With landmark fight over, developer closes on purchase of Carmen Court

The effort to designate the Carmen Court condo complex a city landmark ended when the application was withdrawn, clearing the way for the structure to be sold, demolished and redeveloped. (BusinessDen file)

Carmen Court has sold.

The condominium complex at 900 E. 1st Ave., just off Speer Boulevard, was purchased last week by Houston-based developer Hines.

According to public records, the company paid $1 million each for the complex’s six units — so $6 million total — in order to secure the entire building and the approximately 0.4-acre lot it sits on.

Hines also purchased three single-family homes to the south of the Carmen Court property, paying a combined $2.8 million for those lots.

In sum, that means Hines paid $8.8 million for about two-thirds of an acre, or approximately $300 a square foot. Broker Roche Fore of Roche & Company represented the sellers in the deal.

Hines plans to demolish the structures and build a five-story senior living complex.

A rendering of Hines’ proposed five-story senior living complex to be built on the Carmen Court site. (Courtesy of Hines)

When those plans became known in the spring, three Denver residents submitted an application requesting the city name the 95-year-old structure a landmark, citing its unique architectural style and other factors. That designation would have effectively prevented demolition.

Two other recent city landmark fights, over the Tom’s Diner building along Colfax and the former Olinger Moore Howard Chapel in Berkeley, resulted in a compromise. The parties planning to buy and demolish those sites agreed to step aside when alternate buyers planning to preserve the structure were found.

Despite months of talks, however, no such compromise was reached for Carmen Court. In late October, with the landmark application weeks away from being voted on by the Denver City Council, the three who submitted it — and assembled a sizable group of supporters — withdrew it, saying they didn’t believe they had the support of enough council members.

In connection with the withdrawal, Hines agreed not to demolish the structures until the last minute when it is ready to begin construction on its senior living project.

“We are so pleased to have closed on the land at Carmen Court — ending the year on a positive note for both the sellers, Hines and our investors,” Hines Managing Director Chris Crawford said in a statement. “We look forward to moving forward with our plans and delivering a superior project for this community in a few years’ time.”

From left to right: Karen Roehl, Mary Ann O’Hara and husband Gary Laura, Katie Sisk and Terrie Curry collectively owned four of the units at Carmen Court. (Thomas Gounley photo)

The price that Hines planned to pay was never disclosed during the months of public meetings. The property, not counting the adjacent homes, was originally listed for $5.5 million. Hines paid $500,000 more than that.

The seven owners of the six units — one unit is owned by a married couple — purchased them for between $175,000 (in 1997) and $337,000 (in 2010), records show.

Hines’ development portfolio in Denver includes the 40-story office tower at 1144 15th St. The company recently broke ground on an apartment complex next to the Mission Ballroom concert venue in RiNo. It also plans to build an office building in RiNo, although the pandemic delayed the start of construction.

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