Plans for an eight-story, 264-unit apartment complex along Broadway could be blocked by a 44-word clause in a years-old contract, unless a Denver judge says otherwise.
Under a lease signed in 2017, Grid Collaborative Workspace, a tenant at 445 Broadway, has a right of first refusal, meaning it must be given a chance to meet or exceed any offer to buy the building before it can be sold to someone else.
Grid exercised that right Aug. 11, according to the building’s owners. Six days later, those owners sued Grid in Denver District Court.
They want a judge to rule that the right of first refusal they signed does not apply to Grid because the owners are trying to sell 445 Broadway in a package of five properties, rather than sell the one property.
445 Broadway is owned by an LLC which is owned by another LLC which lists its address as 421 Broadway, home to Fentress Architects. Curtis Fentress, its founder, is listed as the person who files paperwork with the government on behalf of 445 Broadway.
Fentress Architects, which did not respond to a request for comment, also owns 375 Broadway, 421 Broadway, 433 Broadway and 448 Acoma St. In June, it found a buyer interested in purchasing those four nearly contiguous properties, plus 445 Broadway. That buyer is Denver-based development firm Magnetic Capital, led by Dan Huml.
Before completing the sale, according to their lawsuit, 445 Broadway’s owners asked Grid if it was interested, under the right of first refusal, in buying all five properties. Grid responded that it might buy 445 Broadway and in August confirmed it would buy 445 Broadway.
Now the owners want Judge Stephanie Scoville to rule Grid can’t do that because it refused to buy all five properties and waited too long to exercise its right to first refusal.
Grid declined to comment on the lawsuit. Its attorney, Ronnie Fischer with the law firm Fischer & Fischer, did not respond to requests for comment.
If Scoville doesn’t side with Fentress, Grid’s right of first refusal could jeopardize a 250,000-square-foot project at the northwest corner of 4th and Broadway. Plans submitted by Magnetic to the city call for a mixed-use building with seven floors of apartments above a ground floor of retail and restaurants and an underground parking garage.
Huml, the developer, declined to comment on the plans. He is not a party in the lawsuit.