Special Features

Cheaper than renting? 'Absolutely,' says David Weekley at Midtown, 10 minutes from downtown Denver, Highlands

By Mark Samuelson

David Weekley s Michelle Wood (left), Allison Glover and Ashley Hargrove show off their model, across from Midtown s newly completed retail center and community garden.
A year ago it took a little imagination to see what was coming to Midtown, the new-urban master planned community where David Weekley Homes has sold 80 new single-family homes, ten minutes from Highlands, LoDo, and downtown. Today and tomorrow you can not only tour David Weekley's fast selling models, but see some attractions that were only on the drawing board before: a 12,000-square-foot retail space, amphitheater/pavilion, and a community garden that's already brimming with produce planted by Midtown residents.

"This is not Highlands Ranch," says David Weekley's Michelle Wood, who'll join Allison Glover and Ashley Hargrove in showing you a new home neighborhood that has much better access to downtown attractions than typical suburban areas. More diverse, too, she says; and definitely less expensive.

So much so, adds Glover, that many of David Weekley's sales are going to newlyweds, about-to-be-marrieds and other buyers that were renting before - who have been effectively priced out of the market by rising prices around downtown Denver. Those buyers like the low-maintenance yard size, as do many of the older 'downsizing' buyers that have been purchasing at Midtown from David Weekley.

"We see people who were paying preposterous amounts to rent downtown," Glover says. Their purchase choices are limited to smaller, older homes, or condos and townhomes that have high HOA fees; as opposed to single-family homes they're seeing here - more space, a 2-car garage, a basement (more than 50% of David Weekley buyers are choosing to order even more finished space in the basement up front), and new features and energy performance. The monthly metro district fee, for community upkeep, trash and snow removal, is only $65 a month.

Meanwhile, this is ten minutes from Highlands, ten minutes from downtown. "Many of our residents are going to the same places to hang out; while it cuts their commuting time into downtown," notes Glover. More than a few have one spouse headed for work downtown via I-76 just south, and a second headed up U.S. 36, just north, to Boulder. All of them, she says, like the quick getaway to the mountains from this site.

You can also see some homes headed for early completion, three in September - one a 'Bisque' 3-bedroom, 2-1/2 bath plan, 1,511 square feet plus basement at $350,000; also a 'Magenta' with main-floor master, $390,360. Each comes with a 3-year energy performance guarantee by Environments for Living, front landscape with irrigation and rear fence, and a security system that includes a year of monitoring. If you're a Realtor, you can take a 4% co-op on the full price of any home that closes by Sept. 30. David Weekley has refreshments out today; open Labor Day, too. To reach from downtown, take I-25 north to I-76, then west a mile to Pecos, and north to W. 67th.

WHERE: David Weekley Homes at Midtown, master-planned community 10 min. from downtown; 2-to-4-bed single-family homes with full basement, 2-car attached garage; amenities; 2 homes for early move-in; 4% co-op on any sale that closes by Sept. 30; RTD Gold Rail opens 2016; refreshments today. Pecos St. at W. 68th, Denver; from U.S. 36 Tnpk take Pecos south ¾-mi. to W. 68th; or from I-25 take I-76 west 1 mi., exit Pecos, north to 68th

PRICE: From $322,990, early move-in from $350s

PHONE: 720-838-2206

WEB: DavidWeekleyHomes.com

Mark Samuelson writes on real estate and business; you can email him atmark@samuelsonassoc.com. You can see all of Mark Samuelson's columns online atDenverPostHomes.com

  • Colorado has plenty of spare rooms, but will they be rented?

    Metro Denver’s housing shortage could take years to resolve, but there is one source of supply that could help take some pressure off the market if it gains acceptance.
    Across Colorado, there are 790,074 spare bedrooms potentially available to rent, the personal finance website Finder.com estimates. Assuming a rent of $100 a week, those spare rooms have the potential to generate in $4.1 billion a year in rental income.
    “It seems like a simple solution really that more people should be considering. Especially with the older generation who are often stuck with these big homes,” said Michelle Hutchison, money expert at Finder.com in Sydney.
    Hutchison suggests both short-term and long-term rentals could provide income. But municipal governments and neighborhood groups often oppose short-term rentals.
    Spare rooms can rent for about a third of the cost of a one-bedroom apartment, creating options for those otherwise at risk of getting priced out of the market. Nationally, Finder.com estimates that 33.6 million rooms might be available as rentals.
    In states where housing is less expensive, an abundance of homes and apartments might result in few takers. But Colorado ran about 15,000 homes and apartments short of what needed to be built last year given population gains, and that imbalance has pushed up rents and home prices from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins.
    Tight housing markets are squeezing young adults especially hard in popular places like Denver. Nationally, just under a third of 18- to 34-year-olds are now living with parents or relatives, more than are living with a spouse or significant other, according to the Pew Research Center.
    That’s the first time that has happened in records going back to the 1880s. A larger share of young adults are living at home than at any time since the 1940s, Pew found.
    Other surveys show the percentage of adults in metro Denver who are sharing homes with unrelated people also has shot up sharply.
    At the same time, as Colorado’s population skews older, more seniors find themselves in homes with more space than they need. Rising property values are contributing to higher taxes and maintenance costs.
    “They are often asset rich and cash poor. They are sitting in houses that could be worth a lot of money,” Hutchison said.
    At least two for-profits and one nonprofit have sprung up in recent months to help seniors and others with surplus rooms to connect with those needing housing, said Alison Joucovsky, executive director of Sunshine Home Share Colorado.
    Her nonprofit expects to start matching seniors with extra space with those who need housing this fall, following a model used in England and Scotland.
    “If a senior is struggling to shovel the walk or lacks a car, you can create a service exchange,” Joucovsky said. A tenant agrees to provide a certain number of hours of work in return for reduced rent.
    Surveys show about 90 percent of seniors prefer to stay put if they can, but sometimes they need help doing so, she said. And affordable options to downsize are becoming more limited, she added.
    Joucovsky said in her research she also learned that the Community College of Denver has 450 students who self-identify as homeless. The situation has become so severe the college allows some of them to spend the night.
    Doubling up isn’t just about young and old. There is also an increase in seniors seeking out other seniors, a trend that could help free up homes for young families.
    Joucovsky said any roommate situation requires careful screening on both sides, but if done right, it can prove a win-win for all involved.

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  • RiNo’s Taxi development to grow by 5.5 acres

    An old concrete plant has been acquired by the developers of the Taxi mixed-use campus in Denver’s River North, with plans to expand their trailblazing project’s mix of creative office, housing and retail to the 5.5-acre site.
    Zeppelin Development closed late last week on the former Ready Mixed Concrete property, which sits due north of the recently completed, family-oriented Freight Residences along Ringsby Court, west of the South Platte River. With the $7.3 million  purchase, Zeppelin’s land holdings in RiNo now span 25 acres.
    “We’ve used up most of the development sites throughout the 20 acres we have,” said Kyle Zeppelin, who, along with his father, Mickey, has been working on Taxi since the early 2000s. “What the 5 acres at Ready Mixed gives us is the ability to continue to scale up and see some ideas through. The projects that are working at a high level, where we think we can make an even bigger social impact, there is some opportunity to do that on that site.”
    Kyle Zeppelin, left, owner of Zeppelin Development and Ben Holley, right, construction manager, stand inside one of the new apartment units available at Freight Apartments in the Taxi development May 23, 2016. The mixed retail, residential and office site will now expand by 5.5 acres with the acquisition of the Ready Mix Concrete plant just to the north.Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post
    High on that list will be more housing designed for urban families, as well as a likely deed-restricted affordable housing development, Kyle Zeppelin said. More destination retail serving Taxi and the surrounding neighborhoods is also possible.
    All told, the expansion could add up to 400,000 square feet of additional development. Construction could begin on the first phases within a year, he said.
    “We’re always looking for under-served areas in the market that aren’t being addressed by other developers,” Zeppelin said. “Family housing has been the newest chapter.”
    The 48-unit Freight Residences, which opened this year, the first family-oriented apartment community of its kind in RiNo, is 90 percent leased, Kyle Zeppelin said.
    The addition of the Ready Mixed property also means Zeppelin Development has all the land it needs to work with the city to reroute Ringsby Court away from the river, potentially freeing up the current right of way for river reclamation and green space.
    Concept site plans show the realigned road veering into the Taxi property, about where the first driveway going north exists today, then working its way through the back of the property to 38th Avenue.
    Kyle Zeppelin said the company has been talking with the city about rerouting Ringsby for years.
    The city’s 2009 River North Greenway Master Plan, while not specifying a new route, recommended that “Ringsby Court should be moved away from the river wherever possible.” A pedestrian bridge spanning the South Platte also would connect Taxi to the proposed River North Park on the river’s east bank.
    “What’s there now is a relic of the past, when cities turned their back on rivers,” Zeppelin said. “Over the last 20 years, there’s been a renewed interest in embracing these urban waterways. That’s an opportunity that you can’t build into a neighborhood — there’s only one river that runs through downtown and RiNo.”
    Rerouting Ringsby Court is on the city’s radar, but for now it sits behind higher-priority projects on the east side of the river, said Todd Wenskoski, deputy director of the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative. Among them is the reconstruction of Brighton Boulevard, building River North Park and the 35th/36th pedestrian bridge and repurposing Arkins Court into a pedestrian promenade.
    “Ringsby Court is a critical connection for the foreseeable future to accommodate travel plans during the construction of these and other surrounding projects,” Wenskoski said.
    Josh and Tran Wills eat dinner with three of their four children, Ellie, Quynh and Hesh, on Monday, February 29, 2016. The Wills family is among the first moving into Freight Residences, a family-oriented apartment community in the Taxi development in RiNo.AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

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  • US new-home sales jump to highest level in more than 8 years

    Real estate agents arrive at a brokers tour showing a house for sale with a list price of $1.3 million May 17, 2007 in San Rafael, California.Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
    WASHINGTON — Americans ramped up their purchases of new homes in April to the highest level since January 2008, evidence of a strong start to the spring buying season.
    The Commerce Department said Tuesday that new home sales jumped 16.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 619,000, up from a revised total of 531,000 in March.
    Steady job gains and low mortgage rates have encouraged more Americans to buy new homes. That trend is driving home construction and helping support the economy.
    The new home sales figures are notoriously volatile, particularly at the regional level. Last month, new home purchases leapt 53 percent in the Northeast and 19 percent in the West. They fell 5 percent in the Midwest and jumped 16 percent in the South.
    The housing market is still healing from the long-term consequences of the bubble and bust a decade ago. Last month’s sales aren’t far from the historical long-run pace of about 650,000 a year.
    Developers have been disproportionately targeting higher-income buyers: The median price of a new home that sold in April was $321,100, a record high, up from $297,900 in March.
    Related ArticlesMay 23, 2016

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  • Denver, Boulder could disrupt larger tech markets — but challenges exist

    Denver and Boulder’s distinct identities in the tech world could be holding the region back from being considered a true hub for innovation, a local tech CEO said at an event Tuesday.
    “You think about the Bay Area, you think about Boston-495, you think about Raleigh-Durham, but here, it seems like there is separation,” Apto CEO Tanner McGraw said. “It’s absolutely an opportunity.”
    “You’ve got Boulder Startup Week and Denver Startup Week and Fort Collins Startup Week,” he said. “In Austin, you’ve got South by Southwest. The notion of having a Round Rock South by Southwest is absurd, yet we do it here.”
    Denver Startup Week banners hang downtown.Tamara Chung, The Denver Post
    Apto, a commercial real estate software company, moved its operations to Denver from Houston last year, drawn to the Mile High City’s startup sensibilities and deeper talent pool. Currently inside the Galvanize tech campus, the 50-plus employee firm is planning a move to Lower Downtown in the near future.
    “It’s a really interesting opportunity to have a collective identity,” McGraw said of the Front Range tech community. “I’ve not been here long enough to know what it is, but there is a real opportunity to try to combine and become something together, as opposed to these disparate parts.”
    McGraw was one of the speakers at The Denver Disruption, a Bisnow forum about technology and commercial real estate in Denver.
    Large technology companies and established multinationals — including Panasonic Enterprise Solutions — are starting to look to Denver because of its Rocky Mountain backdrop, affordability and public-private partnerships that have led to innovative projects such as Peña Station NEXT, said Sean Campbell, CEO of Formativ, a Denver real estate development company.
    Campbell, the co-founder and co-developer of Industry, is working on the new World Trade Center Denver campus near the recently opened 38th & Blake Station.
    Denver is poised to disrupt larger tech markets such as San Francisco, he said, although attracting capital and talent will be key.
    “We are going to be 60 cents on the dollar for a little while compared to those markets,” Campbell said. “When you’re making $250,000 at Google, and you have to live in Oakland because you can’t afford to buy a place in San Francisco and you’re taking the Google bus, Denver and Boulder start to look pretty darn attractive.”
    Denver’s red-hot housing market could pose challenges in the future, though, said Brian Levitt,  president of NAVA Real Estate, one of the few local firms with large condominium projects in development today.
    “We have 25,000 new households created in the Denver metro area a year, so amazing numbers of people moving here,” Levitt said. “By the same token, just the cost of doing business is exceptional right now — over the last two years, we saw construction costs increase about a percent a month, which is insane.
    “People being able to find real estate and affordable housing is going to be a challenge going forward.”

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