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DENVER-Opus Northwest will break ground in January on a 400,000-sf office complex on Cherry Creek in Denver’s Lower Downtown district that will be ready for occupancy in late 2008. The total development cost of the three-building project is in excess of $125 million.

Opus’ development site, 1400 Wewatta St., sits across the street from Pepsi Center, bordering Speer Boulevard and Cherry Creek. The three buildings would have a combined 300,000 sf of office space plus retail and residential components. The architect is Chris Shears of Shears Atkins Architects. The building will have brick, glass and stone finishes.

Marshall Burton, Opus Northwest’s vice president of development, tells GlobeSt.com that the company is prepared to develop the building on a speculative basis, but based on current activity expects to have some significant prelease commitments in place by the time the project gets under way in January. Full-service asking rates are $30 to $35 per sf per year, including a $35 per sf tenant-improvement allowance.”Downtown is the healthiest market in Metro Denver, especially Lower Downtown,” Burton says. “Vacancy is about 5%; if you’re a tenant with 20,000 sf or more, there’s just no options.”

Interest in the Lower Downtown area is high in part due to the redevelopment of Union Station, which will become the city’s primary transportation hub, connecting commuter rail, light rail and buses. Earlier this week, Hines said it is developing a 300,000-sf, eight-story office building at the southwest corner of 15th and Wynkoop streets in the Lower Downtown area that also will be completed in late 2008. Designed by Hartman-Cox Architects, it too will have brick and glass finishes.

Below-grade construction on the Hines project is slated to commence in March 2007, with tenant move-in beginning October 2008. Frederick Ross Group has the leasing assignment. Like Opus Northwest, Hines says it will move forward with the project without preleasing commitments if necessary, but given the low vacancy expects a quick lease up.

Hines project manager Jay Despard tells GlobeSt.com that there are now more than 90,000 sf of proposals out in the Denver market and that there is unsolicited interest in its building from local tenants representing more demand than their will be space.

“The market can support more than one project,” Burton says.

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