Office development to replace Old South Pearl retail

Burl Rolett July 17, 2016 12

Gaia

Finney bought the Gaia Bistro property last year for $930,000. Photo by Burl Rolett.

The coworking wave is rolling into Platt Park.

Patrick Finney plans to demolish a pair of century-old retail buildings on South Pearl Street and erect a $6 million coworking and office development.

“The market for coworking in this area is underserved,” said Finney, who runs residential brokerage firm Finn Real Estate. “And in my opinion, being on Pearl Street is more attractive to business owners than a place like Broadway because of the sheer traffic on Broadway, while Pearl Street has the ambiance, the shops and the restaurants.”

Finney will build at the site of Gaia Bistro and the Greentree Cyclery buildings on the 1500 block of South Pearl. Greentree closed in June.

Finn rendering

Plans include 14,500 square feet of co-working space and a Finn Real Estate office. Courtesy of Elevate Architecture.

It will be Finney’s first commercial real estate development after more than 13 years as a residential real estate broker and about a dozen residential fix-and-flips.

Finney plans to divide the 17,000-square-foot space with a 2,500-square-foot Finn Real Estate office and 14,500 square feet for coworking. He put on the developer hat to find a new home for Finn Real Estate, after rent jumped by more than 50 percent at the company’s Cherry Creek office.

Finney found a temporary spot for his 10-person shop at Thrive Workplace on Milwaukee Street but wanted something more permanent.

“In our industry, we’re always telling people about the advantages of owning real estate,” he said. “I was determined to find my own property and not pay for rent again.”

Finney hit the market and made his first commercial real estate purchase by acquiring the Gaia Bistro property at 1551 S. Pearl St. in May 2015 for $930,000. But when he dug into plans for a new, two-story office building at the site, he hit a snag.

Building to the northern edge of the Pearl Street property could have caused structural problems for Greentree Cyclery’s 100-year-old building next door at 1545 S. Pearl St. In the worst-case scenario, Finney said, building next-door could cause Greentree’s basement to collapse.

Finney. Courtesy of Finn Real Estate.

Finney. Courtesy of Finn Real Estate.

Finney approached Greentree owner Greg Wallach shortly after buying the Gaia Bistro to ask about also buying the Greentree building. At the time, Finney said, Wallach wasn’t interested. But the building hit the market nine months later, and Finney bought it for $1.07 million.

Wallach bought the building in 1993 for $24,000, according to Denver city records. Finney’s acquisition closed June 30th, and then Greentree shut its doors after nearly four decades.

Finney’s revised plans call for two stories of office space with another floor of underground parking. The two-lot project grew from about 12,000 square feet to closer to 17,000 square feet.

He estimated the co-working space could fit between 75 and 100 customers, although he’s not set yet on how much of the building will be open, drop-in desk space and how much will be small, closed off offices.

Finney is working with NEO Development to help plan and manage the project, though NEO will not have an ownership stake in the finished building. With co-working exploding all over Denver, Finney hopes he’ll have a leg up on the competition because of his location and onsite parking.

caption. Photo by Burl Rolett.

The Greentree Cycling building change hands in June for $1.07 million. Photo by Burl Rolett.

NEO Development managing partner Lance Nading said they’ll also have a high-tech security system that will keep staff aware of how many visitors comes through the space without needing an upfront desk attendant to sign in everyone who walks through the front door.

Nading said the co-working business will differentiate itself from the mad rush of competitors by putting in the fastest internet available along with cell phone signal boosters, noise cancelling phone kiosks and a digital glass in the conference room that lets users display their own company logo on the wall when greeting guests and clients.

“A lot of the co-working spaces have one or two of these contributing assets,” Nading said. “But if you put it all together it’ll provide a pretty cutting edge package that will be second to none.”

Finney would like to begin demolition in six or eight months. He’s estimating it will be about 18 months to two years before the co-working space opens.  Elevate Architecture is designing the building. Finney has yet to sign on a contractor or lender.

And after a simple office search turned into a seven-figure development, Finney hasn’t ruled out trying to do some more business on the commercial side.

“This whole thing has been a process of stumbling into think ‘wow, I can actually do this,'” he said.

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12 Comments »

  1. jack July 19, 2016 at 10:40 am - Reply

    Wow a real shame and what a way to make a nice street ugly

  2. kent July 22, 2016 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    I like the idea of the co-working office space. I think it would bring much needed day time foot traffic to the street. 40-60 people a day eating lunch and getting coffee will support the local businesses, and bring in some new ones. That is one ugly ‘modern’ building proposed. True modern design, or post-modern architecture can fit in nicely with main street look South Pearl has. Izakaya Den is one example of excellence. 1472 Restaurant and this proposal are ugly additions, and I wouldn’t mind some stricter design standards for the street.

  3. Mike July 23, 2016 at 6:22 am - Reply

    “Pearl Street has the ambience, the shops and the restaurants….” and yet some of those are being destroyed in the process. Go figure…

  4. Vanessa Jordan July 24, 2016 at 7:48 am - Reply

    What about the historical preservation of this neighborhood? The proposed building does not fit with the architecture of this area and will be a definite eye sore for Pearl Street. Very disappointed to see that the city would allow this.

  5. Karen Jacobsen July 25, 2016 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    Very disappointing to see old architecture being sacrificed once again.The charm of this neighborhood is quickly going away.

  6. Dustin Barnes August 2, 2016 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    The demo of these historic buildings is a tragedy for the charm of the neighborhood, regardless of the business that will go in their place. Is the design already approved? I would hope the developer will take the neighborhood residents’ opinions into consideration.

  7. Mike McPhee August 30, 2016 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    Finney has no feel at all for what makes this neighborhood so charming. His boring office-box belongs in the tech center. Tasteless and aloof.

    • Kaiti Delaney September 26, 2016 at 2:12 pm - Reply

      What a bummer – we just moved to the area a month ago and love South Pearl. Gaia Bistro is one of our long-time favorite brunch spots and to tear down such a staple of the neighborhood is so disappointing. Not looking forward to having a giant 14,500 square feet of co-working space and a Finn Real Estate office in the middle of quaint South Pearl. Such a disappointment 🙁

  8. Alison Loranger November 15, 2016 at 10:44 am - Reply

    This is just greed and that building is hideous. At least build something that fits in with the neighborhood.

  9. Laurie Hardy McPhail December 31, 2016 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    You are sucking the charm right out of our neighborhood! My husband & I moved to this neighborhood so we could enjoy the old architecture & charm. Tearing down Gaia Bistro is destroying a wonderful historic building! Please respect the neighborhood and leave the building intact. The proposed replacement is hideous and does not fit in. You could at least design some type of Victorian facade for the building. We are devastated.

  10. Barb kilzer January 5, 2017 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    So sad to see two perfectly beautiful buildings destroyed to make way for an ultra modern building that a)doesn’t fit with the look and feel of the charming neighborhood and b) will be out of style in 5 years anyway. I beg the new owner to please invest in renovating these existing buildings to meet the need of the new commercial space. There has to be a way to meet in the middle.

  11. Sarah B July 24, 2017 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    What a terrible mistake. Old South Pearl is not Cherry Creek. Key word here is “Old” which is rapidly giving way to hideously designed modern behemoths. Is there really that big of a need for such a large co-working space? I suspect Mr. Finney will have a rude awakening. Broadway would have been a much better choice DUE to the traffic, instead of decimating our neighborhood and the historic vibe. Big fat boo.

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