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DENVER-A Las Vegas developer is taking the proverbial course by following the money, but this time it’s with what is being touted as an affordable condominium project.

Ranch Builders Inc. has converted a luxury apartment complex in southwest Denver into 240 units that start at less than $100,000. The Miralago at Marston Lake, located at 4760 S. Wadsworth Blvd., is one of the most affordable projects in the area, says Robert Trenka, the listing broker with Denver-based Trenka & Associates.

The undertaking marks Ranch Builders’ “first foray into condo conversions,” says Trenka. One-bedroom units range in size from 700 sf to 885 sf and are priced from $98,900 to $154,900; two-bedroom units go from 1,010 sf to 1,164 sf and range in cost from $127,900 to $160,900. To date, 98 units are under contract or sold, with about 18% of the buyers being present renters.

Miralago had been developed by Denver’s Al Feld, who had triggered the luxury apartment building craze when he and Koelbel & Co. initiated the Breakers in southeast Denver nearly a decade ago. Miralago units boast wood-burning fireplaces, vaulted ceilings, sunken living rooms and walk-in closets.

Trenka says the after-tax cost is just slightly higher than rental costs, which had ranged from $750 to $1,200 per month. Many buyers, he says, have income ranges of $25,000 to $30,000 annually, putting them into a bracket where house buying isn’t always feasible. The complex is about 20 minutes from Downtown Denver and relatively close to Lucent Technologies’ new campus at Highlands Ranch.

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