Delivering a Green Parking Garage for the City of Westminster

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​Situated on the bustling U.S. Highway 36 corridor between Denver and Boulder, the City of Westminster has much to offer – everything from impressive mountain views, to engaging shopping districts, to historic museums and landmarks. But it lacks one important thing – a downtown. That’s about to change.

The City of Westminster has embarked on an ambitious journey to transform the Westminster Mall in the city’s center into the next urban center on Colorado’s Front Range – Downtown Westminster. The makeover includes high-density, urban-scale, mixed-use developments that will put Westminster on the fast track to becoming a prominent community and regional destination. With a focus on green and sustainable building, the City of Westminster is promoting a more inclusive approach to developing the downtown area with various contractors and developers, versus one master developer.

Ample space for parking is fundamental to the success of the development, so the first ground-up construction project to break ground is a parking garage. With a skybridge connection to JC Penney, a five-story mixed use development wrap and the intent to become the first publicly owned green garage in the country, this isn’t your average parking garage.

With a goal of achieving Parksmart certification, Opus Design Build, L.L.C designed and is now building a six-level, 268,000-square-foot parking garage with parking for nearly 880 vehicles. Parksmart is a green building certification program that defines high-performing, sustainable garages to reduce environmental impact, increase energy efficiency, offer better lighting and ventilation, and promote alternative transportation.

For designing and constructing the parking garage, timeliness and efficiency were top concerns for the City. They preferred a design-build model due to the speed of the front-end process and efficiencies gained from significantly reducing time spent evaluating budgets and multiple bids. They chose Opus Design Build, L.L.C., not only for its deep design-build experience, but for the design team’s ability to re-envision the site to contribute to the larger vision for the entire project.

Understanding the City’s needs was paramount, so Opus initiated the project by carefully listening to the client and asking questions to understand their goals for both the structure and how it fit into the vision for downtown Westminster. Since sustainability was an important element for the city, the garage will feature electric vehicle charging stations, bicycle parking that exceeds LEED requirements, LED lighting with dimmers and occupancy sensors, low-VOC coatings and recycled building products.  Additionally, the garage has no access controls, so vehicles will not idle while waiting to enter or leave, and the open style eliminates the need for ventilation.

Due to Opus’ holistic, client-centered model, Opus DB3, Opus was able to quickly find solutions for several challenges that may have otherwise caused delays. Significant grade issues had to be corrected for proper finished floor elevations between the apartment wrap, garage and JC Penney store. Opus also carefully designed the skybridge connecting the garage to the second floor of JC Penney, and navigated code issues while coordinating floor-to-floor heights with the apartment wrap on the north and east sides of the garage.

“Opus brought in an exceptional team that has been forward thinking and identifying issues before they arise,” John Burke, P.E., Downtown Westminster development and construction manager said.  “This design-build process is really indicative of our overall vision for the new downtown – thoughtful and deliberate, with our eye always on sustainability. They have truly taken ownership of the project and are on track with budget and schedule to bring this project to completion in July 2017!”

Downtown Westminster will be a true downtown that’s unique and genuine – developed over time, one block at a time. It will offer residents and visitors a vibrant and active street-level experience. Public spaces and architecture will emphasize the area’s visual and physical attributes, and residents and visitors will enjoy an extensive network of parks, trails and other green spaces.

This article originally appeared in Building Dialogue, a publication of the Colorado Real Estate Journal.