16th Street Mall office building eyed for residential conversion listed for sale The Denver Post

An older office building along the 16th Street Mall is being marketed for sale as its owner continues to also consider a residential conversion.

California-based Harbor Associates has hired CBRE to market the eight-story, 91,027-square-foot structure at 820 16th St., known as The George or Symes building.

The building is one of a handful in Denver for which the city has received plans outlining a possible residential conversion. In the case of The George, those plans were submitted last summer, and floated the possibility of 95 apartments on the upper floors. 

Harbor Principal Joon Choi told BusinessDen Monday that the company is working to determine the best path forward for the building, which is minimally leased.

Choi said the company hired CBRE to market the building specifically to owner-users, or companies that would both own and occupy the space.

He said the company isn’t interested in selling the building to another investment firm like Harbor.

Choi said if offers come in from owner-users, Harbor will decide based in part on the price whether to accept one and sell the building.

If a satisfactory offer doesn’t come in, Choi said, Harbor will either proceed with a residential conversion or keep it as is and market it to office users, although he wasn’t too optimistic about the long-term potential of the latter.

The marketing materials for the building don’t give a price, and Choi declined to state what might be accepted. Harbor purchased the property, which also includes ground-floor retail space, in December 2018 for $24.5 million. The building dates to 1906 but was renovated in 2020, according to the marketing materials.

Office-to-residential conversions have become a hot topic in the wake of the pandemic, and the City of Denver is spending $75,000 this year on a study to assess the potential for such projects here.

Harbor has converted a 292,000-square-foot office building in Southern California, Choi said. But whether it moves forward with residential conversion of The George and Capitol Center — another office complex the company owns at 225 E. 16th Ave. — could ultimately depend on what assistance Denver provides.

“The city really needs to provide a major incentive package in order for these to pencil,” Choi said.

“The cost to do this is really challenging, and also the process, the time to get through the whole process, adds a layer of risk that in today’s environment most people won’t take on.”

This story was reported by our partner BusinessDen.

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