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A rendering of the planned DaVita expansion. —Courtesy of East West Partners

DaVita Expansion to Complete Union Station Neighborhood

The kidney dialysis giant's new building is scheduled to open in summer 2018.

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It looks like one of the first tenants in the nascent Union Station area will also be one of the last.

Kidney dialysis health care provider DaVita announced this week that it’s working with Starwood Capital Group and Denver’s East West Partners to develop an expansion property across 16th Street from the company’s global headquarters.

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The 250-foot structure will add more than 250,000 square feet of office space to DaVita’s local footprint and eventually add about 800 news jobs to the 1,600 or so employees the company already has in Colorado. The building will break ground next summer and is expected to be finished within about two years.

The structure’s peaked roof mimics that of DaVita’s existing building, and of the mast that rises above the Millennium Bridge, a design element that’s sure to offer thematic appeal to DaVita’s famously upbeat and theatrical CEO Kent Thiry. (Expect press releases that note how the buildings themselves literally point the company toward the future.)

Since moving here from Southern California in 2009, DaVita has grown to almost $13 billion in annual revenue and in the kidney dialysis world is the Pepsi to Fresenius Medical Care’s Coke; the two global corporations control the vast majority of the kidney dialysis business worldwide.

DaVita has come under plenty of regrettable scrutiny since its arrival in Colorado. The company has paid almost $1 billion in fees to settle federal inquiries and whistleblower lawsuits, and it regularly squares off against a legion of vocal patient advocates who see DaVita’s practices as ranging from subpar to unethical to criminal. These complaints have had virtually no impact on the company’s stock price—none other than Warren Buffett has aggressively expanded his DaVita holdings even amid the company’s various setbacks—and DaVita officials recently announced that they would spend an additional $25 million per year to step up its medical and financial compliance practices.

The upshot: Whether or not DaVita is truly good for its patients remains subject to intense debate, but it’s definitely good for our state and local economies, and money talks.

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Follow 5280 editor-at-large Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.

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