admin  /   February 5, 2019

A prime piece of Downtown Denver real estate has been  sold to New York and Chicago  institutional investors for $33.2 million.

The property, including the stately, white marble Colorado National
bank at 17th and Champa streets, was purchased by a unit of Wall Street
investment Donaldson Lufkin & Jen­rette and Chicago real-estate firm
LaSalle Partners.

In addition to the 64-year old bank, the transaction in­cludes the
newer, 26-story Colorado National office tower at 17th and Curtis
streets, and a one-acre parking lot along the 16th Street Mall. “The
buyers believe Downtown is making its move and there’s quite a bit of
opportunity,” said Nathan Johnson, A Frederick Ross Co. broker who
negotiated the sale. Downtown analysts said the  transaction is perhaps
more notable for the property’s future than its current state.
The parking lot on 16th Street is considered a key, strategic
developable parcel that could  change the face of the mall.

“We’ d love to see something happen there,” said Bill Mosher,
president of the Down­town Denver Partnership. “Vacant space and parking
lots on the mall are a killer. That (parking lot) is a pretty big 
tooth out of the smile on the mall.” Officials of both DLJ and LaSalle
said there are no plans for developing the parking lot.” Ultimately we’ d
like to see some development on that site but there are no immediate
plans,” said Jim Hutchinson, a  principal at LaSalle Advisers, an
investment management unit of LaSalle Partners. Hutchinson said the
parcel eventually could be built out as offices, retail space or
residential units. Broker Phil Ruschmeyer of Frederick Ross said the
buyers will spend about $10 million renovating the existing office
tower’s exterior, lobby, elevators and common-area space. Upon
completion of the remodeling, he said, the building  will be the only
property on 17th Street with high-quality, upper floor office space with
unobstructed views.

Colorado National Bank, the seller of the block, will lease back the
entire six-story bank building  and several floors in the office tower.
CNB is owned by Minneapolis-based  First Bank System Inc. ”We’re just
not in the business of owning real estate,”  said Donn Waage, senior
vice  president of corporate relations for CNB. “This will allow us to
focus on the banking business .”

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