Developers have started construction on two apartment projects in Denver's River North neighborhood, providing a fresh signal that the area is poised for rejuvenation — nearly a decade after the city approved a plan to set a renaissance in motion.
Though not the first major project to be undertaken in the area — that credit goes to Mickey Zeppelin's Taxi development — Cypress Real Estate Advisors is poised to change the character of the neighborhood from industrial to urban residential.
The River North Plan covers an area bounded by Park Avenue West to the southwest, the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe tracks to the northwest, Interstate 70 on the north, and York Street and the Union Pacific tracks on the northeast.
Austin, Texas-based Cypress broke ground in November on a 301-unit apartment project at the old Denargo Market, north of downtown. The project, expected to be completed by summer 2013, is the first to be built on the 38-acre site controlled by Cypress. The property could eventually include an urban grocer and hotel. About 65,000 square feet of retail is planned for the project.
"Right now, we're concentrating on completing the infrastructure and the first phase of apartments, and then seeing the next logical step," said Dudley Simmons, managing director of Cypress. "The zoning is more weighted toward residential but provides flexibility to see what the market demands."
Meanwhile, Prospect is building a 204-unit apartment complex nearby at 3200 Brighton Blvd. Unlike many apartment projects in the works, the complex will not include ground-level retail.
"It's just hard to get the critical mass you need for a retail project in a multifamily housing project like that," said Jim Johnson, principal of JG Johnson Architects.
Rental rates will be $1,050 to $1,200 a month for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,350 to $1,600 for a two-bedroom.
"We're targeting the middle-income bracket of the younger population," said Scott McFadden, principal of Prospect.
It's not just new apartment projects that are breathing life into the neighborhood. Zeppelin, who recognized the area's potential early on, continues to add on to his Taxi development at the former site of Yellow Cab's central Denver office. A 40,000-square-foot office building — Drive — is under construction and already is 75 percent leased, and he has converted an old freight-truck maintenance building into space for a biotech company.
"We're really excited about the array of tenants for the new Drive building," Zeppelin said.
Denver has been working with the Trust for Public Land and Great Outdoors Colorado to buy a 2-acre property along the South Platte River Greenway for a new park.
Margaret Jackson: 303-954-1473 or email@example.com
Denargo Market: Cypress Real Estate has broken ground on a 301-unit apartment complex on a 38-acre site that includes 65,000 square feet of retail space.
E River North: Prospect's 204-unit apartment complex will have no ground-level retail.