Longmont’s South Main Station takes shape

A portion of a truss that connected two facilities at the Butterball plant was salvaged to create signage at South Main Station.

South Main Station Apartments is opening its doors in downtown Longmont, building on significant investments – and paving the way for additional amenities – in that part of the city.

The 253-unit apartment community, with frontage on Main Street, is a major milestone for South Main Station, the redevelopment of the 26-acre former Butterball turkey plant. The “phenomenally successful” Wibby Brewing opened there four years ago, and developer Mass Equities now is moving ahead with plans for creative workspace, a food hall and a 60-unit apartment building. Future plans call for an additional 250 apartment units.

South Main Station extends west from Main Street to include all four corners of the intersection at Second and Emery streets.

Brian Bair

“I had a vision of creating a real community, a neighborhood,” said Mass Equities Principal Brian Bair, adding the mix of existing and planned uses takes a page out of what’s happening in Denver’s River North Art District, where the company also is active.

In Longmont, “There are not a lot of large tracts of land downtown. We were able to buy 7 acres on Main Street. That’s very rare,” he said.

The $72 million South Main Station Apartments is the first large-scale urban apartment community to be developed in Longmont. Designed by Shears Adkins Rockmore Architects, it includes 10,000 square feet of street level retail/restaurant space, coworking space, and a rooftop lounge providing expansive mountain views, a bar, fire pits, community tables and soft seating. “We think this is going to be very popular,” Bair said of the rooftop space.

The apartment community offers a host of other amenities: a large fitness facility, yoga room, club room with a bar and kitchen, swimming pool and hot tub, outdoor fire pits, a do-it-yourself bike/ski workshop, pet spa with washing and drying stations, mail and package center and onsite storage.

“People are excited about the modernness,” said Community Manager Crystal Vrieze. “What we have has been very well-received.”

The four-story buildings include some townhome units with front and back doors, a choice of two finish schemes, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, sliding barn doors, two-tone cabinets and four different parking options. Residents also can choose units with balconies and walk-in closets. Apartments average 860 square feet.

There are 35 studio, 161 one-bedroom and 57 two-bedroom units. Monthly rents range from $1,408 to $2,295, making the apartments more affordable than comparable product in nearby Boulder, according to Bair.

The location is about 1 ½ blocks from the 52-acre Dickens Farm Nature Area, situated along the St. Vrain River. The park includes a kayak/ tubing course, recreational trails and picnic areas. If and when commuter rail is extended to Longmont, the transit station will be located within a stone’s throw of South Main Station.

From an economic development standpoint, South Main Station is an important project because it provides the kind of product and environment that attracts millennial talent, with walkability to downtown and other amenities, said Jessica Erickson, president and CEO of the Longmont Economic Development Partnership.

“The No. 1 decision-making factor for where companies are investing and putting new facilities today is where they can get access to talent. So, the addition of an apartment and commercial development like South Main Station is helping our ability to attract that talent to our community,” Erickson said.

A former granary will be transformed into a food hall with office space above.

In addition to starting construction of the fifth and final, 60-unit apartment building in the first phase of South Main Station this year, Mass Equities will begin work on two adaptive reuse projects within the development. A 15,000-sf warehouse at 110 Emery St. will be transformed into retail/office space, some of which is preleased. Although he said he couldn’t yet release details, Bair said, “We’ll have some really cool concepts going in that building, which will be amenities for the neighborhood.” In addition, an early 1900s granary that predates the Butterball plant will be transformed into an 8,500-sf food hall with 12,000 sf of office space on the second and third floors. Located at Second and Emery, catty-corner from the new apartments, the granary operated as the Colorado Malt & Barley Plant until 1930, according to Erik Mason of the Loveland Museum.

Mass Equities anticipates the food hall opening in summer 2021.

With investments the developer, the city and others have made in the South Main Street area, the vision of a mixed-use community in place of the former Butterball plant is taking shape. “It could be a real destination, whereas before it was a place where people came to work,” Bair commented.

Featured in CREJ’s Feb. 19-March 3, 2020, issue

Jill Jamieson-Nichols has been an Editor with the Colorado Real Estate Journal for more than 15 years, providing coverage of office, industrial, hospitality and mixed-use development news in the Denver metro area, plus all property types in Northern Colorado, Boulder County and along the Highway 36 corridor. Prior to joining CREJ, Jill was Editor of…