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- St. Anthony’s campus at Sloan’s Lake sold.
- $300 million development could include towers.
- EFG plans to maximize recycling of demolition rubble.
A master developer has completed its purchase of the St. Anthony hospital site near Sloan’s Lake, which will be redeveloped as a seven-block urban community that eventually could have as many as 1,200 new residential units and 300,000 square feet of commercial and retail space.
“We’re very excited,” said Stuart Miner, president of EnviroFinance Group, the master developer.
The amount EnviroFinance Group, or EFG, paid to Catholic Health Initiatives of Colorado, was not disclosed. The buyer of record is EFG-South Sloan’s Lake I LLC.
The St. Anthony property is currently zoned for five-story buildings, which is about a story shorter than the tallest building on the 18.85 acre site, just north of West Colfax Avenue, east of Sheridan Boulevard. The main hospital building will be demolished to make way for the new community.
While some neighbors in nearby West Highland have decried proposed five-story apartment buildings near West 32nd Avenue and Lowell Boulevard as “high rises,” some people south of Colfax and in the Sloan’s Lake area have called for more height and density at the St. Anthony’s site, said Miner.
In fact, at some neighborhood meetings, some people have pointed to the City Park towers as what they would like to see on a portion of the St. Anthony land, said Douglas A. Elenowitz, executive vice president and director of development at EFG.
“There is an ongoing conversation of increasing the height in the interior of the property, while continuing to respect the edges,” where lower-height buildings would be constructed, Elenowitz said.
“It’s hard to say how many stories the maximum height might be,” he added. “Let’s just say in general terms, we are probably talking between about eight and 20 stories.”
If zoning is granted for high-rises, it doesn’t mean they will be built, he said.
“I think a limiting factor will be the demand and economic reality of being able to finance that type of construction,” Elenowitz said. “We would like to say we would like to have something in place that is enabling taller building and not necessarily mandating them.”
It’s premature to speculate on the price or rental rates of future homes, but they primarily will be market rate units, Elenowitz said.
Demolitions he said will begin almost immediately and will take about 12 months.
“A number of buildings are going to be saved,” he said. One of them is the Kuhlman building, which originally served as a dormitory for the Catholic nuns at the hospital, which opened more than 120 years ago. The Denver hospital moved to a new 224-bed hospital on a 50-acre campus in Lakewood in June 2011. The new development is four blocks north of the West Line light-rail station that is scheduled to open later this year.
Another building to be saved will be the chapel near Stuart Street that will be used as public space and for civic use. An existing 717-space parking deck also will escape the wrecking ball and will be used to serve the new community.
Plans also call for extending Raleigh and Quitman streets through the property from West Colfax Avenue to West 17th Avenue to create six full city blocks and improve access to the park.
“We are expecting roughly 900 to 1,200 residential units and 150,000 to 300,000 of commercial and retail use,” when completed, Elenowitz said.
“They’ve been very deliberate in engaging the neighborhood along the way and I think by and large the community is both supportive and excited about what an opportunity the project represents,” Ben Stetler, president of the West Colfax Association of Neighbors, said in a statement.
Denver City Councilwoman Susan Shepherd, who represents the district, said she was excited to hear the news that the property has been sold.
“The community is eager to see the property redeveloped in a way that opens up new economic development opportunities for the whole area, and enhances the character of the neighborhood,” Shepherd said.
“The neighborhood has been waiting and watching and planning for this for years,” Shepherd continued. “Having this move forward is momentous for all of the stakeholders and is very exciting.”
She said the option for tall buildings in the center of the site has been on the table for a long time.
“All along, there has been talk of low, medium and high density applications, so this certainly is not a new idea,” Shepherd said. “If you are talking taller, more dense towers, if you will, certainly the center would be the appropriate place for them. But we have to bring this issue in front of all of the community before I would make any kind of statement of where I stand on it.”
EFG likely will sell parcels to other developers who will construct apartments, townhomes, condos and commercial and retail space, he said.
“We are primarily land developers, who prepare the land for others,” he said. “That is our main focus.”
Miner, however, noted the company does have the capability to construct buildings and may decide to build some structures on the site.
The land, Miner and Elenowitz said, is not that contaminated.
Miner said his company has tackled much more polluted sites.
“We are a brownfield (highly polluted site) developer here in Denver and elsewhere,” Miner said, “and many of our projects have been much more environmentally impaired than this one.”
The biggest environmental concern, he said, is removing and disposing of a great deal of asbestos.
During the demolition, the company will take great efforts to recycle and re-use as much of the rubble as possible.
For example, aggregate from razing the building could be used as fill to support for foundations or streets.
“A vision of sustainability is one our core beliefs and one of our key components will be to maximize the amount of recycling and re-use of materials, keeping to a minimum the amount that goes to a landfill,” Elenowitz said.
It’s a virtual certainty that developers of residential properties will be just as green and sustainable, he said.
“The good news is that all of the folks interested in this will share our vision of sustainability.”
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