Condos are rising across the city at a furious pace. But will anyone buy them?
The dismal real estate crisis hasn't kept construction cranes from dotting downtown's skyline this year as Denver enjoys one of the biggest urban-infill booms the city has seen since the oil-rich building blitz of the 1980s. By 2015 there will be up to 10 new high-rises in Denver's skyline, including four condo towers boasting nearly 1,000 units. The first to be completed, One Lincoln Park, opens this month.
But there are signs of concern about filling the buildings: In May, Canadian developer Great Gulf Group pulled the plug on its proposed 51-story condominium tower, 1401 Lawrence, citing sluggish sales. Great Gulf has since sold the property to a Chinese developer, but there's no word on the new plans for the space.
The big question: Did 1401 Lawrence suffer because of the market—or was the project doomed from the start? "Obviously, 1401 Lawrence got a lot of attention because it's 51 stories tall," says Ken Schroeppel, an urban planner with the Matrix Design Group and creator of DenverInfill.com. "But I don't think people should look at it as a canary in the coal mine." The failed building was marketed to a very specific buyer (high-end, contemporary), and its completion date was 2012. "We are in a soft market, particularly with condos," Schroeppel concedes. "But no matter how strong or weak the market is, there are projects that just won't get off the ground—that's the nature of real estate."
Downtown's appeal still is the strongest it's ever been, Schroeppel notes, which should be good news for the buildings and the market. Here, a quick primer on the building blitz.
In the Works
One Lincoln Park
Block: Lincoln and 20th
Completion: September 2008
Details: One Lincoln Park, built by Osborn Development, will feature units ranging from one-bedroom condos to a 6,000-square-foot penthouse—181 units total. Located at the confluence of Uptown and Downtown, the high-rise building will include a Pilates studio, valet parking, and other luxury amenities.
Price: $365,000 to $3.8 million
Block: 14th and Champa
Start: Spring 2007
Completion: December 2009
Details: A victim of the subprime loan crash last summer, the project lost funding and sat untouched (with four stories built) for several months until developer Randy Nichols secured another $158 million loan in January. Upon completion, the 503-unit, LEED-registered tower will be the tallest residential building in the city.
Price: $200,000 to $500,000
Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences
Block: 14th and Arapahoe
Start: Fall 2007
Completion: Early 2010
Details: The mixed-used tower will contain 102 luxury residences and 230 hotel rooms. Guest rooms at Colorado's first Four Seasons Hotel are expected to average $300 per night.
Price: $800,000 to $10 million
Info: www.towerprivate- residences.com
In the Future
The Museum Residences
Block: 12th and Broadway
Details: The Daniel Libeskind-designed tower next to the DAM will include 100 hotel rooms and 32 condos. Construction, scheduled to start in 2007, is on hold.
Block: Speer and Larimer
Details: A luxury condo tower and adjacent retail and commercial space is planned for the triangle-shaped block that housed Denver's first city hall.