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ENGLEWOOD, CO-Veteran developer John Forstmann, president of the privately held J.F. Forstmann Co. Inc. in Avon, CO, is planning a luxury condo, townhome and retail development on the site of the former Denver Seminary at Hampden and University boulevards. The completed retail value of the development on the 11.4-acre site is estimated at $500 million.

The Esplanade Club, when completed, will have as much as 800,000 sf of residential units. It will include 305 condominiums units in six mid-rise towers. The tallest buildings will be 14 stories high. In addition, there will be 45 townhome units built around the perimeter. Condos will range in size from 900 sf to more than 5,000 sf. Townhomes will range in size from 2,800 sf to more than 5,000 sf. The most expensive units will be priced at about $42.5 million. Several gates will secure the residential area.

The retail center, called the Shops at the Esplanade Club will be made up of 65,000 sf. About 45,000 sf will be anchored by what Forstmann calls his Belle Fare brand. Belle Fare, originally called Savoir Fare, or the Food Place, is a European-grocer concept that includes a gourmet butcher and fish counter, bakery, flower shop, cheese counter, cookware and related services. The retail center also will include 15,000 sf of service retail, such as a day spa, bank, dry cleaner, pharmacy and 5,000-sf of office space.

Thousands of nearby residents initially opposed the development, but by the time the rezoning was unanimously approved by the Englewood City Council, almost everyone who lived around it supported it. Forstmann, who has had 39 years of experience developing properties, had dozens out outreach meetings with neighbors.

Forstmann tells GlobeSt.com that reaching out to neighbors makes for a better development. “We typically want the same things that neighbors want,” Forstmanntells GlobeSt.com. “We want easy access for our customers and residents. We don’t want traffic to back up.”

Forstmann says that the bad rap developers get is sometimes deserved. “I think there are some bottom-line oriented developers, who don’t care what they slap up,” Forstmann tells GlobeSt.com “But we are hoping to build a self-contained community, a true village. We consider that these buildings are going to be up for a very, very long time. We do feel a responsibility to the community. We think we are going to be an asset to the community, and we think we can do it in a way that also will be profitable.”

Denver-based David Owen Tryba, who has completed a number of urban infill designs in the metro area, is designing the development. When completed, 40% of the land will be kept as open space. All of the parking for the residential will be underground. Tryba says it will be a “New Urbanism” style development that will be very pedestrian friendly.

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