It’s been called the single best, most visionary investment downtown Denver has ever seen.
No, we’re not talking about the catalytic redevelopment of Union Station. But this project certainly set the stage for Union Station and gave developers confidence that Lower Downtown would become the heart of the Mile High City.
It is now 13 years ago that East West Partners developed Glass House, a 23-story, 389-unit condominium tower in the Central Platte Valley at 1700 Basset St. Everyone assumed that Denver’s growth would start in LoDo and make its way west. But as it turned out — thanks to the Glass House — that growth started in the Central Platte and made its way to LoDo.
“There really hadn’t been any new residential condos going up at that time,” said Amy Cara, managing principal of East West, who was head of finance during the development of Glass House. “And, at that time, there wasn’t any smaller studios or 1-bedroom units for purchase in the area. It really gave us this opportunity to deliver this beautifully-designed building with incredible downtown and mountain views at prices that people who wanted to live downtown could afford.”
And as developers embark on a massive redevelopment of the Elitch Gardens site, Glass House will become more valuable of a condo development for its residents and investors. The redevelopment along the South Platte River, called River Mile, will include more than 15 million square feet of new mixed-use space spanning across 60 acres.
“That area has already become a hot spot, but with the development of River Mile, it’s going to be incredible and will transform Denver for the better,” said Bo Peiffer, a Denver High-Rise Living condo expert and broker associate who focuses on listing and connecting buyers with units at the Glass House.
Little did developers — and the public — know that Glass House would end up being one of the last big condo projects to go up in the past decade, along with the Four Seasons and Spire Condos, due to the recession and an increasing number of lawsuits that homeowner associations were filing against developers for construction defects.
Those lawsuits brought condo development to a halt. At its peak, condos made up 20% of the new housing stock in Denver, but as lawsuits piled up, that number dropped to 3%, which was significantly lower than similar-sized cities across the country. It wasn’t until 2017, when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation making it more difficult for HOAs to sue developers for construction defects, that those developers became more open-minded about building condos.
As it turned out, East West would get the ball rolling again in 2016 by developing the Coloradan at Union Station, a 19-story, 334-unit project that sold out almost immediately. The first residents moved in 2019 and only one penthouse remains on the market at the development today.
Walk into any unit at the Glass House and you’ll be drawn to the floor-to-ceiling windows, said Peiffer, with Denver High-Rise Living.
“To have those downtown views is absolutely breathtaking,” she said.
It was the industrial-chic design and fair price tag that initially attracted Kim Corrigan, now vice president of operations for Sage Hospitality, to buying into the Glass House in 2011.
And she wasn’t alone. The initial interest list collected by East West Partners back in 2006 and 2007 had more than 7,000 people on it. A bulk of the residences sold out in under a month with minimal marketing. The only real advertisement ahead of sales were two large billboards that read, “Own the Sky,” and included a link to a website for the development.
Corrigan added the ease of renting her unit out when she was abruptly transferred to Chicago months after closing on her 20th-story corner unit was a nice bonus.
“It rented out easily the whole time and was fabulous for us,” she said.
Nearly two years ago, Corrigan returned to Denver and to her beloved condo at Glass House full time.
“Now that there’s so much more going on in this area, from food and beverage options, to grocery stores — downtown living is much easier than it was eight years ago,” she said.
Amenities include a membership to the River Front Athletic Club, where Corrigan takes advantage of the pool and pilates classes. But it’s the staff that keeps the 13-year-old building looking like new that most impresses her.
“As management companies look for ways to save money, those types of maintenance and cleanliness positions can be the first ones to get cut,” she said. “This management team, though, has gone above and beyond with this building, which is really important because those types of things impact our investment.”
Since her return, Corrigan rarely uses her car. She can walk to work and the grocery store. During baseball season, she knows when the home team snags a win, because she can see the fireworks coming from Coors Field. When she needs to relax, her corner unit offers “the most amazing” mountain views and the latest happenings in Lower Highland. The proximity to Commons Park is the cherry on top.
“Denver has grown up,” she said. “I love the city lifestyle and have definitely become an urban girl.”
And for those who do have to commute, the proximity to Interstate 25 makes it easy to get around and in and out of the city, Peiffer added.
Less than a dozen units are currently on the market today, ranging from $400,000 for a one-bedroom on the 10th floor, to one of the six two-story townhome-style units for $725,000.