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Koelbel,Thorn team up for Garden Court



  • Ground broken on TOD project.
  • Mile High Development and Koelbel and Co. are the developer.
  • Garden Court Yale Station opens in March.
Garden Court at Yale Station is a jv of Mile High Development and Koelbel and Co.

Garden Court at Yale Station is a jv of Mile High Development and Koelbel and Co.

By John Rebchook

Two veteran Denver developers, George Thorn and Buz Koelbel, on Thursday held a groundbreaking ceremony for their second Transit-Oriented affordable housing project near the Yale light rail station.

Mile High Development LLC, headed by Thorn, and Koelbel and Co., are developing the four-story, 66-unit Garden Court Yale Station near the intersection of Interstate 25 and Yale Avenue.

The building is classified as affordable workforce housing because units are available to those earning up to 60 percent of the area median income.

It marks the third TOD/affordable housing project by the two companies since 2009.

The 6-story, 50-unit Apartments at Yale Station, which Mile High and Koelbel developed, was the first affordable TOD for qualified people 55 years and older in Denver, when they opened it in July 2011.

Garden Court is adjacent to the Yale light rail station.

It will be less than a minute walk for residents at Garden Court to catch a bus or the light rail, providing easy access to downtown Denver of the Denver Tech Center.

The apartment complex will have on-site leasing and provide residents with bike storage, a fitness room, a community room, including a computer lab, and a courtyard with barbeque grills.

Another view of Garden Court.

Another view of Garden Court.

One RTD EcoPass is also included in the rent for each unit.

Available apartments include one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging in size from 591 to 941 square feet.

Construction is expected to be completed by March 2016.

The architect for Garden Court is J.G. Johnson and Taylor Kohrs is the general contractor.

“Affordable housing benefits more than just occupants,” said Thorn, president and founder of Mile High Development.

“It also serves the community at large through increased employment and spending,” Thorn continued.

“Plus, it helps employers attract and retain quality workers,” he said.

Garden Court at Yale Station will open in March.

Garden Court at Yale Station will open in March.

Affordable housing also promotes sustainability in urban living, especially in a transit-oriented setting, according to Buz Koelbel, president and CEO of Koelbel and Co.

“These projects are thoughtfully designed not only to integrate housing and transportation, but to support smart land use and infrastructure investments,” Koelbel said.

Koelbel and Co. is in the process of acquiring the land for Garden Court from the Urban Land Conservancy. The ULS is a Denver-based nonprofit that has invested $60 million into metro Denver real estate that directly benefits communities.

ULC purchased the land in 2009 using the Denver TOD Fund, a partnership between ULC, Enterprise Community Partners, the City and County of Denver, as well as several other investors. Other investors include Wells Fargo and  and the Colorado Housing Finance Authority. They who joined together to establish the country’s first affordable housing TOD acquisition fund in the country.

“ULC is thrilled to be a partner in bringing this new asset to the community,”  according to Aaron Miripol, CEO and president of ULC.

“With virtually no other family affordable housing on the corridor and the current housing crisis Denver is facing, Garden Court Yale Station brings opportunity and affordability to a neighborhood where the need is vast,” he added.

Koelbel and Co. is the longest operating family-owned real estate development firm in the region.

Koelbel was the original developer of Cherry Hills Village in the 1950s, for example. Other Koelbel developments have included the Pinehurst Country Club, Vail Cascade Village, and the 560,000-square-foot Centennial Promenade near Park Meadows.

Thorn has developed millions of square feet, often with partners, since 1977.

Development he has been with have included the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Buildings, the Museum Residences designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, Lakewood City Commons and the 1.5 million-square-foot Colorado Center, one of the first major TODs in Denver.

Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com. InsideRealEstateNews.com is sponsored by 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.