Seizing upon a perceived lack of condominiums in Denver, a Miami developer put forward a proposal on Tuesday (April 11) to build two condo high-rises in the city.
Renzo Renzi’s $500 million Paradise Living plan would construct twin 40-story, 800-condominium buildings, saying the project would take about 30 months to complete. He spent a year looking for the right spot to build the towers.
“The Denver economy is thriving, and there are a lot of jobs in this market,” Renzi told KDVR Fox 31 in Denver. “It’s a healthy economy, and I believe Denver is a good place for mass development.”
Laying the Groundwork
Colorado Real Estate Journal says the condos would be the largest built in Denver. Units at the 55,000-square-foot property are expected to fetch $200,000 (for studio spaces) up to $1 million (for penthouses).
Renzi, 53, says the towers will have three swimming pools—two of them on rooftops—a parking garage, restaurants and 30,000 square feet of ground floor retail space. The project is being designed by MOA Architects with Greeley-based Hensel Phelps as the general contractor, along with Clark Construction Group.
Renzi said construction will start as soon as 200 units are presold.
“It is big,” says Kevin Geraghty, the Denver partner of Renzi.
Renzi paid $22 million—or $400 per square foot—to Buzz Geller, managing partner of Paradise Land Company, for the site of the proposed condominiums. Geller paid just under $3.2 million—$57 per square foot—for the land in 1998. Geller says he has options to buy a certain number of condos and retail space.
“I think it’s a good value for the price,” Renzi said. “I don’t think we overpaid.”
Impediment to Construction
Renzi must navigate Colorado’s construction defects law, which allows as few as two condo owners to bring a class-action lawsuit against a builder. Proponents of the law say that it protects condo owners from shoddy construction work, and, without it, some builders would never follow through on repairs.
It has its detractors, however, and critics say the 53 percent decline in development of for-sale condos in Denver over the past five years, prevents more renters from becoming homeowners.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has lobbied for a 40-cent-per-square-foot to $1.70-per-square-foot impact fee on new construction projects. The fees would pay for a 6,000-unit, $150 million affordable housing initiative.
Critics dismiss the mayor's plan, saying it will drive up building costs and, in turn, result in higher rents.
Renzi says the towers will be so sturdily built, the construction defects law won’t come into play.
“I am a developer who builds and sells, while other developers just do rentals,” Renzi says. “I think there is definitely a market in downtown for owning, rather than just renting.”
Renzi has revived his career six years after he was forced to declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy, his Miami real estate empire collapsing while he piled up between $10-50 million in debt.
“In my case, I hadn’t done anything bad or dishonest. It was just the timing was bad and banks were going out of business,” Renzi said.
Now, he’s excited about the opportunity to be at the forefront of what he hopes is a condominium-building boom in Denver.
“Obviously, when you have a shortage of something, it makes numbers better and minimizes the risk,” Renzi said. "Denver will always be Denver. It’s an awesome city and will keep growing.”