Another multistory apartment project is being planned for downtown Colorado Springs, this time by a Denver real estate company that's seeking to join some of the nation's largest multifamily developers who've set their sights on the city's urban core.
Narrate Cos. envisions a seven-story building with 131 apartments on the northwest corner of Nevada and Cimarron avenues, according to a proposal submitted to city planners.
The project would include roughly 6,200 square feet of ground-floor commercial space along Nevada and Cimarron that could become home to a restaurant or other businesses — adding a mixed-use component that some new downtown apartment buildings don't have.
Narrate's project would go up just south of Blue Dot Place, a 27-unit apartment building that opened in 2016 and heralded a wave of downtown multifamily housing.
Since Blue Dot Place's construction, nearly 600 apartments, lofts and condos have opened downtown and just over 2,400 more are being built or expected to break ground this year or in 2022, according to a recent Downtown Partnership estimate. Another 2,100 units are planned or have been announced.
Narrate, a 2-year-old company that also buys existing projects, was impressed by Colorado Springs' demographics, which include strong population growth, job creation and highly educated residents, said Adam Fenton, a Narrate principal and co-founder.
The company also likes what Fenton called Colorado Springs' commitment to becoming a world-class city.
That effort, he said, includes the addition in downtown of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, which opened in July 2020, along with the opening in May of the Weidner Field multi-use outdoor stadium that houses the Colorado Springs Switchbacks soccer team.
"It's not just a bunch of words from the city; they're actually doing it," Fenton said.
The Nevada-and-Cimarron site is part of what downtown advocates call the New South End, where housing, hotels, restaurants and bars have flourished in recent years, especially along South Tejon Street.
"We just had an opportunity to buy this site in what we considered a very, very good location, and in proximity to South Tejon," Fenton said. "I call it restaurant row ... where all the restaurants are. We think that's really important to have amenities for our residents that aren't just in the building, but also in the neighborhood."
The location is two blocks east of Weidner Field and will be close to other downtown projects, Fenton said.
"We just felt this site was kind of the bull's-eye right in the middle of everything that was going on positive down there," he said.
El Paso County land records show that 428 S. Nevada Investors, a limited liability company formed by Narrate, paid $2.2 million in July for the proposed apartment site at Nevada and Cimarron.
On the site, Narrate would raze a used-car lot and sales building, along with a second building that housed The Bench bar and restaurant. Both businesses are closed.
Narrate's apartment project would include a mix of one- and two-bedroom units that would rent at market rates, Fenton said. He estimated monthly rents could start at $1,200 for a small one-bedroom apartment and climb to about $2,200 for a two-bedroom unit.
Amenities would include a gym, community room, adjacent outdoor plaza spaces and a common, seventh-floor amenity deck. Parking would be provided by a three-level garage, a portion of which would be built below grade.
In a best-case scenario, Fenton estimates demolition of the on-site buildings would begin in March, with construction of the apartment building to follow in late spring. The apartments would open in summer 2023.
Narrate would join Greystar Real Estate Partners of South Carolina, whose three downtown apartment projects totaling more than 800 units are in various stages of planning and construction.
Weidner Apartment Homes of suburban Seattle, meanwhile, envisions upward of 1,200 units in buildings near the namesake stadium that it co-owns.
Locally, Springs real estate companies Nor'wood Development Group and Griffis/Blessing have completed two projects totaling nearly 350 apartments, while Nor'wood is constructing a separate building of 154 units.
The O'Neil Group, a Springs company, also recently proposed a 25-story downtown tower with 316 apartments.
Susan Edmondson, Downtown Partnership president and CEO, said Narrate and others have done their homework and timed property acquisitions to take advantage of growth opportunities in downtown and the rest of the Springs. Denver and other cities, she said, have become increasingly competitive and "played out."
"It's hard to make things work in some other cities, but there's still some opportunity here," Edmondson said. "Folks have realized the incredible path that our city is on."
At the same time, Edmondson said the Narrate project would bring a "tremendous improvement" to Nevada and Cimarron, a prominent downtown corner.
"And it is mixed-use, with having the street-level commercial component, which is really important when you're on a high-profile block like that," she said. "We haven't seen a lot of that and that makes this project a little bit different than some of the others."