Loft living, Boulder-style

For some urbanites, the idea of a loft conjures up images of living-on-a-shoestring in huge downtown locales such as New York or Chicago. However, with several new developments on tap, a number of locals are starting to take advantage of loft living, Boulder-style.

Traditionally, lofts are created by refurbishing existing warehouse and industrial spaces, typically in big cities with premium real estate prices and little room to spare for new developments. However, Realtor Neil Kearney said Boulder developers are redefining the loft concept, translating it to Boulder standards of living and proving that the elegant ambiance of loft-style condominiums can be enjoyed anywhere.

“Most of our luxury lofts are new developments, so technically, it’s different from the style you see in Denver and other big cities,” Kearney said. “Here, instead of it being created from something already existing, it’s more of a design style. The idea is to have high ceilings and a lot of light coming in, coupled with modern features, all in a downtown setting.”

Kearney said the luxury downtown market in Boulder was kick-started around a decade ago, when construction started on One Boulder Plaza in 2001, a mixed-use project at Broadway and Canyon Boulevard.

“The prices per square foot were pretty eye-opening, but the market was right for something nice downtown with no maintenance,” he said. “And it fit Boulder, because people here don’t want to spend all their time driving; they enjoy everything being just a couple of steps away.”

Kearney said that after 2007, the luxury market slowed down, and is just now beginning to pick up again — and developers are taking notice. New downtown developments such as The Arête, One Penn Place and the Blacksmith are catering to this luxury market with a new definition of the urban loft.

The Blacksmith, which is brokered by Kearney and located on Pearl Street near 19th Street, currently has two loft units still available; these have the traditional open floor plan and high ceilings, styled in a contemporary setting with modern European finishes and high-end kitchen appliances. One touch in particular caters to the loft style — sleek, nine-foot sliding doors that slide seamlessly into the walls. All of the units at the Blacksmith also have that Boulder necessity — outdoor living space, with private decks and patio terraces.

Another high-end luxury development is The Arête, developed by Stephen Tebo at Canyon Boulevard and 11th Street. Units at The Arête also have the contemporary luxury loft feel, with 10-foot ceilings and spacious, open floor plans. Custom woodwork and cabinetry, glass-enclosed terraces, quality finishes, custom chef-grade appliances and radiant-heated floors grace a building where, according to broker Rick Rippberger, no expense was spared.

“Because of the quality of what Stephen Tebo did here, when people take a look at The Arête, they really get it,” Rippberger said. “You feel the luxury when you come in.”

Rippberger said Tebo asked homeowners at several nearby Boulder luxury condominiums what they would most like to see in a similar development. They cited wider hallways — and better soundproofing. At the Arête, Tebo brought in sound engineering specialists, who created a vacuum-locking sealing system on all the doors.

Another entry into the luxury condo market is One Penn Place, which also offers a uniquely Boulder take on loft-style living. The project is located at 28th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

“People love the flexibility of space in a loft,” broker Kellie Hudson said. “You can choose to put your formal dining area in one spot, and create a sitting area and breakfast area in another. You can be very flexible and make it fit your own specific lifestyle.”

In addition to large outdoor terraces where homeowners can enjoy a view of the Flatirons, units at One Penn Place have the feel of an open floor plan, with contemporary sliding “barn” doors and high ceilings, but with the addition of enclosed bedrooms.

“The bedroom suites are very private, but the rest of the living space — the kitchen, family, office and study area — is very open and flexible,” Hudson said.

Units include high-end finishes and chef-quality kitchen appliances, including double ovens, gas ranges and French-door refrigerators. One Penn Place also provides ample individual storage and parking facilities, all protected by a security system that includes call-up entry.

Another feature at One Penn is a large gathering area, which serves as a community room and can also be reserved for private parties.

Building a community feel is one objective of Washington Village, a development of Wonderland Hill Development Co. The project, at Broadway and Cedar Avenue, is just north of downtown and will represent the city’s newest cohousing project, including lofts, row houses and detached homes.

The project includes a redevelopment of the historic Washington School building.

While it may seem that Boulder lofts are built more for the luxury market, one development is catering to the young adult and student population, combining affordability with the design integrity of the loft culture. Broker Steve Remmert said that Landmark Lofts, which was completed two years ago, has already sold 85 of its 103 units, thanks to its affordable pricing in a high-end market.

“We’re the economical loft alternative,” Remmert said. “Landmark Lofts are a merger between a loft and a contemporary condo.”

Landmark units, which range from $200,000 to $600,000, feature private balconies, high ceilings, and quality stainless steel appliances. The project is located near 28th Street and Colorado Avenue.

“We offer an urban lifestyle with close proximity to campus, so our target audience is college students and young professionals,” Remmert said. “The bread-and-butter of our market has been parents looking for a nice place for their kids to live in while they’re attending the university.

“We’re the only new construction project in close proximity to campus with a fairly reasonable price,” he added. “We represent an unrepresented product in Boulder.”


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