptional quality of work. We as a company, and we as employee owners, all benefit under this model.

With our new brand came a new tagline: “Driven to Build.” To us, this sums up why the employee ownership model was the right choice for Brinkman Construction. It describes the characteristics that differentiate our employees in the construction industry – grit, tenacity, and most importantly, ownership.

jim ciesla president ceo of brinkman construction

Q&A with Jim Ciesla, President & CEO at Brinkman Construction

Jim Ciesla has been in the construction industry for over two decades. Prior to relocated to Colorado, he spent seven years working for a national design-build development and construction company out of Arizona.

He has been with Brinkman Construction for the company's entire 13-year history and is now an original owner.

Click the link above to read the full interview with President and CEO of Brinkman Construction, Jim Ciesla.