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DENVER-Agatha Kessler, born into a real estate family in Hong Kong, raised in London and educated at Oxford, plans her first solo development in the historic Baker neighborhood south of Downtown. Kessler arrived in Denver five years ago and has consulted on two other luxury Denver condo projects–One Lincoln Place and Portofino Towers.

But she plans to make her mark as an infill developer with the seven-story, $50 million Watermark development, which will have nine, two-story brownstones with architecture reminiscent of historic homes in London, as well as 73 flats and nine penthouse units. Units will be priced from about $300,000 to $1.3 million and they will range in size from 886 sf to 3,100 sf. Kessler says most of the $1 million-plus units sold based solely on word-of-mouth. The site also includes a 6,000-sf historic mansion that either will be sold as a bed and breakfast, a private residence or a professional office. Kessler tells GlobeSt.com that she hopes it is turned into a B&B, because the site is close to Denver Health, an inner-city hospital. “I think if a loved one is sick, visiting family would prefer to stay at a bed and breakfast than at a hotel,” she tells GlobeSt.com.

Swinerton Construction will break ground on March on the 222,250-sf building at 4th Avenue and Acoma Street. Kessler loves the neighborhood, which she says had more Queen Anne-style homes than any other neighborhood in Denver. “It really is the next Washington Park,” comparing it to one of the most expensive old-time neighborhoods in Denver.

She also enlisted the aid of Curt Fentress, principal of Fentress Bradburn Architecture, to design Watermark. The 1.19-acre site sits across the alley from the headquarters of Fentress. Fentress has designed such prominent buildings in Denver as the Colorado Convention Center, Invesco Field at Mile High, and the jagged, white fabric top to the Denver International Airport, constructed to resemble mountain peaks. Fentress is no stranger to residential projects, either. His firm has designed 38 residential projects, including the 600,000-sf Residences at Westlake Tower; One Polo Creek and the Chophouse in Denver; and a 1.5 million-sf mixed-use tower in the Middle Eastern emirate of Dubai.

Kessler’s family has developed resorts, mixed-use mid-rises and residential high-rises in Asia and North America. “We’re typical Chinese–we’ve done a little bit of everything,” she tells GlobeSt.com. “In Denver, what we consider high-rises would be mid-rises in Hong Kong.”

Before becoming a developer, and after receiving degrees in mathematics, management and a MBA from Oxford, she ran divisions for companies such as VISA and Hewlett-Packard. “I was involved in a lot of product development and I learned to really listen to the client,” Kessler tells GlobeSt.com. “We did a lot of focus groups and talked to a lot of people to find out exactly what they wanted.”

She tells GlobeSt.com that she is concerned that there are too many upscale condo projects on the drawing board in Denver. “But I am building to a very specific niche,” she tells GlobeSt.com. “And I’m only bringing 90 units to the market. It’s not like I’m developing a 200-unit development.” Kessler says she expects to tackle other infill, urban developments in Denver. “That is what I love,” she tells GlobeSt.com. “I love Denver. But I do miss the water.”

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