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Aspen tree-inspired hotel tops out in Denver

Populus hopes to serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of Denver’s Civic Center Park.
Credit: Urban Villages
The signed last beam of Populus lifted into place, marking the official topping out.

DENVER — A new downtown Denver hotel is aiming to be the first carbon-positive hotel in the United States.

Real estate developer Urban Villages recently celebrated the topping out of Populus, a new 265-room, 13-story hotel next to Denver's Civic Center Park. 

Designed with district eye-shaped windows inspired by Aspen trees, the hotel will have a rooftop restaurant and bar with views of the Denver skyline and mountains as well as retail and event space.

Construction of Populus began last year at 14th and Colfax Avenue. The hotel is expected to open in spring 2024.

Developers said Populus will be carbon positive due to its sustainable design and construction features, as well as a commitment to planting trees that represent over 5,000 acres of forest.

Urban Villages said it is offsetting the carbon emitted during the creation, transportation, installation, maintenance, and end-of-life disposal of the materials used to build the hotel by planting over 70,000 trees in Gunnison County.

Urban Villages said partnered with One Tree Planted as well as the United States Forest Service to re-introduce Engelmann Spruce, a tree species that was diminished by beetle kill. The trees, which have already been procured, will be planted this summer.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate this milestone for Populus and to be one step closer to the opening of the country’s first carbon-positive hotel,” said  Grant McCargo, Urban Villages’ Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Populus will provide Denver and the nation with a stunning hotel that breaks the boundaries of sustainable hospitality, all thanks to our dedicated team and partners, who have been working tirelessly to make this project a reality.”

“We hope Populus will serve as a model for how the real estate industry can more directly address the urgency of climate change while also meeting the preferences of today’s eco-conscious traveler,” said Jon Buerge, President and Partner at Urban Villages.

“Buildings currently account for 45 percent of greenhouse emissions in the United States; we need a new way to build. We hope the transparency with which we are sharing our ever-evolving efforts to reduce the building’s carbon footprint during construction and operations and to establishing creative, local ways to sequester additional carbon off-site, will empower other developers to take a more sustainable and holistic approach.”

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