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DENVER-Multi-Employer Property Trust is planning to develop a $100-million, 18-story office building here, near the Millennium Bridge in Lower Downtown, next to its 285,000-sf Legacy Plaza development. Planned for 1900 16th St., the building will have 335,000 sf of office space, 1,200 parking spaces and 10,000 sf of street-level retail. Hines and Opus Northwest also have announced plans for LoDo office developments.MEPT is a multibillion-dollar collective investment fund whose primary beneficiaries are union pension funds. MEPT acquired its development site for $11.8 million in the first quarter of the year, in part to satisfy a parking requirement for Gates Corp., which occupies the entirety of Legacy Plaza. MEPT built the 10-story Legacy Plaza in 2003 and at that time committed to Gates Corp. that 545 off-site parking spaces would be provided.

Legacy Plaza was the first ground-up office building completed in the Central Platte Valley, a 120-acre expanse west of Denver’s Lower Downtown, or LoDo, area, which is becoming a mixed-use urban neighborhood from what was once an amalgamation of rail yards, industrial buildings, viaducts, and garbage dumps.

The development site for 1900 16th St. is part of a 3.3-acre block at 16th and Delgany streets that includes plans for a third, 250,000-sf office building. The site sits across from Denver Union Square, which will eventually be home to the world headquarters for Gates Corp. and the Museum of Contemporary Art in an estimated $1-billion redevelopment. Union Square also will be the city’s major transportation hub, connecting commuter rail, light rail and buses.

The MEPT project is one of three would-be speculative office development planned to break ground in Denver’s Lower Downtown in early 2007 and be ready for occupancy in late 2008. The other two developments, by Opus Northwest and Hines, were both announced in September.

Opus says it will break ground in January on a three-building, 400,000-sf mixed-use office, retail and residential complex at 1400 Wewatta St., across from Pepsi Center, that will be ready for occupancy in late 2008. Hines says it will break ground next March for a 300,000-sf, eight-story office building at the southwest corner of 15th and Wynkoop streets.

Marshall Burton, Opus Northwest’s vice president of development, GlobeSt.com in September 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 for the office space 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 said. “Vacancy is about 5%; if you’re a tenant with 20,000 sf or more, there are just no options.”

Indeed, Hines project manager Jay Despard told 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.

MEPT is represented by Kennedy Associates Real Estate Counsel of Seattle. Kennedy Associates EVP and acquisitions director John Parker could not be reached Thursday morning for comment.

Trammell Crow Co. is directing the development of 1900 16th St. on behalf of MEPT. The building designer is David Tryba of David Owen Tryba Architects.

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