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  #1761  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2017, 11:04 PM
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That was fast:

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Site Address and Description
1901 Wazee St - 2017PM0000602 - Rockies West Lot
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  #1762  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2017, 11:27 PM
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Not against micro-units but it would be nice to see some condo towers.
Yep. I agree. This city desperately needs more for-sale inventory. A downtown condo tower seems like a no-brainer. I'm obviously no expert but I don't see how a good proposal could fail in this market. I wonder if insurance rates have yet to begin reflecting the new climate in terms of construction defects law. It seems like condo developers are still holding back. Or maybe I just need to be more patient. Perhaps a condo boom is on the horizon.
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  #1763  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 12:43 AM
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Originally Posted by PLANSIT View Post
That was fast:
Gotta get it in before January 1st. God knows that development plan submittals will dry up until the City Council can correct the abhorrent dung pile known as the Green Roof Intiative.
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  #1764  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 12:50 AM
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I just don't see how a condo boom would even be possible. There are only x number of rich 2nd home owners and trust fund millennials and they are already being served by the new buildings currently being built like Coloradan or the one on Steele, or they buy the resale units on the market, or they happily rent a luxury apt with full amenities and better amenities than you'd find in a condo building where the HOA doesn't want to pay for that stuff.


To expand on that, if you work backwards and let's say you could have an entire building of 1 bedroom units for $400,000, let's say 800 sq ft. Probably not possible to build for that, and if you did, you'd have very basic finish with no amenties. Let's assume mortgage @4.25% with 20% down, you're at $2,000/month minimum with HOA. If you don't have 20% down, which I would assume "most" young urbanites do not, the monthly only goes up from there and significantly when you add in MI, higher interest rate, etc, etc.
That's not even taking into account closing costs.

You can rent 1 bedroom units in new and newish luxury buildings downtown for less than this. I recently called around for a friend to about 6 buildings in Riverfront, Union Station, Lodo for a 1 bedroom unit or what they call an urban 1 bedroom unit with partial wall and I was amazed. Every building I called had numerous 1 bedroom units avail and these were buildings built 1-3 years ago, not the brand new ones. I didn't even try any of the brand new ones. They are also offering all sorts of incentives without even asking about them.

I would think a smaller niche condo building would be easier to develop like maybe that one on Broadway down in Platt Park, as I would much more comfortable moving 30 units than 300 if your target demo is young urbanites. I expect to see more of these in the close-in neighborhoods.
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  #1765  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 1:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Stonemans_rowJ View Post
I just don't see how a condo boom would even be possible.
Hmmm. You make some good points but based upon everything I've read recently about the local real-estate market, there's a remarkable shortage of supply and pent up demand. I suspect there are more people in this town that can afford to buy a $500,000 condo than you think.
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  #1766  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 2:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Sam Hill View Post
Hmmm. You make some good points but based upon everything I've read recently about the local real-estate market, there's a remarkable shortage of supply and pent up demand. I suspect there are more people in this town that can afford to buy a $500,000 condo than you think.
/sigh... my brain locked up when prices exceeded $300,000. How many years ago was that? lol

I used your strategy of typing a few key words. Found one interesting site about construction costs by EVstudio. Since that was for non highrise I found another site that looked promising; only problem I needed to update my Chrome Font Pack. Fortunately I did a search of that and yup, it was an invitation to Malware.
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  #1767  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 3:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Sam Hill View Post
Hmmm. You make some good points but based upon everything I've read recently about the local real-estate market, there's a remarkable shortage of supply and pent up demand. I suspect there are more people in this town that can afford to buy a $500,000 condo than you think.
Basically we can get away with "500k is the 300k" because interest rates are so low, making the affordability limit higher. Once rates start to rise, it will become a big concern. At least in this boom round a majority of homeowners didn't take out 3 to 5 year ARMs, most I have talked to (anecdotal I know) are on fixed rate mortgages which seems to be the norm.

Again like someone said above, the current high home prices hurts those who are coming into Denver from lower priced areas a lot more than it hurts those who already live here and are already homeowners.
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  #1768  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 3:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Sam Hill View Post
Hmmm. You make some good points but based upon everything I've read recently about the local real-estate market, there's a remarkable shortage of supply and pent up demand. I suspect there are more people in this town that can afford to buy a $500,000 condo than you think.
Couple issues here in my opinion. The Real Estate lobby is powerful and its always a good time to buy, right? Why rent when you can own!!? There's really not a shortage of supply when you consider that most people dwell in a single unit, meaning for young people they will either occupy a rental apt or a condo, and when you take that supply as a whole, we are swimming in supply. Young people in Denver are not living in the backs of Ryder trucks like they are in the Bay Area.

I do not know exactly how many people can "afford" $500,000 condos. I do have a very good pulse on the market though, esp millennial and what I call young urbanites, working in the industry. When you look at the numbers available, such as median wage, interest rates, debt loads, mortgage lending DTI requirements, etc. I just don't see how these units would pencil out for most young urbanites and to get a boom you'd need lots and lots of young urbanites (primarily) to be buying. Of course you also get some 2nd home owners but that's not your bread and butter. The only way to achieve this is to have lots of young urbanites be able to swing the payments on $500,000 (you're talking $3,000+/month here and that's with 20% down) unless you had very loose lending like the run-up. If that was 30% of your gross income you'd be making $120,000 (these are rough figures). I just don't think that's the norm here in Denver and all the data agrees; that is not a typical wage. I'm an "x-ennial." I only know a few people making that kind of scratch and they are in oil and gas, and medicine.

The pool of "ready,willing, and able" buyers at those prices is not as deep as some would believe on here, again in my opinion, when I read comments about condo "booms." I also read articles like that all the time though. Maybe I'm wrong on that. I do think there is a need for more condo units, just not a boom, more of a gradual thing which is actually what is happening. They need to be well-located, think neighborhood-level, probably smaller and more nimble developments. Also would not be surprised to see some conversions in the next few years, although I have no idea what that would entail or if that is even possible with the financing structure on so many of these buildings owned by REITS.
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  #1769  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 3:57 PM
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Very topical article from the NYT on how the high cost of housing in areas that are economically thriving is preventing the rapid growth in population in those same areas, unlike the historical norm.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/u...town.html?_r=0

In large part, the article suggests, its because these "boom areas" impose too many restrictions on development. I've heard that's true in areas such as California and Washington State, is it really true here?

I get this isn't Houston, where you can build whatever the f*ck u want wherever you want, but I don't think the metro area cities (other than the PRB) are actively discouraging growth. There are plans afoot to build massive developments in Aurora. Douglas County continues to boom.

I think Denver metro housing prices have skyrocketed because of the labor costs, not so much because government has put in place restrictions designed to control growth. Certainly Denver itself has become significantly more dense due to new construction, as have parts of the suburbs, particularly those along key transportation corridors.

Indeed, if you read Sunday's Denver Post the complaint seems to be the opposite: people want the government to do MORE to control growth.

Last edited by CherryCreek; Dec 6, 2017 at 5:43 PM.
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  #1770  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 4:34 PM
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I don't necessarily think there's a problem with growth control in Denver. Just look at the Union Station area.....

Plus, as I said before, there is a ton of room ready for towers to go up in AS, which I see no reason not to expect in the future.

What the people upset in that article don't understand is that you can't just shut off people's desire to want to move here. When you try to control growth by putting a cap on it in a highly desired place to live.... well you get Boulder.

That's the last thing I want for Denver, yet some of these people don't understand simple supply/demand economics.
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  #1771  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 4:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Stonemans_rowJ View Post
I do not know exactly how many people can "afford" $500,000 condos.
I have trouble even imagining...

Way, way, way back when I moved back to Denver from Aspen I initially picked up a job selling cars. Bought a little 2-bedroom house in U-Hills and soon after my Z-sports car. House pmt was $224 and car pmt was $250 (24 mo.); add in another $125 and my basics were covered. The numbers are ancient but consider the percentages. All that was at most one-third of my take-home and only 25% in a good month. I was never short on having beer money. Point being that you didn't even need a degree to accomplish this.

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I think Denver metro housing prices have skyrocketed because of the labor costs, not so much because government has put in place restrictions designed to control growth.
wong was nice enough to update me yesterday. It's the freaking land costs and the high expense of impact and misc. fees that sets a high minimum cost per unit before you even break ground.

Not hard for me to understand how a narcissist goofball could be elected President.
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  #1772  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 5:24 PM
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Someone making just north of $100k can "afford" a 500K house by spending 40-50% of take home pay on housing. Throw in a lifestyle that includes lots of eating out, drinks and entertainment and all of the sudden there isn't a whole lot going toward retirement. Lots of house-poor folks in the area. Wife and I are DINKs, both MDs, and could probably make a bungalow in a decent area work but things just seem grossly overpriced. Live in Aurora right now and hoping things become more reasonable before kids come in the next few years, but if not will move down to Highlands Ranch or Castle Rock like a lot of other 30-somethings haha.
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  #1773  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 5:53 PM
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Originally Posted by CherryCreek View Post
Very topical article from the NYT on how the high cost of housing in areas that are economically thriving is preventing the rapid growth in population in those same areas, unlike the historical norm.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/u...town.html?_r=0

In large part, the article suggests, its because these "boom areas" impose too many restrictions on development. I've heard that's true in areas such as California and Washington State, is it really true here?

I get this isn't Houston, where you can build whatever the f*ck u want wherever you want, but I don't think the metro area cities (other than the PRB) are actively discouraging growth. There are plans afoot to build massive developments in Aurora. Douglas County continues to boom.

I think Denver metro housing prices have skyrocketed because of the labor costs, not so much because government has put in place restrictions designed to control growth. Certainly Denver itself has become significantly more dense due to new construction, as have parts of the suburbs, particularly those along key transportation corridors.

Indeed, if you read Sunday's Denver Post the complaint seems to be the opposite: people want the government to do MORE to control growth.
Small clarification from a current Texan about Houston. While it is true that Houston has no "zoning", most neighborhoods are rife with restrictive covenants that limit development to large-lot single-family houses. Houston just happens to have a truckload of available land to sprawl out into and a, until-recently, pretty decentralized urban core. Therefore, there isn't much of a concentration of super-high-value real-estate other than places like The Woodlands (and just recently, downtown, as it become revitalized).
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  #1774  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 6:18 PM
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Originally Posted by jbssfelix View Post
Small clarification from a current Texan about Houston. While it is true that Houston has no "zoning", most neighborhoods are rife with restrictive covenants that limit development to large-lot single-family houses. Houston just happens to have a truckload of available land to sprawl out into and a, until-recently, pretty decentralized urban core. Therefore, there isn't much of a concentration of super-high-value real-estate other than places like The Woodlands (and just recently, downtown, as it become revitalized).
Interesting. Denver metro isn't exactly short on land either, if you count the thousands of empty square miles immediately to the east of the current urbanized areas. It's amazing that Houston can apparently build so cheaply, but Denver can't. (I see from Zillow that median listing price in Houston Metro in October was $324,900 vs. $470,000 for Denver).

One limiting factor for us my be water service, which is a scarce resource.
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  #1775  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 6:24 PM
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More on the Dikeou/Tryba rezoning of Sherman: https://crej.com/news/tryba-addresse...tions-tonight/

It does seem like the end game for Dikeou is to get the rezoning approved and sell the land off to a real developer. Which is probably a win-win for everyone.

The posture of the CHUN zoning committee is ridiculous -- if a block away from Denver's second largest transportation hub, along the future BRT corridor, within walking distance of light rail, and within blocks of thousands of office jobs isn't the right place for density, then where is? Add the fact this is adding density on to current parking lots and I really can't see their argument.

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  #1776  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 6:30 PM
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Originally Posted by DUPio View Post
Wife and I are DINKs, both MDs, and could probably make a bungalow in a decent area work but things just seem grossly overpriced. Live in Aurora right now and hoping things become more reasonable before kids come in the next few years, but if not will move down to Highlands Ranch or Castle Rock like a lot of other 30-somethings haha.
Or you move into a smaller place or a less-hot neighborhood. We bought a 1400 sq. ft townhouse this last year for about the same price that friends paid for a giant house in Arvada - but we're 100 ft from the light rail and still in Denver. A lot of the people I know that have moved out of the city have done so because they insist on having a yard and tons of space - as Denver grows this will become ever more expensive and less affordable to anyone not making 200k+...
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  #1777  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 7:20 PM
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Let me take a different tack. My problem (if you will) is that I'm more a Big Picture guy. But I do understand supply and demand. From the simplistic graphs of Econ 101 into the real world where there's a multitude of different dynamics and complexities, it's much easier to understand from 30,000 feet. There are both random and irrational factors to consider. Recently the Dikeou family holdings have been discussed. They've owned their properties for decades with no intention of doing anything. It's not rational; but it is a real world fact.

In the aftermath of the recession, with many investors escaping the mayhem and with cash to burn, RE investor/developers started taking advantage in the more obvious coastal cities like NYC to San Francisco.

Denver became one of the earlier flyover cites to attract investment bcuz they didn't get overbuilt like many places did. Texas which had been growing rapidly and continued right through the recession also attracted investment. BTW, Portland was moderately over supplied and it's bounce-back was a couple of years behind Denver.

Early on I recall Mill Creek buying a block east of Broadway and I thought it good that someone was willing to venture there - more risk I assumed. Looking back from today my thought now seems ludicrous. Mill Creek built a four story project. Early on even investors that were smart to come to Denver were uncertain on how strong the market would be; otherwise Mill Creek would have built a much denser project. That's how it was in the early years.

Certainly developers became aware of the migration to urban centers; but how strong or how long would it last? Well it just grew and grew now that we can look back. For a few years many have thought we were reaching saturation and headed to an oversupply. Even the Fed threw out a 'caution flag' to their member banks. If you've lived through the cycles you know that getting overbuilt has been a common problem. Also many 'experts' have predicted for 5 years that another bubble was being created and that interest rates would rise rapidly and kill the golden goose.

The point is that some of the savviest and smartest minds in the business have continued to lag what continued to happen. There's no algorithm for predicting future demand. Stonemans_rowJ recently pointed to the tsunami of a apartments coming so maybe, finally Denver will reach (at least temporarily) saturation.

With respect to Zoning
It would have been good to follow the Great Denver Rezoning Project a few years ago. While I'm not familiar with the more granular the object was to update the code and look to the future including more dense development. It was logical and generally incremental changes were intended. What may seem logical and straightforward becomes anything but that when you start holding neighborhood meetings. Homeowners etc are not always rational; they're often emotional and resist/fear change. How many NIMBY conversations have we had over the years. Too many to count for sure.

BTW, using San Marcos as an example shows partly how little Marohn knows about Texas. In the land of 2nd amendment and property rights zoning is a suspicious interloper. Houston is well know for having NO zoning downtown. Build whatever your heart desires. It's the Texas way of doing things. Worth noting is than San Marcos is on the Austin to San Antonio tech corridor so expecting higher future values is not far-fetched.

Whether Marohn's 'theory' has any merit we'll never know bcuz it's unrealistic once you get into the real world of real people and real complexities and random factors. In other words life happens while we're making other plans.
Thanks for the response. There's lots to unpack here. I don't necessarily think Marohn's theory is watertight, but I can't help but see exactly what he described playing out here in Denver. The fact that he raises questions about something that "is counter-intuitive and directly clashes with the planning profession's fetish with density" is all the more reason I think it deserves some objective analysis. I share that fetish with density, and happen to know that many of us on this forum do too. But I think it is always worth re-examining our beliefs from a new perspective, especially when that perspective shares our interest in understanding and crafting good urban places.

While Denver's recent rezoning was meant more as a streamlining effort than strictly an upzoning, there were some areas designated "areas of change" in Blueprint Denver that I seem to recall were upzoned. It is precisely in the areas where that change was moderate, like Lower Highland (going from single-family, to either TU, or MU-3 or MU-5), that we see the most scrape-offs occurring. In areas where single-family zones still exist in proximity to increasing land values, we see historic homes being scraped for tasteless McMansions without adding any density (which makes economic sense, because as Marohn describes, a $1,000,000 lot justifies more in structural improvements than provided by a modest bungalow).

Areas that have a larger gap between the existing land use and the potential buildout under zoning (like Uptown or Golden Triangle) are also seeing developers max out the FAR potential (see Evivia in GT), but the zoning is so high that it would take decades to fill every vacant lot with 18 story buildings. Back in May, Ken described something similar about downtown when interviewed on Colorado Matters: It has taken way more than a single "real estate cycle" to replace all the land that was vacated downtown under DURA.

In fact, what Marohn describes explains is that what the Dikeou family has been doing is in fact perfectly rational. Why settle for half the development potential, when you can wait for a developer to want to build that 70 story tower on your property? Especially since the value of the vacant land keeps going up - why build less than the zoning allows when you can just sit on your land and watch the investment increase? Or even better - pursue a zoning increase and watch your land value increase even more (this doesn't necessarily mean development would be imminent)! And even in these boomtimes, there isn't enough demand to fill every vacant lot in downtown with 70 story towers - not even close. Most lots will stay vacant for years to come.

In fact, those developers who are actually building "Texas Doughnuts" and "land ships" may actually be the ones finding the best mid-term use for vacant lots. But even those are fairly massive buildings - NOBODY is building small-scale apartment buildings like the ones leftover from the mid-century, or even smaller-scale rental units like ADUs build above an alley-garage.

As an aside, I'm not sure Houston is a great example to bring into play here. I'm no expert on Houston, but I think it's job market is fundamentally different from tech-boom style cities where speculation plays a bigger role. I don't seem to recall Houston as a place that is experiencing much in the way of gentrification growing pains. Austin on the other hand, definitely. I don't know much about San Marcos, other than what I've just read and that it is near Austin.

And of course it is extremely difficult when working in the real world of urban politics. This is actually part of Marohn's point - that planners jump at the opportunity to zone something like a Transit Oriented Development for 20 stories, or Lower Highland as MU-5 precisely because it is nearly impossible politically to get density elsewhere (like Single Family neighborhoods). And who on city staff wants to keep fighting for small upzonings on an ongoing basis, when entire neighborhoods can be up-zoned and not revisited again for over a generation? This behavior is also rational, but I can definitely see how it could distort pricing.

If everywhere were to actually grow incrementally, it would mean that EVERY single family neighborhood would be legally allowed to add ADUs. Only in neighborhoods where ADUs were already common would the zoning allow townhomes, and only in areas where townhomes already exist would 5-story mixed use buildings come into play, and so on and so forth. It is very much hypothetical, but something that I can't help but think about.
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  #1778  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 7:29 PM
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Gotta get it in before January 1st. God knows that development plan submittals will dry up until the City Council can correct the abhorrent dung pile known as the Green Roof Intiative.
Ah yeah, plum forgot about that. It will be interesting to see how many continue through to a groundbreaking partly due to that silliness.

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That was fast:
Dang, the pipeline is filling up so fast that I'll look forward to Ken's twice-a-year updates to try to sort out and track everything.
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  #1779  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 8:20 PM
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Interesting. Denver metro isn't exactly short on land either, if you count the thousands of empty square miles immediately to the east of the current urbanized areas. It's amazing that Houston can apparently build so cheaply, but Denver can't. (I see from Zillow that median listing price in Houston Metro in October was $324,900 vs. $470,000 for Denver).

One limiting factor for us my be water service, which is a scarce resource.
And our insistence on building basements, which are quite expensive. The cheaper "starter" homes that they build in Colorado Springs have only crawl spaces or are just a slab on ground to keep the cost down.
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  #1780  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2017, 8:58 PM
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And our insistence on building basements, which are quite expensive. The cheaper "starter" homes that they build in Colorado Springs have only crawl spaces or are just a slab on ground to keep the cost down.
True, many areas of the country typically don't have basements.


By the way, Zillow classifies the Denver housing market as "cool" and says it's a buyers' market.

I'm sure all the buyers will be glad to hear that!
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