Coverage of S*PARK in the Denver Post

May 05, 2016 / Posted in Condos, Developments, Downtown

Sustainability Park to be developed into condos, townhomes

The Big Wonderful festival will move to make way for multi-phase, for-sale residential project with affordable housing component

Popular summer festival The Big Wonderful will kick off its third season next weekend at Sustainability Park at 25th and Lawrence, but the land won’t be available for fun and festivities much longer.

Denver-based Curtis Park Group has purchased the two-block Sustainability Park property from Denver Housing Authority and will begin construction this summer on a multi-phase, for-sale residential development with an affordable housing component.

The first phase of S*Park will feature 91 condominiums and eight townhomes on the southernmost block at 25th and Lawrence, said Clem Rinehart, owner of TreeHouse Brokerage and Development, the exclusive broker on the project.

Condos will start in the high $200,000s for a studio and go up from there. The largest units are three bedrooms. Townhomes will be three- to four-stories and feature private yards and rooftop terraces.

“Working with the team at The Big Wonderful has been a fantastic opportunity to engage and support the community utilizing the vacant land that would have otherwise remained unused until S*Park’s June 2016 groundbreaking,” Rinehart said in a statement Friday. “With S*Park, we hope to build a community similar to that created by The Big Wonderful, with residents of all ages interacting and enjoying everything that the burgeoning Curtis Park and RiNo neighborhoods have to offer.”

The Big Wonderful last year announced it wouldmove to the new Stanley Marketplace development in Aurora to make way for the coming housing project.

The weekly festival, which features food trucks, local vendors, a beer garden and music, will begin its season at Sustainability Park on May 6-8 and May 14 before cycling between four metro area locations throughout the summer: Stanley Marketplace, Geneva Park in downtown Littleton, Mile High Station in Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood and the 16th Street Mall.

One last event at Sustainability Park is scheduled for June 11 , organizers said Friday.

Sales at the eco-friendly housing development will likely start in July, Rinehart said.

At the heart of the 2500 block of Lawrence will be a private 19,500-square-foot internal park for residents. Developers also plan to build a greenhouse and urban garden/farm on site and partner with a local farming group to operate it, Rinehart said.

Prior to the redevelopment, the block housed a trio of urban farms for a number of years.

“We’ve always been very passionate about continuing to keep the use and the atmosphere on the site and expand it, rather than take it away,” Rinehart said in an interview.

An income-restricted affordable housing component will also be required under the terms of the land sale by DHA.

The Denver Office of Economic Development is currently in negotiations with Curtis Park Group on the details of the affordable housing plan for the project, a city spokesman said.

In a December 2015 agreement filed with the Denver County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, Curtis Park Group committed to build at least 18 affordable units for buyers qualifying at 80-115 percentor below of area median income.

“We are working with the city and making sure we’re contributing to the affordable housing program and meeting all the city’s requirements,” Rinehart said.

S*Park’s second phase, on the 2600 block of Lawrence, will likely be “very similar” to the first phase but bigger, since it will not have the greenhouse and urban garden, he said.

Under Denver’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, all new for-sale housing developments of 30 or more units are required to set aside at least 10 percent of units for income-qualified buyers.

Compliance can also be achieved by working with the city to devise an alternative plan to provide units or by making a cash-in-lieu payment, equivalent of up to 70 percent of the affordable sales price per unit.

DHA real estate development director Ryan Tobin said covenants will require S*Park’s affordable units to be built and to be built on site.

As far as the number of units, Tobin said since DHA isn’t in the business of developing for-sale housing, they defer to the inclusionary housing provisions laid out by the city.

“When it comes to affordable provisions on for-sale housing, we defer to the city and their ultimate judgment and the policies they have put forth,” Tobin said.

The housing authority has owned the property since the 1950s. An obsolete housing project there was demolished in the late 1990s, the vacant property then land-banked with the intent to sell it to a private for-sale housing developer, he said.

Curtis Park Group, which shares an address with Denver-based Westfield Co., paid DHA $7 million for a total of three parcels — the 2500 block, the 2600 block and a corner lot at 27th and Arapahoe, according to DHA.

Tobin said a portion of the proceeds have already gone toward facilitating the development of a 45-unit senior housing tower in the Mariposa District in west Denver.

“This (announcement) is a culmination of a steadfast commitment by the developer to do this with the neighborhood and the housing authority. Now they’re rounding the corner to create an amazing project that will have significant impact on the Curtis Park neighborhood,” Tobin said. “We’re excited for them and collaborating with them as far as ensuring neighborhood needs are met.”

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