White Construction Group - Stanley Marketplace

Stanley Marketplace South East Courtyard Rendering Provided by WORKSHOP8White Construction’s work on the Stanley Marketplace project is helping to preserve the legacy of Stanley Aviation and bring new assets to market.

By Eric Slack

White Construction Group is a multimillion-dollar general contractor that specializes in commercial construction, design/build, historic restoration, adaptive re-use and other technically challenging work. Since its creation in 1985, the company has successfully delivered more than a half-billion dollars in construction projects throughout Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico over the past three decades.

“Far from being a cookie-cutter builder, we look for challenging projects that allow us to think outside the box and give us the opportunity to provide construction services tailored to the individual needs of each owner,” says Chris Haugen, vice president of business development.

Fundamentally, White Construction is committed to forward-thinking development, focusing on projects that make sense for the end-user and the community. The company believes in always considering the future, striving to understand how each of its projects will be used in the decades ahead. White Construction box

White Construction’s approach to market is usually a function of market conditions.  Four years ago, 80 percent of its work came from public institutions ranging from state and federal governments to local entities like library districts and schools. Now that the Colorado economy has largely recovered, the market has dramatically shifted and its clientele is 90 percent private. 

“By and large, we tend to stay away from big-box or national chain stores and prefer to go after challenging projects that involve interesting problem-solving,” Haugen says. “Ultimately, we look to work with interesting clients with interesting projects.”

Modern Rebirth

A signature project for White Construction is Stanley Marketplace at the former Stanley Aviation headquarters in Aurora, Colo. The project will include a community park, an indoor and outdoor event venue, office space and dining, shopping and recreational spaces.

“We believe repurposing older buildings is the very most effective way to build green,” Haugen says. “Adaptive re-use and historic preservation are hallmarks of our experience and the passion of our people. We love to embark on the next adventure in repurposing the built environment.” 

Haugen says the Stanley project came to White Construction from a referral.  Essentially, a past client was talking to Mark Shaker, executive director at Flightline Ventures, the developer of the Stanley Marketplace. After a couple meetings, both Flightline and White knew it was a good fit.

The hard construction costs on the project, including asbestos abatement, is $17 million. Total development costs are around $25 million. Due to the fact that this is such a unique property and such a large venture into the urban market, banks were a little leery to jump into the mix. 

“Tying up financing took longer than actual construction,” Haugen says. “When all is said and done, actual construction on site will have taken about 12 months. The building and site is monstrous. The building is more than 120,000 square feet and is surrounded by 24 acres of land.”

Unique Undertaking

The Stanley project has a number of noteworthy design and construction elements. Haugen says the typical adaptive reuse or historic preservation project evokes images of a building from the turn of the century. However, this building is unmistakably post-war modern, having been rapidly built over a three-year period between 1955 and 1958. 

“A few years ago, not many people would have considered saving, let alone landmarking, a building like this one,” Haugen says. “However, the incredible story of American aviation history that Stanley helps tell is well worth preserving. With the recent interest in post-war culture due to shows and movies like Mad Men and a desire for authentic, locally driven shopping experiences, the time was exactly right for a project like Stanley.”   

Haugen says White is part of a great team on the Stanley Marketplace project. He says the company has taken its lead from what he calls Flightline Ventures’ “Stanifesto.” Based on that mentality, the company really made an effort to select trade partners who caught the vision of what everyone is trying to do there. From the designers to the tenants, the entire team adheres to the same vision statement at field coordination meetings.

Not surprisingly, there have been a number of challenges to overcome on the project. The single biggest obstacle the project team has faced is that the structure is undersized for modern codes. More than 300 tons of steel has been used to reinforce and construct the building. 

“To give you context for that, we could almost have built a three-story, 100,000-square-foot building with the same tonnage,” Haugen says. “Of course, modern energy codes pose challenges, too.“

In the end, the Stanley Aviation story is going to live on in northwest Aurora for another 50 years thanks to this project. Haugen says Bob Stanley was an American aviator, innovator and entrepreneur whose contributions ought to be celebrated and remembered. White Construction thinks this project honors his legacy and his spirit of ingenuity.  “We are deeply proud to be part of that story and the creative spirit that is transforming Stanley Aviation into Stanley Marketplace,” Haugen says.

As the company looks beyond the Stanley Marketplace project, it knows that the construction industry will always at the mercy of the marketplace. Weathering the next downturn and gearing up for the subsequent boom is a reality of its world.  All of that being said, White Construction says it is committed to keep on searching for interesting projects and opportunities to work with interesting people at every turn in the road. 

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