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DENVER-Despite a soft Downtown office market, Urban Market Development is doing the almost unthinkable. It is developing three office projects.

But with a twist. Each of the buildings will be in anchored by office condominiums.

Tom Lee, who is leasing the projects with fellow Frederick Ross Co. broker Darrin Revious, says Urban Market, headed by Stephen Owenand Amy Harmon, is the first developer to build ground-up office-condoprojects in the Downtown area.

In Downtown, Lee explains, office condominiums have been in historical buildings or in former mansions. Those tend to not have very much parking and inefficient floorplates, he says. In the some suburbs, it is far more common to find new office-condominiums with free parking. The condos will be priced in about the mid-$200s per sf.

“And these are true mixed-use developments that will include high-end housing and retail on the ground floor,” Lee tells GlobeSt.com. Indeed, in some cases penthouses in the development will go for $2 million.

Harmon tells GlobeSt.com she thinks their office condos will be appealing to small CPA, law, engineering, architectural and engineering firms that prefer to build equity in their offices, rather than lease Class A space. Lee agrees.

“Let’s face it,” Lee tells GlobeSt.com. “This is an area built by entrepreneurs. A lot of entrepreneurs have a lot of faith in our area.” He says buying a unit will be on par with leasing top space today.

Together, the three projects will add 225,000 sf of office condominiums to the market, but not all at once. Together, they also will have 17 penthouse luxury condominiums and 31,500 sf of retail.

Urban broke ground last month on its first development 450 17th Ave.in the Uptown neighborhood. That development includes 45,000 sf of office space, 11,000 sf of retail and three penthouses, on the market for $1.4 million to $1.6 million. Urban pre-sold the penthouses to Dorado Builders.

Next in line, is the 1490 Delgany St. building. It will sit across the street from the planned Modern Art Museum that will be designed by noted London-architect David Adjaye. It also will be across the street from the world headquarters for the Gates Co.

Harmon tells GlobeSt.com it is possible that companies that want to dobusiness with Gates, which does business worldwide, might be potentialbuyers of office condominiums at 1490. There will be six penthouses at 1490, and they will be some of the most expensive in Denver, ranging from $1.5 million to $2 million. They’ll be sold in the $500 to $600 per sf range, putting them near the top of the market.

“This is the equivalent of sea-front property,” Owens tells GlobeSt.com. “We’ve found that in this upper-end niche, you almost can’t make the units too big.” He says that in one of his previous developments in Cherry Creek, a well-known business owner expanded his condo into 10,000 sf.

Penthouse units in another one of his developments recently sold for$640 per sf.

Construction will begin on 1490 Delgany later this year. Construction will begin in early 2006 on its third development, 1601 Park Avenue West. It will be built on a parking lot next to Urban’s headquarters and across the street from Coors Field. It will include 80,000 sf of condominium office space, 8,000 sf of retail and eight penthouses, priced from about $400,000 to $800,000.

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