- Top broker sells home for top dollar next to Highlands Church.
- Church building would be part of RedPeak’s apartment plans.
- Jenny Apel supports No High Rises in West Highland
Last June, Jennifer Apel sold a 1,393-square-foot home in West Highland for $360,000, $21,000 above the asking price of $339,000.
Even though the home needed plenty of work — it had an outdated bathroom, the basement wasn’t finished “and the garage was more like a lean-to than a garage”— there was a bidding war for the 97-year-old home.
“We received six offers,” said Apel, a top broker and owner of Nostalgic Homes, who next month will celebrate 19 years of selling homes in Denver, with a focus on West Highland.
However, what really made the transaction stand out is that the house at 3259 Lowell Boulevard is adjacent to the former Highlands Church, which Denver-based RedPeak Properties wants to incorporate into a five-story, luxury apartment community on the other side of the church building.
Apel was one of the early and most high-profile supporters of the grassroots opposition group, No High Rises in West Highlands.
“I do support their cause,” she said.
She hopes to attend the bench trial that begins tomorrow in Denver District Court on the zoning issue that allows five-story buildings in the Highland Square area. One of the contentions made by the plaintiffs is that five-story buildings would drive down property values. Several national studies examining the impact of luxury apartment communities in other cities, however, have found that over time they tend to help home values in the neighborhoods, not hurt them.
Apel understands that her selling a home for top dollar next to the development might raise some eyebrows.
“I do find it rather ironic that my team found the buyer,” Apel said.
“Honestly, there is no doubt about it,” she said.
Apel, whose family roots to the area go back more than 100 years, said she fully disclosed to all the prospective buyers that three buildings with up to five stories could be constructed in the immediate area.
The buyers were cool with it, she said.
“They are a young couple and very vibrant urbanites, who want to be right in the middle of everything that is happening,” Apel said.
Also, she said that because Lowell is a “commercial thoroughfare,” there is an expectation it will have more density than other nearby streets.
“I do, think, though, Meade Street and West Moncrieff Place could feel more of an impact,” if RedPeak goes ahead with its plans.
The farther away a house is from the developments, the less affect they will have, she said.
“If you spread out by six blocks or a mile, they won’t have any impact,” she said.
Change chases some out of ‘hood
At the same time, she recognizes the fear that the RedPeak properties, as well as other changes, will hurt the charm of the quaint neighborhood.
She recently sold a home for $950,000 less than two blocks from the RedPeak properties. She said the owners sold it because they don’t want to raise their young children near the RedPeak apartments or the Matador restaurant/tequila bar that is replacing the original Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli at Lowell and West 32nd Avenue.
“They told me with tears in their eyes that they were in college a long time ago and this is not the environment where they want to raise their children,” she said.
Without a doubt, she said that West Highland increasingly is appealing to young professionals and future businesses will be catering to them, which may not be to the liking of many old timers.
It’s also unrealistic to think the neighborhood won’t evolve, she said.
“Let’s face it. If people who lived in Victorians opposed anything new, we wouldn’t have any Denver Squares or bungalows in the neighborhood,” she said.
Her “dream” solution to the RedPeak dispute would be a settlement to allow a five-story building on Lowell and three-story buildings on Meade and Moncrieff.
“In all my years of driving people around and showing people houses, I can honestly say that no one has turned to me and said: “Jenny, can you show me a home next to a five-story apartment building?”
Apel said that if a developer had come in plans for five-story condo buildings instead of rental units, it would have been much more acceptable to her and most residents.
Even if RedPeak develops the buildings it has on the drawing board, Apel believes it won’t slow interest in West Highland from home buyers.
“This would have a bigger impact on me as a resident than as a Realtor.”
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