Building Blackhawk

PCL has begun work on the Monarch Casino Black Hawk hotel, casino, and spa expansion, its fourth project in Black Hawk, Colorado. This historic mining settlement was founded in the 1800s during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. Currently housing Colorado’s largest number of casinos and located less than an hour from downtown Denver, Black Hawk is the state’s premier gambling destination.
When completed, the project will add roughly 500
hotel rooms to the Black Hawk destination.

The expansion includes a 23-story hotel tower with
two levels of casino gaming and several new
restaurants and bars.​

In 1997, PCL launched its first project in Black Hawk with the remodel of the Gilpin Hotel and Casino. A year later, PCL returned to the town, successfully completing the Lodge Hotel and Casino, a 290,000-square-foot development that included two floors of gaming machines, three restaurants, and one floor of 50 hotel rooms. In 2001, PCL constructed the tallest building in the town, the Black Hawk Casino by Hyatt (now Ameristar), which was also at the time the largest casino in Colorado. The project included 62,000 square feet of gaming space, 10,000 square feet of retail, 50,000 square feet of back-of-house space, and an 800-car precast, design-build parking garage.

To keep up with the town’s growth, PCL is expanding the Monarch Casino Black Hawk into a full-scale casino, hotel, and spa, which will feature a 23-story hotel tower that includes two levels of casino gaming, and several new restaurants and bars. The hotel will add substantially to the number of Black Hawk’s existing hotel rooms, and will be capped off by a luxury amenity deck with a world-class spa, pools, and additional recreation space. While PCL is managing the construction of the expansion, the existing, newly remodeled casino is in full operation and open to the public.

BREAKING BOUNDARIES

Every mountain project comes with its unique challenges, and the Monarch Expansion project is no exception. The site is surrounded by Clear Creek’s streambed directly to the north, the occupied Monarch Casino to the west, the casino’s new and fully operational parking garage to the east, and Main Street to the south. Because of the limited boundaries, the PCL team is required to treat it in some ways like a big city build. PCL’s project team and the City of Black Hawk are working cohesively to limit impacts on the neighboring businesses. To mitigate challenges associated with these tight quarters, the project team is using an online scheduling system that ensures trade contractors arrive within specific time windows to maximize efficiency.

The project also poses environmental challenges. Granite bedrock made drilling the 181 piers at an average depth of 28 feet very difficult. A two-man crew worked daily to weld new teeth into the drill bits to ensure the foundation work continued without issues. This resulted in moving forward the completion date for drilling the piers by almost a week.

The project’s location at the lower end of Black Hawk means a constant flow of water runs beneath the site, which impacted dewatering efforts and drilling of the caissons. The elevation challenge combined with frequent Colorado spring storms forced the water table to rise several feet early in the project schedule. The team worked with the owner and several dewatering companies to come up with a viable and cost-effective solution that completely dewatered the site and allowed crews to continue moving forward with the foundation work.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is one way PCL is combating the challenges of this project. The team coordinates with concrete, building enclosure, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection trades to create a collaborative environment that enables all partners to prefabricate their materials. This method allows issues to be solved during the modeling phase rather than later, in the building phase, and ultimately maximizes efficiency to save time during the build. 

RISING TO THE TOP

The Monarch Casino Black Hawk hotel, casino, and spa expansion will add roughly 500 hotel rooms to the Black Hawk destination, increasing the current total of 1,000 rooms by approximately 50 percent.  This influx of lodging comes at a time when casino revenue in Black Hawk is on the rise. The Monarch hotel and casino will enable the City to hold more visitors and offer more amenities, and will add to the already expansive casino scene—continuing Black Hawk’s transition from a day-trip destination to a full-amenity resort town.
 

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