DENVER-Local developer Susan Powers says she will break ground on the second phase of her three-phase $32.5 million Fire Clay Lofts in the first quarter of 2002. Powers, principal of Denver-based Urban Ventures LLC, started construction of the first phase of Fire Clay a year ago and so far has sold 46 of the 53 units.

The next phase will have 54 units and when the third phase is completed the project will have 148 units, making it the largest condo project so far in the predominantly industrial stretch of the Upper Larimer neighborhood.

Units in the second phase are priced form $112,000 to $298,000, which includes units that are affordable and aimed at buyers earning up to 80% of the area median income. Those units have either five-year or 15-year deed restrictions.

A total of 20% of the units will be in the affordable category.

“We’re doing double what the city thinks you should be doing,” Powers tells GlobeSt.com. “We feel it is important to give back to the community. If you do these project right, you can provide affordable housing and still get a market return.”

Anne Warhover, president of the Downtown Denver Parntership, says not all developers can afford the affordable component, which the city is considering requiring in a controversial ordinance.

“Land in the Golden Triangle or Uptown, for example, is a lot more expensive than what Susan paid in Upper Larimer,” Warhover says. “And Susan has a real corporate philosophy of wanting to address that affordable niche.”

Even people who pay market rate are buying the units, which are 10 blocks north of Coors Field. They are paying about half what a similar loft would cost in Lower Downtown.

Jamie Fiest Harris, an agent with the Kentwood Co., and her new husband, Richard Harris recently bought a 1,300-sf unit with two baths and two bedrooms for $235,000. The unit in the historic Cable building, where cable cars used to be repaired, has about 26-foot high ceilings, exposed brick walls, huge steel beams, and bamboo floors, she said. The other historic building on the property was known as the Fire Clay building, where bricks were made until it went out of business about 35 years ago.

When GlobeSt.com asked her how much she would have paid for a comparable unit in LoDo, Harris says: “Let me pull out my calculator.”

After punching in a few numbers, she concluded that a comparable loft in LoDo would have run them in the neighborhood of $400,000 to $450,000.

“We love the location,” Harris tells GlobeSt.com.

She is not listing the property, but has sold a number of units in the Silver Square loft project, which Denver developer Jerry Glick developed a block to the north about 15 years ago. Glick helped finance Powers’ company.

“We’re only a few blocks from Downtown at a fraction of the cost,” Harris tells GlobeSt.com. “And being in the real estate business, I have a feeling that development is heading in this direction. A lot of developers have their eyes on buildings along Blake between 25th and 32nd streets.