Geller gets $27M for site of planned downtown office tower

1900 Lawrence Tower Denver scaled

A rendering of the 30-story office tower planned for 1901 Arapahoe St. (Courtesy of JLL)

A Chicago-based developer planning a new 30-story office tower downtown has purchased the land — and buy-and-hold parking lot baron Buzz Geller has netted another impressive return.

Riverside Investment & Development, which has developed three 50-story-plus office towers in the Windy City, on Wednesday purchased the 1.26-acre parking lot along 19th Street between Arapahoe and Lawrence streets.

The price was $27.2 million, according to seller Buzz Geller of Paradise Land Co. That equates to $495 a square foot.

“It’s been under contract for two years, because one of the two years we had to put the whole thing on the shelf due to COVID,” Geller said.

City property records give the site an address of 1901 Arapahoe St., but Riverside is calling its planned project 1900 Lawrence.

The property is across the street from the former Greyhound station, which is being demolished and where two 400-foot towers have been proposed.

Geller, who still owns other parking lots, purchased the 19th Street lot in 1998, according to public records. He paid just under $3.2 million, or $58 a square foot.

That’s an 857 percent increase in 23 years, which doesn’t account for revenue from parked cars over the years and expenses like property taxes.

Riverside didn’t respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

The company submitted its initial development proposal for the site in January 2020. In August, Riverside announced that it would develop the project in conjunction with Chicago-based Convexity Properties, as it did on its 50-story 320 Canal building in Chicago.

Riverside said in August that it expected to break ground on the 700,000-square-foot building in the first quarter of 2022, and that it could be ready for tenants in the first quarter of 2024. JLL brokers Jamie Roupp, Michael Crane, Julie Rhoades and Maddy Stevenson are marketing the office space.

Geller said the deal shows that, despite the pandemic, people still believe in downtown.

“You can’t have a great city if you don’t have a great downtown,” he said.

In mid-2019, prior to Riverside, Geller was under contract to sell the lot to someone who talked of building a 40-story, mural-inspired “Love This City” tower. But that deal soon fell apart.

Geller has one other downtown deal in the works. San Antonio-based Kairoi Residential is under contract to ground lease his parking lot at the corner of Speer Boulevard and Market Street for a planned apartment tower.

In 2019, Geller sold the 0.57-acre lot at 650 17th St. for $17.5 million, or $699 a square foot. The buyer put it back on the market earlier this year, in conjunction with an adjacent smaller parcel.

Denver parking lot planned for office tower sells for $27 million

1900 Lawrence Tower Denver scaled

A rendering of the 30-story office tower planned for 1901 Arapahoe St. (Courtesy of JLL)

The parking lot baron's Paradise Land Co. paid $3.2 million for the property in 1998.

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