Ruschmeyer / August 23, 2021
The office building at 5700 S. Quebec St. was already under construction, John W. Madden Jr. says, when he decided to add a residential penthouse atop it.
Blame the deer.
It was late one day in the late 1970s, and the founder of development firm John Madden Co. hit a buck while driving home to his place in Perry Park in Douglas County. Suddenly, a shorter commute sounded appealing.
“I called my wife, who was out with some Realtors, and I said, tell the Realtors we’re putting a penthouse atop the 5700 building, and that’s where we’re going to f****** live,” said Madden, now 93.
There are other penthouse units around Denver. The two atop the downtown Four Seasons sold for $16 million and $10.75 million, respectively, in recent years.
But Madden’s appears to be the only one locally atop an office building, according to Phil Ruschmeyer, who is co-listing the 5,512-square-foot unit for sale. It has two bedrooms and four bathrooms, and hit the market last week for $6.75 million.
Sure, it might not be as high as other penthouses. The Quebec Street building has three floors of office space, then Madden’s residence on the fourth floor. But it’s high enough to get above the trees, and there are unobstructed views of the entire Front Range.
The residence is served by a private elevator, and set back from the rest of the structure. It opens onto the roof, which becomes a deck spanning tens of thousands of square feet, albeit one dotted with mechanical equipment. Madden has installed artificial turf on part of it, and the numerous potted plants get tons of sun.
Does the average worker in the building even know the penthouse is there?
“I would say no,” said Ruschmeyer, of Ruschmeyer Corp.
Pamela Helm, Libby Weaver and Patti Helm of Compass are marketing the unit for residential use. Ruschmeyer, who previously sold the top floors of the Daniels & Fisher Tower in downtown Denver, is co-listing the property in case a buyer wants to convert it for office use.
Madden’s father worked in insurance, and his mother gave tours at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, helping instill a lifelong love of art in her son. He graduated from the University of Nebraska, and told BusinessDen in an interview Friday that he decided to go into real estate after nixing plans to attend law school.
Madden said he moved to Colorado in the late 1960s. Although he also developed in other markets, including San Jose and Detroit, much of his company’s projects can be found in Greenwood Village and the Denver Tech Center. He estimated he developed 20 projects locally, including Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre and the building at 5700 S. Quebec St., where in addition to the penthouse he still owns the office space.
Madden said his favorite local project is Tuscany Plaza at 6312 S. Fiddlers Circle, an office building named after the region in Italy where its marble was quarried.
“I was fortunate finding the quarry owner and the dealer and instilling in him the committed pride I had in making this one of his finest buildings,” Madden said.
Madden and his late wife Marjorie founded the Madden Museum of Art in Greenwood Village, and in 2016 he donated about 120 pieces valued at $10 million to the University of Denver. The first piece of art he ever purchased still hangs at his penthouse, and there’s also a commissioned painting of a sunset view looking west from the unit’s deck.
Madden still has the home in Perry Park, and he spends about six months a year in Florida, where ocean views replace the mountains.
Asked about the decision to list the property, Madden joked: “Am I going to have a Realtor after I’m gone … promoting this thing? Or am I going to have some fun promoting it while I’m at least partially alive?”
The roof is a hell of a place to throw a party, he said.
Yes, the unit is above an office building, which is surrounded by a parking lot. But to John Madden, it’s a “mecca.”
“Guys who’ve been in the business, this spot could appeal to them.”