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DENVER-Gart Properties LLC is cashing in on a demand for downtown units, where lofts are going for a hefty $300 per sf or more. The developer is undertaking a $45-million loft project in a 108-year-old building situated in a budding neighborhood in the vicinity of Coors Field and two new parks at the downtown’s edge.

The Gart family, a familiar name around town, is one of the most aggressive Denver-based real estate companies boasting a portfolio of office, industrial and retail. But, says Mark Sidell, Gart Cos. president, WaterTower Lofts will be something special. “This isn’t like buying some strip shopping center,” he says. The 85,000-sf building will be converted into 96 lofts, ranging in price from $150,000 to more than $600,000. The project will deliver in about 14 months.

The company, with the Denver-based architectural and construction firm of Buchanan & Yonushewski LLC, will add a fifth floor for penthouse units featuring 20- to 26-foot ceilings and glass walls. All of the units will have thick brick walls and heavy timber beams. The second phase calls for 56 units in new construction plus a 236-space parking garage. Most of the units will be priced under $300,000, says Tom Gart, Gart Cos. chairman. “We started on this project over nine months ago,” Gart tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s like having a baby.”

The project will get a boost next year when Interstate 25, the major artery connecting Denver and southeast suburbs, will be torn up for an eight-year widening project to accommodate a light-rail transit system. “People are going to be sitting in all of that traffic in I-25, and wondering why they’re fighting all of the congestion every day, when they can be living downtown, walking to bookstores, restaurants and sporting events,” says Sidell.

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