Real estate developer Peter Kudla has a knack for neighborhoods.
On his drives to his Englewood-area gym, he noticed that the area surrounding Craig and Swedish Hospitals has a real neighborhood vibe, anchored by the infill on Old Hampden Ave.
As the owner of Metropolitan Residential Advisors, Peter is always on the lookout for new areas that could benefit from his company's low-maintenance boutique housing offerings.
"When we go into a particular neighborhood, we look at demographics and try to design products that meet the needs of the people in a particular area," he says. "It's a simple question of 'Where and how do these people want to live?'"
When Peter and his business partner, renowned developer Jim Schuler, broke ground on their 31-unit project at 1100 E. Girard, they expected it to be filled with medical workers, young professionals and retirees. They didn't know that it would eventually be fully occupied by a special demographic: families of Craig patients.
Craig provides up to 30 days of complimentary housing for families of newly admitted injured spinal cord injury or brain injury rehabilitation inpatients who live more than 60 miles from Denver. Craig also provides housing for patients coming back for a weeklong interdisciplinary evaluation.
With the explosive growth of Craig's inpatient and outpatient program, Craig's on-site apartments are typically booked to capacity.
Rod Piel, Craig's former patient/family housing manager, watched the Girard project's construction with interest. Just a few blocks from Craig, it's in an ideal location for families. Rod approached Peter with a business proposal: Would he be willing to rent Craig a few furnished units?
"We hit it off; we talked for an hour," says Rod. "Peter was really interested in helping us out."
What began as a five-unit lease soon grew into a full-building takeover through August 2021. Craig families staying in Peter's building enjoy fully furnished one- and two-bedroom units with parking, in-unit washers and dryers, elevator access and weekly linen service and cleaning.
According to Rod, the housing provides Craig families with much-needed stability during a trying time.
"These families come here and they're in shock," says Rod. "They've been through the biggest traumatic event in their lives. When we give them a home and expose them to the family-focused environment at Craig, they realize life does go on. It's different — but it does go on."
Peter and Jim's involvement with Craig has grown beyond the business transaction. Peter has visited Craig and met with CEO Dr. Jandel Allen-Davis, and he and Jim generously supported the 2019 PUSH Gala, Craig's largest fundraiser.
"Craig is special because of the people," says Peter. "Rod was my first introduction, and then he introduced us to his staff, and his staff introduced us to others. Craig is blessed with great, committed, loyal people."
Peter's company is currently developing three other multifamily projects along Old Hampden. Inspired by his interactions with Craig patients, he has committed to offering roll-in showers in all ADA units in his future properties, even though it's not required by code.
"Peter has compassion for this special group of people that we serve," says Rod. "He is a people-builder, a gracious fun guy who is invested in the future of Englewood and Craig."