- DPS sells school to developer.
- Richman Ascension plans 270 units.
- Community will be LEED certified.
A Texas developer plans to build 270 apartment units on the site where the Contemporary Learning Academy now stands in the red-hot LoHi area.
Records show that Richman Ascension Hilo LLC paid $11.83 million for two parcels with a total of 79,511 square feet at West 28th Avenue at Vallejo and Wyandot streets.
The price it paid to the Denver School District equates to $148.78 per square foot.
DPS sold the school as part of a larger plan to sell school buildings, including the Emily Griffith Technical College and consolidate spaces.
The LoHi site includes the 44,962-square-foot school building that likely will be razed this fall.
Richman Ascension is a joint venture between Will Cureton and J. Scott Rodgers and the Dallas-based Richman Group, one of the largest apartment owners in the nation.
Richman Ascension has hired the Denver-based Davis Partnership Architects to design the new apartment community. Renderings are not yet available.
This will be Richman Ascension’s first development in Denver.
“First, we just really like the Denver market,” Cureton said in a phone interview this week.
“We have wanted to be in the Denver market for quite some time,” he said.
And he especially loves the Highland, or LoHi neighborhood, as it increasingly being called.
“Lower Highland is extremely attractive to us,” Cureton said. “It is where people want to live. It has this great feel to it. There are lots of restaurants and it is close to downtown, public transportation and the freeway. We feel very fortunate to be there.”
The property on the south side of 28th is zoned C-MX-5, which allows five-story buildings and the parcel on the south side is zoned C-MX-3, which allows three-story buildings.
“Our plans right now call for about 270 total units,” he said.
“On the bigger site, we plan a 5-story, stick-built apartment built over a podium parking lot. On the other side, on the parking lot, we plan two, three-story buildings.”
The agreement with DPS allows it to vacate the school building in October.
“They may vacate it at the end of July, but they have until October,” he said.
He noted that LoHi is receiving some of the highest rents in the city.
“Line28 (in LoHi) is getting $2.71 per square foot,” he said. “But that are small units at an average size of 696 square feet. Our average size will probably be around 750 square feet. We are thinking we will get $2.50 to $2.55 per square foot. In absolute dollars, I think our average monthly rent will around $1,700 to $1,800.”
He said renters will have some of the best views in Denver.
“The views from downtown may be the best in the entire city,” Cureton said. “They are going to be incredible.”
It also will be an energy-efficient community.
It will be a LEED-certified, but he said he wasn’t sure at what level yet. He expects it will take about 20 months to complete.
Asked if he is worried about overbuilding and a subsequent drop in rents, he said he is.
“Oh, sure,” Cureton said. “We’re forecasting a little bit of a dip in prices and in the vacancy rates. The kind of occupancies that we are now seeing, can’t be sustained. You look at the numbers, and there is virtually no vacancy. We do expect a bit of softening in the rental rates as occupancies fall.”
But he is taking that in stride, because they plan to be long-term owners.
“We’re looking at a 20-year hold period,” Cureton said.
That is also one of the reasons why they want an energy-efficient and sustainable community.
“When you take a truly long-term point of view, you look at things differently,” he said. “Richmond Ascension is not a merchant builder that plans to build it, stabilize the rents and sell it.”
While this is its first venture in Denver, he said it won’t be its last.
“We’re on the hunt for more sites right now,” Cureton said. “Going forward, we would like to be doing one or two starts each year. We’re thrilled to be doing our first one on what we believe is one of the best sites in Denver.”
Interested in buying a home in LoHi? Please visit COhomefinder.com.
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