A New Jersey based company today paid $37 million for Solera, the 11-story, 120-unit luxury high-rise in downtown developed by Denver-based Zocalo Community Development.
The price of $308,333 per unit the Connell Co. of Berkeley Heights, N.J. paid for the energy efficient building at 1956 Lawrence St. is a record in Colorado. It also is a record on a price-per-square-foot basis. The building, developed by Zocalo and Principal Real Estate Investors, includes 5,200 square feet of retail space.
Solera also is downtown Denver’s first Gold-certified LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, apartment tower. The building opened a year ago.
Monthly rents for the one- and two-bedroom range from $1,185 to $3,090.
“The high demand for LEED, sustainability and community is rewarding evidence that the market responds to thoughtful design and careful construction,” said Zocalo Principal David Zucker. “This sale shows that Solera has built a very attractive and valuable niche in the marketplace.”
Brian Phetteplace, Manager of Retail and Residential Development for the Downtown Denver Partnership, noted that Solera joins 1800 Larimer office building with green and sustainable features that this year has sold for a record price. 1800 Larimer, the headquarters for Xcel Energy, sold for $213 million, or $430 per square foot. The buyer of 1800 Larimer was Dallas-based Invesco Real Estate.
“I think what this means is that there is a lot of investor interest from outside of the state for Denver properties,” Phetteplace said. “Investors see Denver as a great long-term focus and a place where they see value during economic challenging times.”
The Solera sale, and 1800 Larimer, also confirmed that there is an economic advantage to developing green buildings.
“It’s not just the buzzword of being LEED-certified,” Phetteplace said. “David (Zucker) must be very pleased that this sale confirms that green building is economic viable and pays off. It is not enough just to build green because it is good for the planet. You also have to have a financial payoff. Right now, Solera is a one-of-kind apartment building in downtown, although I’m sure David will do something similar with his new building he is developing near Union Station. With this sale he is proving that there is an economic value to building a sustainable and green building. If you are going to build a brand new building going forward, and your economic end-goal is to sell it for the highest price possible, you will have to build green.”
A top official with Principal Real Estate Investors said Solera met all of his expectations.
“We are very pleased to execute the lease up and sale of Solera consistent with the original vision and strategy developed by Zocalo and Principal Real Estate Investors nearly three years ago,” said Kevin Anderegg, asset manager with Principal Real Estate Investors.
The building was sold by David Martin of Chicago-based Moran & Co.
“Solera’s beautifully appointed apartments, with loft-style ceilings, large windows, open kitchen layouts, and incredible mountain and city views achieve among the highest rents in downtown Denver,” Moran said. “The property is also one of only a few dozen LEED Gold-certified apartment projects in the country – a big selling point for the Connell Co.”
Sustainable buildings “simply smarter”
That is exactly right, according to Jordan Minno of the Connell Co.
“LEED Gold-certified buildings have favorable influence on residents’ health, comfort, productivity and community,” Minno said. “People want to live sustainably because it’s simply smarter. As long term owners we see tangible value in a property that can deliver sustainable living to residents with all the high performance elements incorporated into Solera’s design.”
Built to U.S. Green Building Council standards, Solera features earth-friendly finishes and amenities, including high-performance windows, Energy Star-rated appliances, high-efficiency lighting and occupant sensors, dual flush toilets and programmable thermostats. Each unit also comes with a Personal Energy Monitor, a real time power usage display that tracks day-to-day and monthly energy usage, allowing residents to make more informed decisions about their energy choices.
By living in a sustainable apartment, Solera residents save more than 50 percent on their energy bills compared to similar buildings, which may equate to $700 worth of savings each year for the average resident.
Solera’s walkable location adds to the savings, allowing residents to spend less on gas. According to the website Walkscore.com, Solera’s proximity to shops, restaurants and entertainment make it a virtual “Walker’s Paradise,” with a score of 92 out of 100. For those who prefer biking, Solera offers a free bike parking space for every apartment as well a complete bike maintenance facility, the only one its kind in any downtown apartment building.
Green features a hit with residents
Solera’s green features are a big lure for residents, with two-thirds of the building’s residents citing sustainable attributes as the reason for leasing at the site.
Zocalo’s management team also has strived to create a “powerful sense of community” among residents and the neighborhood by hosting happy hours, roof-top fitness classes, wine tastings and other social gatherings for residents. Solera’s lobby and common areas feature a Mac Bar, a gaming area, refurbished ‘60s era pool table, conference room, demonstration kitchen, and state-of-the-art fitness center. Designed to mimic a boutique hotel, the lobby also includes a complimentary coffee/tea service.
The word Zocalo dates back to the Aztec culture, meaning a community center or plaza common to towns and cities throughout Latin America. For more information visit this link.
Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com