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DENVER-Cherokee Investment Partners LLC tapped veteran developer Ferdinand L. Belz III as president of Cherokee Denver LLC, the local affiliate that owns and is redeveloping the 50-acre, former Gates Rubber factory west of Broadway near Interstate 25. Cherokee’s plans for the site call for a transit-oriented “urban village” with a completed value estimated as high as $1.5 billion, one of the largest infill sites outside of Stapleton and Lowry.

As president, Belz will also serve as project manager for the Gates site. Cherokee’s selection of Belz was a result of a six-month nationwide search. Belz has a long history of leading successful projects in Colorado, such as the development of the Tabor Center in Downtown Denver and the Ritz-Carlton in Aspen. Partnering with Denver-based Sage Hospitality, Belz developed seven Marriott hotels around the state, including the redevelopment of the Hirschfeld Press Building in downtown Denver.

In 1991, Belz created Dakota Ridge, LLC, a real estate development company based in Denver. In that capacity, Belz has been responsible for several projects including City Park South (the redevelopment of vacant Mercy Hospital) and the Hillgate Commercial Center in Jefferson County. His national portfolio includes projects in California, New York and Washington, DC.

Now Belz will concentrate his focus locally on the former Gates factory site. “I think it’s a great opportunity for me and for the city of Denver,” Belz says. “I look forward to making a fabulous development from a challenged site.”

The Gates site is in city council member Kathleen MacKenzie‘s district. “Ferd Belz has an excellent reputation and I look forward to working with him,” MacKenzie says.

Cherokee purchased the 50 acres in 2001. The project is currently in the general development planning stage. This includes an environmental clean-up due to the Gates factory’s many years of industrial use. Initial plans and community input call for a transit-oriented development (TOD) which will maximize the city’s investment in light rail infrastructure and benefit surrounding areas. “This is a keystone development in the city situated at the nexus of the transportation system,” Belz says.

Cherokee Investment Partners plans to acquire environmentally impaired properties, remediate them and return them to productive uses. Cherokee’s mission is to promote sustainable redevelopment of its remediated brownfield properties and to provide net positive social, economic and environmental improvements, while making a profit for its investors.

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