Five minutes from everywhere.
“We spent quite a bit of time driving, biking and walking from here and it was amazing whether you were going to Washington Park, Cherry Creek or downtown, everything was five minutes away,” Walter Armer told me on a tour of Denver’s newest, biggest and possibly the most expensive apartment community ever built.
The ETAs that Armer was talking about are from Country Club Towers II and III.
Today, Country Club Towers will welcome its first residents in the 1.021-million-square-foot community with 558 units in the two 32-story buildings. Already, 40 percent of the units in the first building have been pre-leased, exceeding expectations.
If the $230 million development at Bayaud Avenue and Downing Street is not the most expensive apartment community ever built in Denver, you wouldn’t need fingers on both hands to count those that top it in price. You wouldn’t even need five fingers.
The community, designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz, was developed and is owned by the Denver-based Broe Real Estate Group, whose headquarters in Cherry Creek North, is easily within the 5-minute arrival time. Swinerton Builders is the general contractor for the project that created about 3,000 construction jobs.
“What this makes this unique, from certainly any other project I have ever worked on, is for Pat Broe this a legacy effort,” said Armer, who moved to Denver from San Francisco two years ago.
“Pat and his family are going to own this forever,” Armer said. “It’s different having a family own a development than a merchant builder that just wants to build it as inexpensively as possible, lease-it up, sell it and get out.”
To that end, the Broe Group spent more money on everything from the high speed, destination elevators that whip you to your floor at 750 feet per minute and art ranging from photographs of endangered animals by Joel Sartore, founder of Photo Ark, to a sawtooth exterior design that allows floor-to-ceiling bay windows in each unit.
“These are the worst views in the entire building,” Armer said about one ninth-floor unit, with panorama vistas of the mountains to the west and the Denver Country Club to the east, which other communities would die for.
“There really are no bad views,” he later added, an understatement, for sure.
He admitted that they made one mistake that they corrected in the spring.
“We were touring competitor’s projects and later we asked some women colleagues to join us,” he recalled.
The women, he said, were wowed by custom shelving in the closets.
“We were a bunch of guys and the cool closet feature went right by us. We should have had women from our office involved earlier and we did after that.
They also upgraded the closets.
And it’s not just the closets, but the high-quality finishes and thoughtful design, said Colleen Matthews, Development Project Coordinator at the Broe Real Estate Group.
“There is so much that is gorgeous here,” Matthews said.
Broe has left his fingerprints throughout the community.
“Pat is a big believer in the Malcolm Gladwell 7-second rule, so he spent money, whether is on art, or finishes that impress you, that wouldn’t make sense for most developers,” Armer said.
One example: Broe “found an antique scull someplace in California,” Armer said.
The 33-foot long boat was shipped in two pieces, one 22-feet long and the other 11, was re-assembled in Denver and now hangs from the in the state-of-the art, 4,800-sf health club area that is still under construction on the fifth floor.
“And I have a personal investment in the official-regulation bocce ball courts,” Armer added.
He bet Broe that the bocce ball courts will be a big hit with residents.
“What could be better than playing bocce ball and having beers with your friends on a nice day? What a great community feature.”
Some features residents will appreciate, but will not notice.
A prime example is the mail room. Getting packages in a big development is a big, logistical headache for all large apartment communities.
“We figured out how much space we needed and tripled it,” Armer told me.
So far, 136 of the 558 units have been pre-leased.
“I was hoping to get to 93 and I thought that was aggressive,” Armer said.
The average price per sf is $2.60 per sf. Studios start at about $1,600 per month, a 2-bedroom costs about $3,900 and the 10 penthouses would set you back about $5,400 to $6,800 each month. This is the mix of the unit at Country Club Towers:
- 52 studios, accounting for 9 percent of the total number of units, at an average units size of 621 sf;
- 298 1-bedroom, 1-bath units, 53 percent of the total units, at an average size of 763 sf;
- 194 2-bedroom, 2-bath units, 35 percent of the total units, at an average size of 1,177 sf;
- Six 2-bedroom, 2-bath and den units, 1 percent of the total units, at an average size of 1,631 sf;
- And six garden units, for 1 percent of the total number of units, at an average size of 935 sf.
A studio, (which Armer said would be considered a large 1-bedroom in San Francisco), would require an annual income of about $60,000 and for a 2-bedroom you would need to make about $140,000.
“I expect that most people who leave will do so either because they have bought a home or were transferred to some other location outside of Denver,” Armer said.
They did a heat map of where the initial residents came from.
So far, most of the renters are 25 to 35 years old, with many of them coming from the either coasts and Chicago. “We’ve also have a fair number of empty nesters, who sold their big home in Cherry Hills Village and want to live here because it is easy to lock and leave when they travel,” he said.
Three of the five penthouses have been taken.
Despite its attributes, the development has been a lightning rod for some critics, who fear that it will worsen already bad traffic congestion and is too large for the Washington Park neighborhood area.
“On a personal level, I am a big fan of density,” Armer said.
“I much prefer density to sprawl. I think density leads to more and better public transportation solutions. The only way to justify better public transportation is if you have the density to support it.
To that end, the Broe Group will be buying a van for residents to ferry them to downtown and Cherry Creek.”And in the winter, it will take them to the mountains for skiing,” he said. “It is not only a nice amenity for our residents, but it takes cars off the road.”
Also, 50 of the 985 parking spaces have been reserved for the historic Norman condominium building that has been incorporated into the campus of the Country Club Towers, an effort to free-up precious parking spaces in the area.
Even Denver Fugly isn’t an echo chamber for people who think that the towers are ugly and inappropriate, although some certainly have used it as exhibit A of what is wrong with the new development in Denver.
One person, in fact, called Country Club Towers “hideous,” on Denver Fugly.
Others were quick to disagree.
“They’re certainly not “FUGLY,” wrote one person on the well-read site.
“I think they are decent building, despite being a little bit grand in scale for the location,” posted another person on Denver Fugly.
Armer thinks the site is ideal for the towers.
“Look, if my parents were going to live in a high-rise apartment tower, no way would they want to be in a downtown. It is just too crowded, too noisy and too intense. This is a great location, in my opinion, for density. You can really relax and enjoy the views, the art and all of the community amenities.”
And it’s five minutes from everywhere.