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Overlook at Mile High sells for $97 million

Overlook at Mile High
The view of downtown from the Overlook at Mile High, which recently sold for $97 million.

Overlook at Mile High is overlooked no more.

For one thing, the 476-unit Overlook at Mile High is the largest apartment community in the area west of downtown Denver, near the confluence of West Colfax Avenue and Federal Boulevard.

While over the last half century you could have driven by the development of West Colfax Avenue without giving it more than a passing glance, the Overlook at Mile High is close to everything downtown.

It is four minutes from the Auraria campus, six minutes to the Pepsi Center, 10 minutes from downtown Denver and 13 minutes to Union Station. You could make it from the Overlook at Mile High at 3010 W. 14th Ave. to the University of Denver in 17 minutes.

Overlook at Mile High

So much is happening near the Overlook at Mile High that Pat Stucker and Ray White of JLL call it “transformative.”

The Overlook at Mile High, built in 1966, recently was purchased for $97 million by the Chicago-based Laramar Group, which beat out more than a dozen competitors for it.

Yet, until recently, the Overlook at Mile High would have been considered in the heart of no man’s land, as it sits on 15.75 acres six blocks from Federal and Colfax, which has long been considered a gritty stretch that is only on the map for most people when attending a Denver Broncos game.

Pat Stucker and Ray White, who listed, marketed and sold the Overlook at Mile High, have a word for what is happening in the area: “Transformative.”

“So much is going on in that area around the Overlook at Mile High that someone could do a case study” on how the urban fabric is quickly evolving, said Stucker, a managing director at JLL. White is a vice president at JLL.

The Overlook at Mile High, built in 1966 and sold by its longtime owner, Dallas-based WillMax Capital Investments, is along the main artery of where some of the most game-changing redevelopments in Denver are taking place or on the drawing board.

The Overlook at Mile High, known as Dorchester Park Avondale before WillMax purchased it in 2001 for $29.9 million, is adjacent to two RTD stations, making it a true transit-oriented development, Stucker notes.

Arguably, Overlook at Mile High is a gateway to trendy neighborhoods such as Sloan’s Lake, Jefferson Park and West Highland. And if you want to keep heading west, the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood is only 20 minutes away.

Overlook at Mile High

Overlook at Mile High is a true TOD site.

“So much is going on in that area, with everything from public transportation and in-migration from millennials, gentrification of Sloan’s Lake and (West) Highland and all of the redevelopment in the area,” Stucker said. Before the sale to Laramar, which according to its website has about 15 rental properties in its Denver portfolio, Stucker and White met with Ismael Guerrero, executive director of the Denver Housing Authority

They came away impressed with DHA’s $500 million-plus public-private redevelopment vision for Sun Valley, which will triple the density in the 80-acre neighborhood in the shadow of the Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Overlook at Mile High

Pat Stucker

Sun Valley has been described as the poorest neighborhood in Denver.

“DHA’s plan for Sun Valley is astounding,” Stucker said. “DHA is taking all of the lessons learned from redevelopments like Mariposa and applying them to all of Sun Valley.”

Other significant developments near the Overlook at Mile High Include:

  • The $351 million Mile High Entertainment District planned by the Denver Broncos at Lower Colfax Avenue, Decatur Street and Mile High Drive. Eventually it is expected to sport year-round retail, entertainment and cultural destinations;
  • A $9 million redevelopment of the Paco Sanchez Park adjacent to the Overlook at Mile High, which is expected to include a Ninja warrior-style obstacle course;
  • The Decatur Federal RTD light-rail station, which not only whisks residents of the Overlook at Mile High to Union Station in 13 minutes but also will be the catalyst for high-density TOD sites;
  • The Colorado Department of Transportation is building a five-story, 175,000-square-foot headquarters building in Sun Valley, just east of the Overlook at Mile High. It will house more than 700 people; and
  • Sloans, a mere three-minute drive to the west. The redevelopment of the former St. Anthony Hospital campus includes the only Alamo Drafthouse movie cinema in Denver, a wide range of housing, retail and offices.

There was a lot of interest from investors for Overlook at Mile High.

“As I recall, we received 14 offers and then we had six really qualified buyers bidding for it – two from New York, one from California and one from Chicago,” Stucker said.

Overlook at Mile Hig

A view of downtown Denver’s skyline from Overlook at Mile High

Not only is it on a great site in a transformative area, but also it is one of a dwindling number of large, value-add communities that hasn’t been snapped up, he said.

“It’s really one of the last large, value-add properties available,” Stucker said. “And while it is true it is 50 years old, it has really good bones.”

The Overlook at Mile High has 21 buildings, ranging from one to six stories. Some 120 of the units are townhome-style.

Overlook at Mile High

Ray White

But perhaps what is most significant for the new owner of the Overlook at Mile High is that the area is in the early stages of its transformation.

“The whole West Colfax corridor is changing faster than I expected,” Stucker said. “Denver is firing on all cylinders and that change is accelerating faster along the West Colfax corridor than just about any place in Denver. Three to five years from now, I think people will be amazed by  everything that will have happened in the area around the Overlook at Mile High.”

If you scratch the surface of just about any deal, there is a story behind it. The Rebchook Real Estate Corner looks at the what and who that make the Colorado commercial real estate industry spin every Tuesday and Thursday online at CREJ.com. The people behind the deals are passionate about what they do, whether they focus on offices, apartments, industrial, retail, land or lending. They also are passionate about their clients. Given the cyclical nature of commercial real estate, those who prosper in it have plenty of stories to tell. I hope to share them with you. 

This column includes news stories, in-depth looks at deals, profiles, Q&As and pieces on the latest trends. Contact John with story tips at JRCHOOK@gmail.com or 303-945-6865.

John Rebchook has been taking the pulse of the Denver-area and Colorado commercial real estate world for almost 35 years. He joined the editorial staff of CREJ in 2011. Prior to that, he was the Real Estate Editor of the Rocky Mountain News from 1983 until it closed in 2009.