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DENVER-Veteran local urban developer Pat Barron plans a $12-million-plus multifamily rental building with retail space on the ground floor across from the University of Denver. Barron, principal of Barron Investments, plans to raze the current building at East Evans Avenue and South University Boulevard, and replace it with a new building of either four or five stories.

The building will have either two or three levels of underground parking. The building, which he has not yet named, would be open to anyone, but would be marketed heavily to DU students. “Freshman and sophomores have to live in student housing, so we would be targeting juniors, seniors, graduate students and law students,” Barron tells GlobeSt.com. He estimates that he will have a potential universe of about 4,000 students as possible renters.

“We think, and we hope, that the demand is more than the supply,” he adds. Rather than list the number of units in the building, he prefers to describe it by the number of bedrooms. It will have about 106 bedrooms. One idea is to have a private bath with each bedroom. “Each unit would have two, three or four bedrooms,” Barron says. “We’re going to conduct focus groups with students to see if they would be willing to have two bedrooms share one bathroom. Obviously, that would be less expensive for us to build.”

There is no building like that near DU, although there are a couple of examples like it in Boulder, near the University of Colorado, he says. Construction will begin in the late spring or early summer of 2005, with the opening a year later. Rents haven’t been set, but they will be more than $700 per month, he says.

The building has been rezoned to RMU from B-2. RMU is part of the city’s new zoning overhaul, called Blueprint Denver, which was strongly supported by Denver’s late city planner, Jennifer Moulton, who died last year of a rare disease. Most of the RMU, or residential mixed-use developments, have been in the inner-core of the city, such as Riverfront Park in the Central Platte Valley, Barron says. This is one of the first RMU zoning changes outside of Downtown and will serve as a model for other rezoning, he says. He notes the B-2 zoning was adopted by the city in 1956, at a time when it was considered good urban planning to separate housing from retail.

Now, planner typically believe that mixing users is a healthier, New Urbanism-type of development. The building will be about one-third of a mile from a light rail stop along T-Rex, the widening and addition of light rail along Interstate 25.

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