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The Orpheus, shown in this rendering, will bring 26 entry-level condos to Jefferson Park in early 2018. Courtesy of the Orpheus

Condos for First-Time Buyers in Jefferson Park (Yes, Really)

Starting at $259,000, the Orpheus’ 26 modern units are one local developer's effort to add entry-level housing stock.

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Getting into Denver’s housing market is not for the faint of heart—or wallet. Entry-level properties are few and far between, despite an influx of buyers eager for starter homes. “When you look at other big cities, like Chicago, the young adults work downtown and buy condos,” says Fiona Arnold, president of Denver-based Mainspring Developers. “That’s how they get started. But in Denver it’s harder; if you want a small unit, you have to rent.”

To help fill that void, Mainspring Developers is launching sales this week on the Orpheus, a midcentury-modern-inspired, 26-unit building in the Jefferson Park neighborhood.

Ranging from 633 to 871 square feet and starting at $259,000, Arnold says the low-rise condo project is designed with today’s young professionals in mind. Closets are big and open onto both the bedrooms and bathrooms (but the bathrooms offer separate water closets, so guests don’t have to view your wardrobe while visiting the commode). Entry foyers include benches and built-in storage for gear. All appliances (even the washer and dryer) are included in the base price, and the open-plan, brightly colored kitchens feature cabinetry in white, yellow, or citrus green.

“Basically, you just need to move in your bed, sofa, and dining room table,” Arnold says. Currently, the building is in pre-sale, with completion scheduled for December 2017. The units should be move-in ready for the first quarter of 2018. Sarah Rogers Real Estate, Metro Brokers is handling sales, and the Cunningham Group served as architects.

With its charming commercial strip (Sarto’s, Jefferson Park Pub, 2914 Coffee are all nearby) and proximity to downtown, Jefferson Park will only become more desirable as Denver grows, says Arnold, who until December 2016 ran the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

“The city will have to live with what we build long after we’re around,” says Arnold, whose varied background influences the Mainspring’s choice of projects. “As developers, we can be place makers or place destroyers.” Arnold says Mainspring first looks at the neighborhood and considers what’s missing before hitting the drawing board. The company’s biggest project to date was transforming a 12,000-square-foot RiNo warehouse into Backyard on Blake, a commercial property offering retail, restaurant, and office space surrounding a community courtyard.

Creating (relatively) affordable units in Jefferson Park was a top priority for the Orpheus. “As a company, we only do projects that make sense for the community,” says Arnold, noting that since Mainspring serves as its own general contractor, it saves 10 percent on its projects, keeping prices low. “We can’t lose money, obviously, but our driving force is to enhance the community.”

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