The owners of Cherry Creek retail center Clayton Lane are shopping it around, a sign that change may be coming to a site eyed for redevelopment in recent years.
Owners Invesco Real Estate and Brookfield have solicited information in recent months from development firms regarding their valuation and vision for the huge property at the corner of University Boulevard and 1st Avenue, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.
A spokeswoman for Invesco and a local broker working on behalf of the firm didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment last week. But Nick LeMasters, president and CEO of the Cherry Creek North Business Improvement District, told BusinessDen that he’s aware of talks.
“We look forward to working with whoever emerges from this dialogue,” LeMasters said.
It’s unclear whether Invesco and Brookfield are looking to sell all or part of the site, or potentially bring another firm into the ownership group.
Tenants at Clayton Lane include Whole Foods, Crate & Barrel and Wells Fargo, although the bank will leave soon. The site also includes a parking garage and more than 150,000 square feet of unused space facing busy 1st Avenue, the result of a decision by Sears to close a store there in 2015.
The property was purchased in 2016 by Clayton Lane Investors LLC, which was originally a joint venture between Invesco and a company called OliverMcMillan.
Shortly after the purchase, OliverMcMillan said on its website that Clayton Lane’s former Sears would “be demolished to make way for a pedestrian-friendly street that runs throughout, connecting the various uses and retailers.” Later in 2016, OliverMcMillan displayed renderings at a national real estate conference showing a new Whole Foods erected on what is currently the store’s parking lot.
In 2017, the partnership submitted redevelopment plans to the city, proposing to replace the Whole Foods, a parking structure to the north and the former Sears with six buildings atop a network of underground parking.
Little has been said publicly since. In 2018, Brookfield acquired OliverMcMillan. In 2021, Invesco and Brookfield purchased a portion of the parking garage that had been under separate ownership, paying $8.9 million more than originally planned after Denver-based Nichols Partnership exercised an overlooked right of first refusal clause.
LeMasters said that redevelopment is “probably never going to happen on that scale” that the owners originally proposed. He said he believes the Whole Foods there is “tremendously successful” and the company has a strong lease.
“From what I understand, they don’t want to move … I think that has been what placed a roadblock in the past,” he said.
Cherry Creek has seen a surge in development activity in recent years. LeMasters noted that Clayton Lane is across the street from the neighborhood’s largest redevelopment site: the west side of the Cherry Creek Shopping Center.
Mall owner Taubman announced in November 2021 that it had picked East West Partners to redevelop the 13-acre site dubbed “Cherry Creek West,” a process that could take a decade. No physical work has begun at the property, which still has some retail and restaurant tenants.
“The corner of 1st and University is probably the most dynamic intersection in the City and County of Denver from a development perspective, when you consider both sides of the street,” LeMasters said.