In-House Environmental Risk Expertise Critical to Success of 19Nineteen

“Navigating environmental contamination issues can be extremely complex and challenging for real estate developers due to the uncertainties and liabilities involved," said John Kinny, Manager of Environmental Risk. “We have an experienced in-house environmental risk team that has developed sophisticated due diligence and remediation processes. Our team has a great deal of experience developing environmental solutions. This provides a competitive advantage to Opus and our business partners."

Our in-house environmental team – led by Richar​d Manser – is part of the Opus Legal Department.

Some companies rely on outside consultants for this work. This has never been our practice. Outside consultants are not privy to the company's internal business operations or risk tolerances, and they do not have a full understanding of the business team's goals and objectives. Our Environmental Risk associates put brackets around scope, schedule and budget to minimize risk with the project's goals in mind.

Managing Environmental Risk at 19Nineteen Mile High

Before buying the site for 19Nineteen Mile High Apartments, the project team knew it would need remediation.

Joe Swensson, Director of Real Estate Development, connected with John early after learning a gas station once operated on the site. A parking garage had replaced the gas station, but environmental remediation had never been done.

John engaged our environmental consultant, Terracon, to take soil borings and collect samples. They analyzed the samples to identify any contaminants present. On a small part of the property, the analysis found petroleum contamination, asbestos-containing debris and low-level concentrations of contaminants in soil vapor.

John and Terracon then prepared a remedial action plan to meet State residential criteria and submitted it to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) for approval.

“We partner with state agencies early in the process, as it helps provide certainty of outcome," John said. “We value the State's oversight and the regulatory assurances they provide. CDPHE approved the plan before closing on the land and starting construction."

The plan included excavating and disposing of the contaminated soil. As a precautionary measure, the team installed a vapor barrier under a small part of the building slab to reduce the risk of soil vapor entering the building.

“The soil vapor concentrations were relatively low, and the primary source of contamination that could contribute to vapor intrusion problems was removed," John said. “We installed the vapor barrier as a supplemental safety measure. We are always mindful of protecting the health and safety of the occupants of our buildings and view this as an additional property selling advantage."

Vertical Integration Facilitates Decision-Making in Real Time

The project team incorporated the environmental remediation plan into the project timeline.

As environmental issues came up that required action, John worked with our developers and project managers to make real-time decisions, which kept the project on schedule.

“19Nineteen showcases our vertically integrated team approach," John said. “There's a lot of value to having our real estate developers and construction project managers either down the hall or a quick phone call away. We trust each other and share the same goals of delivering quality-built projects on time and on budget."

“Our Denver team did an outstanding job on this project," John said of Joe, and project managers Jaymes Kralicek and Shawn Allen. “They dove deep to understand our environmental plan and contributed to its success."

Following remediation, confirmation soil samples were sent to the State of Colorado for review. The State issued a No Further Action Letter indicating the site was remediated to regulatory standards and acceptable for residential use.