In her first project since stepping down as executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Fiona Arnold is doing something that is rare in metro Denver right now: Developing condos with prices starting below $300,000.
Condos in her company’s new development — a three-story project called The Orpheus located at 2835 W. 24th Ave. in Denver — will range in size from 633 to 871 square feet and prices will start at $259,000 for the smallest units. Larger units are priced as high as $369,900 to start.
Developers and city officials have said for years that the state’s construction-defects laws make condos that are affordably priced for the average buyer nearly impossible to build because of the risk of lawsuits that builders face, but Arnold found a way to do it with Orpheus.
Most of the units in the project are priced above $300,000, according to the development’s website, which is higher than the average condo price of $297,000 as of February, according to the Denver Metro Association of Realtors.
But they are still priced well below many of the other condos that have been built in recent years, aimed at higher-end buyers who can afford luxury product.
Arnold’s company, Mainspring Developers, has its own in-house general contractor that will perform the construction, she said, which saves 10 percent of the cost right away.
Mainspring also purchased a wrap-up insurance policy to protect the project in case of a defect, but said that the construction process is where real costs are added.
The company will bring in third-party inspectors at every stage of development, which takes more time and money, Arnold said.
“The return is smaller than what can be done on townhomes,” Arnold said. “But the city needs condos.”
Pre-sales for the 26 units at Orpheus units begin this month.
“The Orpheus presents a much needed real estate ownership option into the Denver market. We designed this building as a nod to Denver’s longstanding tradition of iconic condominium buildings in areas like Capitol Hill, Governor’s Park and City Park,” Arnold said.
Development of this kind is only going to get harder to do, Arnold said, as the city continues to grow.
“It’s not easy. Finding the right site and land at a price that works is a needle in a haystack,” she said.
Molly Armbrister covers real estate and construction for the Denver Business Journal. Phone: 303-803-9232.