More than half of the 26 condos under construction in the Confluence project at the corner of Fort Collins’ Willow and Linden streets were sold before a shovel went in the ground. Its most expensive unit — $1.4 million — was snatched up just as the four walls were going up.
Today, Confluence — which sits roughly where the flagpole of the city’s original fort was situated — is 81 percent sold even though it won’t be ready for occupancy until mid-January.
While that project is wrapping up, another high-end downtown condo project has been announced, adding more for-sale units in the heart of the city.
The Neenan Co. of Fort Collins is building 22 units on the top two floors of a mixed-use development at 221 E. Mountain Ave. — the former Mountain View Tire Center— being developed by Elevations Credit Union.
The credit union will occupy about 5,000 square feet on the first two floors, including a community space. Retail and office space will round out the first and second floors.
The third and fourth floors will be residential condominiums known as The Front Row on Mountain Avenue. Neenan is touting the project as “contemporary, amenity-rich urban living within a coveted end of Old Town” that will “introduce a new residential standard for the neighborhood.”
Front Row on Mountain “will enhance the housing options currently available, bringing upscale design and new construction to an area with a limited and aging stock of residential options,” the company said.
The new residential standard comes with price tag between $500,000 and $1.4 million, according to Neenan.
Confluence, a four- and five-story building developed by architects Randy Shortridge and Jason Kersley of [au]workshop and partner Saunders Construction, broke ground in October 2018. Condos range in price from just less than $300,000 for a studio, up to $1.4 million.
The least expensive and most expensive units “went quickly” and will be occupied by young professionals, retirees, artists, a chief financial office for a major employer and a retired architect from a competing company, Shortridge said. Only five units priced from $600,000 to $700,000 remain for sale.
Development of dozens of downtown condos signals a keen desire for high-end, maintenance-free living in the heart of the city, Shortridge said. The units join about 200 apartments under construction at Willow and Pine streets and a spate of commercial and civic development, including the new whitewater park, Ginger & Baker and Union restaurants.
“People really like the walkability,” Shortridge said. “They may pay more for a unit and get fewer amenities inside the building, “but the neighborhood itself is the amenity,” he said.
The median price for townhomes or condos in downtown Fort Collins this year was just over $576,000, outpacing the cost of single-family homes, according to data provided by Realtor Mike Salza of C3 Real Estate. The median for a single-family home was $472,500.
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Currently, there are 36 single-family attached properties for sale in the $700,000 range and only nine single-family detached properties in that same price range, Salza said. It’s the largest disparity in the city.
The city has become valuable enough for people to willingly spend $700,000 on a nice attached product, he said. “This has opened up the lots that haven’t been buildable in the past.”
The pressure for luxury housing is coming from a group of people with plenty of money, not a lot of time and very little tolerance for shabby housing and ongoing projects, he said.
Rather than buy a house and deal with renovations and ongoing maintenance, the buyers “are willing to spend a bit more, purchase a ready to move in, luxury home with no real ongoing maintenance.”
Fort Collins stands out, Salza said, because of its amenities, restaurants, shops, business connections and recreation opportunities to spare. “When they assess our housing options and see the shiny, well built, new homes . . . well, there’s no stopping them.”
Filling the gap
The Front Row on Mountain condos are designed to fill a “market gap” for homeowners looking for new, quality housing and accessibility in the heart of Old Town, Neenan said in a news release. Construction is expected to begin next year with completion in early 2021.
Neenan said the project will bring more housing options to Old Town, with one- and two-bedroom units ranging from 800 to 2,400 square feet.
Amenities will include underground parking, optional car charging station, rooftop patio and dog run.
Confluence will include Shortridge’s firm, which will move from its current home on Linden Street, as well as a potential restaurant, indoor and outdoor common spaces, a courtyard with fire pit and fourth-floor terrace with views of the mountains to the west.
Shortridge sees the increase in higher-end condos as a symptom of a changing demographic that does not necessarily want a single-family home with a yard that needs mowing and sidewalks that need shoveling.
Single-family homes in Fort Collins that are close to the center are too expensive for most people, Shortridge said. “You just can’t buy a house with a yard this close to the center of the city for even $600,000 to $700,000. If you want a unit between 700 and 1,500 square feet, you don’t need all that other stuff.”
In a city with continually rising home prices, townhomes and condominiums are still a more affordable option throughout the city.
The median single-family sales price through October was $430,000, up nearly 3% from last year. By comparison, the median sales price for townhomes and condos was $295,000, down slightly from last year. But units are selling in just more than two months, a nearly 20% drop from last year, indicating a mounting demand for lower-priced units.
Pat Ferrier is a senior reporter covering business, health care and growth issues in Northern Colorado.
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