Art & Design
Continuum Partners LLC occupies the top floor of the recently completed A Block building in the Denver Union Station District. The team, guided by CEO and founder Mark Falcone, takes inspiration from the spectacular views and revitalized neighborhood but resists distraction from the work at hand: an ever-evolving list of new projects that are changing the look and feel of metro Denver. A national leader in urban, mixed-use, large-scale developments, Continuum’s contributions to Denver’s built environment include notable landmarks spanning a variety of uses, including hospitality, retail, office, transit and residential to land and neighborhood development.
“I am most proud of the variety of projects and scales we have been able to work at,” says Falcone, who established Continuum Partners in 1997 and has been recognized for the leadership role he brings to the industry. Falcone has earned numerous awards for his inventive and groundbreaking work, including two Urban Land Institute Awards of Excellence and CEO of the Year by ColoradoBIZ for his commitment to the $500 million Denver Union Station Transit Center redevelopment project.
Earlier Continuum accomplishments, such as Lakewood’s Belmar Shopping District with its signature community plaza, restaurants, stores, workplaces and residential side streets, as well as the award-winning 16 Market Square mixed-use building on the 16th Street Mall, preceded a host of other well-received ventures. Westminster’s Bradburn Village is a nod to smart growth. Kent Place in Englewood is luxury living with all the conveniences, indoor-outdoor amenities, concierge service and proximity to Cherry Hills Golf Club.
“Denver has been a high-growth settlement, which is still defining itself and consequently has been a fun place for a company like ours to engage,” comments Falcone. “In places like Denver, Phoenix and Las Vegas, the last 30 years have been more form-defining than the previous 100.”
Newer Continuum developments showcase adventurous and distinctive designs like the Art House—a collection of 13 townhomes and affordable housing near the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. When Falcone and his wife, Ellen Bruss, donated the land for the museum’s new home, the Art House was conceived and built on the same site. The couple chose one of the townhomes for themselves. Falcone describes the Art House as “a wonderfully unexpected set of urban spaces in the heart of the center city.” The Block A/Hotel Born, situated on the rail platform at the Denver Union Station Transit Center which opened this past summer, also falls into the high-design category.
With the completion of demolition and abatement of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center campus, construction is now underway on the first building of the 9th & Colorado Project, a joint venture between Continuum Partners and CIM Group, the developer of the12-city block, mixed-use neighborhood. Market Station, the 370,000-square-foot development on the former central Regional Transportation District bus terminal site, is poised to become “the next downtown destination,” and is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2019. Similar in scale to Larimer Square, office and retail space will encompass 95,000 and 85,000 square feet respectively. Approximately 225 residential rentals will feature luxury apartments, and micro-dwelling units, a trend supporting more affordable living in prime urban areas.
“While I love the challenge of solving the financial hurdles that come with the big, multi-phased projects we do, the elements of those projects that give me the most personal reward are the little intimate spaces,” says Falcone, singling out the terrace above the new Tavernetta restaurant. “I know that for decades people will celebrate all variety of important life milestones on that terrace,” he observes “That is a cool feeling.”
Along these lines, Falcone’s newest initiative Continuued is an offshoot of Continuum. “The idea is that it can be a bit of a skunkworks for us where I can play with some new concepts that might inform our future projects. This platform is for smaller projects where I can still leverage the execution capacities of our team on new ideas where the project financials can tolerate some more experimentation,” he clarifies, using the redevelopment of the abandoned Frontier Drive-In theater in southern Colorado as an example.
An urban history student, Falcone avows a deep interest in ecology. He founded Continuum as a countermeasure to what he terms the “inexcusably small-minded” growth patterns of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. “The original idea for the garden suburb was actually somewhat inspired. But it had been diluted and morphed into this soulless, short-sighted, commodified, disaggregated mess, which was taking a huge toll on the other species we share this planet with,” he explains.
“I think we are about to get a lot better at allocating the true cost of an enterprise to the producers and that is going to make for a better future for all of us. Some elements of our political enterprise have beat up the regulators pretty well over the last 30 years, but I don’t think any of them would want to live in a country that did not have a clean air and clean water bill. We all have to get better at looking past our own narrow interests when considering these important issues.”
Falcone’s daughter is currently pursuing a master’s in business administration and his son a master’s in architecture. Both live in Los Angeles and are energized by the changes taking place there. “I am pleased that they have grown into people who don’t fear change, but see opportunity in it to help shape a better human society,” he notes.
Understanding basic fear and the natural resistance to change, Falcone looks to those who have come before and would like to see their wisdom combined with a broad point of view. “I grew up in the former territories of the Iroquois Indian nations,” he explains. “They had a wonderful way of settling tribal conflicts. They would simply ask the question, ‘Which solution would be most beneficial for their people seven generations on?’ If we are going to continue to survive and prosper as a species, we will have to extend our horizons.”
Marge D. Hansen is a Broomfield, Colorado-based freelance writer/editor and a regular contributor to Colorado Expression. Her articles appear in a variety of lifestyle magazines and websites.
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