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

  • Japanese investor buys one of high country’s largest apartment complexes in Leadville

    When Scott Bradley bought the 162-unit Eagles Nest Apartment complex in 2007, people raised their eyebrows: $3 million for a nearly 50-year-old complex in up-and-down Leadville that had seen little investment over the decades?
    The veteran developer just sold Eagles Nest, one of the largest apartment complexes in the Colorado high country, for $13.5 million to a Japanese investor he never met. Cash deal. Closed in less than a month.
    After years of investing and fighting for approvals to develop in Grand County and Central City, Bradley struck it big in Leadville.
    “When it’s easier to make money in Leadville than it is in Grand County, something is wrong,” said Bradley, who sold majority interest in long-dormant, 688-acre Ski Idlewild ski area in Winter Park to community developer Buz Koelbel in 2007 and still has a 95-acre parcel slated for homes near Tabernash. “I don’t think anyone saw this coming.”
    Eagles Nest was built next to the Climax Mine in 1952 for miners. The mine moved the buildings to Leadville in 1960, where they became an enclave of low-income one-, two- and three-bedroom units spread across nine buildings. The boom-and-bust cycle of mine-dependent Leadville took its toll on the complex as previous owners weathered foreclosures and downturns.
    Bradley invested in the complex and waded through Lake County approval to convert the apartments into for-sale condos. That was his play: Buy a unit for $20,000, secure local approvals, spruce it up and sell it as a $60,000 condo to buyers shying from the exponentially more pricey condos in nearby Vail, Summit County and Copper Mountain.
    But when tourism revived in the nearby ski towns and Leadville became a sleeper community for resort workers in Vail, Breckenridge, Frisco and Copper Mountain, occupancy at Eagles Nest climbed to 90 percent from 50 percent, with average rents doubling to $900 per month after upgrades and new management. He saw worker housing as a better option. More than half of his tenants commute to ski town jobs down the hill from Leadville.
    He tried to offer the property to Vail Resorts as a way to ease the housing crisis in towns supporting the company’s resorts in Eagle and Summit counties.
    “They wouldn’t even a return a phone call when they were told it was in Leadville. Vail doesn’t want anything to do with Leadville, which I don’t get because it’s not that far away,” Bradley said, referring to the 45-mile trip between the cities.
    So who is the mystery buyer? A Japanese investor with an LLC, Bradley said, rifling through papers to find the settlement sheet. Never met the guy and never talked to him, Bradley said. The buyer’s name is Masayuki Tsukada, and he’s president of Tokyo-based Tsukada Global Holdings. The company reported $778.3 million in assets and a net income of $37.6 million from $521.9 million in revenue at the end of last year, according to its earnings report.
    “One of the weirdest deals we have ever done,” Bradley said. “They put it under contract. Earnest money arrived the next day. It was a quick close, in less than 30 days. Cash. Everyone told me it wasn’t going to happen; this is not the way you buy real estate. I wish I had a few more deals like that. It’s like I’ve always said: When it gets hot in the mountains, it gets hot.”

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  • Denver home prices frothy, but risk of a reversal remains low

    Metro Denver home prices are about 18.3 percent higher than what income gains can explain and justify, according to a first quarter update from Arch MI.
    That’s on the high side among metro areas and above the excess appreciation rates seen a decade ago during the housing boom. In fact, they haven’t been so high in Denver since the oil boom days of the early 1980s.
    But the odds that metro Denver will suffer a home price decline over the next two years remains at a low 2 percent due to a strong economy and the region’s continued popularity among those relocating, according to the Housing and Mortgage Market Review from Arch MI.
    “Don’t expect Denver home prices to go down. Everybody wants in. It isn’t a bubble and it will continue to be like this,” predicted Ralph DeFranco, global chief economist with Arch MI.
    Arch MI, which is based in Walnut Creek, Calif., provides mortgage insurance, giving it a motivation to stay on top of home price trends.
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  • Denver now allows housing up to 30 stories in downtown’s next hot neighborhood

    The Denver City Council has approved sweeping proposals aimed at helping to transform downtown’s Arapahoe Square from an area dominated by parking lots into the city’s next dense, walkable neighborhood.
    City planning officials envision that development eventually could bring thousands of new housing units to the area, if developer interest holds.
    Zoning changes approved Monday night divide an 18-block area sandwiched between 20th Street and Park Avenue into two newly created zone districts that allow 12-plus stories closer to Park and 20-plus stories closer to 20th Street, the boundary with the Central Business District. Those unusually defined height boundaries are intentionally elastic: Developers can build even higher — up to 20 or 30 stories, respectively — if they meet criteria such as concealing parking garages from the street or designing slimmer towers atop shorter bases, called “point towers.”
    Those new zone districts between 20th and Park stretch from properties fronting Lawrence Street to those fronting Welton Street, in Five Points. Broadway cuts through the rezoned area diagonally.
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  • Whole Foods to move regional headquarters to Denver from Boulder

    Whole Foods Market plans to move its Rocky Mountain regional headquarters down the highway to the Mile High City.
    By early next year, the Austin, Texas-based natural foods grocer will settle about 100 employees into the three-story, 38,000-square-foot brick building off 3012 Huron St. that once housed Centennial School Supply Co. The move was first reported by BusinessDen.
    Whole Foods will move from Boulder’s Twenty Ninth Street mall, where it leased a 45,000-square-foot office space that once served as the headquarters to Wild Oats Markets. A little under 10 years ago, Whole Foods snapped up its Boulder-bred rival for roughly $700 million including assumed debt.
    Since that acquisition, the natural products industry continued to blossom, soaring past $100 billion in annual retail sales, according to the Natural Foods Merchandiser.
    The Whole Foods store near 28th and Pearl streets in Boulder will remain the region’s flagship location, but just as natural and organic mature into the mainstream, Whole Foods opted to become more centrally located, said Heather Larrabee, a company spokeswoman.
    “We have three stores in Boulder … but the majority of our stores are actually in and around the Denver metroplex,” she said.
    The new office provides greater accessibility to Denver International Airport, where many of its producers and clients fly in for visits. The move also anchors Whole Foods near a flourishing culinary arts scene, she said.
    Whole Foods in December named chef Tien Ho to head its prepared foods and bakery efforts and position Whole Foods as the “best place to eat in town,” Larrabee said.
    “Our region as definitely experienced a lot of growth and a lot of progress,” she said. “We are definitely undergoing a transformation. We’re very much in a period of growth and change and all that comes with that.”
    Whole Foods has started to roll out its smaller-format brand, 365 by Whole Foods Market, which is designed to appeal to younger, more value-conscious and tech-savvy shoppers. The first 365 store opened last month in Los Angeles and one or a few could very well land in Colorado, Larrabee said.
    “We definitely have been looking at sites, and we don’t have anything confirmed yet,” she said.

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