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DENVER-Local developer Ray Suppa has kicked off the start of his $65-million, 161-unit loft project in the city’s Central Platte Valley with a traditional Native American ground blessing ceremony.

Suppa has developed several properties in Hawaii, where he says such ceremonies are common practice by native residents. And, it’s equally appropriate for the Waterside Lofts site, located at Wewatta Street and the banks of Cherry Creek near the Pepsi Center arena. The ceremony includes smoking a peace pipe filled with sage, dancing and singing.

Until the late 1850s, the area had been home to tribes of plain Indians–Arapahoe, Cheyenne and Lakota–who had been lured by an abundance of chokecherries, renowned for healing powers as well as being a food source. The Native American heritage is the bedrock of the area, where streets bear names such as Arapahoe, Champa, Wazee and Wewatta or “clear water” in the Lakota language.

Suppa says 50% of the units already have been sold. “We are the only new development with a creek-side location,” says Paul Stann, construction manager for the project, slated for a spring 2002 opening. The property is accessible to Cherry Creek’s walking and biking trails and within easy walking distance of Coors Field, Larimer Square, Colorado’s Ocean Journey, Elitch Gardens, the Performing Arts Center, Pepsi Center and 16th Street Mall.

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