East West Constructing $125M Glass House

East West Partners-Denver has quietly started construction of the $125-million Glass House, two 23-story towers in its Riverfront Park neighborhood.

When completed, it will have 389 units, a 6,500-sf health club for all Riverfront homeowners, an outdoor swimming pool on the eight floors and a 500-space parking garage. The two 15-story condo towers will rest on eight lower floors, for a total of 23 stories.

Glass House, which will open next year, is the tallest building in Riverfront Park. Glass House is a joint venture with Wood Partners LLC of Marietta, GA, headed by Leonard Wood. Wood, a former managing partner with Trammell Crow Residential, is a long-time family friend of East West principals Harry Frampton III and Mark Smith. Frampton is the outgoing chairman of the Urban Land Institute. His son, Chris Frampton, heads marketing efforts at Riverfront.

The tower has been named Glass House because of the predominance of windows and glass in its design. The walls of the tower are all glass; even interior beams will be enclosed in glass, Chris Frampton says. Units in Glass House will range in size from approximately 700 sf to 2,000 sf, and include studios and one, two and three bedrooms.

Prices will range from the mid-$100,000s to more than $600,000. The average price will be approximately $400,000. Chris Frampton notes that East West has built 440 units in Riverfront during the past four years. However, all of them have been aimed at affluent buyers.

"I think the demographics will be the same for Glass House," Frampton tells GlobeSt.com. "It will be empty nesters moving from the suburbs, young married couples, single professionals and the terminally single. The difference is we will be able to draw, for the first time, people who have much more moderate incomes."

Glass House will be the only market-rate development in the area where a person can buy a unit for about $150,000 and have amenities such as a 24-hour concierge in the lobby, he says. He says the genesis of the idea came from Wood. Frampton says Wood was developing a "class A-plus" high-rise community in Midtown Atlanta, but realized the high-end apartment market was softening, so they “switched it to 'for sale' units before it was completed, and sold them all within six months," Frampton tells GlobeSt.com. The development was so successful, that Wood repeated the concept twice more, selling them out in as little as 45 days.

Frampton says that Glass House, without a doubt, will be the fastest selling development in Riverfront's history. "You look at the class A apartment market here, and there is nothing the renters can buy," he tells GlobeSt.com. "Although the apartment market is a bit soft, they're still paying an average of $1.40 per sf. Some developments are even getting $1.70. Maybe that's less than their pro formas, but so what? The problem is that they can't move out of one of those apartments and pay $400,000 or $600,000 or 700,000 for a unit in Riverfront."

J.E. Dunn Construction will build Glass House. Dunn has more than $160 million in revenues in the Rocky Mountain region in 2004. During the past three years, it has completed more than $100 million in multifamily construction in the Denver metro area.

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