TAXI, a live/work community in Denver located in a reconfigured taxi depot, is a shining example of how high-end offices and apartments can take the place of industrial spaces and shine up an otherwise dull area of town.
The 20-acre development, which includes apartments, offices, a restaurant and bar, a yoga studio and an early childhood development center, is what the developers would call "the next generation" of working. The first two phases, which are complete, have more than 130,000 square feet of commercial space and 44 residences. When fully completed, the development will have 800,000 square feet of mixed-use space.
"We know some parents want to have interaction with their child throughout the day, and now they can. They can leave work a few times a day, come say hello to their child, and then be right back," said Kyle Zepplin — principal of Zeppelin Development, which designed the development — pointing to Open Air Academy, a preschool onsite. He actually lives on the property himself, along with his 2-year-old-daughter and his wife.
While he took me and other real estate reporters on a tour through the complex last week at the National Association of Real Estate Editors conference, we saw the flow of the space: A person could wake up in the morning, walk their child to daycare, walk to work, head to dinner at the trendy café onsite and then head back home — all within the space of a city block. Such functionality and convenience (all without ever having to open a car door) is the definition of where the new working generation wants to work.
Aside from being functional, the site is exactly the feel this new generation is seeking: Professional, but laid back and with options out your ears. What options, you ask? Well, would you like to work outside today? All you have to do is open the glass garage door in every office in the building, which essentially turns your office into a wired-up porch (see right).
The commercial space is now home to dozens of businesses from communications powerhouse Saatchi & Saatchi to Craftsy, a Web startup providing online classes in knitting, crocheting and quilting. The offices filled up so fast, they are now building a new building (see left) that — while built from scratch — will still have the glass garage doors everyone loves and the gritty feel of a converted taxi building.
The development also offers several features to enhance the community feel. Located a bike ride away from downtown Denver, and right alongside the Platte River, TAXI gives its patrons a quick way to get around: Bike share. Sign out a bike, and bring it back. But if biking isn't your thing, how about a few laps in the pool made out of a cargo container (see right)?
Yes, that's a cargo container. If you don't believe me, see the picture of the bottom of the pool below where it says TAXI on the side. That's holding the water. It will only accommodate one swimmer at a time, and you have to walk up the stairs in order to take a dip.
The onsite restaurant, Fuel, provides tasty, organic cuisine — some of which is grown in a garden right outside (there is a community garden, too, just in case you see the fresh produce at Fuel and want some of your own). They are opening up a second location onsite so that patrons can get more affordable grab-and-go food to take with them back to the office.
In short, the community is something pretty rare. When countless people tell you that Generation Y is looking for more flexibility in their work environment, the convenience of walking and spot-on décor, this is what they are talking about.