When a 19-story, purple-blue building goes up on an entire city block next door to the city’s main transit hub, it’s bound to turn heads. When that big, purple-blue building gives people the opportunity to own a condo in downtown Denver, it can create a stampede.
Take it from the developers of the Coloradan building at 1750 Wewatta St. The 700,000-square-foot tower casts a long shadow over the rail platform at Denver’s Union Station. In the works since August 2016, it was completed in February of this year.
Aside from its uniquely colored terracotta exterior, the Coloradan stands out in the Union Station neighborhood because of what’s inside: 334 condos, including 33 income-restricted, affordable units. That’s for-sale housing a few steps from bus and rail lines.
Colorado-based developer East West Partners first began selling units in the building in August 2017. When people started moving in this spring, the building was 95 percent sold out, according to Jenny Jacobs, East West’s director of development for the project. About half the building units were bought up in the first 30 to 45 days they were on the market, according to East West.
“There was tremendous demand for the product,” Jacobs said.
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The Coloradan is loaded with amenities. It’s got a resident library containing each owner’s favorite book, a concierge desk staffed 24 hours a day and a small fitness studio with Peloton bikes. The 18th floor is home to a resident lounge and outdoor pool deck that ensures every resident has access to a 360-degree view of downtown and the mountains beyond.
The public ground floor is filling in with retailers including a blow-dry bar, barre fitness studio and a women’s clothing boutique. A coffee shop is under construction and announcements are expected soon about a bar and restaurant coming to the building, East West officials say.
The space is anchored by Union Hall, an 1,800-square-foot gallery, performing arts and events space that is positioned to be the center of cultural events in the area.
Coloradan residents Maxine and Darrell Thomas are excited about the incoming restaurant, but they made it clear Monday they chose the building because they could own instead of rent. The couple, both in their 80s, moved in in March after living in Frisco for 47 years, evidence that the downtown lifestyle doesn’t just appeal to young professionals and single folks.
“I think we like this place simply because it’s at the center of everything we want,” Darrell Thomas said.
The population of downtown Denver has jumped up from around 7,000 people in 2000 to 27,000 today, Randy Thelen, vice president of economic development for the Downtown Denver Partnership, said Monday.
The partnership has a volunteer task force that for years has looked at housing issues in the downtown area. Its first focus was on getting more residential units of any kind. Now, it has turned its focus to affordability and encouraging for-sale projects.
“There is huge demand for ownership opportunities downtown and very little supply right now,” Thelen said. “If we’re going to maintain the energy we have downtown, we need to provide those ownership opportunities.”
There are barriers to more condo construction in downtown. Space is one. Aside from a still-rising apartment building on Wewatta Street and another small parcel, the Central Platte Valley area is nearly built out. Hesitancy by lenders and developers still unsure about construction defects liability is another.
A large condo project has been proposed for the corner of 18th Street and Broadway, where Shelby’s Bar & Grille recently closed, but that is still in the planning phases. For now, the best option for owning a residence in downtown Denver may be the Coloradan. Fourteen units remain up for grabs including one income-restricted one-bedroom going for $230,751 for a qualified buyer.